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

Peak Life Experiences: The Beginning of Senior Sage Leadership

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Senior sage leaders reflect on the transforming power of mentors. One identifies a high school teacher who had confidence in him as a young man, and another mentions the influence and example that her piano teacher had in launching her career in music and music education. A third senior sage leader had a high school teacher who taught him the importance of finishing whatever he started, and two had fathers for mentors; one was a distinguished attorney who supported his son’s decision not to pursue a career in the law, while the other was so inspired by his father’s gift of good example that he chose to follow in his footsteps.

Educational experiences

Many senior sage leaders point to peak experiences that are associated with formal schooling. One was greatly impacted by going to boarding school at a very early age and having to survive away from home. Another recalls the transforming privilege of coming from a local modest home and going to Stanford University on a football scholarship, while a third remembers that Sister Eleanor was hugely influential in shaping his values in elementary school. Then there is the senior sage leader who trained in college for a career in teaching, only to discover that he was interested in music instead. Or the sage leader who found that moving around a lot as a child to attend many new schools had been profoundly formative. Two had great school leadership experiences, one running for student body president against all odds and winning, and the other being made captain of his team at age 12. And then there is the spirited story of the senior sage leader as an undergraduate:

I remember sitting at my desk and going through the catalog and decided I was going to graduate with honors so I could get a master’s degree. At the time I had a 2.5 grade average, and all of the hardest electrical engineering courses were coming up. I marked the grade I wanted to achieve after every course I had to take for the next two years to graduate with honors—and I nailed every one of them. I went from being a 2.5 to a 3.6 student overnight just because I decided this was what I was going to do. After that I knew I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. 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.

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