I read with great interest your career advice to the high potential person (HPP) who complained that “My assigned mentor refuses to see me”. I commiserate with him if the mentor that the HR Director had assigned to him was not at all the kind of mentor the way you had described a good mentor should be in your career advice. [Editor’s Note: Please see Sunday Inquirer, People at Work, Job Market section, February 19 and 26, 2006]
I had been mentored myself during the early part of my career when I was also a high potential person. Were it not for my mentors, I would not have risen to the highest position in our company. I had always looked back with gratitude to and love for these mentors, and up to now, I pray for them since they are now dead. Because of these mentors, I also welcomed opportunities to mentor high potential people during my corporate career. I must have mentored about a dozen young men and women, both formally and informally. Except for three of them, the rest had shown their gratitude and given me credit for having contributed to their career growth. I’m glad that your article described the psychic and spiritual benefits of mentoring for these were true of my own experience as a mentor.
One of the three had the attitude and air of “I did it myself with no thanks to you”; he eventually replaced me when I was “eased out” of my position due to corporate politics. Yes, I was given an attractive separation package, a “golden parachute”, so I could leave the company which I had grown for 18 years and made profitable. It broke my heart; I was crushed and devastated. How painful it is to be “kicked out” of the company you have come to love as your own family, and be made to feel I was no longer needed. This was seven years ago. Up to now, inspite of my close relationship with God, Who has become the source of my strength and center of my life, I am still broken in spirit; my wounds have not yet healed when I think of the betrayal of this HPP.
I’m now 63 years old, no longer on LOI (“living on interest”) status. In fact, my wife and I are now living on our limited savings and I don’t know where to turn to for us to live on until we both die.
We have four children who have families of their own and struggling to send their own children to school. They always complain of their inability to make both ends meet, I had given each one a part of my separation package; they think I still have a big amount invested.
My question to you, Madam, is: What do you think if I go back to some of the people whom I had mentored and ask their help for consulting work that they can give to me? I’m hesitant to do this because it may not be the right thing to do. Also, I’m too proud to do this, afraid that I’ll be rejected.
Mr. Dejected Retiree
I can imagine and feel how devastated you were when you were pressured to retire and saw the person you had mentored take over your position. Worse, this person did not at all acknowledge whatever contribution you made to his professional growth, let alone to his career advancement.
It is natural for you to feel the way you do; however, if you allow yourself to be “marinated” in these feelings, you will not be able to move forward. The good that came out of your “forced retirement” was that it had given you a big amount of money and you were able to share some amount with your adult children. As important, it had brought you to God and has led you to develop a close personal relationship with Him.
Do not suppress and deny your negative feelings, Rather, acknowledge them. Your feelings of anger, bitterness, betrayal, etc. are all natural and normal. Offer them to God and pray for His healing and the grace of wholeness which comes from forgiving those whom you considered to be behind your exit. Self-pity makes you rooted to the past. Instead feel good about yourself, be grateful for the many blessings God has given you and get on with your life. If God has closed the door to corporate life, surely He is opening wide windows of opportunities for you if you only stop looking down and looking back, and instead look up and recognize the opportunities He may be sending you.
Take advantage of the present to make an inventory of
- Who you are now and what you have become,
- What skills, talents and wisdom you have acquired
- What you now possess because of your work and career success
- What career options are open for you
- Whom you know who can be members of your network
If you take time to write down the above, you will see
how good you will feel, and how blessed you will believe you are. This will contribute to your acceptance and eventually healing, and give you the confidence you need to look to the future with hope.
You still have 10-20 years or even more of life and the quality of your life will depend on your attitudes toward yourself, and your openness to see the opportunities that come your way, and your readiness to see the right and appropriate ones for you.
What career options do you now have at age 63? Write these down. Your objective is to list down as many as you can, based on your interests (i.e., what you enjoy doing), your formal education (perhaps you did not practice your profession because you had pursued a different corporate career path laid out for you), your skills and talents (including those that you did not use in your corporate life), your hobbies, etc..
Then assess your current and future needs. From your email, it seems that your immediate objective now is to have a job that will provide you and your wife with a regular income to lead a comfortable life, and to augment your savings that you can live on in the future. Using this as criterion, go over your list and make a shorter list of those options that will enable you to realistically achieve this objective.
At age 63, you can go back to corporate life in general management of a smaller company or as a consultant in your specialized field. Expect a much smaller compensation package in general management compared to what you were used to getting.
As consultant, what skills and expertise do you have that a company can use? What service can you provide which can be outsourced to you? Write down the business challenges you had faced in your corporate career and the skills you used to meet these challenges successfully. Be clear about your accomplishments, your areas of expertise and the kind of problems you can help a company solve.
Your second objective is to market yourself. Make a winning resume because you need this to market yourself in the corporate world. Send your resume to your headhunters, to your former mentees, and to your network list. Be specific on what areas you can be of service to them. Surf the internet or read a good book on how to set up a consulting practice, which includes marketing yourself.
Networking is vital in achieving your objectives. List down your past business associates, the people you had mentored and helped in the past, your adult children’s friends, your relatives, your co-alumni etc. Attend annual conventions of your professional organization, alumni reunions, family reunions, etc., for these are good sources of leads to people who can be in your network list.
Let these people in your list know what service you can provide and request them to refer you to people they know. Invest in good calling cards that you can give to people in your network.
While waiting for consulting projects, you can share your expertise by teaching in an educational institution to add to your financial resources. Keep expenses down and remove the “wants” from you/your wife’s shopping list.
Your wife can also do the same. She can have a home-based business using her skills in handicrafts, cooking, baking, growing ornamental plants, etc. You can both attend practical courses offered by the Technology and Livelihood Resources Center (TLRC) with telephone number 637-4018 to 22, or 637-4108 to 12. Email to: email@example.com.
The important thing is not to feel helpless and hopeless. Surely if you trust God and He is at the center of your life, you will discover how He is leading you out of the desert into “streams of living water”.
The experience of many corporate people forced out by politics or by a globalized and competitive business environment is that job security is a thing of the past but that their second careers in retirement are far more fulfilling and satisfying because they have an opportunity to pursue careers in line with their real interests, skills and potentials.
God bless you.