While taking a coarse in business leadership I read Robert Clinton’s book, The Making of a Leader. In this book readers are encouraged to create a linear time-line of their life so that they can consider the “big picture” in terms of patterns, processes, and principles that are foundational to understanding the analysis of one’s life. The patterns are seen in long-term observations. To recognize these patterns you consider the “processes” or those providential events, people, circumstances, special interventions, and inner-life lessons. After analyzing these patterns and processes readers are encouraged to identify some of the foundational truths that have been gained though the analysis.
A few years ago, “life strategist” and TV personality Phillip C. McGraw, better known as Dr. Phil, wrote a book entitled Self Matters: Creating Your Life from the Inside Out. Although I’m not an avid fan of the self-help genre, I paused while flipping through channels to listen to him plug his book on Oprah. Like Robert Clinton, Dr. Phil enthusiastically explained the importance of recognizing some of the key external factors that have shaped everyone’s life. He encouraged people to trace ten defining moments, seven critical choices, and five pivotal people that influenced who they are today. Although I never read Dr. Phil’s book, I have been thinking about some of the pivotal people in my life.
When I worked on the Clinton/McGraw analysis of my life for the course I was taking, I realized that one of the patterns that can be observed is that there are constants that characterize most people’s lives. Some of these constants can be identified as those people who have nurtured and encouraged you all of your life, Most often these are family members, but having grown-up in a military family we were often stationed far from grandparents and cousins. For this reason many military families end up “adopting” other people into their own families. Many of these “family members” play a provisional role, but some become more influential than “blood relatives”. Keeping in touch with these “extended family” has been one of those life lessons. Foundational to the health of any person are the people who care and love you. Those are most often the people whom we have shared life experiences.