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My “Second Mountain”

by David Casullo author of Leading the High-Energy Culture: What the Best CEOs Do to Create an Atmosphere Where Employees Flourish

Great authors have often written about the “second mountain”.  To paraphrase the idea, we tend to live the first part of our lives pursuing things that contribute to our own value, self-worth and status.  Things like educating ourselves, getting a job that pays well, renting a nice apartment or buying a home and a car, saving up for our retirement or kid’s college, weddings, etc.  

At some point something happens that causes a reconsideration of all of this.  It may be an illness or death of a close loved one.  It could be an addiction gone too far.  In my case it was the sudden loss of my job – at a time when Lori was home, focused on our children and with one income we had backed ourselves into a financial corner with a high flying lifestyle.  “Falling Upward’ by Richard Rohr nails it.  Time for a new focus.

After navigating the emotions and with the help of a remarkable man, may God rest your soul John Sauer, I got serious about where to go from here.  This is when I dedicated myself to others – no longer inward looking, it became important to look outward.  Who could I help?  What needs doing in the world?  What are my blessings, my talents?  How can I aim them and become a better steward?

My journey pivoted at 38.  I became interested more in helping people in business succeed then in helping myself succeed.  First as the SVP of HR for a large furniture retailer, then as the founder and builder of a leadership development institute dedicated to identifying those within our organization who were capable of becoming leaders and then creating leader talent within them.  I HAD FOUND MY PASSION.

Measuring successful leadership is an art.  One thing I have come to believe is leadership excellence is not measured by how many people are reporting to you, rather it is measured by how many other successful leaders you create.  A good sports example is Bill Walsh, famous 49ers coach.  He was responsible for at least six successful successor head coaches in the NFL.

Leaders who create other successful leaders have an exponential impact on the world.  They are rare.  They get their rush from it.  Leonardo da Vinci was said to say, “I dropped my brush in awe of my student’s work.”

So, as I strive to conquer my second mountain, there are three things I have learned that are worth sharing as you consider yours:

  1. Builders are most valuable.  (Stay tuned for more on this.) Be your own version of one.
  2. Your words matter.  But, your actions matter even more.  Positivity is energizing and contagious.
  3. If it’s too easy, you’ve got more work to do.

If you are on your second mountain, or at least possibly heading there, have the courage of your convictions.  We need what you have to give.  My five grandchildren are counting on you.

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