The Final Lesson

Posted September 2019

I went to a funeral on Thursday.  Not just any funeral. This one was for my first real boss (outside my Father).  US Army Colonel Schmidt. The Colonel was a hard-charging softie. As I walked the halls reconnecting with old coworkers.  The range of career accomplishments varied from some still working in the engineering department to others rising to General Officers.  But on this sunny day, the relationship with our boss/leader rejoined our team. I couldn’t help but think to my own death, wondering what stories will be told by those people in my life that I have led.  

I have come to believe, the greatest mission of a leader, is to pour knowledge and wisdom, developed by our experiences, into those we lead.  While supporting them, with the tools and encouragement they need, then step back for the ride. I believe, the goal of a great leader should be to make themselves obsolete.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve had the distinct privilege of being the first boss to hundreds of our community’s high school and college kids.  I have also been privileged to lead many others from my time in construction, various businesses, and currently the Fleur de Lis event center.  I have no doubt, I made lots of mistakes leading, especially in my younger years. But I take hope in a statement Pastor Steve Robinson (Church of the King) often says “While I may not be where I want to be, I’m not where I used to be”.

On the front of my desk, is a plaque that reads “Live your life so that the preacher won’t have to lie at your funeral.”  At Colonel Schmidt’s funeral, I realized we should live our lives not just so the preacher won’t lie, but so our life has great positive impact on others, namely those we lead.  People matter most, how we treat them, empower them, support them, care for them.  

Thinking this way, made me realize how blessed my life has been, not because of financial accomplishments, but because of relational accomplishments.  And as I get older, the other side of 50, my experience/knowledge has increased, but so has the number people I am blessed to help, teach, support, work with, and lead.   

On July 1st, 2019, I began my exit plan.

Running for Mayor of Mandeville (would take office 7/1/20) dictated that.  Last night Fleur de Lis Event Center hosted our Bridal Show. I went to the City Council meeting.  I came late to the show, did no tours, no meetings, I simply walked around enjoying the show and our guests.  It was amazing how unneeded I was.  Watching these amazing young leaders build upon my efforts, making Fleur de Lis Event Center better without my help, was so humbling and rewarding.  Thank you, Kendra, Ana, Anne Marie, Patsy, Victoria, Paulina, Benjamin, Stephen and many others that have come before, making Fleur de Lis Event Center greater, than I could ever imagine it could be. I feel great about you as staff.  So great, in fact, I now feel obsolete.

I look forward to the next chapter in my life, respectfully hoping for the privilege of adding Mayor of Mandeville to my story on 4/4/20. 

Rest in Peace Colonel Schmidt, thanks for the final life lesson.

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And please vote in the city election on Saturday, April 4, 2020.


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