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““In 97 years I’ve learned one thing, it’s an old saying: people don’t grow old, they become old when they stop growing.” ~ Pat Hyndman

Have you ever met someone who changed your life – even though you only met him once? Have you ever met someone who made you feel like you were the only person in the world that mattered – even though you were sitting among countless others who felt the same way? Have you ever met someone who was vibrantly alive – even though he was facing death?

Three months ago I got to meet a gentleman like this.

Pat Hyndman retired three decades ago; a chapter in life most of us picture complete with well-deserved lazy mornings, afternoons on the golf course and evenings playing bridge. Pat took a different path. He continued to grow himself, inspire others and make a difference as an executive coach for Vistage International.

Executive coaching is demanding work: business owners are extremely time-challenged and demand a high return for their investment. Pat recognized and still took his work one step further; he didn’t just focus on growing his executives’ professional success, but also inspiring them to thrive in every facet of life.

This past winter I finally had the chance to meet this amazing man when I spoke to his 24 executives and their spouses. Several of his friends prepared me for the reality that Pat’s health was failing after a century of living and a stage-four cancer diagnosis that resulted in several rounds of chemo. I was deeply honored to have the opportunity and Pat amazed me. He was the first person to stand when I walked into the room. He came over, looked me in the eyes with a big smile, shook my hand firmly and welcomed me into his group. He actively participated in the entire three-hour leadership session and shared wisdom throughout. He celebrated his 98th birthday that evening. After we sang to him, Pat went around the room and complimented every one of us personally. He made each of us feel as if we should be celebrating our lives.

As Pat was putting on his coat to go home that night, I asked what fueled him each day, what allowed him to keep going to work, to keep showing up for chemo, to keep fighting for life? He reminded me that life is a gift and that he treasured each day of it. Besides, Pat said, he made a commitment to his wife, Bonnie, 73 years ago to stay by her side. He winked at me, hugged me and headed home to his wife.

Last weekend Pat went home for the final time. For nearly a century he showed us how we could really live our lives. He remained focused on a few simple truths that I am honored to share with you today:

  • life is a gift
  • one person matters
  • grow each day
  • be of service to others
  • recognize that some commitments are worth fighting for

My friend, recognize these simple truths as you live for today, fight for tomorrow, impact others and remember that the best is yet to come.

If you have a Pat – someone who changed your life even though you only met once – share your story in the comments below!

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