My 13-year-old nephew, when he was a bit younger, was famous for asking interesting, open-ended questions. Perhaps he’ll be a great coach, one day!
One of those questions that stuck with me was, “Uncle Patrick, if you could have any superpower, what would it be?”
My answer was that I’d like the power to go back in time. When he asked why, I said, “because there are things I know now, that I wish I’d known then…”
Since no one I know has that superpower, I was thinking about the question from a different angle and wondered, “if, right now, you could write your own retirement speech, what would it say?”
Imagine you were to sit down today and write out a page or two, talking about the career you’ve had (and the one you’re still having), and that page or two would be read to everyone by your colleague or boss when you retire — whether that’s a year from now, five years, 10 years or even 25 years from now.
What would you want it to say?
Most of us hope that speech will be kind and generous, but more so, personal. That it will be easy for the speaker to talk about the contributions you’ve made and the legacy you’re leaving. That it will be easy for them to enumerate our strengths and how we contributed those strengths to some sort of success.
But what do you want those strengths to be, and what success do you want spoken about?
What will they say about the kind of leader you were? The kind of colleague? The kind of peer?
What will they say when they speak about what you stood for? Do you want them to describe how you challenged others to be successful? Or perhaps how you always made others feel appreciated. Do they speak of your attention to detail, or perhaps your bold honesty?
Writing this part of the speech is important to help us identify what we might like to change, and to accept the changes we’ve made.
For example, in my own speech, I’d like them to say, “With good work and determination, he rose rapidly in his career in government. That brought with it a shift — Patrick began striving for perfection, he wanted no criticism, he needed to prove he was worthy and capable of the roles and titles he was given.
That pressure took its toll on him, and those around him for a number of years until in his 40s, he shifted gears. He went back to school, became a certified executive coach. He describes that time as finding himself, again.
He launched Padraig, dove into coaching and became more understanding, more supportive, more compassionate –not just with all those who were lucky enough to work with him, but with himself too. It’s probably no coincidence this is when his business really took off.”
When they speak of the one or two great achievements, what would you like them to be?
Perhaps you want them to speak of a particular project or company — what do you want said about how you brought success to the project or company?
Sometimes we focus too much on that one project or that one role. So besides talking about how far or how fast you climbed the ladder and the titles and influence you had, would you like them to speak about the atmosphere you created? The culture you built?
I’ve thrown a lot of questions at you in today’s Coach’s Question blog and hopefully, some of them will help you write your own speech.
When you do, I encourage you to keep it somewhere that you’ll see it occasionally and you can check in — re-read it and ask yourself how you’re doing. Are you on track? What might you need to adjust to live up to your speech?
If you’re feeling bold, I encourage you to read it aloud to a friend or loved one — it helps you commit to it when you read it to someone else.
What’s going to be in your speech? What are you worried might be in your speech? Or, might not?