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March 27, 2014 - Image 35

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-03-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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just a few more years, I would make
partner and more money. I expected
a warning that the gap on my resume
would be insurmountable, and I
would never again find gainful em-
ployment in my field.
On the contrary, those sentiments
were not communicated by one
single person in that demographic.
Instead, they expressed feelings like
"I wish I had done what you're
"You're lucky; you're not locked in."
"Take risks when you're young; it
gets harder when you're older."
"Do it while you have the chance.
You have the skills to do whatever
you want later."
"You're doing the right thing. Start
your business while you still can."
Every person beyond my years
endorsed my decision. A few among
the top ranks of leadership expressed
admiration and envy. Michel Mar-
tin of NPR's Tell Me More even
arranged an interview with me to
explore my nontraditional feelings
and ideas. Already confident in my
pronouncement, these reactions were
an unwavering testament that I was
making the right decision.
Less than three weeks later, I was
on a one-way flight to Santiago,
Chile. I spent the next three months
traipsing around Chile, Argentina,
Brazil and Colombia, hiking where
Darwin had once hiked and drinking
Malbec in the famous Lujan de Cujo
and Uco Valley regions near Men-
doza in Argentina.
I walked through shantytowns in


Rio, was mesmerized by Iguazu Falls,
trekked through Colombian rainfor-
ests and explored Ciudad Perdida, a
1,200-year-old lost city. I ate cevi-
che made with the freshest of fish
and citrus, met wonderfully hospi-
table Latin people, became increas-
ingly fluent in Spanish and climbed
breathtaking trails in Patagonia.
Following these awe-inspiring ad-
ventures, I returned to the U.S. and
traveled to Portland, Ore., and New
Orleans, cities that were always of
interest to me but never visited.
While traveling (and shortly
thereafter), I secured clients on three
continents for my management
consulting, executive coaching and
training business.
In early December 2013, I em-
barked on another three-month ex-
cursion, this time to Vietnam, Laos,
Cambodia and Thailand. I stayed
with a Hmong family in mountains
along the Vietnamese/Chinese
border, saw the natural wonder of
the world that is Halong Bay, walked
through designated world heritage
sites and crawled through Viet Cong
I chatted with Buddhist monks,
sat in stillness at Buddhist temples,
swam in the blue-green waters of
the Andaman Sea, partied under the
Thai full moon with 20,000 people,
saw the sun rise over Angkor Wat
and slept on the beach of a remote
Cambodian island.
I witnessed the remains of a horrif-
ic Cambodian genocide I had known
nothing about; ate foods I never
would have imagined eating; drank

moonshine with six non-English
speaking, middle-aged Vietnamese
men; and enjoyed one-hour mas-
sages for $6.
When traveling for extended peri-
ods of time, I packed very lightly and
simply and generally moved from
place to place without any itinerary.
Although I could have traveled more
lavishly and predictably, I intention-
ally chose not to do so.
The reason was more than just
financial; forgoing typical comforts,
planning and certainty forced me to
be more aware of my surroundings
and to connect more easily with the
people around me. I usually didn't
know where I was going or what I
might do there, but by placing trust
in others and relying on my own in-
stincts, I was certain to expand both
my worldview and my comfort zone.
The First Retirement was not
just about a dream to jaunt through
foreign lands for months at a time;
it was an evolution of mind and life
In the United States, we tend to
be focused on specific tangible and
material belongings; we all-too-often
believe that it is easy to gauge our
success in life by what we can objec-
tively measure.
But how do we feel when we strip
preconceived notions away? What
happens when we redefine ourselves
according to our own set of internal
The more people I met around
the world from all walks of life, the
more I saw people who live success-
ful, fulfilling lives in ways completely

different from my own. Ironically,
most of them had few material pos-
sessions and very little monetary
wealth. Listening to them helped me
realize their lives weren't better or
worse than mine; they were merely
Intentionally surrendering a
comfortable, traditional existence to
reinterpretation takes a bit of courage
and humility. It illustrates how many
different ways there are to proceed
through life with a rich sense of
My own journey showed me what
is possible, rather than reinforcing
mythical beliefs of what can't be
done. As my life, relationships and
personal business evolve, I redefine
what fulfillment and success mean
to me.
Taking calculated risks doesn't
equate to enduring unbearable hard-
ship and uncertainty, nor does it
make life less meaningful and more
difficult. Taking advantage of oppor-
tunities and embracing new chal-
lenges is a huge part of what makes
life so rich.
Life is too short to go through it
regretting what we could have done
when we had the chance RT

CARL SEIDMAN, a graduate of Bloomfield

Hills'Andover High School and Michigan

State University, currently resides in Chicago.

He is principal of Seidman Global, where he

consults with companies, executives and their

staff around the world on business strategy

and execution. He can be reached at carl@

seidmanglobal.com .

ltED 11111E1ID I April 2014 35

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