By Whaid Rose
When I turned 50 I took time off to read a book which had been on my reading list for some time. The book is titled Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance, by Bob Buford. It connects that transition period during a ballgame with that point in a person’s life when a new game plan is needed for maximizing life’s second half.
In a ballgame, allowances are made for mistakes and fumbles in the first half. But as the clock winds down to zero, the players know they must give it everything they have. So it is in the game called life.
EVEN IF YOU’RE NOWHERE NEAR MID-LIFE, DON’T STOP READING.
Even if you’re nowhere near mid-life, don’t stop reading, for there’s a sense in which we’re all at halftime no matter where we are on life’s continuum, because we’re not promised tomorrow.
So, as underscored in the book’s subtitle, Buford offers this simple yet compelling strategy for making the most of the time left to us: move from success to significance.
A highly successful businessman, Buford found himself yearning for a new game plan at mid-life. He reasoned that since his first half was all about material success and achievement, the second half ought to be about pursuing something of eternal value.
This conviction began what Buford calls “a process of discovery” through which he was forced to enter the “heart’s holiest chamber” where he wrestled with life’s big questions about meaning, purpose and legacy.
THIS LED TO THE CREATION OF “THE HALFTIME STRATEGY.”
This then led to the creation of “the halftime strategy,” which, simply stated, is writing our own epitaph and spending the rest of our life making sure it’s true.
Buford writes, “When you select an epitaph as an expression of gratitude for your singular talent—and as a goal to which you are committed until you rest, at last, beneath the gravestone—you identify yourself as a person with a purpose and a passion that has been encoded in your life.” (p. 25)
Buford’s epitaph simply reads: 100X. It is based on the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 and represents his understanding of what it means to truly live a life of significance. He writes, “I want to be the seed that was planted in good soil and multiplied. I want to be a symbol of higher yield, in life and in death” (pp. 24-25).
THIS BOOK HAD A PROFOUND IMPACT ON MY LIFE.
Needless to say, reading this book had a profound impact on my life, so much so that it became a kind of “spiritual marker” for me.
Looking back, that was the genesis of my “significance journey,” which led to my stepping away from a leadership position I had held for many years, and which influenced my decision to pursue coaching training.
What does coaching have to do with it? Ask the world’s leading leadership expert, John Maxwell, who in recent years has made coaching and mentoring a major focus of his organization.
According to Maxwell, our life takes on significance when we begin to focus on the needs of others. If success is about climbing the ladder, significance is about holding the ladder for someone. When boiled down to their bare essentials, equipping, coaching, and mentoring is about “people of value, adding value to people.”
NOT SURE YOU HAVE ANY VALUE TO ADD TO OTHERS?
Not sure you have any value to add to others? Just look into your box. Buford explains, “Significance begins by stopping wherever you are on the journey to see what’s in the box and then reordering your life around its contents” (p. 87).
Expanding this analogy, Pastor Andy Stanley says each of us, especially those over 40, has a “treasure chest” which contains treasures from our “unique combination of successes, failures and experiences.”
The question is, what are you going to do with it? Sadly, many people’s treasure chest gets buried with them when they die. But God wants us to leverage ours for the benefit of those coming behind us, because, as Stanley emphasizes, “The value of a life is always measured by how much of it is given away.”
OUR DRIVE TO BE THE BEST WE CAN BE POINTS TO POSITIVE ASPECTS OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT.
It should be underscored that success isn’t necessarily bad. Our drive to be the best we can be points to positive aspects of the human spirit. But success that’s “all about me” has a way of leaving us empty.
Furthermore, crafting that single phrase or sentence which captures our dreams and passions doesn’t come easy for anyone. But keeping the halftime strategy in our thought process can greatly influence the way we live out life’s second half.
So move from success to significance. Craft your epitaph. Develop your halftime strategy. Look into your treasure chest. Pour yourself into others. You’ll maximize your second half, and make an eternal difference.
Endnotes and References:
Bob Buford, Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1994 & 2008).
Comments on John Maxwell’s focus on coaching and mentoring and connection that to the significance mindset were gleaned from the author’s notes taken during his training as a member of the John Maxwell Team, and other books by Maxwell including The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork and Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Make.
The treasure chest analogy and quote by Andy Stanley are taken from Stanley’s sermon on Mentoring, published on You Tube.