You know you’re important when you walk into a room or step up on a podium and heads turn. You know you’re important when people go out of their way to acknowledge you and cater to you. You know you’re important when people come to you for advice and guidance. So what happens when all that stops? Does that mean you are no longer important?
Is that why people un-retire or never retire (i.e., Phelps, Letterman, Ali)? I’ve seen people who hang on to vestiges of themselves and it is not pretty. You see them at receptions where it is obvious that their time is past. People are polite to them, ask how they’ve been and then move away as if they didn’t exist. I could join Boards and committees, but I will not be a vestige. I will not waste time trying to hang on. But, what do I do with the business knowledge accumulated over the last 40 years. Be a consultant… been there, done that. Be an educator…. Been there, done that. Or… move on.
Of course, what is really important is definition of oneself apart from definition by others. Now that I think about it…. I’ve actually played many “important” parts over the years…. Mother, congressional fellow, grandmother, sister, professor, boss, wife, association executive, and other roles that I can’t even remember.
How wonderful it is to be able to define myself once again.