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Five Minutes

By Mike McGough

June, 2019

He always keeps things in perspective. Good or bad, happy or sad, easy time or tough time, his outlook is essentially positive. As a senior associate and mentor, he is a solid role model for those who work with him. He is an expert in his field. He has extensive experience, and he never stops learning. He is a quick study and he makes it his business to stay current. He’s never satisfied with good enough, and he has a knack for inspiring others to do their best. 

Based on the parts of his personal life he choose to share, it is clearly evident that he has the same sense of perspective in both his personal life and his professional life. It is just part of who he is. People are impressed with how he keeps it together and manages such a positive attitude. Those who have taken the time to really get to know him have learned that a big part of his ability to deal with whatever comes his way is based on his concept of successes and failures. 

Among his many interests and talents, he fashions himself as a writer. He had a novel he had been writing for years. He had mentioned it a few times, and once he shared a chapter with some folks in the office. After he had it to where he wanted it, he sent it out to publishers. He opted not to go through an agent, so the process was slower and a bit more complicated for him. Finally, his persistence paid off. He shared his good news and it was obvious that he was both happy and proud. He shared it at lunch, and he got a round of congratulations and the comments as to whether he would remember his friends when it became a Hollywood block-buster movie! Interestingly, in a matter of minutes, they were on to others topics. 

He never mentioned it again, until it was released three months later. There were a few copies that folks in the office took turns reading over the next month or so, and other than that he made no more of it. He was pleased that it was published, and he was proud of his success, but he was ready to move on to what came next. 

The office that he manages is a regional headquarters. He has been the regional program director for the past 16 years. Decisions that came from the office he manages directly affected 32 field offices. More than 300 people are directly impacted by those decisions. Not so long ago, a decision was made regarding retirement protocols. A lagging economy made it necessary for management to revisit longstanding corporate policies and make changes that would better represent the interests of the company in light of current economic conditions. After much research, thought, and deliberation, a new policy was drafted and released. 

The new policy was a rather significant departure from the previous retirement plan. Several incentives that had been part of the retirement system for decades were drastically cut or eliminated altogether. The minimum retirement age and years-of-service requirement were both increased. Even though there were numerous arguments that could be made against such changes, in the end it was clear that they were all necessary. It was simple, either the retirement protocols had to be tightened, or several entry-level positions were going to be cut. He opted to tighten the protocols to save jobs and to keep the company viable. 

As you can imagine, there was a firestorm of reaction, and he was at the very center of it. There was a week or so when things went pretty rough for him. Some long-term professional friendships were shaken, and there were some direct shots at his loyalty. Clearly this was an unpleasant consequence of his decision, but nevertheless he rolled with it and seemed to go right on with life. He was by no means dismissive or unconcerned with the implications of his actions, but at the same time, he did maintain his always sensible and calm perspective.

When asked how he was able to maintain his steady-as-she-goes outlook he explained with little hesitation. He said that long ago he had learned that life was going to provide a rich mixture of successes and difficulties. Overreacting to either one, he explained, would negatively alter one’s total view of life and the part we play in our own lives. He concluded by saying, “I learned long ago, that successes are generally worth about five minutes of celebrating, and difficulties are generally worth about five minutes of angst. I try to give each of them just about that much time, then go about the business of moving on!” 

Thanks Gregg!