Magazine article Public Management

Don't Forget What Matters in Life

Magazine article Public Management

Don't Forget What Matters in Life

Article excerpt

It was a clear sunny morning in beautiful La Jolla, California, as I prepared to attend the morning session on retirement issues facing local government managers in the twilight of their careers. This session was part of the City Managers Department Meeting sponsored by the League of California Cities. I was in a good mood as I anticipated some extremely interesting discussion from several managers on retirement issues and challenges. I was not disappointed.

One of the moderators, a retired city manager, opened the session with what reminded me of the movie Braveheart when he yelled, as loud as he could, "Freedom!" Of course, the 100 managers who were packed into this small meeting room all clapped with loud approval.

There were also many humorous comments. One person asked the moderator what had been the main reason that caused him to retire. He quickly responded, "A 4 to 3 vote!"

As this lighthearted session continued, another city manager suddenly stated that it is difficult for some people to retire because their self-identity is connected to being a manager and, once that is gone, it becomes challenging for them to move on in life.

As soon as I heard that, I knew I was going to have to say something. I also knew this lighthearted session was immediately going to change, and there would be no way for me to talk without being completely overcome with emotion. It didn't matter. It was my time to get in the game.

Once given the microphone, I started out by stating that I believe it is important to have balance in our lives, and that we need to be careful that we don't define ourselves by our position as a manager. There is much more to life than just that. I then said, "I know what I'm talking about."

Then it happened. Exactly what I knew was going to happen. I was completely overcome with emotion and couldn't talk. …

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