My step-dad, Jack McCoy, turns 85 this May. He is the youngest guy I know. Why?
Because he knows how to live life to its fullest.
In the last few years, Jack married my mom, and travelled to Hawaii, Ireland, England, and France. He serves in two churches, and in the leadership of one of them. He bought a convertible so he could enjoy it with his new bride. He just sold it, and purchased a brand-new Hyundai. Jack just published his first book?a beautifully written memoir retelling his service in the Navy during the Korean War. A Tugboat Sailor: The Life and Times of Billy Jack McCoy will be launched on May 10th, a week before his 85th birthday.
One of the most positive people I have ever known, Jack is an inspiration to me in how we should live every day of our lives?intentionally and positively. Jack serves others and serves God constantly and consistently. He is content, strong, tenacious, kind, hard-working, and open-minded. And he is one of the funniest people I know. He is always telling us a joke. He is active on Facebook, texts on his iPhone, and is always open to learning something new.
Top 8 Lessons in Life at Age 84
Last year, he recorded a podcast with me in which he offered his top 8 lessons for living. One of them was, ?If you don?t risk your life, you will lose it.? ?And you know, looking at Jack?s life and how he lives it, I have another axiom that I see in him: ?If you don?t live your life, you will lose it.? Jack most definitely lives his.
Two years ago we travelled to Europe. One night after we had spent 15 hours touring Paris and waiting in long lines to reach the top of the Eiffel Tower, we came back to the room very tired. Jack was sharing a room with me, and my mother was sharing a room with my nephew, Anthony. It was about 10 pm when I asked Jack, ?Would you like to go to a cafe so we can chat and see Paris at night?? I thought he would definitely say no because we were so tired. Actually I was hoping he would say no.
But he said yes. I remember vividly how we sat in a cafe on a large beautiful Paris intersection, reflecting, laughing, and discussing life. That night Jack told me about the passing of his late wife more than 10 years ago. How it hit him so hard, he could not do anything. He was beyond depressed. But he told me, ?Then, I had to kick myself. Jack, you have to get yourself together.? That?s when he decided he would start moving on. And the key for him was serving. He travelled to Korea, Taiwan, China, and Guatemala for mission trips?and served in a Vietnamese church in Oklahoma and helped it grow.
Kiss the Blarney Stone
While in Europe, we visited Ireland where his ancestry is from. He insisted on kissing the Blarney Stone. If you don?t know what that is (I didn?t), it is part of the wall of an old castle. The legend says that if you kiss it, you will become eloquent. But the trick is getting to the stone.
You have to climb about 6 stories up a narrow winding staircase in this medieval castle. And then right at the roof, in order to reach the stone you have to lay on your back, arching yourself upside-down over a hole at the very edge of the castle while holding onto two steel bars. If you slip, you could possibly fall all the way down to a very unpleasant ending. So an attendant tries to hold you by your clothes when you dive for the kiss, so you can come up safely. Here is a link to a?photo?showing how it’s done. It was not easy for me to do in my mid-thirties. But at 83, Jack went for it without a hitch.
We kissed the stone, and hoped to become more eloquent. He was happy to kiss the stone, and then turning to the attendant he said: ?Am I the oldest person to kiss this thing?? He was not. Then he told him, ?I am a McCoy. Anyone around here a McCoy?? They told him there was actually a lady nearby with that last name. We never found her. But we visited Cork and Dublin, and drove Ireland?s green emerald fields speckled with white dots?sheep. Jack loved every minute of it. Jack loves every minute of life.
Live Life to Its Fullest
As leaders, we get so wrapped up in goals and objectives that we often forget to live, to breathe, and to laugh. We take life?and ourselves?too seriously. As I look at how Jack approaches life, I learn one main lesson: Live, don?t exist.
I want to be more like Jack, the youngest guy I know.
Question: How do you make sure you are passionate and positive, living every day of your life with gusto?
(Please answer in the comments section below.)
PS: If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, we would love to have you join us for the launch of Jack’s book, A Tugboat Sailor, on May 10th. Please email us at email@example.com for details.
For Further Reading:
Podcast: Top 8 Lessons In Life at Age 84
3 Traits You Need When You Want to Give Up