Inheritance

This was last Monday. Hopefully today’s commute will be easier.

Don’t get your hopes up. This isn’t a story about a long-lost uncle who left me gazillions of dollars that I can’t wait to share. All of my uncles died a long time ago, and none of them had much money. This post is about work, and ideas and open (or not) minds. It’s about legacies and memories and tasks completed, missions accomplished, and things left undone. And it’s about how little any of that really matters.

I got the idea for this post from Yvonne, over at Misifusa, when she wrote about inheritance. It’s a good think I wrote down my thoughts, because it took a long time for them to surface. I blame the AIIM Conference. Wait? How did AIIM sneak in here? Well, when I think about what I might be leaving behind (when I retire, folks. I’m not thinking of the other exit), I think it’s natural to think about what I still might accomplish in the time that I will remain on the job. Then I remember my old boss telling me: “we only carried the pail for a number of years. It’s up to someone else to carry it forward.” I like that. I like the notion that we did our best and now it’s someone else’s turn to do their best.

The idea that someone else should look at my path and extrapolate a future course from it, is nonsense. I’ve been working for over 40 years. In addition to a relatively successful journey, my path is full of false starts, short reversals, jumps into new directions and Sisyphean boulders resting at various stages on various mountains. Systems development, database management, document libraries, workflows and other attempts to automate business processes – worry not! – I won’t bore you with that. That isn’t me, that’s only my job. I was fortunate to be told at an early point in my career: “your job is what you do to finance your life. Don’t let it become your life.”

However, when I attend something like the AIIM Conference, where hundreds of like-minded, similarly engaged people get together and share ideas for making the world a better place, I can’t help but come home excited. There’s still time! Time to build that thing, improve that thing, replace that thing, scrap that God-forsaken thing that should never have been attempted and… No. There isn’t. There is time to continue to help the folks picking up the various pails, squaring their shoulders against the various boulders and especially the ones looking back at those oddball accomplishments and wondering, under their breath: “what was he thinking?

It doesn’t matter, but I was thinking: “I have to figure out a way to do this” whatever the ‘this’ was at the time. Necessity being the mother it was, invention had to follow, and not all inventions were ready for prime-time, as we used to say before DVRs and Netflix eliminated that requirement, but were nonetheless forced into action. As we sit around today and discuss these remnants, I try to explain, but I am clear not to lobby on their behalf. The task that remains is for me to ask: “what are you thinking?” and to follow that with: “how can I help?

I am about 18 months away from retiring. Plenty of time to help the next generation dissect and examine the previous projects. Plenty of time to fill in the history and to share a few stories that might ease the looming burden – “no, we didn’t know what we were doing either” – “yes, we were caught off guard by technology that changed too fast” – “no, nobody ever gave us enough time or money to do the job right” – and most important, “we figured it out – so can you.

I am extremely proud of the people coming up behind me to pick up the pails I am starting to set down. I like the questions they are asking. I like the ideas they have. I admire their energy and their commitment to success. They remind me of a much younger me, and I remember how I wanted people to get out of my way and let me do what I had been trained to do. I’m not ready to get off the field, but I’m ready to let them run. I think this is the point where Yvonne would urge them to – Shine On!


81 thoughts on “Inheritance

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  1. It certainly was a beautiful day in your neighborhood. Maddie looks like she was certainly enjoying the better weather. :-) You are such a positive person, Dan. I applaud you and hope you have a wonderful 18 months. And, then I’m going to be looking forward to more DIY projects. :-)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Judy. We’re all still trying to figure out this whole succession planning thing.

      I think we all enjoyed having a little warm weather and blue skies for a change. I hope your gardens are responding to the milder temps. It looks like a good week ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “your job is what you do to finance your life. Don’t let it become your life”
    What wonderful advice, for we were certainly a generation of workaholics. I’m grateful that I do got similar advice and it redirected my life. Without it, I fear my early (forced) retirement would have been very painful.

    I like your thoughts about guiding the next generation to ‘pick up the pails’ from which they will build what needs to be done next. You sound like a great guy to work for and work with!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joanne. I had two very good mentors in this job. I had to be “calibrated” a bit regarding succession planning. I was hanging on to some things a little longer than I should have.

      I will not be one of the people wondering what to do after retirement. I’ve had a nice career, but I think I’ll be ready to walk away when required. The advice you mention came from my boss at my second job. One of the guys in our group was very upset when a system he had worked on for a long time was cancelled. He took it personally, and eventually took an early retirement. It was sad. Our boss counseled each of us individually and he offered that advice as a warning.

