“My biggest fear was that I would have come to
the end of my life and discover that
I had lived someone else’s dream.”

                                                        – Karen Blixen

The past week has been powerful.  A variety of activities served to stir my emotions, foster reflection, create a sense of satisfaction, encourage the pursuit of a new challenge, and create a question. What caused this epiphany you ask?  Well it all began this past Monday morning.

I woke earlier that normal, showered, dressed, grabbed some coffee, something to eat, and was out of the door by 7:45.  I knew the time because the school bus was picking up the kids at the corner. A few waved as it went by; little did they know.  My wife asked for the third time, “Do you have everything?” I nodded as I backed out of the drive and began to follow a route that was now a part of me; as I had driven these same roads every morning for thirty-seven years. I parked the car, followed the sidewalk, and arrived at the entrance.  As I walked in I thought to myself, all I need now is that little guy from the movie “Poltergeist” to announce over the loudspeaker, “Heeeee’s back”! The new acting assistant principal was back at the Intermediate School for a one-month assignment. You know the saying, “You never know how much you will miss something until it’s gone”?  The opposite is also true; you come to appreciate how valuable an experience was when you get to relive it. Suffice it to say , I’m having a blast. Between the notes from the kids (“Welcome back”, “Have a good day”, and my favorite, “You don’t look as scary when you smile ?”), the wonderful reception by the faculty and staff, seeing old friends, and being paired with a former colleague who is a true servant leader, I came to better appreciate the opportunities my career provided.  Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You can never go home again.” Yes you can, and when you do, take a moment to reflect on all you learned and the person you’ve become.

A second influential factor was discovered through one of my current coaching relationships.  I am working with a young man who is playing football and continuing his education at an NCAA Division I school.  He wanted a personal coach, not to help him with his athletic endeavors, but rather to help him address some issues that he believes are possibly compromising his ability to achieve even greater results.  He inspires me; he is a good student, an exceptional athlete, and has a dreams of playing in the NFL. He also recognizes his shortcomings and isn’t afraid to ask for help in addressing them. Together we are developing a plan that will address those issues, and help him become a better student, athlete and person.  I’m looking forward to the Super Bowl tickets he promised me when he makes it there.

This “epiphany” has led me to a new personal challenge.  We can all get better. We can all create situations that will lead to self-improvement.  Well, the coach has gotten a coach. What prompted it?  Recognizing the need to address an issue and the need to seek help.  The bottom line is I should lose about 20 pounds and pursue a behavioral and nutritional program that will help me sustain the loss. To that end, I met with Coach Allie the other day.   She took the pictures ?, did the measurements, and asked some tough questions.  I know this is not something I can do on my own, it is a true challenge, and I believe that it is something that will enable me to lead a better life.

Steven Covey tells us to begin with the end in mind.  I want to end with a beginning. I’m currently reading Ann Mehl and Mark McDevitt’s, Painting with Scissors.  The book is a practical approach to making the most out of your life with the tools at your disposal.”  Chapter 1 begins with a question and then issues a challenge. The question is this, “How do we find meaning and purpose for our lives?” The answer is simple.  It is to be found in the only thing that really matters; our relationships with other people. Our family, our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues and others with whom we spend our time.  This was illustrated by the New York Times following 9/11. For over three months the Times ran a series entitled, “Portraits of Grief” that memorialized over 3,000 victims, most of whom were only known to family and friends.  The obituaries focused on a singular story or idiosyncratic detail that best captured the essence of the person. When you read them, you find that most of the stories focus on a relationship.  So I’m going to take the challenge, I’m going to begin with a new end in mind. As I greet the kids when they arrive or leave, as I work with my clients, family, friends and others, and as I embark on my nutrition/weight loss quest, I’m going to ask, “How will they capture my life in 200 words?” Care to join me in answering that question for yourself?

Embrace the Challenge!