Betty White turns 90 years old today. She is redefining what ‘old means.’ My grandmother was a “Betty White” in many ways. When my grandmother — Arlene Hunter — turned 90 years old, she set a goal of memorizing one Chopin Etude per month on the piano. (Chopin Etudes are widely recognized as some of the most rigorous technical pieces of the modern era. He wrote them in the 1830s to teach the modern techniques necessary to perform the finest pieces in the world. The 27 Etudes are the cornerstones for professional concert pianists.)
Granted, my grandmother was an accomplished musician; opera singer, school music teacher and piano instructor. But Chopin Etudes at 90? She was retired, widowed, living alone and building a strategy to get the most out of last chapter in her life. Her physique was consistent with rural Iowa women. But her mind was as sharp as a New York Times columnist. Her spirit was Ferrari red. Why not set an audacious goal to accomplish on the piano what most twenty-something aspiring musicians do while pursuing a Masters in piano? She learned, and memorized all 27, and lived 13 more years. That’s Betty White air.
So, what are you working on? Human beings were meant to work hard and build things. We find joy in dreaming, purpose in the pursuit and meaning when building things. That’s what builds character. People admire and follow character.
Me? I’m learning to enjoy improving my fitness (dropped 4 pounds last week!) I’m teaching 30 kids the music to a church play. I’m building a coaching and publishing business. I’m finding mental toughness and focus in my golf game. I’m accepting all the people, speed bumps, ups and downs in my life as a gift — grateful for how they make me who I am today. Through more than 25 years of coaching leaders, I’ve learned one of the most rewarding questions to ask is: What are you working on?
The Spring 2012 Good Leadership Breakfast begins February 17, 2012. The theme is Personal and Professional Planning. You’ll hear great stories from good leaders who are always working on something good! Watch for your registration email tomorrow, or visit the site now and sign-up one day early!
So…What’s your Chopin Etude? What are you working on that brings you joy, purpose and meaning? Good leaders wake up every day with a vision for how the work they have on their plates today, makes them the person they want to be when they grow up.
Drop me a note: what are you working on?