What’s it take to be 95-years young? And more importantly, 95-years strong?
Read on to learn the delightful secrets of Geradline Corr.
Geraldine was born on March 12, 1926 in Chicago. She is 95 years old.
Two years ago she moved into a Northside Indy retirement community. The move enabled her to be closer to her youngest son and his family. Mike and Lee Corr are my brother and sister-in-law. I feel fortunate to have them as a part of my extended family and doubly blessed to gain Geraldine – or Gramma Corr – as part of the package deal.
I’ve known Geraldine for more than thirty years, but in the last two years – since this move – I have been able to see her more frequently. Over these 24 months, I’ve been awed by her positive spirit, her deep faith, her kind heart, her alert mind, and quite frankly her stamina. Hey, there have been nights when I’ve been out with a big family group, felt a bit tired, and realized that Geraldine was going to outlast me . . . again. Humbling.
Interestingly, within this same time period, I’ve watched the health of my own mother decline; I saw dementia set in. We lost my mom at a much-too-early age of 79.
So, these opening questions – about aging youthfully and with strength – are more than just passing queries for me. I care.
A few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon, I asked Geraldine if she wanted to learn more about her strengths. As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, I wanted – no, I NEEDED – to know what was keeping Geraldine so vital. She is as interested in the world and as interesting to chat with as any of my dear friends, despite being at least four decades older than most of them.
That afternoon, I walked Geraldine through the CliftonStrengths assessment, and her results fit her as perfectly as her favorite pair of Birkenstocks. See below:
- #1. Connectedness – Geraldine’s faith is strong. She attends Catholic Mass daily and this has been her routine for at least the last 30 years. She says this time of prayer gives her “peace of mind and the ability to cope with life.”
- #2. Consistency – Balance, fairness, and routine are important to Geraldine. She treats people the way she wants to be treated.
- #3. Responsibility – Geraldine follows through on her commitments and remembers both what she says she will do and what you say you’ll do. I was a bit tardy in phoning Geraldine about my questions for this blog. My tardiness did not escape her.
- #4. Positivity – Geraldine’s positive spirit is greatly impacted by her Connectedness strengths. She deeply believes there is a plan for all of us – even when things are difficult. She refuses to take on the negativity of others. Her Positivity will not allow it.
- #5. Communication – While Geraldine is a great conversationalist, it is her listening skills that most impress me. She uses both to learn from people of every generation.
As a coach, I was thrilled to see how accurately these 5 strengths genuinely captured the delightful Geraldine. For her part, she felt the entire assessment process was affirming and allowed her “to be known and heard.”
As a strengths coach, I know there are no perfect “Top 5” strengths.
There is also no secret combination of strengths that will allow you to live to be 95 years old.
However, I am keenly aware that those who live and breathe the strengths they have are more engaged in the world. They live more fully. They live more youthfully and with more strength.
And Geraldine is proof of that.
Side note: I wanted to know if Geraldine was the oldest person to ever take the CliftonStrengths Assessment. I decided to ask around at Gallup. I shot off an excited email to Jim Clifton, Jon Clifton, Dean Jones, and Jim Collison. These guys put the all-knowing Chief Gallup Scientist Jim Asplund on the question, who said it’s impossible to know with absolute certainty . . . Gallup is unable to verify the age of assessment takers. However, he threw me a bone by commenting, “I think it is safe to say that Geraldine is in our ‘Top 5’ by confirmed age.”
My #1 Competition strength was happy to hear the news.