Nine thousand, eight hundred and forty is the number of days I've spent as an employee of a terrific organization. That ends today, more or less at 11:59pm. It was a good run, by any measure.
Now I'll answer the question that some may be thinking right off the bat: Am I bitter/angry/cheesed-off/upset/rankled? The answer is an absolute and resounding NO. How could I be? I worked for one of the greatest institutions of its kind in the whole world. And I got to do that for more than half my life. How is that not a blessing?
Speaking of blessings, when I think back over the years, I see so many wonderful things to be thankful for:
I learned from some truly brilliant (and I mean brilliant) people. And not just leaders, as many of those brilliant people never had a haughty formal title. The value of the education I received is simply priceless.
I earned enough money to help pay college costs for my three (now graduated) daughters.
I had the opportunity to learn an occupation...several, actually. If anything, the company encouraged and nurtured my professional wanderlust. By my own account, I had nearly 4 careers over the years.
I developed skills that have prepared me well for this day.
I was able to travel to places I never would have seen otherwise. My first ride on an airplane/jet was a company business trip to Boston in 1989. I got to spend a week and a half in Hawaii on company business. I could go on...
(2005: Dinner in Dubuque, Iowa)
I made mistakes and was given the gift of learning from them.
I was able to hire some truly remarkable people who will continue to make a difference for years to come.
I could go on and on and on, but I won't. I will make a special note though of the fact that I met my wife at work, something that, alone and in and of itself, would have made the whole experience worthwhile.
(July 3, 2015)
Does this mean that my life is now composed of equal parts sunshine, smiles, unicorns, kittens, and rainbows? Of course not. Any kind of transition like this is stressful, mine included, and I've had my share of bad days over the past few weeks. Heck, I've had a job since I was 14 years old (and I'm not going to do that math...), so for me, this is uncharted territory. As someone who values order and control in his life, this is a tough one. However, I'm going into this new territory well prepared for what may be in my future.
As a closing thought to this chapter in my life, I'll repeat what a vice president I reported to a few years ago was fond of saying, namely that "...we choose how we show up". Ponder that thought for a moment: We make the choice as to what we say and what we do every day and in every situation we encounter in life. "We choose". More powerful words have never been spoken. As I think about my transition, I'm keeping those two words in mind.