Posted by: davidsandusky | January 31, 2009

Life Time Employment

Are you working to retire or working to work?

Back in the day and for many today, the American dream is “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Defined differently by the individual.  Some pursue wealth and fame and value hard work where others pursue a simple and comfortable lifestyle and value just that. 

Career is a significant part of defining who the person is and how the American Dream is realized.   As time goes on an we live much longer than those who shaped what we use today, percentage in life dedicated to career is swinging.  Our industry pioneers worked for life as many working today are realizing might be required versus retirement for 10 to 30 years. 

Realizing that we will work longer into our “retirement” years.  Enjoying what we do is that much more important.  Anticipation of not having to work anymore will not be the motivation.  So what is the motivation?  Could it be to love what we do?  To create and innovate.  To learn and add value in different ways as we manage careers until we are no longer healthy?     

Like you, I know many people in the classically defined retirement age and have many stories.  I will share one. 

A long time friend’s father opened his own plumbing company and with his wife have created a respectable business that has provided security and wonderful family vacations.  Years ago this business owner told me he would slow down to a few clients after his two daughters are out of college and well on there own.  Well, not only has that happened, but his daughters are both happily married with children.  So the opportunity to “slow” down has been present for some time, but the action has not happened. 

I asked him why?  This business owner told stories of early struggle and fear with young girls, expensive equipment and not enough prospects.  He told stories of long time clients and wonderful relationships.  His wife told me he can’t sit still.  I noticed he still loves what he does.  Period.  

Why on earth would someone stop doing what they love just because they are 65 years old?  Just because they have earned the monetary, status and material part of the American Dream at any age?  Why would anyone down shift from fifth gear to third in this country at any point of life when they love every day? 

We are defined in great detail by what we do.  We are re-entering an era of life time employment.  We might as well love what we do!



  1. Most of this goes without saying. Nobody will stop doing something they love because they reach an age otherwise defined as “retirement age”. I think using the words “defined” and “career” in the same sentence should be done with caution. Those with the most recognizable “careers” distance themselves from it, with no interest in being defined by it. See Jon Huntsman, Warren Buffet and Bill gates. All three head toward the sunset with the career being in the rear view and the fruits of said career going toward a separate focus. You can gather how one is defined by the content of their eulogy (not to be morbid). That of the three men mentioned will not be filled with references to chemicals, investment magic or computer chips. Their families don’t care about the patents and wealth, nor do the people they have touched along the way. Sometimes a focus on the end game brings clarity to the means…..

  2. Thanks for the comment!
    “Most of this goes without saying” yet it has to be said. The point is to do something you love so it is not timed by anything other than accomplishing a vision. Many are forced to redefine themselves these days. How they value time, health, family, money and career. Huge subject. Those who take this opportunity to innovate can impact many – life time employment.

    I think the people mentioned in my post and in this comment have overwhelming pride in creating. Creating jobs (even industry), opportunity, wealth for others. They have left a legacy. Do you think they are running from their legacy? How about moving on to other challenges and passion. As an example, Bill Gates will be immediately reference in most minds as creating an industry and his current career running The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and who knows what else.

    The eulogy is actually a perfect reference. Delivered by the most important people in a persons life and to a collection of people touched by the character. The community effected is family and those where most time is spent…in career. I think of Tim Russert and the words of his son. I think of other public funerals and those I have been to – family members do care about successes because of pride. Money? No! Body of work? Yes! MLK died a rich man.

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