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      1. I’ve done my fair share of systems design and project management to know how that feels to have a project or system cancelled. It does feel like the loss of something personal. Depending on where you are in your career, it could be hard to move on.

        I have no doubt that you will slide into retirement easily! You already have strong interests and hobbies in place.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I felt very bad for the guy whose project was cancelled. I was hired to be the second analyst on that project. It was cancelled as I was on my way across country to start work. They said if I hadn’t been moving so far, they would have pulled the job offer.

          I’ve been trying to make sure that I have plenty to do when I retire, and also that I don’t get too many “can you explain…” calls.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. How can I help? That’s the phrase that has become my mantra anymore. I like the pail metaphor and wish more people understood it. Workaholic-ism runs rampant in my little corner of the world– not me, of course. I’m the weirdo who has understood from the beginning that I’m not my job– I’m just me doing a job. Good luck with pre-retirement planning and enjoying your last 18 months of your career.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Ally. “…I’m not my job– I’m just me doing a job.” is a great way to look at work. I do enjoy my job, so there are some mixed feelings about bringing this to a close. On the other hand, there are aspects I can work into a relaxed retirement life – if I miss them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am looking at retirement, also–but Medicare hurts my head. I get a little anxious about the money part….other than that, I’m good to go! You have been feeding those squirrels well, Dan. No wonder he wants the gate lifted a bit. So cute, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lois. The squirrel might be a recent mom or mom-to-be. We’ve been getting a lot of visits from them lately. It’s been so cold, the stuff they’re normally finding in the yards and bushes isn’t out yet.

      Medicare is enough to make anyone’s head spin, and healthcare gives us nothing but reasons to be concerned.

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  5. “I am extremely proud of the people coming up behind me to pick up the pails I am starting to set down.”

    I’m starting to do the same thing, Dan…setting the pails down. One here, one there. Letting the young’uns pass me on the field and pick them up. I am retiring about the same time (September or October next year) because 43 years is enough, I’m tired, and there will be someone ready and willing to step into a work inheritance that requires a more youthful energy. Not sure of the legacy I’m leaving, but perhaps I’ll find out on the day I leave my post or when everyone is drunk at my retirement party! :-D

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – I’m sure you have made your mark, Mary. The one thing I know, dealing with technology means, my contribution will fade pretty quickly. Hopefully, my desire to provide the best service we can, will linger.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I think back to the beginning of my work life – the IBM Selectric typewriter, yellow onionskin and carbon paper, the white-out tape – and how it is now – computers, spreadsheets, SharePoint, mobile technology, and changes in our policies and procedures – it is mind boggling and surreal. I should have kept a journal! I’m with you, hoping others will remember that I did my best to get things done and be helpful.

        Today is one of those days, with my A.D.D. is in overdrive, that I wish the next 18 months would hurry up. :-p

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I know that feeling. I started here when they were still using a Telex terminal for overseas communication. I was teaching people how to use the Fax machine – ugh. Some days, I look forward to the changes, and some days I worry about being burred by the next wave.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful blue skies here too, Dan!! YAY!!! Finally, right? FYI …. your thoughts have more or less been mine of late. I still have yet so much I really want to do in life yet I am looking back, asking to what purpose do my experience and wisdom and all that I’ve learned have? To whom do I pass the torch to? And YES about we are not our jobs …. too many people identify themselves as their jobs and when it comes to retirement they are lost. Nooooooooo ….. not the way to go! It’s really good to know you are seeing younger folk who are excited and innovated to keep the torch lit that you are giving them. From what I have observed at the gym with these college kids, my hopes are slim. You have reignited those hopes today. Thank you, Dan!! Have a great day!! 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a lot that I want to do, Amy, but I’m ready to pass this stuff onto someone else. We have a pretty aggressive plan, but I should be able to walk away from here, confident that others can continue the battle.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I hope the younger generation you are mentoring in the work place appreciate what a gift they’ve been given to have you guiding them. Sounds like you have a firm handle on retirement. With your DIY skills, you will never be bored, that’s for sure!!

    Once again, great photos. Maddie and her cot are just too cute. Don’t blame her for not wanting to waste any time getting outside. Love the shot of her giving kisses.

