Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Do you have people in your life that make you go “Damn—THAT is how I want to live.”?

I have a Jack.  Jack is one of those people for me.

Jack—my step-dad for 25 years—turns 80 today.  80!  And boy-oh-boy, does he make eighty look good.

Every birthday is a chance to reflect—to do a measuring of your life, so to speak.

I’m not sure how you measure a life.

But if you measure it by the total number of minutes spent laughing, or singing, or fixing what’s broken? If you measure it by the amount of times you’ve told someone “You look great,” or woken someone up by singing “Goood Morning, Good Morning! We talked the whole night through… good morning, Good MORNING, to YOU, not me, but YOU!”? If you measure it by the number of ice cream scoops scooped, or tall glasses of ginger ale poured? If you measure it by the amount of naps taken or hours of sports taken in? If you measure it by the coolness of your “Members Only” jacket or the swagger in your dance step? If you measure it by the number of baseball hats in a closet or the deliciousness of a signature breakfast treat known as “johnny bread”? If you measure it by the number of doors held open for others and the countless ways you’ve made someone feel beautiful? If you measure it by the endless number of people you’ve helped to gracefully “age in place,” by installing grab bars, ramps, and other life-supporting devices in their homes? If you measure a life by the amount of sparkle in your eyes, joy in your voice, and love in your heart?

Then you’re just beginning to properly measure these 80 years of Jack. Really, just scratching the surface.

To say that eighty looks good on Jack is like saying that the Grand Canyon is a “pretty okay hole in the ground.”

Jack. A man who makes you feel better for having been with him. Jack. A man who loves fiercely, laughs heartily, and greets every day like the sun itself.

So… To Jack! A man whose measure I can never properly capture. Here’s to one hell of an 80 years, and to so many beautiful more.

Who’s your Jack? Who do you want to celebrate today, whether it is their birthday or it’s just a Sunday and they are on your mind? Celebrate them here, celebrate them NOW—write your tribute in the comments section, in a reply, on a post it—share it with me, share it with the world, and by all means, share it with THEM! Today, of all days, is a day to shine the light on those that brighten the world


Because that’s a measure of real and true leadership, isn’t it? People who inspire us to be better, because of who they are and how they face the world? People who we want turn towards, rather than away from? At The Leadership Program we focus on leadership from all angles and for all ages, and I can’t think of a better guiding question than this most basic one, that Jack has taught me:  How do you want those around you to feel after having been with you?







Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.