“So Doctor……..tell me……..do they have golf courses in heaven?”
“Well I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that they have golf courses in heaven. The bad news is that you are teeing off next Thursday.”
Okay… so there are some really bad, old bromide golf jokes still around.
I was reminded of this joke when I read some startling news in the paper. It ends up that doctors are really bad at estimating how long people have left to live. In a study done at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, it was found that half the doctors missed on their predictions when giving terminal illness diagnosis estimates. They found that with patients that had less than one month to live, doctors were less than half accurate. They were also less than half accurate when the patient had more than one year to live.
But here is the worst part (yes, there is a worse part!): between one month and one year – they were only accurate 1/3 of the time.
So, as I get the drift of the article, I realize that a doctor’s diagnosis and estimates might sound better like this.
“Well, with a 50% degree of confidence I can state that 18 times out of 20 you have one month or one year to live. And with a 33% degree of confidence, I can say that you have between one month and one year to live… plus or minus 3 months… for rounding errors.”
It ends up that our exits in life are pretty hard to predict. I remember one prison warden making this rather stark statement about one of the prisoners that was going to be executed. He said something to the effect.
‘Mr. ______ has the benefit of knowing the date and time of his death. As such he has the benefit making preparations and getting his documents in order.’
Just perhaps the warden was, like, a real optimistic guy – trying to find the best in things. But, I just don’t think the condemned inmate would go for it.
‘Okay, other than that… what’s in it for me?’
You see we just don’t know when you we are going to exit. It’s not like you are given a GPS system for your life.
“Hello, Mr. Pratt, this is Siri-Cortana… your exit is planned for this afternoon at 3 pm.”
‘Got it, can we push it back to 4pm. I have to drop off a load first’. I would also like to stop at the Taco Bell.’
I remember visiting New York five years ago and sitting on one of the red metal chairs and tables sipping my coffee. I looked at the big billboard with a picture of Dustin Hoffman in his role as Jack Kevorkian.
The big sign said ‘You Don’t Know Jack’. It was a major motion picture. The next day after watching a hockey game at the ESPN Zone about 50 yards away, I caught a cab around 2pm to head to La Guardia airport and fly home. I arrived home in Vancouver some 10 hours later, my wife asleep on the coach, with CNN on TV. I looked to see a picture of Times Square… right where I had been… empty. There was a white van parked there and the Square had been evacuated because someone had attempted, but failed, to set off a bomb. It was April 30th as I remember. I causes a bit of a shudder in me from time to time.
Our lives are like the Pick-up Times and the Drop-off times found in the ‘All in One’ Trucking software that I sell.
Our own Pick-Up time is when we are born to the world – not much control there. And our ‘Drop-off’ times are when we die. And the only thing our Drop-Off times have in common is they both involve a Doc…. er… a Dock!
And the Consignees have much different reactions.
It’s easy to know when you need to exit a highway. You have a GPS, and a lot of signage along the roadway showing you when and where to do so.
But it’s gets harder to do so in your life.
In between the ‘Pick-up’ and ‘Drop-offs’ of your life is another exit. It’s when you exit your business. Deciding to exit the business is a very profound decision. It can be really difficult. There are the financial worries of whether you can afford to retire. There is the worry about what you will do with your time… hanging out at the local Dunkin’ Donuts or Tim Horton’s. But the biggest challenge is letting go emotionally. Letting go of this great and invigorating venture that you launched some 15 to 25 years earlier.
You built a great reputation. You hired good staff. You were able secure recurring business with a good set of customers… customers who paid their bills! And now you have to turn it over. Turn it over to a new generation – to your sons or to you daughters perhaps, hoping that they can continue the tradition. Or perhaps you went another way and sold it for a premium to another trucking company who prized your assets and your customers.
I hear about these ‘exits’ all the time. I get the calls from the younger owners who are wanting to implement new technology to make their family business more efficient. By virtue of their youth, they are more technologically inclined than their parents. I hear this from existing customers who phone in and want to buy some additional subscriptions or licenses because they need more trucking or freight broker software for a business that they have acquired.
Whether they are expanding, or shrinking, or getting out of the business altogether I hear about these exits all the time.
I remember I once phoned a friend a few weeks after he had sold his bottled water business.
I started off by saying
“Are you grieving?”
“Yes… yes, I am”
I said that it must be tough to be separated from a ‘baby’ that you built up all these years… only to see it go when you sell it.
Exits in life and in your business-life are emotional events for people – understandably so.
We all like to be on that highway going to someplace… but as we all know… eventually you have to exit. And when you think about it… the unpredictability of it is somewhat more appealing than having the time to have it completely figure it out.
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