Just listen to a commentary on Market Place (PBS) by my good friend Harriet Rubin which you can either read or listen to here (I suggest you listen to it). She talks about business leaders who choose to continue working and achieving in their “golden years), people like Murdoch, Buffet, and Phil Knight. Harriet’s give some good reasons why these business leaders continue to achieve which deal with their personal legacies and expressions of their selves. But I found it a bit sad that they would choose this path in a world that needs leadership so desperately. I can understand that these men (and all her examples where men sadly) choose this path. In some way when you reach what was traditionally retirement age, you have as much fear of living as you have a dying. He may be in your sixties healthy of mind and body and filled with energy. Spending the next 30 years on vacation is not that attractive. Government service use to be an option but now the process of being confirmed to a position is horrible and the government is held in a degree of contempt by many. Andy Grove is a different example than those Harriet gave. He left Intel pretty much (although I bet he suffers seeing what Intel has become) and is devoting himself to a number of important issues such as stem cell research. And I think Andy will do more for us this way than if he stayed at Intel.
In fully disclosure, I should say this is a difficult topic for me. I have taken yet a different approach to the last third of life. I want it to be more about being then doing but this is not without its internal struggles.