Recently I was at a meeting with a group of business owners. We had a "Guest Speaker," "Bob," (not his real name) who painted a vivid picture of his last twenty-five years. Even though he was only in his fifties, he'd done many remarkable things: He started and sold a number of successful businesses and made a lot of money, and he’d written books that were published. He owned a home out West, and one in Florida. Yet when he described his "Life's Story" up to this point, he didn’t end it with being so successful he could now start "kicking back" to enjoy "the good life"...rather, he was starting a number of brand new initiatives.
One of these new initiatives “Bob” told us about was how he was going "International." One of us eventually asked, "Why?" After thinking only a moment, he simply said, "Legacy” and explained…"I’ve done many neat things, made a lot of money, and don't really have to work." Then he added, "But I never really gave a lot back! So this next phase of my life is about ‘giving back’...channeling resources (money and talent) where I can leave this world eventually knowing I've passed on some good!! That’s what I mean by ‘Legacy.’ Something my kids, grandkids and others will recognize and understand as my trying to leave things just a little better.”
The Legacy idea got me to thinking. We're fortunate to be in one of the most interesting of industries… seems to be "Organized Chaos"...as far as the eye can see. We've learned how to weather the cycles, the customers that go broke, and the ever-changing technology. We’ve had to adjust as “old school” products quickly give way to new, unique, ground-breaking products. Those of us who survived up to now have to be creative, sharp, nimble on our feet, adaptable to change, etc. We truly live in a unique industry and environment--entrepreneurial to the core!! And as I've often heard, "Once we get sawdust in our veins,” we wouldn't do anything else.
Many of us eventually get to the point where sons, daughters, or young, up-and-comers are taking over...and probably doing a better job than we did. But they lack one thing…being molded and tested by time as many of us have been. So, I'm suggesting (challenging) that there is still much we can do as we “Mature.” Think "Legacy." A big one is to simply “Mentor” those coming up…Our life experiences are priceless, and had to be earned and learned the hard way. Another kind of Legacy is participating in trade organizations: Being more (not less) available for "big picture" development things. Or, continue to participate in new product roll-out and development. Another possibility is to offer your wealth of experience as a part-time, unpaid consultant to sectors in the industry that would accept such help. And maybe, because we have this "nimble" brain activity going on…local politics may work for some.
I've seen many of my friends, in all walks of life, eventually “get the gold watch,” ride off into the sunset, play golf or fish three days a week, and usually not live to a ripe old age...so maybe all this “rant” boils down to is a reminder on what’s so good about creating some fresh thinking...Legacy!!! There’s still a lot we can do to enrich other’s lives, and also keep ourselves “Young” and help the move into this brave new twenty-first century world we live in. I think Yogi was correct when he said, "Folks, it ain't over till it's over!!" Put a little thought into "What will be your Legacy"!
A little "snippet"…
My friend George O., fully retired at "the ripe old age of 55!” had some neat sayings…One was…"But who will bring you Ice Water?" What he meant was, always treat folks respectfully and well...Never know when you might be ill, down and out, whatever, and then, would your friends, family, etc. rally around you and be there to "bring you Ice Water?” No matter what, always treat folks as you would want to be treated...Just might need them some day when you least expect it!