By Mary Landell
As a 60+ single career woman who is running two successful businesses, every decade in life gets better. The Impowerage mission is all about “Empowering yourself to living a life of passion and contribution”. I see myself as a pilgrim in the Christian context, and I’m here to say that my source of any empowerment, passion and contribution is God pushing, pulling, persuading and nurturing me into contemplation or action as required – and I’m very, very, grateful for grace and the health and strength to continue on.
I’m on my fourth career right now and suspect that I will have at least one more career before my life is over. The other careers? I was an English teacher with CUSO (Canadian University Services Overseas) in Kenya, then an ESL teacher at George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario; a Presbyterian Minister in Saskatchewan and Ontario and a(Career Development Practitioner. I’m currently a business owner of Landell and Associates and Consulting Ltd. (“finding work that works for you”) – and MLL Communications Inc. (“making learning lifelong”). These are both career and employment consulting firms established in 1990. Landell has delivered government contracts since 1990 and assisted over 24,000 unemployed people at no cost to them through either career exploration or job search workshops, or a resource centre in the Metro Vancouver area in BC.
Running a business requires a fine balance between risk-taking and arranging for some sort of security. It also requires a lot of faith. In my first year of business, in a moment of panic and insecurity I called another, older business woman, and she retorted, “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen!” That was a good dose of reality, and from that moment on, I stopped worrying. I also worked really hard at delivering client service and writing proposals for renewal and new contracts. That was 19 years ago. Even when a proposal wasn’t accepted or contracts ended and were not renewed, things worked out for the best. Staff were eligible for Employment Insurance and went on to either more training or other jobs. I’m grateful to the federal government which has funded employment programs and provided training for unemployed people over the years.
One delightful plus in my sixties has been that the elusive ideal of work / life balance seems to actually be happening. Friends and family are becoming closer and we’re finding the time to be together more often. I’ve been able to cut back my hours and entrust competent colleagues to help run the two businesses. Knowing that the Canada Pension Plan was there and available at age 60 if needed was very reassuring when I was in my late 50’s and not knowing if proposals would be accepted or not.
And what is my goal and definition of success? Charles Stanley says, “Success is becoming the person God wants you to be.” Does that also mean a successful business is one that is becoming the business God wants it to be? We live in hope, and seek grace!
And retirement? Larry Burkett, in Business By the Book notes that the Apostle Paul “gave no thought about retirement as long as he was able to perform the duties God assigned him.” Getting back to the Impowerage mission for living a life of passion and contribution, Dr. John Stott in his commentaries on Thessalonians says that each work day should have “some honest, creative labour ” – paid or unpaid. I’m grateful to be working at something I love and knowing that our teams are helping unemployed people. It is my hope that I will be able to contribute in some way as long as I live. And to help stay well at all levels, I’ll continue taking walks in Stanley Park, doing stretches and exercises, writing poetry and prose, learning from my friends in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, and studying the lives of seniors who have made a difference in the world. There are lots of models out there! And yes, I’ll also be drawing my inspiration from my younger staff and friends as well.