It was obvious to my wife that something wasn’t right and I couldn't see what it was. As usual I hadn’t been able to hide it. I also hadn’t been able to put my finger on it. Something about the future, my future and our future, was missing. I literally couldn’t see what it was – what the future looked like. I had no vision, no direction to travel and no achievement to look forward to savouring at the end.
It was January 2003 and, like most families in the UK, we were recovering from Christmas celebrations. This time our holiday had been extended to include a nice break as a reward for having recently sold the business I had been running.
Elaine and I were chatting over dinner about a number of family things and particularly what the next few years would hold. We were OK financially but I still wanted to have my mind gainfully employed. Elaine loved teaching and she would continue to teach but probably on a part-time basis and at 52, still reasonably fit, I’d lined up some non-executive directorship work.
It was supposed to be looking good for us. My work would use my strengths and I would be able to offer a lot of experience without being in at the deep end all the time. So…what was wrong? Why couldn’t I see my way forward? What was the future not holding for me? We agreed to sleep on it which, of course, meant it going on some distant “to do” list while we got on with life.
Then it came to me, and I’m really ashamed to say this, in a flash one morning eight years later when I decided to become a Vistage Chair.
My flash of brilliance, my moment of inspiration and my catalyst for taking action was there all the time. I just couldn’t see it. I suppose I wasn’t really looking for it until it became an imperative to find it.
It took one to many games of golf, one too many board meetings with no real action agreed, one too many unfinished so-called hobbies. I now realised that I needed to do something worthwhile, to do something that made a difference, to do something that was worth getting out of bed for every morning.
Your catalyst will be different to mine so before I tell you what set me off on a great trek to enjoy the last 5 years, let me ask you a few questions;
- You've served your company and your colleagues well over the years – haven’t you?
- You’ve served your boardroom time?
- You’ve got the scars, the stripes, the memories and some great stories?
- You remember what it was like to get out of bed every morning with a buzz, a spring in your step and a mission on your mind.
- You remember the fun of learning, of getting stuff done, the heartache of mistakes made and the joy of success.
- You loved all the learning you absorbed every day and the great people you helped develop and become great leaders themselves?
- You felt young, vibrant and ready to take on anything that came your way?
Well, for 4 years and now at 63, I feel like that again and you can too. I needed a real purpose and, with no apologies for the blatant plug, I found it in building, facilitating and coaching my Vistage peer advisory group of 14 CEOs who help each other to become better leaders.
I have the privilege of helping develop this growth with Vistage in a number of fascinating ways. This is my elixir of executive youth.
I’m now 63, going on 55, and I look forward to every day that I am fortunate enough to be involved with the incredible journeys of everyone in the Vistage family, all 18,000 of us.
If you have an urge to be doing more, to be making a difference, don’t miss out on using all your hard fought experience and expertise for your good and the good of all around you. I found the perfect way to use all mine and still remain in life-long learner mode.
I remember my dear old Dad saying to me when I was a lot younger “Knowledge is one thing you can give away and still keep”. He was a wise old man.
I found a way in which I see and experience the successes of others every month. I watch rapid growth turn into sustainable enterprise. I get to get everything I loved about business and I get it a factor of 10 times more focussed, a lot more often and with the tiniest fraction of the stress I used to feel. It’s energizing, uplifting and downright rewarding.
Once I’d decided I needed to be back in the midst of a team focussed on growth it took me a year to find the structure I needed and to select the company to approach to help me. I was fortunate that Vistage felt the same about me and selected me as a Vistage Chair.
Want something like this?
You’ll need to prove to yourself that you really want it. You’ll have to prove to yourself that you can handle the responsibility and accountability that comes with all that fun. If you’ve got that level of desire it just maybe right for you.
My continuous inspiration comes from the thousands of business leaders who look to their Vistage Chair and to each other every month to help them become better leaders who make better decisions and create better results. The big value add to this is that everyone involved creates a sustainable significant improvement in their quality of life.
It’s not for everyone.
You need to have a real passion for growing others who grow companies. You need to be dedicated to enhancing your life and the lives of others. If you are then your version of this life maybe the right way for you.
More from Vistage: