Home » Uncategorized » Leadership Lessons—Planning for Retirement

Leadership Lessons—Planning for Retirement

My best friend, Greg, retired last Friday. Sixty years old and he was able to retire. I hired him in my previous life in 2003. (The same year I met my wife Mary Kay—a very good year!) He retired from that company—13 years and several positions later.

When I spoke with him Friday afternoon he mentioned that this was the first time since 1971 that he wouldn’t need to go to work. If he left a job on Friday for a new position, he started the new job on Monday. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth; if anything, it was a plastic spork.

We went to the same high school but didn’t know each other until just after graduation. In the years since then we have shared some amazing memories, lessons and discussions about the future. Since I’ve known him he always said he’d retire by the time he was 60. He did.

How does this happen and how is this a leadership lesson for us?

First, this wasn’t something that he thought would be nice to do. It was something he was going to do. As leaders we need to make sure that our goals stay top of mind.

Second, he and his wife always lived beneath their means. It was important that they lived well, but they weren’t trying to keep up with the Kardashians. They never even competed with the neighbors. Their favorite vacation is camping—and sleeping in a tent on a foam mattress.

Third, they invested. They had an investment counselor since they were very young. The reason? They knew this was necessary if they were going to retire early. Saving was a must—not something they would someday do.

Next, they made decisions together. The kids didn’t play one against the other. The parents were partners and this meant not always being friends with the kids. It was their job to do what was best to help their kids become responsible adults.

So what is our lesson here? Should we be like them?

As leaders we must set clear goals and have focus on what we must do to reach them. I’m always amused when people say they are “stuck” in a job, in a career, in whatever. All that is stuck is their will to do what is necessary to succeed.

Leaders know that it isn’t easy doing what is necessary. Many times it isn’t popular. But it is necessary to achieve their goals—their dreams. They must ask themselves what they need to do—not just want to do.

Is retiring at 60 the American Dream? Not necessarily. Greg is a golfer but he isn’t focusing on his golf game. He is focusing on walking the Grand Canyon from rim to rim over Labor Day. To get ready he is working out and walking five miles with a 30-pound weight in his backpack.

Surprised? Not me. Leaders set goals, do what they need to do to achieve them, and set new goals.

One of my favorite speeches was delivered by Al McGuire, former coach of Milwaukee’s Marquette Warriors. He won an NCAA basketball championship as head coach. One of his goals was to coach a game at Madison Square Garden and sell it out. He talked about the night he walked in to Madison Square Garden, heard the announcer say that all that was left was standing room only. He enjoyed a quick smile and then moved on to his next goal.

That is what leaders do. Doing what other simply won’t. Congrats, Greg. I can’t wait to watch your journey.

Posted in Uncategorized and tagged as , , , , ,

One comment on “Leadership Lessons—Planning for Retirement