“It opened my eyes to other, more satisfying possibilities”

Special introductory note:

The following Rebooter story is published without “credit” because the subject wanted to remain anonymous, and I respect his wishes. I know this Rebooter as a personal friend and vouch for the fact that he is indeed a real person and not a fictitious character. It’s not the usual practice of to publish stories without identifying the subject, but I’m making an exception in this case for three reasons: (1) a lot of people can identify with what happened to him at two large corporations; (2) this fellow has rebooted several times, in several ways, each one of which represented a new start and each one of which can inspire others; (3) he tells his story in an engaging way – his concluding paragraph is particularly compelling. —Lee Callaway

My boss, an executive with a Fortune 100 company, was someone who seldom left the building. Yet, he professed to know best how to interact with third parties and manage the function for which I had responsibility. Objectives were achieved, but not in the manner or style that he wanted. He constantly told me in detail how I should be doing my job as a corporate officer, much to my increasing frustration. If measured, my stress level probably would have been off the chart!

Finally, two years after I became one of his direct reports, he told me he wanted a change, and that I would be retiring at the end of the month (later changed to the end of the year). Though I received a generous package after 18 years of service, I was not quite 56 and stunned. I was clueless that this was coming. My former boss and the company he represented lost tremendous credibility in my eyes.

I wondered how I was going to pay the mortgage and provide for my family. I had doubts that I would be able to replace the job with one of comparable value. I had doubts about my own abilities. My wife was strongly supportive, commenting when I told her the news of my impending retirement that “you weren’t happy there anyway, so let’s go out and celebrate”.

When my official “retirement” date arrived, we celebrated my new freedom and my soon-to-be new job by traveling to South America. Immediately on returning, I became a corporate officer with a Fortune 300 company, albeit in a different industry, had the same job title as before, and improved upon my previous compensation package. Officially, I had been out of work a total of two weeks and had a lot to learn about my new industry.

Three and a half years later, the new company encountered financial difficulties and severely swung the budget axe, hacking off the entire department I headed in the process, myself included. Once again, I began to question my own self worth. I struggled to figure out what I would do with the days ahead. After much introspection, I decided I really had enough resources without seeking future paid employment and turned my energies elsewhere. Today, that company is significantly smaller, is in different markets and has a different name. I too am in a different arena, one that is much more satisfying.

I volunteered for awhile with Habitat for Humanity, took stock of myself and my family and lowered my stress level significantly. I became aggressive about pursuing my family history and have now identified some 12 generations of European ancestors who preceded me. I did the same with my wife’s family and identified portions of seven generations before her. I published the results and gave the product as a lasting gift to our children and our siblings. I began anew to study Italian, something I had done off and on for 20 years. Now, some 12 years later, I am continuously enrolled in Italian language classes.

Since I left the active workforce, I’ve traveled on a father-son trip to Italy, traveled on separate trips to Africa, Italy, France, Canada, Ireland, and South America with my wife, and we have made numerous out-of-state trips to visit our grandchildren. Two more major trips are scheduled this year, a year in which we will celebrate 45 years of marriage. I recently completed a 3-year term as a member of the Board of Directors of a non-profit organization, serving the final year as its President. And, occasionally I help my wife with her small business by acting as the Shipping, Customer Relations, Marketing, and Accounting Departments. I also do whatever other heavy lifting may be required in her business. In addition, I play golf regularly and oversee the activities of an elderly family member.

My Mother had a favorite saying: “Whatever happens, happens for a reason and for the best”. I am a strong believer in the philosophy that she espoused. What happened to me, twice, was devastating at the time. In retrospect, however, it opened my eyes to other, more satisfying possibilities. Though rebooting may be forced upon you, it can be a very good thing for the human spirit. In short, life is good for this former corporate executive.


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