America’s Leadership Expert : Retirement

Clay Stairs: This is Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert with Tulsa Business Leadership with podcasts number 34, “What’s next? Living large into retirement.” The other day I was talking with one of our clients who was in the midst of a succession plan, passing on his company to his son. In the Clay Stairs Tulsa Business Leadership we have been helping them navigate the emotions and the practical steps to help them achieve this transition in a successful way. But what he’s been asking me, one of the first things that we got into in a conversation was me asking him questions about what’s next for you.

I started with as Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert Tulsa Business Leadership, I was asking him the question, what is it about the job that you have right now in your company that you just love? He went on to tell me about how much he enjoys just getting there early before anybody else and turning on the lights and the coffee pot and checking the equipment and checking the vehicles and making sure that everybody was going and ready to go.

Then when everyone would come in, he loved having that early meeting and getting the work lined out for the day. After that meeting, how he enjoyed walking through the office and talking with people and answering questions and helping things. Before long I realized, you love your job. You’re not interested in leaving at all. Again, here he is in his late 60s and he’s wanting to turn the company over, but he loves his job.

At Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert Tulsa Business Leadership we have found over and over that there’s only two reasons why people leave things or quit things. Number one either they’re running from something that they don’t want to do anymore, or they’re running to something that they can’t wait to do. So my next question to him was, well what do you see coming next, what are you excited about? As we met together in one of our sessions with Tulsa Business Leadership, he began to tell me how, “Well, you know I’ve got some things around the house that I want to get done that have been needing to get done for a long time. We’ve got some extra land out there, I need to get out and clear it and I need to do this.” He went on and on but what he was giving me was a to-do list. It wasn’t a vision for the future, it was just a to-do list. Here’s am an getting ready to go from working 50 hours a week to working zero hours a week. How is he going to fill these extra 50 hours?

So what we had in this situation was, here he was working on a daily basis and really enjoying and feeling fulfilled in his daily work. And he had no real interest, no real vision for what was coming in the future. So he was set up for a very difficult retirement. So this has been a conversation that we’ve been in over the last four months with Tulsa Business Leadership, helping him begin to get a view into his future, begin to get a picture of what he looks like, of the activity that he’s involved in as he moves into his future.

As we have been doing this, the very first thing that we came up against was the belief that there actually was something more. Again, he’s been in this business for 33 years. His idea of retirement is very common throughout our society, is I would retire to a position of leisure. But unfortunately, there is never going to be fulfillment in life through leisure. Fulfillment comes only through activity. Your purpose is only realized through activity, not through leisure. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy in leisure, but there’s a big difference between being happy and being fulfilled.

So, again, using my examples of concentric circles, let’s say that the inner circle is now and the bigger circle is the future. What we begin to do together is, first of all, beginning to adopt the idea that the future, there actually is a future, because we found out really quick that he didn’t believe that there was something more. As he looked at his future he looked at his future as something less. So step number one, you have to believe that there is more in your future, that bigger circle, that there is something that you have been prepared for. At Tulsa Business Leadership we have been talking with him about how this last 33 years has actually been preparing him for what he is getting ready to step into.

Your life gets bigger, not smaller. America’s Leadership Expert That is the design, that is the purpose. You have to believe that there is a bigger circle. Without belief you won’t take the steps because you know that we act out of belief. We don’t act out of knowledge, we acct out of belief. That’s why when we do things, so many times when we do stupid things we go, ah, why do I keep doing that, I know better. That’s right, you do know better, but you don’t believe better. So you continue to go back to the same old habits that aren’t getting you where you want to go.

So, again, your identity is found, for this man that we were working with, his identity, his core identity was found in his job that he did at his company. So for him to come to his company every single day and do his job, he was experiencing fulfillment. He was experiencing, he was finding his identity. But unfortunately, over a long period of time he never thought to look beyond his company. He never thought to look beyond his job to find a greater sense of identity. Now that he is coming to the end of working on a daily basis in this company he’s in an identity crisis, he’s in a time in his life, a season of his life where he’s wondering, oh, no, what’s going to be next.

Once again, I want you to know that your identity and purpose is found in the activity, not just in the job, not in the thing, but in the activity. No one will be able to fulfill their full identity in the midst of leisure. It’s not how we were created. Again, like I said, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy in leisure, but I’m saying that you won’t find fulfillment in it.

At Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert Tulsa Business Leadership we help leaders align with fulfilling their life. You have been created and designed for impact on earth. You are wired for it. So first you need to believe that there is a future beyond what you are doing now, that there is an impact that is bigger than what you have done so far. My Mom, Shirley Stairs, is a wonderful example of this. She and my Dad, Don Stairs, started Shepherds Fold Ranch in Oklahoma and they ran that thing for 25 years. Then they moved on and turned it over to my brother, Mike. But then my father passed away in 1999. It would have been so easy for my Mom to simply stop life right there and say, “Well, my impact on this earth is going to be Shepherds Fold, that’s what I was here to do was to start that summer camp and to do that.” It would have been so easy, especially after her husband died to just fade away. But she didn’t, she saw a bigger picture. She knew there was something more, she saw the bigger circle. As she saw the bigger circle, it compelled her to continue to move and expand her inner circle.

Understanding that what you do now has all been a preparation for what is coming next. My Mom is now in her early 80s and continuing to say, “What is next?” She is a mentor, she is a teacher, she is an author, she is a speaker. She has traveled the world speaking and training and mentoring. This vision that she has for her life, this bigger circle, knowing that she has more of an impact to give on this earth is what allows her to continue to move forward. I am a strong believer that it is this vision, it is this something more, this bigger circle that has actually kept her alive for this long and healthy for this long.

What do you love about what you’re doing now? America’s Leadership Expert These very things that you love about what you’re doing right now may very well need to be a part of your next steps. For me, I’m a teacher. Thirty years ago I started teaching. I’m still teaching today. It’s just that my role as a teacher has changed. I’m no longer in the classroom. I’m no longer in the nonprofit. I’m now across the country teaching, training, equipping, coaching, mentoring business owners, rather than 16-year olds or rather than college students. My clientele has expanded. My classroom has expanded. At Tulsa Business Leadership we are now working with business owners across the country to help them become the leaders that they desire to be.

If you don’t believe there is more, then you will hang onto what you have now and it will be very difficult to let go. This is a situation that we’re with with this father who was turning his business over to his son. He’s now finding it’s very difficult to turn it over because he doesn’t have something to go to. He is feeling like, as we move forward, he’s feeling like it’s actually being taken away from him because he’s holding onto it.

At Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert Tulsa Business Leadership we help leaders release the old and move to the new because they are impassioned by a new vision, by a greater call. If you don’t believe there is more, then you will hang onto what you have now and it will be very hard to let go. Like I said, you will feel forced out as if something is being taken away from you. However, if you have a belief that there is more, then you will make a way for a vision to be born inside of your heart that will actually pull you out of your now and drive you, pull you into your future. You will look at what you’re doing now and feel like it’s actually in your way. It will be easy to let go, so you can lay hold of the new vision. But you must believe.

This is Clay Stairs America’s Leadership Expert at Tulsa Business Leadership with podcast number 33, “What’s next? Living large into retirement”.