Who in your life, that has gone before you, can you say, “They lived well and finished well.” Who in your life, that is still living, can you say “Now that is a life well-lived.” What are those qualities that these people have that you would like to emulate? I have asked myself these questions and of course the answer is all around me.
It is in the people who I know and love – like my 85-year-old mother Maggie B, a school teacher for 35 years affecting the lives of thousands of children. It is my husband Dr. Jefferson Allen Stewart who is a “King-maker,” having helped untold numbers of individuals and companies become highly successful. It is John Kenagy, MD, Owner of John Kenagy & Associates, who has developed Adaptive Design, a method for growing leaders and business cultures for innovation and sustainability, with a focus on Healthcare. As I think across my lifetime, there are so many admirable people who I have looked up to, and truly they are too many to count or mention here.
In ALL of them I find three things that have helped them fill the class of “Life Well Lived” heading to “Finishing Well.” These 3 things are intricately woven into their lives. They are a…..
- Life Long Learner
- Life Long Leader
- Life Long Teacher
Life Long Learner
They never stop learning. Take Maggie B. While she has always gone to church, she never studied the Bible and at 84 years old, she started Bible study. Her newest favorite line is “I am learning so much.” How many 85-year olds do you hear saying “I am learning so much”? She is so excited about learning so much.
Life Long Leader
They take their leadership seriously. You can see the strains of their leadership across their lifetime and they take this role as an awesome privilege. Take Dr. Jeff. He was ordained as an Elder at the age of – get this – 12. Yes, his Presbyterian Church in Dallas decided to make a few of the young church leaders Youth Elders. From Elder to Eagle Scout to PhD candidate for 3 PhD to Professor to Dean to Business Owner to Executive Coach and beyond. Dr. Jeff has lived many lives in his time, and all the while coaching, teaching, encouraging, serving and leading anyone in his perimeter. He’s been asked to be CEO, the man in charge, the top executive too many times to count, and he always says “No, thank you,” preferring to be the guy behind the scenes serving others, helping them grow.
Life Long Teacher
When most people are retiring and shifting into easy gear, here is Dr. John Kenagy at the heartbeat of a new movement that could literally resurrect businesses and livelihoods, giving dignity back to American workers and bosses, and revitalizing American businesses. Through his amazing life of unexpected twists and turns and phenomenal outcomes, he has developed a method for innovation and sustainability that he so willingly teaches to the few initiates who recognize his stroke of brilliance. No matter the chapter in his life’s story, from doctor to patient to hospital administrator to Harvard Fellow to Innovator to Business Owner, Dr. Kenagy has always been a teacher interested in making the path for others a lot easier. It is from his book “Designed to Adapt: Leading Healthcare in Challenging Times,” 2009, where he names managers as “Learner-Leader-Teacher,” a phrase he adopted from Toyota, that I found the key.
So there you have it. The key to life long success, to living well and finishing well is learning, leading and teaching. Learn from experts, lead others through serving, and teach what you’ve gained.