Author, speaker, trainer and Founder of TheBackForty.com, CareerGuy.com, and DreamJobLife.com, Darrell is an Executive PlayGame Career Coach and Back Forty Freedom Flier. He empowers everyday people to produce extraordinary results and to leave purposeful life footprints. His first book, Headhunters Revealed!, won the Clarion Award for Best Book from the Association for Women in Communications. His most recent book, Never Apply for a Job Again, was endorsed by bestselling thought leaders such as Harvey Mackay, Keith Ferrazzi, Joyce Lain Kennedy and Dr. Ivan Misner. A personal networking and business brand strategist, he speaks and leads workshops for professional groups and MBA programs such as Harvard, Tulane, and Wake Forest Universities. His newest endeavor is the soon-to-be released book, The Back Forty: 7 Critical Embraces for Life’s Radical Second Half and, with his partner, Alexandra Levin (MBA, SPHR), is currently building The Back Forty movement and community to support playful, passionate and purposeful second halves of life for everyone.
I went through a major life-shifting experience at age 40. At the time, I had some very real questions as to whether I had anything of value to BE or DO in the remainder of my life. I was sitting in my meditation chair watching my son sleeping in my bed because my parents were sleeping in his bed downstairs. They had come into town to lend me more money to fight a half-million-dollar custody suit. In that moment, at age 40, I was pretty clear that my life up to that point seemed pretty useless. I was deeply in debt, in the middle of an ever-escalating custody suit in which I was (seeking to retain half-custody of my son), in the midst of a career transition myself, and pretty much mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. In that exact moment, I was blessed with what I call a “download” of an idea, which said that my first half of life wasn’t as critical as my second half. The idea was that the first half of life was just R&D, research and development, and what really mattered was what I did with what I had now learned about my Self — my passions, my proclivities, my tendencies – and how I would put all of that into a purposeful second half of life. For the next several years, based on the principles of this “Back Forty” idea that continued to download through me, I began a slow but steady buildup of a new Self (Big S) distinct from the limitations of my past. This is “Why” I’m committed to contributing the infinite possibilities of The Back Forty to others. On the ranch, the back forty generally refers to that uncultivated patch of land behind the ranch that has infinite growth potential. This is the same infinite growth potential we all have in our individual Back Forty of life. The Back Forty movement and community is based on two simple premises: first, the conviction that, “You have yet to do what you came here to do” as well as the charge given us by Frank Sinatra, “The best is yet to come and, babe, won’t it be fine!”
1) “Thank you, thank you, thank you” when my feet hit the floor (per Wayne Dyer)
2) 20oz of lemon water
3) 15 minutes yoga mat stretches
4) Vocalize reading spiritual or inspiring text
7) Brisk walk outside by the ocean
The Back Forty philosophy is based on an idea that every single event, situation or circumstance that life has ever brought us, is bringing us, or will bring us is perfectly designed to have us be who we came here to be and do what we came here to do. Therefore, there are no victims in The Back Forty. Through the perspective of seeing everything that has come before — or maybe what’s even happening now — as simply R & D, research and development, for who we came here to be and what we came here to do, one can take ownership of any and all “adversity”. If we look back at our life, we can see that it was often the toughest challenges that had us rise up. If we take the view that all of life has us running “laboratory experiments” to discover and express our highest versions of ourselves, then we don’t fall into victim traps that sap our power. We all have a personal Formula of Unique Self Expression, and it’s being able to review and analyze our lifetime of laboratory experiments that points our way toward our purpose. We believe that the first half of life is simply an enabling mechanism — sort of like the cookie part of a chocolate chip cookie. It is a carrier toward what is truly important and the best part, our second half of play, passion and purpose: the chocolate chip itself.
This past year has taught me that in order, as we say in The Back Forty, to “do what I came here to do”, it is going to require that I embody every bit of what we’re teaching into my own life. One element of creating a radical second half of life unconstrained by the past is giving up ideas of who we are, what we’re capable of, and our views of “the way life is” in general. In order to grow to the size I need to be to bring this message out into a world of a lot of noise, it’s requiring that I take on new skills, new beliefs about my capabilities, and engage more with “team” outside of my previous solo-preneurship. Lots of new ways of being and doing are being demanded of me and, since we teach that this is the only way — at 40, 50, 60 or 70 — that we will be able to fulfill on what we came here to do, I’m forging that trail myself. A principle we call “Play First” calls for us to go for it, try new things, step out and take a risk before we have every i doted and t crossed. Most often, when folks get into midlife or beyond, they are so concerned about looking good and not making mistakes that they don’t take risks outside their comfort zone. Utilizing new technologies, getting outside of my comfort zone, transforming my relationship with being “busy”…all are part of the changes happening internally that are required to play the Big Game we are playing externally. If our Big Game supports others the break the shackles of society’s claim that life slows down in the second half and step up to their own right to fulfill on what they came here to do, then the growth we’re enduring is worth it. Society says aging is a process of down and out, like a bell curve over the course of our life. We say it’s an ever escalating upward line: up and out!
I’m most proud of bringing together a fledgling team of inspired and committed players all offering their unique talents to bear on this vision. Our in-house team boasts creativity and ingenuity like no other, and we are gaining partners and collaborators who bring their own individual cuts at this overall theme of second-half-of-life possibility.
I would like to leave behind a cultural mindset shift. Having grown up in a traditional blue-collar culture, the idea of life-after-50 was mainly focused on retirement. Even for those who accomplished great things in their first half of life, it was about sitting back and resting on those accomplishments. If my work inspires both folks who got to 40, 50, or 60 and believe they haven’t yet accomplished their greatest as well as those who have already achieved great things to KEEP MOVING FORWARD to an even-GREATER-yet-to-be, then I will be satisfied. Turning our societal mindset towards the idea that it’s the second half/best half of life where purposeful fulfillment takes place vs. the idea that it’s of down-and-out after the first half…that is a Big Game worth playing.
My partner Alexandra Levin. She is a woman with two marriages behind her — one of 8 years and one of 14 — and two daughters. She has chosen to hold those marriages as R & D, research and development, for the relationship that we now enjoy. At 49, she has so much contribution to offer women specifically and the world in general. As a mother, she has raised — in the midst of two marriages and a non-contributing father — two responsible and alive young women who are standing on the shoulder of her own unwillingness to compromise in life and forging their own unique and independent trails. She has raised them in such a way as to empower their courage and independence. As for her impact on me, she is my partner in possibility, both supporting me as a woman who knows how to empower a man without loosing her independence, as well as being my greatest business partner, friend and lover. She exemplifies what is possible in second-half romance and partnership.
We are looking forward to connecting with powerful and empowered women! Over the last year of bringing out our message of The Back Forty, we find that it has landed most on empowered, professional women. Most of our initial program participants have been women with Masters degrees, though the inspiration and hope is for everyone. Therefore, we say our work is for “Empowered Women and Enlightened Men”…and we hope to meet many of both at this year’s conference. We will have a booth right across from the WomenNetwork booth, we will have VIP tables and, word is, we might make a special appearance on stage with Michelle as part of a group of empowered 30 Voices.
Several Big “What ifs?” What if the first half of life was only R & D, research and development? What if you could mine that first half of life for your own Formula of Unique Self Expression (FUSE)? What if you could then light that FUSE to experience and express all that life and YOU could be from here on out? What if it’s really only the second half that matters? What if you have yet to do what you really came here to do? If all this were true… What would be possible for YOU?
Get Darrell’s two ebooks, The Top Ten Tips for a Radical Second Half and Birth of The Back Forty, both for free here.