View From the Retirement Bridge – How to Avoid Becoming an Angry Old Man

I have been much in the past. I was a student,an activist, a soldier, a programmer, a manager of technology and finally a managing partner of a 2400 person consulting business. That last role was the height of my career – leading a $1B business for a number of years. When I left that role I started down a journey that sometimes felt like a free fall into a series of jobs that eroded my confidence and my pride. It was a dark time wherein I had to remain silence while my integrity was challenged by people I worked for. Eventually, I stopped and became an independent consultant.

During that time I  noticed that my view of life was shifting towards the negative. I became what I always detested, an old angry man constantly challenging the richness of my life, my family and my friends. During this journey I was learning lessons that ultimately changed my view of my current life and made peace with my younger, more glorious past life.

Lesson 1-Relearn Humility and Kindness

Sad to say, but I did not know anymore what it was to appreciate what I have, become humble and share that joy with others. By learning that I was one, like many I returned to my roots of humility while helping others. For many years prior to my success, I was humbled by the life I had been given. A life long partner and lover, children, simple but adequate house, car and work. As I grew into  my success, my life more and more became my work and the other aspects became secondary. I became more self-important and less kind to those that had less.

It took walking away from that life, and struggling again, dealing with deaths and unseen disappointments to bring me back to my humble origins. Yet that humility was a happy moment because it also highlighted what was really important life and pushed me to give back and help others. It made me whole again.

Lesson 2- Do not stop learning and strive towards wisdom

Like most people to begin to climb down the mountain of success you begin to feel invisible and less relevant. One day you were in critical meetings, or in the press, the next day people were not inclined to return calls or just did not see you. You would go for interviews and see that the interviewer was simply doing his/her job ticking off questions, but not hearing you and seeing past you. You felt that your own children did not see you as they were,rightfully, trying to move ahead in their own careers and relationships.

You felt your edge get dull. You were slower, your ideas not so enthralling, your concepts fairly average and not so inspiring. Then one day you realized that you still no attained wisdom. That is that with all of your knowledge, facts, figures you still could not attain a level of understanding that you could impart to others, to help them as they struggled.

So you decided to first, catch up, refine your skill of idea creation and above all, your innovation. Problem solving became a challenge once again, finding more than one answer to common problems was another sign of wisdom and above all the joy of learning was back.

This process led you back to a sense of relevance. You were what you thought ! How great was that!

You applied another skill  you thought you lost – listening. Soon your writings improved, age became a non-issue as useful new ideas never get old.

Lesson 3- Ask for forgiveness

To totally rid yourself of the anger you need to forgive those that made you angry in the first place. Tale away the responsibility from them and put it on yourself and forgive.

You then need to forgive yourself. It’s not that hard when you realize that all that you did and said in the past was your choice. And now you have the choice to forgive

Lesson 4 – Reinforce Your Integrity

Along the way you may have questioned your decisions relative to your personal integrity. You know that just questioning was a hit on how you lived your life before you were successful. You promised to always hold personal integrity across all aspects of work. Afterall, that was your criteria for receiving the rewards of your labor.

It is just as important at this stage in life to hold onto what makes you, you. To see the boundaries and to not listen to the noise that surrounds you from others. Stay the course in all that you do now. A basis of love for your wife, children your entire family has to be one that is first honest with yourself. Compassion and kindness and giving must also be based on personal integrity. The use of the question why am I doing this needs to be asked regularly. Before you know it you will feel like you felt on he first day of a new job.

That’s it. Not complex, but painful to remember. What the saying – if it is not easy than it must be worthwhile.

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