November 15, 2015 | by Larry Minnix
In just a few weeks’ time, I’ll be closing the chapter on a 15-year career at LeadingAge. My time here has been filled with accomplishments as well as lessons learned. I cherish each of these because they helped me grow as a leader, while keeping my feet firmly rooted on the ground in reality. I am grateful for a wonderful network of mentors, colleagues and friends who have guided and supported me along the way.
Mark Twain said the two most important days in a person’s life are the day they are born and the day they understand why.
I understood why when I walked into Wesley Woods in 1973 and again when I stepped into the AAHSA (now LeadingAge) boardroom to be interviewed in 2000.
And I understand why when I visit members and see firsthand how you are helping to expand the world of possibilities for aging.
Here are a few things I want to share with you before I go …
- Serve boldly. Push beyond your walls and comfort zones.
- Lead confidently. As Jim Collins says, “Leadership matters—and the greatness it produces is a conscious choice. If you don’t lead you may not like where others lead us.”
- Keep up—or you will become obsolete.
- Change faster—or you will become irrelevant.
- Collaborate, don’t compete. Find ways to partner and learn from one another.
- Remember the Main Thing. A board member at Wesley Woods once told me, “Remember that the ‘main thing’ is the ‘main thing.’ Keep your eye on the big picture and your feet on the ground."
- Create more fun. Neuroscience tells us the fastest distance between people is laughter, otherwise you are at risk of becoming cynical. This is serious work so we better have fun doing it.
- Advocate louder. If you don’t, somebody else will and you may not like the result.
- Don’t forget where you came from, as my mother used to say. You have values. Don’t compromise them. You must be in the world, but not of it.
- Remember the little people. Our work is not to benefit stakeholders, stockholders, ideologues or special interests. No, we are here for the public good and to meet the basic needs of our society that are often difficult to meet. To make the lives of all of us little people better. Yes, we’re all little people.
- Pray for each other, your missions, the leadership—including the new leadership of LeadingAge and the leadership of our country.
And finally …
- Take time to rest and renew. My late mother-in-law Dot shared this quote by Victor Hugo with me many years ago: “Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” No, our problems are not on your shoulders alone …
It has been a privilege and an honor to represent this organization. I am so proud of the work that you do every day to help make our world a safe, healthy, and vibrant place to grow old. Thank you for your support and guidance.
You are stewards of the legacies you now lead from traditions whose tenets are 3,000 years old. Those tenets have stood the test of time—as have you. As I finish my watch, Katie Smith Sloan’s watch begins and yours continues …