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Learning to Live

Like many of you, I grew up fast. The summer of my 14th year I scored two jobs working five days a week from 6:30 AM until 7:30 PM. Pedaling my bike before daybreak to my babysitting job, I was released at 4:00 to then bike over to assist a swim teacher as we taught a gaggle of kids to blow bubbles, kick and do the backstroke. I’d fall into bed around 10:00 PM to wake up the next morning and do it all again. Now mind you, it wasn’t drudgery. I loved my work, those I worked for, and I loved my paychecks!

However, this baptism by fire into the work-a-day world circumvented a crazy, carefree summer for this rising Freshman and little did I know that it was setting the stage for what would eventually become my life: the pursuit of purpose through my career. There, again, I scored having the amazing opportunity to work with global technology leaders as we launched some of the most important technologies of our day. It was awesome. But . . . it was work.

Since my retirement six years ago, today, I have found that having a successful career and living life can be mutually exclusive for some of us. Having a ‘head-down, getter’ done’ focus is great when you’re building a business but it can be a detriment for those of us who are single-minded to the point of excluding other things (and people) that bring joyful surprise and meaningful fulfillment.

In Eleanor Porter’s famous novel, Pollyanna, Pollyanna and Dr. Chilton are chatting when Pollyanna relates a recent exchange she had with her Aunt Polly, regarding the importance of little girls learning to sew and read:

“Aunt Polly says they’re ‘learning to live,’” said Pollyanna, with a rueful smile. “But I don’t see it that way at all. I don’t think you have to learn how to live. I didn’t anyhow.”

The doctor drew a long sigh. “After all, I’m afraid some of us—do have to.”

If you find yourself wondering what happened to your life (as it flies by at a ridiculous rate of speed), wonder no more and waste not another day. If you’re unlike Pollyanna, where living life comes naturally, be like Dr. Chilton and the rest of us and sign up for classes today.

(In this photo, Steve and I are dining with some pretty awesome people at La Bamba Ranch outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was late to the party but I’m finally getting the hang of ‘living life’. This lesson plan is amazing!)

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