About a year ago, I had a 30-minute one-on-one meeting with Jim Collins (www.JimCollins.com), best-selling author of Good to Great and Built to Last.
The meeting was part of a one-day experience sponsored by Bob Buford, best-selling author of Halftime, and founder of the Halftime Institute (www.HalftimeInstitute.org). The day was designed for all Halftimers and marketplace leaders desiring to move from Success to Significance.
Compared to our parents’ and grandparents’ expected lifespan of 50 years, we have two lifetimes now. ‘Life I’ comes before halftime, and ‘Life II’ comes afterwards. Our second half has the potential to be the most meaningful season of all. Bob describes Halftime as the in-between season that occurs at about age 45, and separates our First Life from our Second Life.
Prior to the event, Jim Collins gave us an assignment to identify two individuals in order to compare and contrast the differences between greatness and mediocrity in the Second Half of life.
Compare and contrast
The first individual was to be someone who I saw as a role model of great renewal, someone who made the very most of his or her Second Half of life.
I was asked to consider how this person went about the process of renewal, and what he or she did, and stopped doing, as they progressed through their Second Half.
The second individual was to be someone I saw as a contrast to the first individual, having a mediocre experience in the Second Half of life. This individual was to have comparable circumstances to my first individual, in terms of resources, constraints, and opportunities, but who squandered his or her Second Life.
Also, I was to consider how this person went about the process of squandering the opportunity for renewal, what he or she did or failed to do, and failed to stop doing, as the lived their Second Half.
Time to reflect
Jim Collins also asked us to answer these questions:
- What difference did I see between my great role model and my mediocre role model?
- What lessons did I draw from this empirical analysis about what it takes to create a great Second Half?
- What most surprised me in the differences between how these two individuals went about preparing for and executing their Second Half?
The exercise was quite thought-provoking and led me to the following conclusion: Every Halftimer and marketplace leader can live a great Second Half by following these principles in their work and life:
1. Define your Second Half To be truly great you have to accomplish three things:
- Superior results relative to the arena you’re in. For example, if you’re a sports team and don’t win games you’re not great, no matter how good you are. You must have results.
- Distinctive impact. If what you’re doing were to disappear, would it leave an un-fillable hole? Something so distinctive, and done so well, that it couldn’t be easily replaced by any other person or organization on the planet?
- Lasting endurance. For an organization, this means the capacity to deliver 1(results) and 2 (impact) over a long period of time. On the individual level, this is reflected as a lasting legacy of some kind.
2. Focus outward (achieving significance) versus focusing inward (where your identity is in your success). Stated another way, those who lead meaningful Second Halves become more others-centered and less self-centered.
Why plan a great Second Half?
It’s a good question. Those who get intentional about living a life of significance lead lives marked by energy, passion, purpose, and peace.
Wouldn’t you rather lean into a life of contribution and purpose instead of reliving your past successes or, even worse, becoming bitter over past setbacks?
Jim, you had challenged me to write you a letter after one year and address the questions: What have I done? Where am I? What have I stopped doing? How have I developed? So I’m using this blog post as my letter to you. Please look over my website and see how far I’ve come.
Have you considered how you’ll spend your Second Life?
PS: It’s never too late to become intentional about the days ahead and take steps to advance from Success to Significance.