PREVENTING MIDLIFE DRIFT
Have you noticed a disturbing pattern in leaders over their lifetime? I sure have, and the trend is extremely alarming. Many are starting well, and yet very few are finishing with the success they had hoped to achieve. Whether we’re talking about the Kings in the Old Testament or modern leaders today, the pattern remains consistent. Many leaders simply don’t finish well.
In his book entitled The Making of a Leader, Dr. Robert Clinton found that after analyzing 3,500 leaders, only 25% of them ended well. The rest either stagnated, floundered, or dropped out all together. In order to avoid becoming one of those statistics, I have found that there are 5 things a midlife leader can do that will help him stay as fresh and effective as he needs to be.
“We must ruthlessly focus on only the things that we are uniquely gifted and called to do.”
1. FIGHT FOR FOCUS | When we were young we could afford to pursue a wide variety of different things. This is called experimentation. Unfortunately, as we grow older, we can no longer afford the luxury of experimenting any more. We must ruthlessly focus on only the things that we are uniquely gifted and called to do. I call this finding your 5%. These are the things that only you, and you alone can do. What do you do with other 95% you ask? Delegate, delegate, delegate!
2. GET PHYSICAL | As we get older, it’s only natural that our energy levels are going to plateau and even start to wane. Let’s face it, we simply don’t have the same get up and go that we used to. I have found that by eating healthy and getting regular, moderate exercise helps to replenish my tank. It’s amazing how a short workout at home or in the gym will give us the fresh stamina we need to make the next decision, or endure the next meeting.
3. GO DEEPER | Young people tend to look for the simple “yes or no / black or white” answers in life. And yet by the time we reach midlife, we have discovered that there is a whole lot of grey in the world around us. Because of this, pat answers, surface approaches, and kindergarten theology is simply not going to satisfy the hunger we have for truth. We must go deeper! Deeper in our reading, deeper in thought life, deeper in our theology, and deeper in the way we view and approach the world around us.
4. SHARE WHO WE ARE, NOT WHAT WE DO | By the time we’ve reached midlife we have a virtual treasure chest of wisdom, experience, maturity, and character that’s just waiting to be shared with those around us. And so, rather than doing what we did when we were younger, namely bragging about our successes and all the great things we were doing, let’s learn to share the essence of who we are with the younger leaders around us. The first half of our life is mainly made up of accumulation, and so the second should consist of giving it away.
5. STAY POSITIVE | Cynicism is a disease that runs rampant among the “mature”. I mean, let’s face it, we have seen it all! All the good, all the bad, and yes, a whole lot of the ugly. Unfortunately, this can contribute to lethal levels of negativity and pessimism in our lives. Those around us need our optimism more than our negativity, our encouragement more than our critique, and our faith more than our cold, hard pragmatism. Whatever it takes stay positive!
As midlife leaders, we have the responsibility to stay as fresh and engaged as possible.
Remember, there are countless of people counting on us.
Pastor Dave Meyers
Royal Oak Victory Church