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How Do You Want to Be Remembered after Retirement?

How Do You Want to Be Remembered after Retirement?

Start a management degree at American Public University.

By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management, American Public University

Last week, I attended a friend’s retirement party. What stood out at the party was the feeling of appreciation from her colleagues and friends.

My friend spent 33 years in various capacities, sharing all that she knew. She was a first-generation college graduate and all she wanted to do was help others.

During the party, individuals whom she helped over the years had an opportunity to speak about how she had influenced their lives. She had much to be proud of.

As people shared their stories, I realized that I was one of those she had influenced. Although I think of my friend as my peer, she was actually my mentor. Our paths crossed at a time when I was going through a transition and she was there to help, build and nurture.

I always tell her that she was my cocoon. She protected me while I got myself together and I learned so much from her. Some of the areas that I dabbled in are signature footprints in my professional style.

When my friend took the microphone to give her farewell speech, she made sure to thank everyone who was a part of her journey. Her theme was “I am not retiring; I am rewiring.”

Her Retirement Means My Friend Will Stay Busy

She recognized that her time in her field had come to an end. It was time for someone else to take over, but it was not her time to go to pasture to rest. She has so much energy and so much more to give. It pleased me to hear her recognize that she needed to spend some time figuring out what would be next in her life.

Before she ended her retirement speech, she recognized her current supervisor and described him as “awesome.” It was refreshing to hear that because statistics show that many people leave their jobs because of their supervisor.

In describing what made her supervisor awesome, she used two descriptors that I did not expect – kind and humble. Can you imagine being praised as an effective leader and the words used to describe your style are “kind” and “humble”?

Seeking Compassion and Kindness in Daily Interactions

When I attended the Society of Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) annual conference in June, I noticed a theme of compassion resonating through some of the sessions. Is this a skill that is now desired? I think so.

One of the sessions was “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm: Creating A Culture of Kindness,” led by Barbara Glanz. She is a member of the prestigious Speakers Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 200 female Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide.

Glanz believes that the world needs more compassion and civility, which led to her creating a model to assist in making the right behavioral choices on a daily basis. Each time we encounter a person, we have the option to either be positive or negative in our interactions. She has created a model based on using the word “KIND” as an acronym.

  • Kinesthetic: By touching a person, you provide a sense of well-being to that individual. Examples include a handshake or a hug.
  • Imaginative: By using our creativity to come up with innovative ideas how to be kinder to people, we identify ways to surprise individuals with our acts of generosity. An example would be taking a coworker out for happy hour to celebrate the end of a work week.
  • Neighborly: By being the best neighbor to individuals in your home, community and workplace, you show them that you have their back. An example would include neighborhood watch duty.
  • Deliberate: By being purposeful and deliberate in planning ways to be kind, you show someone else that you care by putting the time and effort into being nice. An example is planning icebreaker activities with a department that you have to interact with to get your job done.

So when people gather to honor you at your retirement, how would you like to be remembered? Do you want to be known as a person who was a terror to be around OR a person who spread kindness throughout the community?

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and influential leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.



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