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

Peak Life Experiences: The Beginning of Senior Sage Leadership

19 min read

Gary Quehl and William Bergquist

When I joined Bell Labs and later went to graduate school with some of the best minds in the country, I found I could compete well with anyone.  Senior Sage Leader

The 50 senior sage leaders had peak life experiences in ten major areas that moved them toward sagacity and civic engagement: overcoming tragedy and hardship, work, international travel, mentors, education, recreation, nonprofit organizations, the Civil Rights Movement, religion and spiritual awareness, and marriage.

Personal Experiences

Many of the senior Sage leaders found—like their younger Emergent leader colleagues—that their peak experiences were very personal.

Overcoming tragedy and hardship

The peak experiences of senior sage leaders tied to tragedy and hardship are rich and varied. One very senior person became toughened to life by overcoming death as a young woman and then having to rely on dialysis for 30 years, while another learned memorable leadership lessons by rising to the occasion in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane. A senior sage leader walked 12 miles out from Big Sur Canyon (on the Northern California coast) on a broken leg and found that his not giving-up had permanently changed him. Another became her mother’s guardian at age 23 and committed her to a mental institution against family wishes, while a third dwells on feelings of caring for her father before he died from leukemia. Two senior sage leaders mention growing-up poor—but along the way having acquired moral values, a strong work ethic, and knowing the importance of community service.

Two others had horrific peak experiences in combat, one in WWII and another in Vietnam. Several identify divorce as a life-changing experience, and one woman who lost her children through divorce became a well-known expert on intact families and adoption. And then there is the senior sage leader who lived through the Battle of Britain during WWII:

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