The chance to live a second life is nothing less than a privilege. I don’t mean a second chapter, I mean, the opportunity to live a life that feels brand new.
I’m writing this blog on a day of the week where I meet with all 3 of my Mastermind and Coaching Groups. One is a group for men and women below the age of 40 and the other two require a minimum age of 45. I consider myself a People’s Coach, and as such, will work with anyone who’s a psychographic match for me, regardless of their demographic. So, why make a distinction around age when working with groups?
At 56, I have already started climbing what David Brooks calls our “Second Mountain”, and I can report that it’s an entirely different effort with views that can be spectacular, only if we don’t compare it to the First Mountain. My clients who are younger than 45, regardless of how mature they may be, are asking themselves an entirely different set of questions. Their life focus and definition of success is mostly centred on external achievement. As we work together, they begin to understand that there is not only a horizontal Goal Line to move across, but there is also a vertical Soul Line to climb if we are to experience the feelings of success.
After all, every single one of us who strives to achieve more in any area of our lives is doing it for the feeling we believe it will produce. Although Millenials are questioning this entire premise and experiencing their own kind of Quarter Life Crisis, nature drives us to create while we can. The First Mountain is steep and jagged. We need ample energy, physical strength, and all the evolutionary fitness and desire to leave our stamp on the world. So we take big steps and move fast. We don’t slow down to replenish and rejuvenate. We feel powerful with no true understanding of the fundamentals of power, but we make up for it with a measure of innocent invincibility, charm, and frankly, luck. We’ve been told that once we get to the top of the mountain, we’ll be good. We will have it all and can “settle down” and experience peace, calm, and serenity.
My job is to prepare my younger clients for the view and feeling at the top. For most of us, the view is beautiful for a minute and a half. Then we notice there is a second mountain in the distance separated by a deep valley. Wait, what??? “I have to go down, across, and up again???”
No, we don’t. Climbing the Second Mountain is a choice and a privilege.
Many of us choose to stay at the top of the First Mountain and live a life defined mostly by maintenance. We hold on to the memories of our youth, and with the help of Botox and plastic surgery, affirm our citizenship on this mountain of achievement. Who wants to go down to a valley anyway?
My group of extraordinary clients who have crossed the midlife point, by choice or by fate, have walked through the often dark valley that separates the two mountains, and are well on their way to climbing the Second Mountain. This mountain is less steep, jagged, and tall. It’s more gentle, rolling, and long. The ascent to the top is slower and the views are to be enjoyed along the way – not just at the top. There is humility and grace that define the topography of this mountain. It takes more than sheer strength to climb it and more than muscling our way to reach the top.
The opportunity to climb the Second Mountain is a gift – one that we were far from guaranteed at birth. At the turn of the last century, the average lifespan of an American man was 50, and for women, it was less than 25. I have to assume that as a species, we have a strong desire to live as long as possible, or else we would not have created the technology to do so.
So, here we are – those of us who are privileged to be climbing our Second Mountain – and I’ve learned that this is what allows us to see views that are spectacular, significant, and stunning.
- Don’t compare the two mountains. This is a second life, not a next chapter.
- Find new energy sources and different fuel.
- Travel with others who carry the wisdom of having traversed the valley.
- Travel light by sharing and giving away everything you’ve collected on the First Mountain.
- Laugh a lot, be kind, and give permission, especially to yourself.
- Love and nurture your body with devotion. It’s so much more than the wrinkles, scars, and changes it carries – it’s the heart, the lungs, and the miracle of each body part that allows us to be here now.
Finally, slow down – enjoy the views – celebrate every step, because this second life is a privilege and one that, as far as we know, will not be offered again.