I’m 80/20 on 30

April 23rd, 2022 marks 30 years for this guy as well as the United States Dream Team. What a year 1992 was for basketball. Over the past few months, I have had many passing conversations about this milestone—many conversations, of which, have taken place with those who have already surpassed 30.

In most of these interactions, I’ve included either of the following quips (if not both):

  1. “What is one thing you would tell 30-year-old _____ (their name)?”
  2. “I’m just wrapping up the first quarter!”

The question about advice for their younger self typically solicits a “Wow! . . . Gosh. Lemme think.” But I have been grateful for each response as a whole. (Side: If you have some advice for 30, I’d love to hear from you).

The line about “wrapping up the first quarter” is and isn’t a joke that usually takes them a minute to compute. I say the line and watch them do some mental math . . .

“Well that would be 120-years-old!”

Hell yeah it would.

Cue Ricky Bobby:

No one lives forever, no one. But with advances in modern science and my high level income, it’s not crazy to think I can live to be 245, maybe 300.”

Although 245 to 300 might be a stretch, there is increasingly more science and evidence for prolonged life spans on the horizon. If that idea interests you, please see Google after reading this post. I reach 120 years of age might not be as unrealistic as it seems. Do I, personally, really think I’m going to live to be 120? Probably not. (Coincidentally, the world’s oldest living person died last week . . . at age 119). But think about it: if you did live to 120, what quarter are you in right now? Are you halfway through the 2nd? (~45-years-old). Just out of halftime? (~60-years-old).

Over the last few years, a recurring theme, among some thought and business leaders I appreciate, is their perspective on age. Many leaders I’ve listened to, during podcasts or keynotes, discuss how they’re just getting started in their mid-forties or even fifties . . .

Of course, all of this is rooted in mindset despite the fact an average American lifespan currently hovers around one’s mid-seventies. Regardless, living in such a way that “You’re just getting started” has been crucial in the way I’ve approached my 30th birthday.

With all that said, my general excitement for the years ahead (which I have reasoning for below) isn’t without some realism to boot. Turning 30 means . . . wait for it . . . I’ll never be in my twenties again. I kissed my teens goodbye, gosh, at least 10-years ago. Turning back the clock further, my family will never forget the night their 11lb oversized bundle of joy entered the atmosphere. Yes, I did weigh 11 and ½ pounds at birth. Since then, I have been blessed with many wonderful moments and relationships throughout my life. Therefore, leaving the past 30-years behind does bring its share of sorrow.

Remembering the 20

For me to say I’m 100% “all in” on 30 and beyond is and isn’t the truth. Am I excited for the months and years to come? Of course. But there is 20% of me that does acknowledge the hard truth of leaving behind one’s youth—not to say “one’s youth” is so clearly defined as ages 0-30. Yet it feels somewhat appropriate.

Here are some tangible things I, if I’m honest with myself, am grieving in their wake:

  • Running somewhat fast. I recognize I might have topped out in land speed years ago. Maybe. I could climb back up there.
  • A college education. That, I admit, is more so circumstantial—I miss living next to all my best friends.
  • Marriage in its infancy. I wholeheartedly believe the best years are ahead in marriage (more on that in a minute), but the couple years Lauren and I had, before kids came on the scene, is a season I look back on fondly and miss.
  • Immediate family. My immediate family, and the ways we’ve grown up and grown apart (in good ways and bad) has been one of the more sobering things as an adult.
  • My first car. Which was actually a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. It was a good first car/truck.
  • Bookending this list with #Sports: the real hope I held, for most of my childhood, of playing major league baseball.

These aspects and more are a few, but I really can’t think of other big things that stick out. The point is, these few months leading up to and following my 30th birthday are for recognizing what God has given me, thanking Him for the gift of life, and moving forward accordingly.

Making Way for the 80

As mentioned prior, the first time I entered this world was guns-a-blazin’. Came out with a bang and high-fived the doctor. “Now go get em!” The doctor must’ve said.

Those 11 and ½ pounds didn’t fall off easily. It took me 16-years, in fact, before Tony Horton (and the BeachBody powers that be) graced the universe with a little workout program called P90X. Those 40-minute videos led to my first (well, most welcomed) bodily transformation. Losing some weight helped me gain confidence. And along the way, I think I over-corrected.

High school and college, for me, was what I recently told a friend “the height of my unhealthy 7.” If you know anything about the Enneagram, you know a “7” is the “Enthusiast.” To which I wore to the fullest. It wasn’t until my latter half of college I realized how confidence, as an Enthusiast, can sneakily come across as overconfidence, pride, and self-aggrandizement.

In that season, I am thankful for friends who had the courage to tell it like it is and confront me in love. The remainder of my twenties were a slow, patient process toward “retreating” in a way, pursuing wisdom and humility in the process. The #1 way I chose to do so was marry the most patient, humble person I know: Lauren. And to this day, marrying her is the best decision I made. I can confidently say that my twenties were far more better with her in it, and I became a different person because of her love and steadfastness as I shed layers of unhealthy 7-ness.

Which gave way to owning some “9” (Peacemaker) inside of me and attempting to love others well as it relates to my family and career.

Skip a few years and we’re here. I’d say ages 27-30 were formative for me in that I’ve started to reclaim something I once threw out with the bathwater: the Enthusiast. When I recognized the pitfalls a 7 can bring, I wanted to run from such pride and all that came with it. But now, I recognize that God instilled me with gifts and desires that are inherent to harnessing a zeal for life so that I might be a bigger blessing to others in the process.

Which is why I can say that 80% of me is ready to take on the months and years ahead. Because I am more firm in who I am than ever before. I am more secure in the ways God has gifted me, and confident in the people who hold me accountable. Through relationships I was transformed in my first 30-years of life, and through relationships I will continue to grow in my 2nd quarter of life.

Moving Stories Forward

One of those meaningful relationships, J.R. Briggs, is a friend as well as colleague of mine. We share a number of mutual connections and interests which led to me joining the team at Kairos Partnerships in a part-time capacity.

As part of our working agreement, J.R. and I conduct monthly coaching calls which actually have very little to do with work itself. At J.R.’s request, we check work at the door and discuss everything else that contributes to personal well-being: life, family, marriage, and of course work on occasion.

In the first quarter of 2022, J.R. and I started talking about this transition to 30—how I might finish age 29 well and set myself up for success in the age to come. As we talked, J.R. mentioned four things that he sensed in me as a leader. Those four things I have come to ruminate on and believe in my core.

I, Will Severns . . .

1. Move stories forward.

2. Create.

3. Am at my best when I surround myself with wise people.

4. Am at my best when I have others speak life into me – and when I step out and speak life into others.

J.R. said all those things. Not me. But the first time he said them, I looked him in the eye as if he was the doctor I high-fived at birth. “Now go get em!” J.R. must’ve said. Like he brought me into a new world but with words and admonition.

All four of J.R.’s points are things I could write on for days, and might revisit in the months ahead (in blog post or Porcupine form), but maybe what sticks out most is at the top of the list: I move stories forward.

It’s a line that pertains to so much about my life, what I’m passionate about, what I long to do with and alongside others. And if your story is one I’ve had the honor to help move forward, then thank you for letting me into your world—even for a brief blip on the 0-30 timeline. Which is the smallest of blips compared to earth’s history.

Time is nuts. But that’s me in a nutshell. I am grateful for any and all who helped move my story forward over the past three decades. From here on out, my goal is to help move as many others forward in a similar way. If I’ve completed the mission in any form or fashion, my hope is a eulogy might say as much.

That I came into this world with raw force. I lived and loved until the end. And I moved some stories along in between.