The point at which one is considered “middle-aged” was recently elevated from 41 to 53. We’re all living longer. While it’s truly exciting that I have more time to reach maturity, it also begs a question: just what am I going to do with the rest of my life?
Hitting fifty used to signal the end of activities and the beginning of colonoscopies. Not true anymore. Hitting fifty now means you’re ready to play the back nine. So hopefully you’ve still got the stamina to pull the right clubs out of your bag, keep swinging, and attempt to hit that sweet spot over and over again.
The quest for life-long learning is not an automatic event. It takes time and discipline to ensure that you are a better person today than you were the day before. More educated, more discerning, capable of thinking on a higher level. As an advocate for personal development, I believe our brains are wired to acquire new information until we take our last breath.
So at the tender young age of 52 (yes, technically I still am considered young), I am going back to school for my Doctorate in Leadership at Lancaster Bible College. It’s more than just a life-long dream; it’s a requirement. If I am passionate about inspiring others to reach their full leadership potential, what better way to encourage this than to model the behavior myself?
The program’s application process included an interview where the professor referred to the program as a terminal
degree. I laughed out loud before I could catch myself. What a crazy thing to say! Several of my Ph.D. friends told me that there will be times when I am completely lost or drained, lying on the kitchen floor in a fetal position, desperately crying out to the Lord for insight. Surely that must make one feel terminal.
But what the professor meant was this is it!
There is no higher degree. The phrase, “there’s nowhere to go but up” does not apply here. When I was in the military this would be the equivalent of pinning on that 4th
star as a General. So, Lord willing, I’ll complete the program and can go to my grave knowing that there was at least one thing in life where, as a mere mortal, I touched the heavens above me.
Some of our greatest teachers say that if there was one thing they could do differently, it would be to do less preaching, teaching, and speaking and more reading, learning, and reflecting. A leader has to stay above the power curve, and that requires a great deal of independent study, unlearning, relearning, and reflection. It’s unfortunate that, in today’s professional world, everything works to the disadvantage of this one constant tenet of personal development.
So here goes. Class is in session. Although my school of self-education has never had a summer break, I am truly excited to be in a more structured learning environment. Iron sharpens iron, so I hope to transform into something more capable and cutting-edge than anything I could have previously imagined. If you don’t see or hear from me much in the next three years, just know I’m probably curled up on a kitchen floor somewhere morphing into something more tremendous!