Your retirement speech

Those of us who love cricket and follow it avidly all heard Sachin Tendulkar’s emotional farewell speech yesterday. If you’re in India, and even if you don’t follow cricket, you’ve probably read an excerpt, or some highlights of it (if not, click

here

). This morning in the paper I saw a photo of the sheet of paper that Tendulkar used to make his speech, with all the people he wanted to thank listed on it, and that’s when the idea for this blog post struck me.

tendulkar.jpg

Imagine your own retirement speech. And not when you’re retiring from international cricket (much as many of us may fantasise, that is not ever going to happen!), but when you’re retiring from life. Imagine yourself, like Sachin yesterday, in a stadium filled with adoring fans, with your close family and friends around you, saying your last goodbye’s as you retire from life. Think about who would be around you, and the bittersweet atmosphere of a life well lived, but as with all good things, now coming to an end. And now think about that thank-you list. Who is going to be on it, and who is not ? How will you decide who should be on it ? How will you decide who to leave off ? 

And what of the people on the list- what of your relationships with them ? Was the relationship with them two sided, or did you take more than you gave ? Sachin talked about his aunt and uncle looking after him when he was a child- where are the people who looked after you when you were a child ?- and its not just your parents here. Sachin also talked about the relationship with his wife being’ the best partnership I’ve ever had’. How is your partnership with your spouse ? Are you contributing equally ? Are you encouraging each other on to the next milestone ? Are you

acknowledging

your spouse for everything they do ? Have you invested in keeping all these relationships going, or have you moved on as time and circumstance changed, and there was a more relevant, more immediate, more tangibly rewarding relationship at hand ?

Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement might just have given us an opportunity to reflect, and to reassess our relationships. Taking from that, let me invite you

now

to reflect on the relationships and people in your life- those who gave of themselves so that you might be what you are today, those to whom you owe that un-payable debt, the obligation for which might have been dulled with time, those who you had every intention of keeping up with, but where the tide of modern living ensured that it remained just that.

  • Begin by drawing up your own ‘Sachin List’. Go back to your earliest memory, and think of the people who shaped you. And don’t include everyone- stay with the key ones. Move through your phases of life, making a list of all the people you want to thank, culminating in where you are today.
  • Some of the people on your list may be no more. Remember the good times with them. For those that are still with us, now reorder the list in terms of priority of relationship.
  • Pick three important relationships you want to improve, and put down actions you’re going to take around improving them. And make sure you put down actions- not a wish list. ‘Meet X for Coffee’ is part of a wish list; ‘Call X and set up meeting for Coffee this week’ is an action. Similarly ‘Appreciate husband/wife for support’ is part of a wish list; ‘Appreciate husband/wife today for standing by me when I had a tough time at work’ is an action
  • And now focus on the important relationships that are going well. Spend some time on these to understand what’s keeping them going well, and what you need to do to keep them going. And can you use some of what you do here to build the relationships you want to improve ?

This exercise is not something you will complete in the time it takes you to commute to work. Tendulkar may have had a scrap of paper in his hand yesterday, but there must have been considerable thought behind what went onto that scrap. And so it should be with you. Build your list slowly, take your time, savour all your past experiences as you do so; live the events that bonded you with the people on the list. And when you draw up your list of people to renew or keep up relationships with, go slowly. Work on two or three relationships at a time, reach out, reconnect, and expand slowly outwards, enjoying the experience. And then finally, when the time comes to read your own retirement speech, you’ll have a well thought out list of people to thank, with all your key influences covered, and you can thank them surrounded by friends and family, and bring a wonderful end to a life well-lived !