Refire! Don’t Retire: Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life by Ken Blanchard and Morton Shaevitz. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 144 pages. 2015. Audiobook read by Joe Bronzi
I have read a number of books by Ken Blanchard and have seen him speak several times as well. He is the author of such books as The One Minute Manager and Lead Like Jesus. Last year I read his book Trust Works! See my review here.
As I am now much closer to retirement than to the beginning of my career, the subject of this book resonated with me. The book asks the question “As you approach the remainder of your life, what are you going to do to make it joyful and meaningful?” The authors point out that too many people see their later years as a time to endure rather than as an exciting opportunity. The authors worked to identify the factors that cause some people to become old before their time. They found four characteristics that distinguish people who feel innovative and vibrant from those who feel as if they are in a rut intellectually, emotionally, physically, or spiritually.
They use a parable to tell the story of Larry and Janice Sparks. We meet them at their 45th high school reunion. They run into Dr. Jeffrey, who was one of their high school teachers. Dr. Jeffrey is now a college professor and living life with passion and gusto. The two decide to ask for some refiring coaching from Dr. Jeffrey. He takes them on a refiring journey, asking them to meet with different people along each step of the journey as he challenges them to refire emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually.
- Refire Emotionally
- Larry and Janice form a “Last Minute Club” with their friends to demonstrate that they are flexible and spontaneous. To be honest, flexible and spontaneous are two words that those who know me well would not use to describe me.
- Larry and Janice are encouraged to venture out of their comfort zone. I like and thrive when I am in my comfort zone, but understand how some get in a rut when they are comfortable.
- Refire Intellectually
- Larry and Janice are encouraged to continue to learn new things – read books, take classes. I feel that I am doing well in this area of the refire process, recently completing my seminary education, reading books, listening to podcasts, etc.
- Larry and Janice are encouraged to embrace new technology, though Larry was initially resisting this. Heroes in this area include my mother-in-law and father who are 80+ and have each learned how to use an iPad.
- Refire Physically
- Larry and Janice learned that they can refire physically by:
- Exercise – fun, walk, strength training
- Lose weight by eating better
- Get more rest/sleep
- Refire Spiritually
- The book included vague thoughts on spirituality such as talk about a “higher power”, a “higher mind” and “something bigger than you”.
- Comments like “it doesn’t matter which path you follow” are disappointing from the author of Lead Like Jesus.
- The authors put down “religion” as meaning you have to be right. However, Christians believe there is only one way or path to Heaven and that is through the atoning death of Christ. The authors put forth a pluralistic view of religion.
- On the positive side, there is an emphasis on humility and serving others.
Everyone finds themselves in a rut from time to time. The book shows how people look and deal with aging, and encourages the reader to embrace rather than endure life, or see getting older as a “life sentence”. The takeaways in this short book – there is a helpful “Pause, Reflect and Take Action” section at the end of each chapter – apply to work and life, and could positively impact the rest of your life. The message in the book can resonate not only with older audiences but also with people in their 30s and 40s who may be feeling bored with the status quo and looking to refire aspects of their own lives.