Have You Begun to Die?

The person who has accomplished all they think worthwhile has begun to die- E.T. Trigg

That is a really powerful Big Idea isn’t it?

One of the most powerful pieces of advice I have ever received was to never retire. In the industrial age of the United States through the technological boom of the early 1990’s, the prevailing thought among people who worked was to stay with a company for a long period of time, build up Social Security and pension benefits, then retire. While this sounds like a very sound plan, it only serves the lower level of a human being’s needs. It feeds the hunger of safety and security but comes woefully short of higher needs of purpose and self-actualization.

I can think of many people who die shortly after retirement. Getting engaged in something we love every day gives our lives energy and purposeful work. Getting out of this flow can set us on the path of complacency and apathy thinking our best years and efforts are now over. This can happen at 80 or it can happen at 30.

Reflecting on business people I admire most, I notice a striking thing. They don’t really retire.

Jack Welch, who was the CEO of General Electric from 1981 through 2001, transformed the industrial giant from an early industrial age company to a nimble, multi-faceted conglomerate. When he stepped down as CEO in 2001, he didn’t just quit and go to the farm. He founded the Jack Welch Management Institute with Strayer University. His venture continues to spread his management tents and philosophies to new generations of leaders worldwide through on campus and online means.

Warren Buffett is 83 as of this writing. Only last year did he start his succession planning process. He never plans to retire, he will continue to do what he enjoys doing until he can’t do it any longer.

You can retire from a job, but you shouldn't retire from your purpose in life.

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How will you continue to keep yourself energized and engaged long after you stop your day-to-day job? What project or initiative can you put your time and energy into that will keep your purpose and life moving in a positive direction.

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