September 24, 2021
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Retired and MIA

(Don't skip this article just because you haven't retired yet. Pre-retirees, more than anyone, need to wrestle with this issue.)

We’re out here by the millions, professionals who have hung up our skates. Some of us live life large, some live life small. Some opulently, some need to be frugal, but for most of us, life is better than when we were chained in the galleys. Or so it would seem.

Some garden, some restore 1973 Harleys, some travel, some read. And some nap. By and large, it’s a great life. But for many, something’s missing.

And that something is the challenge of problem-solving. Most of us, most of the time, when we were in practice were solving problems. And we were good at it.

We were good at it, especially in the latter years of our professional careers, because we had come to know ourselves and our skill sets. We were comfortable with our expertise, we knew we served our clients well, and felt the satisfaction that comes with excellence. We took on big challenges, we rubbed shoulders confidently with big colleagues and with competitors of excellence, we stood tall. We showed the young pups how to excel, too.

And now many of us start the day by meeting all the other old buzzards for coffee every morning at ten, sharp. More or less. And then go home for lunch, a nap, and grumbling about young people these days.

Such boring, self-centred lives leave many retired professionals with a nagging, indistinct sense of diminishment.

Diminishment because we are no longer engaging at the tip of the spear, employing our giftedness, our knowledge, our finely-honed instincts. We’re not creating big things, we’re not leading in our fields, as we had been accustomed. We're diminished because we're not affecting lives.

Ancient societies had a fix for this. The elders sat in the city gates and shared wisdom with those who came to them. Tradesmen, craftsmen, and guildsmen didn’t retire, they just slowed down and became advisors to the young. To the end of their days they enjoyed the satisfaction of relevance.

We need not become irrelevant. While our minds are good and our instincts still sharp, we have much to give. Whether it’s lending our wisdom to a volunteer organization, spearheading an environmental project, or working with other retirees on a study about the future of our profession, the talents and experience we’ve acquired can do so much good, and in return, we receive the satisfaction of being relevant.

Let’s not waste our wealth of talent, learning, experience and earned instincts. The world needs us. And we need the world.

("Pre-retirees, remember, the time to plan your post-retirement commitments is now!)

Forward to a friend!

Can I help you or your organization? Contact me at or at 613-862-3489. 

Friday Briefing Archives


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world; there is nothing enlightened about shrinking yourself so that others will not feel insecure about you.

Nelson Mandela
A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.

Nelson Mandela

What I Do

I am an explainer, that is, I deconstruct complex concepts and re-tell them in a fashion that can be understood.

In particular, I explain the secrets of professional success. These are things I wish I had known as a beginner lawyer in 1981, but which I had to learn by trial and error (and the occasional epiphany). These things are still not taught in law school or the Bar Admission Course, and generally not taught in any other professional training.

These secrets are simple yet profound, and are really just specific applications of common-sense life lessons. They are the keys to true professional satisfaction and financial success.

Call me at 613-862-3489 or e-mail me at

© Norman Bowley 2021, all rights reserved.
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