Brother Peter...When I'm 64

The posting below is from the Facebook page of Peter Jones:

     Peter Jones

Peter P. Jones

September 16

LIFE LESSONS: Transitions. September is a time for transitions. Summer Transitions into Fall. Summer Vacation transitions into the next school semester. The casual pace of work in the summer transitions into the hectic pace of finishing up the year's business at work.

In the last few weeks I've been musing on the issue of transitions in life. The question that I've mulled is: how at age 64 did I end up where I've ended up? I wish I could say there was some Grand Plan. I wish I could say that I was "driven". I wish I could say I was a "hard worker". I wish I could say that I even gave a shit. I have known people with a Grand Plan that they've executed to success....I have worked with people that were driven....I have hired hard workers...and I have sat on boards with lots of people that gave a shit. None of them were me.

About the best I can say is that I was strategic. And that Eloise and Lewis Jones genetically gave me some smarts. Oh...and that I was lucky enough to be born into this world in the USA in 1954 and not 1854 or any time prior to that. Because as I sat on the beach in Rio last month, casually drinking Caiparinhas and enjoying the weather for three weeks...I mused on what separated my life's result from the vendors that marched up and down the beach carrying heavy cases of merchandise trying to sell them to me and other vacationers on Ipanema beach (I bought a lovely ring and several pairs of cheap sunglasses, btw! You have to help the local economy! LOL! More on that at another time!). This was their reality in order to make a little chump-change to survive today...enough to get them back out to doing it all again tomorrow. Clearly they were driven...clearly they were hard workers...clearly, they must give a shit (rent comes due every month, baby!). But probably....they didn't have the "Grand" Plan.

I thought back through time. When I was a kid back in Cairo, Illinois, in the summer, local farmers put out the call for day labor to work in their fields picking crops...berries, corn, other things. In the early 60's Cairo was just a stone's throw from the antebellum south, and hiring "pick-a-ninnies" to pick crops was common. And, as an 8 year old boy, the idea of doing something to earn some change to buy candy and googas in the summer was appealing. My grandmother, Stella Jones ... who was fresh up from Mississippi, was all in favor of us kids (there were 10 of us, remember) going to work to put some extra money on the family table. Especially the five boys.

Eloise Jones said over her dead body. No children of hers were going to work in anybody's fields. Ever. Full stop. (Side note: Stella Jones and Eloise Jones never liked each other! lol) Even if we could have used the extra income that it produced she didn't want us learning to settle for short term, dead end results that might influence our long term opportunity thinking. Her point was lost on a wide-eyed 8 year old who wanted to buy candy...but understood years later. Its important to note what a thing like this can do for a child's vision of themselves. If your mother says "Its OK. My child can be a field hand." then that becomes a possibility for the child in his mind. If your mother says "My child will NEVER be a field hand!" then you eliminate that as a possibility for yourself.

And that is where the strategic me began. I've never taken ownership of the "now" if it might negatively influence my goal for the "later". So, hopping on that bus at 18 and leaving all my family behind and hightailing it 400 miles away from Cairo was never a question. Quitting a "good job" at Steak and Ale Restaurants of America to head to California was never a question. Quitting a "good job" at a radio station in LA and Universal Studios and a great life in Southern California (Beach Baby! Beach Baby!) to head to Business School in Rochester, NY (the snows of Kilimanjaro!) was never in doubt. Quitting a "good job" at one of the premier financial services companies in NYC and offers to work with the Bass Family of Texas and other prominent financial services operations was never in doubt. And ... the next steps that I will take now will not be in doubt ... because the "now" is only here in furtherance of the "later"...not here to be preserved for itself.

I don't contend that this philosophy should be applicable to everyone. Life is like an amusement park: some like the tea cups...some like "Superman! The Ride of Doom!".

Transitions. Each time and age demands a consideration of the next thing. And as I consider the next thing, its also important to consider your place in time. And, perhaps now, the tea cups are starting to look better and better.