My wife and I often watch network news and a popular entertainment platform in the evening and, after following this same pattern a couple of weeks ago, we looked at each other and exclaimed almost in tandem: “How The World Has Changed!” Almost everything we were staring at would never have existed when we were fully enveloped in managing our businesses. That made me think back to my early years in the workforce.
I began as a lawyer with a large firm in the northeast and, although I was married and eventually had children, I spent most days and nights at my desk in our downtown office building, eating a sparce lunch and generally fruit and cottage cheese for dinner before catching one of the last commuter trains heading west into the suburbs.
At that time in my life, and indeed at that time in our country, the job of a young husband was to work to not only support his family but also to build his worth in his profession so that the Golden Years would be happy and affordable. I was proud to honor that role.
During that period of my life, I failed to join our “family” vacations for thirteen consecutive years. I have to admit, I was proud of that too.
Similar professionals today often have less than full-time commitments and some have so-called “side-hustles.” My experience is that very few would miss a child’s birthday or anniversary to complete a project for a favored client, let alone give up a family vacation.
I was stunned the other evening when a young waiter we have known at one of our favorite restaurants announced that he would be “retiring” shortly and offered that he would miss seeing us on a weekly basis, but that it was important to him and his wife to spend more time together as a family. That was his job. That is the new standard of excellence. He was proud of it too.
Times have changed and, surprisingly, I understood what that waiter was saying and began to reflect on my earlier life and what it would have been like if I had taken a similar approach. I’ll never know. It’s hard to make up such losses after so many years have passed, but we will sure give it a go before we are gone.