A colleague of mine is retiring after over 40 years with the same company. That’s a long time. Some people would say that there must be something really compelling about the company for someone to stay that long. Maybe so, but I posit that, at least in this case, the real credit goes to the person.

For a person to survive and thrive (key word, here) for over four decades at one company, he has to be committed to his role in making that company successful. In that sense, he has to be selfless, applying his talents in the places where they are most needed and will do the most good, even when those places may not be where he is most comfortable. He can’t do that without being extremely flexible. He also has to be willing to learn. Even in the very unlikely event that his duties remain the same over the entire course of his employment, a lot changes in four decades–products, technologies, practices. Finally, he has to be able to share his knowledge and experience with others in order to fully realize the benefits of his contribution.

My colleague is all of these things: committed, selfless, flexible, willing to learn, and able to share.

For years, Keith was the best at what he did as the operations manager for the company’s premier manufacturing facility. When his job changed dramatically, he didn’t wade cautiously into the new position–one that appeared only peripherally related to his former position–he dove deep. He not only mastered the new job, he became the authority. He became the trainer. On top of it all, he’s a really great guy. We could all learn a lot from his example, and I know I already have.

Enjoy every minute of your retirement, Keith. With all due respect, you’ve earned it.

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