I got to listen to some people gush over a retiring colleague yesterday, and now I think attending retirement celebrations must be a terrific learning opportunity.
Endorsements of a retirees best qualities and most enduring achievements are like a curriculum for someone with decades of work left in them. Take note of the generosity that earns repeated mention, and decide to be more generous. File away the unfiltered observation of his dependability, day in and day out. Decide against canceling that thing. Don’t fail to mark the effect, over the course of this person’s career, of all those things he was doing without recognition.
Be curious, then, about the absence in all these emotional speeches of the qualities you think are most prized for your work: innovation, creativity, leadership. Wonder–if you dare–if it’s possible to change the world by investing your best working years with a recurring decision to show up, to share, and to recognize as often and as publicly as you can the contributions of others.
And by all means have a cupcake. It’s a celebration.