Having just celebrated my 56th birthday, I could never have envisioned that this would be the most exciting and fulfilling time of my life. Although this is a rather bold declaration, it’s absolutely true!
The seeds of my current life chapter were sown some seven years ago. At that time, I was on top of the world. Our marriage was great, our kids were doing great, and I was at the top of my career game as the lead portfolio manager at Russell Investments. Nonetheless, I could sense that I was being nudged toward something different. I had no idea what that was at the time, but my instincts were telling me that a new direction was in the works.
I vividly recall telling God that if He wanted me to do something different, I was up for it. I did have a special request, though. After immersing my career in the stock market 24-7, I hoped that any new beginning would involve kids and relationships. It wasn’t a stipulation, so I figured it was okay. I always experienced my greatest joy around kids, and I hoped they would play a part in any new plan.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, two things quickly emerged. One was an opportunity to coach my daughter, Lauren’s, elementary basketball team. The other was serving as a Deacon at our church. Despite being incredibly busy with life at the time, I pursued both positions. I’m eternally grateful that I did.
Coaching Lauren’s basketball team from third through sixth grade was the most joy-filled experience of my life. We took a dozen exuberant rookies from one of the league’s weakest teams to one of the best in four short years. These amazing kids and their incredible parents were the best. This experience reinforced my love of mentoring kids.
Serving as a Deacon for our church shaped me in a different way. I was now surrounded by the most unselfish and servant-minded people of my life, and I knew I wasn’t remotely in their league. I learned a lot from them, most poignantly the joy of serving others. I knew I needed to build on that momentum.
A year later, I was nominated to the school board at Lighthouse Christian School, where our children attended. This was my third such invitation, but the timing was finally right. Little did I know that this would be a true life changer.
One of my assignments was to lead a project team to evaluate the course offerings for our upper grades. We recommended several new classes that involved leadership, life skills, and financial literacy. Once they were adopted with great enthusiasm, we would need to find an instructor, preferably one with practical experience outside of the educational realm. It was at that point that I knew that I was meant to teach them.
A year later, I retired from my 27-year investment career to be a volunteer instructor (and new Board Chairman!) at our school. With great excitement about this new chapter, I spent the summer of 2008 developing my finance curriculum. I completed this work in late July, with two weeks to spare before our Michael headed to college at Pepperdine.
I wanted these last two weeks to be filled with father/son bonding as he set forth on his new adventure. One night, I was led to an old stack of papers that had been piling up for years in our bedroom. As I fished through the pile, I noticed two sheets of notes I had written a few years earlier. They were my starter list of “life success pointers” for Michael before he left for college. They represented the life wisdom and lessons that I learned through the years and were meant to give him a nice head start. Trouble was, I had completely forgotten about them, and I had barely two weeks to go!
I made a beeline to the den to type them in a Word document. Finally, I was done—all 44 of them. Or, so I thought. I neglected to include anything about financial matters, and here I had just built my finance curriculum! I added some 15 new pointers, thinking that my work was now finished. Wrong again! I was now “in the moment,” and my mind was suddenly bombarded with one new idea after another. My fingers could barely keep up. Eventually, at the stroke of midnight, my mind finally went blank. I was now staring at a list of 100 life success pointers! I knew immediately that this was a book in the making, and I was destined to write it. After lots of preparation, I typed my first words on October 21, 2008.
Over the past two years, my life has focused on writing this book, as well as volunteering at school. It’s been an incredible learning experience, and I can’t wait to see where it’s meant to go. With hindsight now, I believe my life has been a preparation for this important work. Needless to say, I never knew it at the time.
Who says your most exciting times can’t be in your mid 50’s? With this incredible chain of events, I’m living proof.