Unless you are about to die or you are infirm, when you make a career transition, your drive is not going to just go away.
People live a lot longer than they used to. If you leave a CEO or other senior management role in your 60s, as most do — if your finances permit it in our current economy — you may have 20 or more good years ahead of you. Today, when people have the ambition, drive and energy to achieve great success in any field, it is unlikely that it will just stop when they change or leave a job.
I have never in my life met a successful CEO who was lazy. CEOs, like you, are incredibly hard-working and ambitious. And in spite of some grumbling about how tough the job is, the great chief executives I know love their work. Thus, it stands to reason that unless you are about to die or you are infirm, when you make a career transition, your drive is not going to just go away.
You may even think you want to rest and relax, but according to the “retired” CEOs I have met, that desire won’t last long. You will need an outlet to express yourself. The prospects of sleeping late, living on the beach, improving golf scores, going on cruises and playing all day hold almost no allure for the great leaders I have known.
Along with rest and relaxation, another favorite myth for the retiree is the ability to spend lots of quality time with the family. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, senior leaders likely have been working continuously for years, usually for decades. For better or worse, their families have been able to survive without them at home. It’s a mistake to delude oneself into believing family members now want you around all of the time. For those who are married, retirement may be the spouse’s greatest nightmare!
One top military officer shared his experience. “My wife said that she was looking forward to spending lots of time with me. One day, after a few months of retirement, I was in the kitchen alphabetizing the cans. To my amazement, she didn’t really seem to care if baked beans should be filed under BA for baked or BE for beans. On the contrary, she reminded me that this was not the military, that I was not her officer and that it was time for me to find something else to do since I was driving her crazy.”