The first 25 years of my post-college career were high speed, high excitement and high growth. At 27, I was supervising a crew of 41 men, all of them older than me. At 37, I was running a $200 million paper manufacturing plant. And by 42, I was COO of a $350 million division of New Zealand’s largest forest products company. I was flying high, living large, and certain that I was indestructible.
I spent my days striving for excellence in
my current role, and looking up the ladder at the next opportunity. When I felt any nagging doubts about my industry, or my career, I let the excitement of the moment burn those doubts away. When I wondered about my future, I remembered the retirement statement I received six months into my first job out of college. The statement told me how much money I would get each month after working 41 years for that company. In those days, 41 years at one company would not have been surprising.
I cruised along like that for a quarter of a century.
Until I lost my job in early 2002.