Best Before

Posted on May 28, 2015 under Storytelling with one comment


What a great place to work.



“And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…”

My Way – Frank Sinatra

We all know when it’s time to throw out a packaged of processed meat.  (Hint: It’s turning green around the edges and has a distinct hum.)  Milk products are a dead giveaway when they’ve spent a week too long in the fridge.  It’s even worse if the milk was spilled by one of the kids in the back seat of your car and you didn’t have time to clean it properly.   Because you were trying to herd four of them to the grocery store…. during a heat wave.  And it’s not always food.  Sometimes relationships sour like old milk when they’re past their prime.

So when is your “Best Before” date” when it comes to work?  When is the right time to retire or change direction?  I have been pondering this lately as I near the end of my third career.

For our forefathers the answer was simple; you worked until you died and occasionally worked yourself into the grave.  Physical labour took its toll and there was only one real retirement; it was called death.  Gradually, through mechanization and advances in technology, there was less wear and tear on the body but more on the mind.  Yes.  There are still people who fish, farm and toil underground but even these ways of life have changed forever.

So, if you are one of the lucky ones and have some say in the matter, when should a person call it quits? Does the epiphany come as a bolt from the blue or does it simply grow like fungus?  Is it a matter of finances?  Do I have enough money to keep me in the lifestyle to which I have grown accustomed, until the end of normal life expectancy?  Can I downsize to a simpler way of living?  Am I in good enough health to enjoy my remaining days on this planet?  Do I have hobbies and interests to keep me from dying from boredom?  (Or driving your spouse mad – Editor).  Will I become one of those old farts that sits in the mall coffee shop complaining about pot holes and politicians?

Part of the problem is that most people, especially business owners, think that they’re indispensable.  They wonder who can possibly fill their incredibly enormous shoes.  Who will succeed them?  What is their succession plan?  How can they possibly be replaced?

This is where good planning can make all the difference.  The best places to work are set up so that the business will run smoothly no matter what.  Job descriptions, systems, procedures, emergency plans – everything is documented, kept current and is available to everybody, all of the time.  When a key employee steps down, his or her replacement knows exactly what is expected, and so does the rest of the team.  And the clients are treated to “business as usual”, with a garnish of fresh outlook and enthusiasm.

I hereby challenge everybody to take the “arm in the bucket” challenge if you really want to find out if your place of work will survive when you and your amazing skill set take an “exit stage left”.

Go and grab a large bucket.  Make sure that it is deep enough to match the length of your arm.  Now, fill it nearly to the top with water and plunge your arm into the water.  It might be a good idea to be wearing a t-shirt.  Just as quickly as you put your arm in, remove it.  The hole that remains is how much you’ll be missed.

You see; you and every other person on this earth have one thing in common; you are not, and never were, indispensable.  Your place of work will carry on nicely without you.

And the best part is that the skills and experience that you take with you can be redirected to a new job or business venture, community involvement, or finally having the time to pursue your real passion, whatever that may be.

Life is beautiful.

Enjoy this? Visit the rest of my website to enjoy more of my work or buy my books!
Tri Mac Toyota!

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