Friday, July 24, 2009

Changing Your Life

It all started out in a straight forward way. Corporate life at IBM. White shirt. Blue tie. Golfing during those rare and precious moments of free time during corporate meetings at exotic locations. Thoughts of golfing in retirement, but not deep thoughts, just thoughts. Then reality hit.

A corporate "right-sizing" created an opportunity for Buck Edwards to step away from the highly structured and protective environment of IBM to do what we all dream of doing: the thing that exactly suits us. Problem is, what suits us during the high stress, work-filled weeks of making a living may not be what suits us in retirement. We forget that we create that high stress for a reason. We create it because it suits us.

Mr. Buck describes the transition this way. "On Day One of retirement I came home from the golf course and my wife asked me how was my game. On the second day, when I came home, she asked me again. By the fourth day I realized that you do not ask someone about their game unless you want a full stroke by stroke description." Mr. Buck scowls at the retelling of this story. He needed more of a reason for his week. Meanwhile, his wife was playing tennis and meeting people, making new friends, volunteering at the Bargain Box, in short, networking just like she always used to be doing. It suits her. (She is also an Ex-IBM'er.)

Mr. Buck reluctantly volunteered to mentor a 4th grader. "Just an hour a week, really, I promise," his new-found tennis buddy told him. He got his monicker there. "Mr. Buck" is what the kids call him. He also got his mojo, his meaning, his motivation to become a recruiter of other volunteers and to volunteer elsewhere as well.
He nows "sells" volunteerism on Hilton Head.
He also serves ("really, just a day a week," his wife told him), as VP of Furniture at the Bargain Box. A volunteer position of course, but closer to his past life at IBM than his past dreams of retirement when he was at IBM.
Change? Sure. It is the nouns that have changed in Mr. Buck's story. The verbs are all the same.
Mr. Buck tells me that The Bargain Box distributed $400,000 to charities in the past year from the sales of furniture and everything else that passes through their doors. That's $12MM since 1965 when the thrift shop first opened. He could have said, but didn't, that corporate earnings are flat but market share is increasing.
Did I tell you that Mr. Buck was a salesman at IBM or did you guess that?
I can just hear him saying "Well, that's a nice piece of furniture you've picked out. Be a shame to not display it well in your about a throw rug to go with it? Candlesticks? Do you have some accessories for that end table?"

Changing one's life, one noun at a time.

No comments: