I was talking to the guy who was boning my chicken yesterday. He said he had been working as a butcher for 42 years. I asked him, “How do you like it so far? “ and clarified – sort of – that he didn’t do it any more. He hung it up. Forty-two years, that was long enough. I pointed out that he was working behind the counter right now. He said, “Oh I only do this a day or two a week. When I want to get out of the house.”
Dave Chappelle was on TV in a documentary about black comedians where they mentioned he walked away from $50 million, because he thought he’d done as much of that as he was going to do.
At work, I lost someone from my team last month when she quit after 20 years with the bank. I tried to get her to stay a little longer, to reconsider. After a lot of discussion, she just sighed and said “It’s time. That’s all I can say, it’s time.”
Eric Cantona broke barriers when he played for Manchester United. As a player he excelled through his gift of doing the unexpected. He certainly surprised this fan (see the clip at the bottom of the post) who thought it’d be a good idea to hurl abuse at King Eric as he left the pitch. The fan was wrong.
Eric stunned Man U’s fans by deciding to retire at the peak of his power. Was it crazy? He went on to many accomplishments in other fields. Why don’t the rest of us make changes more often?
I think we don’t walk away from things because we’re afraid of what we will do next.
Some of us continue what we’re doing because we don’t want to disappoint those we know. Many of us are rewarded for staying put; those who have a vested interest in stability like it when people don’t change much. Many sports records and the designation of “best” are simply based on longevity. Most games played, most games won as a coach. Beware the award for doing something longer than anyone else — it is the dark side of missing other opportunities in your life.
Walking away is change, and if you do it you will make others sad and nervous. Remember these words?
“Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.” -Robert Kennedy
Too often we think of walking away, hanging it up, retiring as the end. But of course you have to stop what you’re doing to start the next thing. What have you left behind in order to become who you are now?