By Greg Steinhoff
Greg and his wife Holly are Columbia natives. They have two daughters, Kristen and Lauren. Greg graduated from Westminster College in 1981 and received a degree in Pharmacy from UMKC in 1984. After moving back to Columbia after graduation, Greg co-founded Option Care, Inc in 1985. Following the twenty years he spent in the homecare business, he decided to accept an appointment from Governor Blunt to serve as director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Greg has also worked as an Executive Vice President at Boone County National Bank and for the last nine years has been an executive with Veterans United. Greg has acted as chair of several community boards including the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Columbia Area United Way, Columbia Independent School, Missouri Technology Corporation and others. He enjoys his Saturday morning golf group in the summer and a duck blind in the winter.
Like most people I periodically take a moment to look back on my life and think about the road I’ve traveled. It often leaves me wondering how the heck it’s turned out this way. At the risk of sounding like an old man in a rocking chair telling embellished stories, my hope is that your life’s road will be a little smoother by paying attention to the little bumps that happen in the lives of others.
For many, the road starts in their childhood. Everyone is different, some are fortunate and start life in a new car on a freshly paved highway, others in a broken down jalopy on a pot-holed, gravel road. Regardless of where we come from, we all emerge with our own values and understanding of how the world works then we take the wheel.
With a new driver every experience is a new one. So many decisions. Each one is like an intersection.
Do I decide to go left (hang out with the cool crowd) or go right (hang out with the nerdy academics). Go left (get a job) or go right (go to college).
Go left (ask her to marry me) or go right (live the independent life).
Go left (start a family) or go right (coast for a few years).
Go left (take this cool sounding new job) or go right (stay the course with where I’m at).
On and on. So many intersections, each taking you down a new road.
Then what seems simple gets complicated when our GPS malfunctions, our destination changes, or we get lost. We have to adjust and find a new way causing you to wonder if the road you’re on is headed to a dead end.
At 61, I can say that my road has been like most everyone’s, filled with hills and valleys, a few curves, pot-holes and even a few dysfunctional GPS moments. My first car was literally a junker and should have been in a demolition derby. My road started at Hickman High School where I was introduced to Jesus. Then continued in jobs washing pots and pans, pulling weeds, and loading moving vans. Went through college, Kanakuk Summer Camp, pharmacy school, married a Kansas Jayhawk, battled cancer, had two daughters, owned my own business, moved several times, joined the Governor’s cabinet, worked at a big bank, battled cancer again, and then landed at a company called Veterans United. Lots of intersections in my life with a few STOP signs. It’s been an interesting road, and it’s been a good one and I’m excited as ever to see where it will take me tomorrow.
What I’ve noticed is that most of the best ‘turns’ I’ve made are when my car was in good condition. When I focused on becoming a better person, it seemed like my internal GPS directed me which way I should go. Want your road to be smoother? Here are some of the things I’ve learned that will put your car in mint condition and fill it with the gas that makes it go.
- Set your eyes and your heart on your faith. For me, if I emulated Jesus I was the person I wanted to be. If you look at his qualities, they just jump off the page. Starting every day in the word is like a coach calling a time out to get everything re-set to start the day. (Colossians 3: 2-3)
- Humility, honesty, integrity. Amazing how you build strong relationships when you’re consistent with these three character traits. Relationships are the richest part of life. You don’t have to purchase them, you just have to value them. Why is it so difficult to remember that? (Jeremiah 9: 23-24)
- Love where you are and be passionate about it. When I look in the rear view mirror it’s crystal clear that God planned my trip. Every place along the way had a purpose which prepared me for the next place. When I stopped wanting to be somewhere else I focused on learning everything I could and loving the people I was around every place along the road. Don’t live in the past or the future, just the now. (Matthew 6: 31-33)
- Trust. If you REALLY trust God there’s no fear. Living life without fear is powerful; it literally changes your life. Trusting people is another thing, they can let you down. I’ve lost money, friendships and hope because I put my faith in people. This is key. Even with all the disappointment of trusting others, your road will be better if you believe that people are good. When you meet someone, get to know them and put trust in them and in the long run your road will be smoother. It doesn’t go well when you think everyone is out to get you. (Proverbs 2: 5-6)
- Set and remember your priorities. When you look in the rear view mirror you see so many turns that you took that didn’t match your priorities. (Mark12: 28-31)
- The last one is simple. Serve somebody. Before you get in the car every day make it a point to do something that puts a smile on someone’s face. Make their road smoother. You’ll find it lifts your heart and has the same effect on your road. (John13: 12-17)
I share my six decade list of observations at the risk of sounding like some self help book. Perhaps my biggest observation is when I realized my road was better when I wasn’t driving the car.
Life changed for me when I realized that I’m actually not in control. I was 26 when I was told I had one of two types of cancer and that I’d know which one in two days. One type had 90% morbidity the other had 10%. For two days, I was waiting for thumbs up or down on whether I was going to live. You realize God’s in control, and He’s better at driving your car down his road than you are. Let Him take the wheel.
I hope your journey is rich and full of joy. I wish for your road to take you to all kinds of interesting places and that your GPS is working at every intersection. It can be a beautiful trip.