"High performing organizations are constantly focusing on improving their capabilities through learning systems, building knowledge capital and transformational learning throughout the organization.” - Ken Blanchard
MS. NH SR America
Seacoast Seniors - Dianne Durkin, Ms. Senior New Hampshire
By Marcia K. Howell
Interviewing Dianne Durkin was refreshing. Not just regular refreshing, but the kind of feeling you get after you have been exercising and you splash cold water on your face. The refreshing is deep, and you feel satisfied for a job well done. Dianne is like that. She inspires, teaches, shoes genuine compassion, and does it all with confidence and sincerity. Maybe it is her background in human resources that gives her extra intuition, or maybe it was the time she spent reflecting and writing a couple of important books about interpersonal dynamics. Whatever it is that motivates her, she is definitely a people person. And she works hard every single day to make a difference in the world.
According to Dianne, “95% of people want to just go through life, without putting in much effort, just doing what needs to be done.” Dianne challenges people to break free from the masses and be one of the 5% who work to make a contribution. Everyone around her knows that she believes people should be lifelong learners, those kind of people who go through life with the attitude that every day is a new day to learn and grow, and then find the gratification that comes from helping others be their very best. This is how she lives, how she approaches life. Dianne’s personal philosophy of life even states: “No matter what you do in life, be the absolute best you can be and help others be the best that they can be. Do this by learning something new every day, sharing knowledge, and always operate with integrity and honesty every day.” This missions statement acts as a guide for her to know whether of not she is being her very best self.
Dianne loves the fact that she has the heart, soul, and body of a youthful woman. Several amusing situations have centered around men thinking she was much younger than she really is (and sometimes, she doesn’t correct them). She is attractive, and much of her beauty comes from a far deeper reservoir than just what you see on the surface.
As Ms. Senior New Hampshire, she has extra opportunities to spend time serving the senior population in the state. About 6-8 times a month, she can be found with a small band of other seniors who help her put on a variety show. They sing and dance and delight audiences. She commented, “I just want to put a smile on people’s faces and to help others feel good, too.” To that end, she has even crafted a list of “12 Ways to Live Until You’re 100,” an important message that she feels compelled to share. This little motivational speech is an integral part of the program. It is inspiring to the seniors, and most importantly, Dianne practices what she preaches, serves others, and she very much loves what she does. And the people who are at the receiving end of her selfless giving do smile. Some even change their lifestyles.
In the beginning of October, Dianne had the opportunity to go to Atlantic City, New Jersey and represent the state of New Hampshire in the Ms. Senior America competition. Similar to the state competition, she had interviews with a panel of judges, stated her “Philosophy of Life,” modeled her evening gown, and performed her talent (motivational speaking) for exactly two minutes, thirty-five seconds. Although she would have loved to have won, knowing the amount of service she could provide, she was gracious about winner, Ms. Senior New York, a breast cancer survivor. Dianne’s response: “I thought it was an awesome experience to meet these incredible women from all over the country. Their talent was beyond anything you can imagine – such as a 78 year old dancer whose routine was extraordinarily well done. I met so many nice people – it was just a great experience.”
Dianne will continue to represent New Hampshire until the end of her term, and hopes to get all around the state before that time. She still has people to encourage and inspire, smiles to hand out, and an importance message to spread. (But knowing Dianne, I suspect she will keep it up long after the crown is placed in a box).