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Terry Shaw’s 6 Lessons from 6 Decades


I turn 60 this week. It’s made me stop and reflect on what’s important and some key lessons I learned along the way. In going through some family and work photos, I thought about six lessons from the past six decades that have been important to me. The last one has already set the tone for my focus in the coming years.

Childhood: Focus on Solutions, Not Excuses.  

The first time my dad gave me the responsibility of picking up the Sunday paper, I dropped it on the way home and the Texas wind blew the paper across three blocks. When I arrived home in tears, he gave me 50 cents and told me to try again. Don’t say you can’t do something. Even if you fail the first time, you can try again.

Teens: Hard Work Wins over Talent.  

For years, my high school’s freshman softball team had been the doormat of the league. I was determined to change that for us, so I asked a coach to work with us and we practiced a lot. Our team won the league that year and every other year we were in high school. The underdog can win with the right attitude and hard work.

20s: Seek Mentors. 

I had a mentor, Joan Salmons, who took an interest in my development and was very direct with me about ways I could better myself. She was a chief nursing officer in a completely separate career path from mine, who saw the world differently than I did. The people who are least like us are the ones we can learn the most from.

30s: Who You Work for Matters. 

The best leaders are the ones who help you understand how to provide the most value to the organization. If you’re providing value, you’ll be given additional responsibilities, which will result in continued growth. A good boss can propel you forward.

40s: Know Your Own Strengths and Select Your Team Accordingly. 

If everyone in your downline is just like you, you’re going to miss something. The best teams are comprised of a variety of talents, backgrounds, and life experiences. Good leaders know their weaknesses. They pick people who have talents they don’t have and let them lead.

50s: Put People First, Always.  

Taking care of our team members is how we care for people through people. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many of our strategic plans went back to the drawing board. In that process, I knew we had to put team members at the center of our decisions to ensure their safety and well-being. The health of your team members is the health of your business. 


Reprinted with permission from the original LinkedIn post


Terry Shaw is president and chief executive officer for AdventHealth.

Photo courtesy of the author.

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