    That chubby (pregnant?) squirrel is a hoot. How it squeezed under the fence is a mystery.

    Hope you are able to get outside for lunch and soak up some sun and warmer temperatures. It’s been a long time coming!!
    🔹Ginger 🔹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ginger. My previous boss put us on a well-planned path to succession planning several years ago. He didn’t want any surprises. I think it’s going well, but I’ll give him the credit.

      I think the squirrel is pregnant. The moms-to-be have been begging up a storm lately.

      As soon as Maddie sees that her cot isn’t on the porch, she starts her happy dance. The pad had blown off, so I was trying to hold her back and replace the pad at the same time. It didn’t work well, but she was happy. Once it really gets warm, I guess we can forget the pad. Then again, we have to dig out the umbrellas to shade her from the hot sun. It’s a good thing she isn’t spoiled ;-)

      Like

    1. Thanks Marian. As I mentioned above, I give the credit to my former boss. He wanted an easy transition and he started having us all work on it years ago.

      Maddie in action sometimes is a little bit scary. We know she’s happy, but a handshake would work as good as a kiss.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. We never know when those kisses are coming. She just gets so happy when we take her for a walk. I just left my phone’s camera open, and I tried to snag her in mid-jump. I also tried not to get knocked over. Sometimes, it’s full-on, paws-on-the-shoulders and we have to work to stay on our feet. The squirrels are hungry. Usually, they take the nuts back to the next, but these days, they sit and eat and ask for more. Babies. On the way or in the nest, there are babies.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You are going to love retirement. It is the time that you get to do (mostly) what you want to do.

    As for IT, the business has matured. There are fewer pioneers and gunslingers in the industry today. This is both a good and a bad thing. The blue-sky days of “everything is possible” were wonderful – but gosh, remember when management actually thought it was okay for a 15 year old kid to build a website?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha – they might have preferred it to my first attempt! Things here are getting lined up like cars in the freight yard. The information is being gathered and passed along, and a couple of trains are moving. I’m looking forward to walking away, and I’m confident I can do it without any worries.

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  9. I like your attitude, Dan. When I made the decision to retire, my only thought was to get out now. I didn’t much care whether those coming up behind had learned anything from me. Sounds like in 18 months or so, you will be able to retire peacefully – and stay retired. Definitely something to look forward to.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great discussion here as well as the post and photos, Dan. We’re looking at retirement, although probably in a few years, not 18 months. Although a lot of what I do will continue, my husband will be glad in some ways to lay down the stressful burdens of a lifetime in IT and relax. I hope we’ll be traveling, I know I’ll be reading, but I also imagine we’ll be giving back in various ways. I know my husband has created a legacy for those with whom he works and I’m somewhat of a mom/mentor to the much younger workers around me in my part time job.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet. It’s a good time to give back by helping those who will take over. IT has changed so much, but it’s going to change even more, and that change is coming faster than ever. The younger people are comfortable with the pace of change that is out there today. I’m comfortable, but I’m also thinking I’ll be happy to stop worrying about keeping up with the same processes I’ve spend 40 years supporting. They got this – I’m ready for a new challenge.

      I hope you get to travel. I for one will be happy to go a good long time without boarding a plane.

      Like

  11. Hi Dan – excellent advice you had along your journey – which you’re sensible enough to remember and no doubt, having picked up the concepts, have passed on … setting aside the tech aspect – as you say – you wonder how much will be relevant ‘soon’ .. .but for now you’re appreciated. But boy will Maddie love you much more dearly in 18 months or so – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I leave for work, Maddie looks at me and I say “aw, you want me to retire today?” The Mrs. is not fond of that idea, yet.

      Concepts are about the only things that survive in the tech world. I’ve had so many systems become irrelevant that I long-ago gave up thinking about a legacy of code.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I used to write manuals … and think – how long will these last … or will they last my short (usually) time with the organisation … rather wish I’d had your mentors … makes so much sense – cheers Hilary

        Liked by 1 person

  12. It sounds like you’ve been a lucky man – after I retired everything I’d created was wiped out. Luckily I was well compensated however it is somewhat disheartening when everything you worked on is gone. Looks like your weather is improving!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jan. Our weather is improving. The nicest thing about retirement is the thought that I only have one more winter in which I have to get up, snow blow the driveway and drive to work.

      Nothing I have actually programmed will survive very long after I leave. Some design concepts will, but those were just good ideas I picked up along the way. Actually, if I’m successful, I will orchestrate the replacement of about 60% of my code before I’m gone.

