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School of Law
Leadership expert discusses life's competing roles during presentation

Leadership expert David CampbellParent. Worker. Leader. Family member. These are roles that almost everyone will take on during their lifetime, and many times these roles are played out simultaneously. David Campbell, the Smith Richardson Senior Fellow with the Center for Creative Leadership, discussed these roles and the stress they can cause during a presentation Wednesday, March 12 at Elon University School of Law.

Each role a person plays supplies energy, but also uses energy, Campbell said. By the time most people are 40, they are immersed in many different roles, and are often assuming a leadership role at work for the first time. "A true promotion leads to incompetence," Campbell said, noting many people are overwhelmed when they are given control of a budget and people. "You have to be in a new job for at least one year, one budget cycle, before you figure out what's going on."

Also, the arrival of 40 signals a midlife crisis for many people. "You're grappling with major family responsibilities, work is requiring a tremendous amount of time and effort, and at the same time, you have to come to grips with the fact you're middle-aged," Campbell said.

But there's hope for those facing a midlife crisis, Campbell said. Noted psychologist Daniel Levinson "calls 50 the 'age of regained serenity,'" Campbell said. Ray Kroc started McDonald's when he was 52; Colonel Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken after he started drawing Social Security. In our 50s, Campbell says "we sometimes see people take off, because they are more secure in who and what they are."

Campbell co-authored the widely used Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota from 1960 to 1968. He joined the Center for Creative Leadership in 1973. His lecturing and professional activities have taken him to dozens of U.S. corporations and universities, and to many foreign countries, including Russia, China, Peru, Saudi Arabia and much of Western Europe. He is the author of three popular books: "If You Don't Know Where You're Going, You'll Probably End Up Somewhere Else"; "Take the Road to Creativity and Get Off Your Dead End"; and "If I'm in Charge Here, Why Is Everybody Laughing?"