6 retirement lessons from Serena Williams

6 retirement lessons from Serena Williams

Legendary sports champion Serena Williams has joined the Great Resignation, announcing her retirement from tennis. While physical competition is no longer viable, the 39-time Grand Slam record holder is unlikely to relinquish her tennis roots.

Having taught many lessons to business leaders over the years, even his departure can teach us how to retire with class and maintain a hard-earned legacy.

As a behavioral scientist and advisor to the Board, I offer six tips to mentally prepare leaders for the long overdue decision to retire.

1. Plan for the inevitable

Nobody has everything. A role model for women, while she was two months pregnant, Williams won her last Grand Slam at the 2017 Australian Open. She knows “something has to give.”

I suspect losing in the first round at Wimbledon this year hurt. Eight weeks later, he hangs up the racket. Eschewing the idea of ​​retirement, he tells Vogue, “I’ve never liked the word retirement… It doesn’t seem like a modern word to me.”

She is not wrong. Retirement is a distant concept resisted by leaders of startups and Fortune 50 companies.

Relabel it: Retirement is not a dirty word or an act of lazy people. See it as an inevitable transition to a different place. Resist your human preference to focus on today and project yourself to a better place.

2. Start early

Most athletes know that they have a limited shelf life to maximize future gains. Williams’ departure from tennis was neither premature nor unexpected. He acted longer than most. The time at the top of any hierarchy is usually short before the next set of talents emerges.

Business owners have a duty of care to early and mid-career employees to help them plan for retirement. With no options to consider, it’s never too late to promote planning for financial, psychological, and practical activities. Even governments require automatic enrollment to help employees increase savings and bridge the gap between intent and behavior.

Employees must manage their future. When I got to the middle of my career, I looked for positions on boards of directors of organizations and charities. These proved to be a useful springboard for non-executive boards years later.

3. Be open to new opportunities

Many employees have reassessed values ​​after the pandemic. Some quit, change industries, or retire early. Others are adding side jobs and temporary jobs to their main sources of income.

Williams developed interests in clothing, and now strives to balance family with business and philanthropic ventures. As a leader, it’s important to build options before retirement. This reduces your psychological dependence on colleagues and routines. It also facilitates mental detachment.

As Dorie Clark recommends, expand your network when you think you don’t need it. It is an underestimated factor by busy executives.

4. Separate your role from your identity

Ever since Williams first played in Compton, being a tennis player has defined her. With the Oscar-winning film about her father, ‘King Richard,’ her legacy will grow. Her success makes it harder to escape a lifelong identity.

For many, daily work is tied to personal and social identity. Emotional attachment to a career is inevitable, especially if you’ve built something from scratch. Each new source of income, product or employee represents another seal of achievement.

The reluctance to cut ties is understandable. However, many go ahead with success. Athletes become commentators, coaches or coaches. Presidents build academies and libraries.

We are all a combination of roles: parent, teacher, child, supervisor. Ask yourself “What else do I value?” Don’t define yourself by job title or status. Separate these identities for your greatest well-being.

5. Do not be seduced by your success

Founding entrepreneurs and CEOs tend to stick around longer than non-founders before handing over the reins. High performers hold on to the majority. 80-year-old founder and CEO, billionaire Mike Bloomberg, is still at the helm of his $40.9 million revenue data empire. After twenty-five years, Bill Gates retired as the founder and CEO of Microsoft to focus on software strategy. Another twenty years passed before he retired from the Board.

Addicted to headlines, many founders struggle to make the psychological break. However, companies must continue to be innovative. Take advice from admired leaders as needed.

6. Craft your exit strategy

Earning $45.9 million in 2021, Williams is among Forbes’ highest-paid female athletes. Regardless of bank balance, everyone needs an exit strategy. INSEAD Leadership Professor Manfred de Vries suggests that the best time to transition is when “work has become routine…performance is slipping…at that sweet spot of being at the top of your game.” their performance, just before the decline.

Sometimes exhaustion is the trigger. Williams advises always admit it.

With resignations showing no signs of abating, many will continue to change or end their careers. New chapters will light up.

Having mastered your career, embrace the Great Transition. Head out with confidence with a realistic plan, security, and a fine-tuned network. With a lifetime of titles earned, I think the one you may find more rewarding is ‘big’ rather than ‘retired’.

That’s retiring with class. take advantage of you

Opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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