“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”- Greek Proverb
A few years back I was working on a large project and I shared this quote during our first group meeting. I needed my team to know that the work we were doing would have a lasting impact on our organization. An impact none of us would see.
I was reminded of this quote again when I announced my retirement from the same organization.
In addition to the many wonderful messages of congratulations that I received, I would occasionally hear things like, “I bet you are glad to get out now,” “things have changed,” or other suggestions that things are somehow worse now and I should be thankful to be running away.
Like talking about the weather, complaining that things are no longer like “the good old days” has become somewhat of a pastime in our careers.
I can remember colleagues with many years on that I met very early in my career that said the same things as they were retiring - “things have changed!”
While things have certainly changed, that is not always bad.
I expect things to change. We all should.
But should we expect them to get worse?
Wouldn’t that disappoint you? It does me.
We focus on finding purpose in what we do because that drives us. It gives us passion. This is wonderful and I hope we all feel that but what also motivated me is how I would leave an organization that I spent more than 20 years of my life with. Did I have an impact?
I certainly hope I did. In fact, I felt it was my responsibility, especially to the many men and women entrusted to my care, to make a difference.
Retirement was not, and should not be, about running away from an organization that has changed. I am proud that I can look back at my career and know I did my best to bring positive change and represent an organization that I loved.
If I have any legacy at all, it is that I did my job well, impacted people, and left the place in better shape for the next generation. A better future.
If I did my job well, I planted a few trees. Whether at work or other aspects of your life, plant trees and let others carry on to find the shade.
- Brian Townsend, Eagle 6 Training
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