18 LEADER TO LEADER
HESSELBEIN & COMPANY
he whole notion of retirement as we know it is undergoing a fundamental change
because of a near-perfect storm. For one thing, most of us are knowledge workers now,
and work is less taxing on us physically. There was a time when a 55-year-old worker
was broken down and tired and, perhaps rightfully so, ready to stop working. In fact, only a
hundred or so years ago the average life span of a man in this country was about 55 years, with
women living slightly longer.
Today, medical science has enabled people to live much longer. As a result, a 55-year-old man
or woman probably has another 30 years of life, plenty of energy and mental acuity, and all of
their wisdom and relationships.
The bottom line? This individual will probably want to do something significant with those
bonus years, and for many who have achieved great success and climbed one mountain after
another throughout their lives, working on their golf game or traveling endlessly is not going to
suffice. They are going to need more, and they are going to have to figure out what that more
is for them.
Perhaps I am describing you or one of your team. Either way, there’s a price to pay for not
addressing this issue and finding answers that work. For leaders, there is the growing brain and
relationship drain on their organizations. Every day, thousands of Baby Boomers retire, taking
all of their talent, experience, and wisdom with them. They have spent years being good at
by Dean Niewolny