What We Can Learn from Church Leaders About Growing Older, "Living Life in Crescendo"


On December 19, 2008, Steven R. Covey wrote in a blog post, “I am now 76 years old and could easily retire. But I’m not retired and I don’t plan to retire. I don’t believe in retirement. Why, people ask me? Simply, I have a life motto. It is: Live life in crescendo.” 

This week, my friend Randal Wright gave 11 talks at BYU Education Week 2018. I first met Wright as an EFY counselor in Illinois in 2011 and he has remained a mentor and friend, so I was intrigued to see that he would be teaching 11 classes over the course of Education Week with the same title “Living Life in Crescendo.” I wasn’t familiar with the Steven R. Covey quote beforehand, so when I sat down with Wright on Wednesday afternoon, I asked what inspired this theme. After making it clear that this was a Steven Covey concept that he used with permission, Wright explained his motivation for letting the quote guide his remarks. 

“I think so many people shut down over time, especially when they get to retirement age. It’s as if, and a lot of Latter-day Saints go on missions and things, but there are just so many in society that kind of retire to the RV park and play dominoes and you go, 'At the time you’re most experienced?' You have the most wisdom, the most knowledge, and you kind of shut down a little bit,” Wright said. “And that’s why I like the Covey thing about living life in crescendo. No, [your life] should pick up.” 

Wright explained that when you look at Church leaders, you see that rather than slowing down, they often speed up. He cites former Church president Gordon B. Hinckley as an example. 

“If you think about what he accomplished, you say what did he accomplish and what is he linked with? The Conference Center, the Nauvoo temple, the Palmyra temple, all the small temples across the nation, a lot of things to do with missionary work, but you start thinking about it and you go, 'When did he start doing all of that stuff? Oh, after age 85,'” Wright said. “Everything you associate that name with almost is after age 85.” 

Motivated by a desire to improve himself, Wright spoke about a variety of topics that he believes would lead to living in crescendo. Topics included getting out of your comfort zone, establishing daily habits, building personal relationships, and overcoming fear of public speaking. 

Those who have attended Wright’s classes in the past know that he is passionate about recording life’s experiences, which he believes is one of our problems as a society. 

“I would say the majority of people are not improving over time and I think one of the problems is we’re not recording [our life experiences], simple as that,” he says. 

It is his belief that it is our responsibility to pass on to our posterity the lessons we have learned from life so that they don’t have to relearn them. However, he says these lessons are also for us and if we don’t recognize them, we fail to benefit from them. 

In one of his Wednesday morning classes, Wright cited the author James Allen, who said, “Life is a series of lessons. Some are diligent in learning them, and they become pure, wise, and altogether happy. Others are negligent and do not apply themselves. They remain impure, foolish, and unhappy.” He also quoted Elder Richard G. Scott, who said, “I will share a principle that, if understood and consistently applied, will bring enormous blessings throughout your life. It is not difficult for me to explain, nor for you to understand. However, it will require of you significant, determined effort to yield its full potential. With it, you can learn vital truths that will bring you greater, enduring happiness and make your life more productive and meaningful: 1) I will consistently strive to learn by what I hear, see, and feel 2) I will write down the important things I learn, and I will do them.” 

Wright clearly trusts in these promises as he has recorded over 5,000 personal experiences from his own life, many of which he used in teaching principles at this year’s Education Week. 

Lead image from Meridian Magazine


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