Home Concepts Adult Development Peak Life Experiences: The Beginning of Emerging Sage Leadership

Peak Life Experiences: The Beginning of Emerging Sage Leadership

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When I was young, I was friends with a guy but never understood what he did for      a living because he was never around much. When I found out that he was a     superb professional musician, it was the first time I realized one could make a      living making art.


The peak experiences of other emerging sage leaders were in the political arena. A new mayor discovered she could make mistakes in the public eye, learn from them, and still be effective. A very young person was asked to run for the school board and, to his surprise, was elected. A third emerging sage recalls the energy, excitement, and sense of common purpose that arose during a presidential rally for Geraldine Ferraro. And then there is the newly-appointed county executive who had to cope with a serious emergency:

A major flood occurred right after elections, with an elected body that was changing but where the existing elected body was still making decisions. My challenge was to work through this process and make decisions in a very stressful environment. Just responding to the flood crisis, and what came out of it, was pretty powerful. In the end, we did a good job.

International experiences

One emerging sage leader credits his Peace Corps experience and later work in poor Oakland California neighborhoods as the greatest influences on his life, while a second identifies his Peace Corps work in Russia as seminal. Other emerging sages had different international peak experiences: one learned a new language while serving as an exchange student in Germany, and a second volunteered for a program called Amigos de las Americas; another emerging sage recalls the powerful high school experience of listening to a visiting South African talk about apartheid, while a second participated in Semester at Sea and a third found that extensive international travel with parents was transformative. One emerging sage leader recalls a particularly potent experience while she was studying painting and photography in Barcelona, Spain:

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