Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom - Don't Pull Up the Bonus Broccoli!


Very few people know about "bonus broccoli."

The first time I raised broccoli I harvested some large lovely heads, plump and full and rich dark green. Then, being the efficient gardener that I was, I started pulling up all the old plants and planting something else in the space.
A more experienced gardener saw what I was doing and rushed over to try to head off my mistake. "If you leave them alone for a few weeks, they'll grow more heads," she told me. "The plants may look a little ragged at this stage but they've still got lots more production left in them."
The next season when I harvested broccoli, I took her advice and let the plants grow after the first harvest. Just as she had told me, those older plants started producing more broccoli. The heads weren't quite as large during the second round as the first crop, but they were still excellent broccoli. And they kept going for several more weeks. I ended up picking about three extra months' worth.
Now that I understand how broccoli grows, I am able to harvest three or four times more broccoli per planting than I used to, simply by not being so hasty to get rid of the old plants.
I call these extra months of production "bonus broccoli." It's a nice return on my garden investment, because all it costs me is a little patience. My experienced gardener friend's instruction was correct: there is still a lot of production left in those mature plants and it's foolish to pull them up too quickly.

* * * * *
In my work as a retirement planning expert, I help lots of folks in their early 60s. Some come to me after receiving the devastating news that they have just been laid off from their long-term job.
Losing your job at that stage of life is a bitter pill to swallow. Your paycheck and your benefits are gone, as well as your sense of identity. But more significantly, it also means you're very unlikely to find a new position similar to your previous one. It's sad but undeniable - even if it's illegal, age discrimination is alive and well in 21st century America. You may get an interview but if you have gray hair, you probably won't get hired.
I'd like to tell employers who are thinking of firing long-time faithful employees the same thing that experienced gardener once told me about broccoli:
Mister, you're making a big mistake. You're being too hasty. There's still plenty of production left in that seasoned employee.
Don't pull up the bonus broccoli!
Besides their actual production, mature workers bring a number of intangibles to the table. They may not be as flashy as a new batch of replacement millennials, but the wisdom and common sense they bring to the job will serve you and your company well. They introduce a work ethic to your organization that the youngsters just don't have. They're more stable. They're less likely to wilt under pressure, or drag their "life-traumas" to the workplace.
Don't pull up the bonus broccoli!
Today's retirees need more flexibility. Some can't wait to retire, while others enjoy their job and want to work - perhaps part-time - into their 70s. And obviously there comes a time when every worker needs to retire gracefully, but usually they're sent away far too early. Don't waste all that talent. Your patience will be well rewarded with a significant return on investment.
Don't pull up the bonus broccoli!

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