It was Colonel Harland Sanders who said: “The moral out of my life is don’t quit at age 65. Maybe your boat hasn’t come in yet. Mine hadn’t.”
Colonel Sanders was 65 years old with only a $105 monthly pension check when he began in earnest to sell his chicken recipe to restaurants in exchange for a small fee for every piece of chicken sold. It took him 12 years, but he did make a go of it and sold his franchise business for $2M in 1964. Colonel Sanders is embodiment of the adage that it is never too late to live your dreams.
I have always been a late bloomer. While my life has not been quite as challenging as Colonel Sanders, I have reached milestones later than many:
1. I married for the first time at age 40.
2. I finished my graduate degree at age 41.
3. I joined Accenture where my career really took off at age 43.
4. I formed my first company, Know Thyself Guides® at age 60.
I have learned about myself along the way, but much of it I learned in my 50s. That is one of the deciding reasons I created Know Thyself Guides® to help others understand (hopefully earlier in life than I) who they are and the dreams they can create as a result. I am particularly blessed that I live in the USA, a country that affords late bloomers like me and Colonel Sanders the second chances we need to pursue those dreams.
Last week I was asked to be the Moderator of the July 31 TEDxWilmingtonSalon “Second Chances.” I would have been thrilled to just be part of this historic event inside Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution. Now I get the added privilege of introducing some amazing speakers, including 6 inmates and my hero, Dr. Dan Gottlieb of WHYY’s Voices in the Family, talk about the second chances in their own lives.
We are going to hear many amazing stories about how individuals have learned about what is unique to them and are pursuing dreams that will make the world a better place for all. Many of them have come to this understanding through heartache and adversity but are using their experiences as opportunities for creating good in the world and good for themselves.
I had a “taste” of what these stories might be when I attended “Breaking Bread Behind Bars,” an extraordinary dinner at Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution. The dinner was a part of the 2015 MidAtlantic Wine and Food Festival. It was inspired by the late Matt Haley who won a James Beard Award in 2014 and gave a power TEDx talk at 2014 TEDxWilmington just before his untimely death in August . The residents (aka prisoners) who prepared our meal and with whom we dined were in the culinary program. They were taking full advantage of the “opportunity” provided to them during their prison experience to learn about food arts. They were following their passions and planning to create new lives for themselves when they left prison. We heard stories about these dreams and how these women were overcoming fears, substance abuse, and self-esteem issues to pursue their passions. They were turning hardship into opportunity.
U.S. Senator Chris Coons spoke at this dinner and reminded us all that ours is a nation of Second Chances. I am blessed that I live in a country that encourages these second chances. I am blessed that I can learn from the experiences of others who have taken full advantage of this. I know that as we hear the stories of inspiration and hope on July 31, we will all come away convinced that it is never too late to live our dreams. If they can do it, we can, too.