      Like

  13. I really liked this post. it was full of all sorts of goodies. I enjoy problem solving. How can I help? is a big part of who I am, too.
    I like the way the future looks, too.
    And Maddie, AW! Big hearts for Maddie and her love of sunshine, walks, and spontaneous kisses! <3

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dan, many great thoughts in your post. Sounds as if you can retire in 18 months, have everything covered and peacefully enjoy it. Maddie will be happy! The Mrs? Yes! I know you’ll keep busy and she may have a longer list of house things to do. Now about those Sisyphean boulders, the endless & infective tasks (for me writing & rewriting policy and procedure manuals) in the workplace. Don’t think they are a thing of the past in any company. I retired from healthcare (NP) work 4 years ago, and never look back! However, give yourself a few months after you retire to get that total freedom feeling! Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is truly a shining post, Dan. One with hope for those who will follow you in the field you broke barriers and learned as well as taught others lessons. There’s gonna be some celebration ahead! 🎉🎈🎆
    Maddie on her special hammock, sunshine, and Sammy. These views were quite warm and happy! 🌞 I was humming “Sunshine on my Shoulder,” John Denver.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I can’t imagine what it must be like to work at a job for 40 years and be starting to think ‘how do I hand this over?’ If anyone tried to extrapolate a future course from my path they’d get lost. Having worked as a press operator at a car plant, a customer service officer and then a finance officer at a telco, a technical writer, an office secretary and now a teacher I’m not sure I’ve even got any pails to put down. Is retirement a mixed bag for you? Sounds like it would be both exciting/a relief and sad/daunting.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I just can’t help myself — I have to say that is one well fed squirrel.
    Dan, this is a beautiful post. Inheritance… It speaks so very well for you that you are thinking of what you still might accomplish for the sake of those left behind and for the work itself. I’ve been in my job since Nov 2008, and seen a lot of people retire. I’ve never heard one say anything remotely similar. And those who are able to retire soon, say things that are quite the opposite.
    Shine on my friend. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Teagan. I was in a presentation by a person heading up a records management project at one of the gov agencies. She said “succession planning in our office means retiring and coming back as a consultant.” That was so sad to hear. Returning hugs, knowing that you work in proximity to that attitude.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I heard that some when I worked for Indian Health Service.
        This agency now, has such a requirement to hire veterans, regardless of qualifications, that they’re just bragging about working the system to get double retirement paychecks (already getting a military pension check and adding a high-grade paycheck). “Between disability, retirement from the Marines, and early retirement here, I’ll be making even more when I retire than I am now,” said one who makes 40% more than me.
        If they come back as a consultant, at least they’re working.
        You are doing it right, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. The pail metaphor is perfect, Dan. I remember my relief when I sat mine down and left it for someone else to carry. I carried it the best I could; and as I walked away from it, I trusted someone else to do the same. Within a year, I had quit thinking about it, because I was happily juggling the bright, attractive activities retirement offered.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. What a catchy word for a blog post title. The minute someone sees it, Bam! I gotta click this. People are living hopeless lives but this word can spark up some hope deep inside. Right? The funny thing about Parsis in India is that people assume we are born millionaires and that we have some rich uncles and aunts that will leave us millions in inheritance. This assumption becomes a challenge when I tell people that I come from a poor middle-class family because the moment I utter my name and religion I am assumed to be rich. Sometimes I don’t get a job because the employer assumes I’m financially fit. So, I often wish I truly had such uncles and aunts that would lend me millions to prove these stupid people right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a crazy reason not to hire someone. It’s usually hard to tell what kind of family people come from, at least until you get an address. Houses give it away, but houses can be faked. People can stretch and buy more than they can afford.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, in India your last name can reveal a lot. Caste and religion is a major issue here. It doesn’t matter where I live because as you said people can fake it. Let me put it this way, if you’re a Rockefeller you cannot be poor.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi Dan! Thanks for linking to me! I have a big grin on my face! I like the “setting down the pails” and best of luck as those last 18 months are going to fly by! I wish you all the best! Love the squirrel photo and those of Maddie too! Such a sweetheart!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome Yvonne. I’ve taken to making sure I write down the links so I can give credit where credit it due.

      I think the 18 months are going to fly past, but I’m enjoying them, so it’s good.

      Liked by 1 person

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