January 15, 2009. It began like many other days in his lifetime – checking in at the airport, taking his seat in the captain’s chair, and running through the pre-flight checklist. He had done it thousands of times in his expansive career. As he took off, he remarked to his co-pilot, “What a beautiful view of the Hudson today!”
Little did he know that, within seconds of making that remark, he was about to make a detour into his ultimate purpose in life. That was the day Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, saving the lives of all on board.
When you are young, your goals are related to learning, experiencing, and advancing in your career. These are the building years – building family, building a career or business, and building community.
But there’s a shift that occurs in mid-life, where you begin to look at life from a broader perspective. You shift from simply wanting to make a living to being compelled to make a difference. Captain Sully writes about this in his book, Making a Difference, where he shares the insights of leaders in business, technology, science, and other industries.
As an executive coach, I meet talented and experienced business men and women every day who express to me a desire to make a difference, to know their lives have made an impact – on their relationships, their community, their business, and in some big or small way, the world. They may have earned the income and positional respect, but it is impact that matters most to them.
It made me realize that I, too, had this perspective. As a busy wife, mother, grandmother, and now care-taker daughter, I want make an impact on my family. As a volunteer with women and children’s organizations, I desire to make an impact on my community. As a business owner, I am compelled to make an impact in the business world. And as a former diplomat, I desired to make an impact even then.
What is the impact?
It differs for each person, but for me, it is about developing leaders for this generation and the next – leaders who, themselves, will make a difference, each in their own way. It is about developing good ethics and values in my grandchildren so they can have a blessed life. It is about developing strong communities by strengthening its people. It is about developing strong and successful business leaders to make an impact, not only in their lives, but in the lives of their people. It is about developing relationships with others, which makes for a better world.
What is impact for you?
What difference would you like to make in these four key areas of your life?
This is a challenging but compelling question. Taking the time to reflect and explore each area allows you to set goals for the second act of your life that will fulfill your desire to truly make a difference.
You have spent decades preparing for this day. The question is, where do you go from here and how do you make a difference?
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive coaching, leadership development, succession planning, change, and conflict management. She is also a Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.