Pivotal moments: What matters in the end 46



View Profile

I answered the call to write a piece for Starts at 60 and it got me thinking. Within this group we have life experience, we could and should be the wise elders of the community, if we have learned our lessons well. So I began a retrospective of my life. What had been the pivotal moments, the life changing, earth shattering revelations?

Like most of us there have been many. Births and deaths, career high points, career low point, love and loss. I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame on stage and TV, I’ve had my months of retreat, hiding away where no one can find me. I’ve lived the high life as a high achiever and I’ve been so poor I couldn’t afford to eat. All of which left their mark, taught me about life and taught me about myself.  As I continued to think about which of these major events I would write about, which had been the most important, therefore was most worthy of discussion, I found a strange thing happening.  Bubbles of thought were rising to the surface. Memories of much smaller, less significant incidents began to occupy my thoughts. As I went about my daily tasks I’d find myself recalling a particular situation, and a smile would spread across my face, or tears would fill my eyes and my throat tighten with emotion. One by one these lesser events began to build. I saw a pattern begin to emerge as there was a theme to these memories that stirred such strong emotions in me.

If you’ll indulge me, then I’ll share one with you. Decades ago I was a manager of a branch office of a large company. A high profile Sydney businessman rang my office looking to do business. The deal was a big one. The man wanted to speak to the  manager. I told him he was speaking to her. No he said, I want to speak to the male manager. I told him there is no male manager here, this branch has one manager and I am it.  His response was curt. “If you want my business, get the male manager to my office tomorrow at 9am”. My personal reaction was to tell him to take his misogyny elsewhere but, business is business so I swallowed my humiliation and rang my immediate boss. Now this man was, and still is, a giant in the industry, feared by most for his ability to reduce a grown man to shreds in seconds yet admired by all for his super sharp brain. Through clenched teeth I related the story. He asked me what I wanted to do. It was agreed he come to take the meeting. The next day, as we were about to walk into the client’s office, Greg (let’s call him Greg because, after all, that’s his name) asked me for my notepad and pen. As the client talked, Greg took notes. Then the man asked a question. Greg’s response took me by surprise. He wasn’t sure he said, Robyn would know, what do you think Robyn? And this was how the rest of the meeting went. Greg deferred to me on each and every question. I knew full well he knew the answers, but he too knew full well that so did I, and he provided a space for me to show that. He became the secretary, taking the notes, and without making any grand statement, he clearly demonstrated this to the client. I filled the brief and took the client’s money. I hope the client took on board the lesson offered to him.

And here was the pattern to my most emotive memories. The things that changed my life were when people demonstrated that they were there for me, they had my back. The stranger on the bus who stepped in to support me in an awkward situation, the family member who offered emotional or physical support in tough times, the kindness of a passer by when I was lost overseas, the support from fellow commenters on the internet when less than thoughtful others launch a personal attack. We aren’t all in the position to make grand gestures but we are all in the position to be supportive, to show kindness, to stand up for what we believe is right, and to bring out the best in others.  

I’d love to hear from others what they feel they have learned from life and what wisdom they’ve gained.

Robyn Green

  1. Good reading Robyn. I’d like ti know if this man really learned a lesson or if he went through life being the male chauvinist he was shown to be.

    1 REPLY
    • I’m not sure Fran. I do know he had a fairly spectacular fall from grace a few years later. I love Karma, don’t you? 😉

  2. Life is all about learning but when it comes to business big or small, the person with the money who’s business your company wants , always calls the shots or they go elsewhere. Life is not always fair but it is the only life we have so we adapt

  3. I have to say I admire Greg. He showed a grand humbleness in guiding you to a space the other guy couldnt do. Good man!

  4. We all walk of different paths and life guides each of us with our own examples and the wisdom gained from it

    1 REPLY
    • And I love that this is a great platform upon which to share our cumulative wisdom don’t you?

  5. Lots I have learned and still so much to learn. My policy is to learn the lesson, when you get it, move on.

    1 REPLY
    • Sometimes there is no rhymes or reason sometimes it’s just the experience that becomes knowledge down the track – when required

  6. As a teacher, who enjoyed every moment, the greatest joy is when a small person really finds out that they can read.

    5 REPLY
  7. I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter one iota what has gone before…here you are….this is how it is…..here’s a new beginning (again)…..ups n downs a plenty……still having education n child safety asking Q’s re grandies…..told their story again this week….other side said it makes days of our lives look tame….it’s all in the lap of the gods….if they still exist

  8. A well written and thought provoking article, Robyn. Thank you. It provoked the memory of an event that was to be the precursor to the worst time of my life but one, that in retrospect, I did learn from.

    Due to a forthcoming ‘merger’, I found myself working for ‘the man in charge’ – a somewhat ‘formidable’ man – respected lawyer, business man and he was well gifted in the role of ‘merger man’. (I didn’t particularly relish the role but I wanted to remain employed as long as I could until my company was decimated). I took on the task with the same diligence that I’d always employed in my work life and all was going well until that fateful morning when he called me into his office. Nothing unusual – we met every morning to discuss what particular events I had to facilitate that day. Then the words ‘It’s just not working, Sue’ came out of his mouth and I had no idea why. He didn’t give me one either and I was instructed to pack up my desk and leave! I was stunned – only three weeks earlier he had been singing my praises for a job well done.

    Among other traumatic events that were occurring in my life at the time (all of which I was dealing with) those five words were the catalyst that provoked an episode of severe, clinical depression that saw me lose 4 years of my life.

    What did I eventually ‘learn’ from this? Essentially that ‘expectations are the road to disappointment’. Having been lead to believe that if I worked hard, was loyal to my employer………they would be loyal to me.. ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you’ – my Grandma’s words that I’d always adopted but don’t always apply.

    I no longer have the ‘expectation’ that my children, my family, the government….will always do what I expect of them. It saves on the ‘disappointment’ when they invariably don’t!

    3 REPLY
    • Wow thanks Sue, that was a big one. I learnt a similar lesson in business. I too thought that if you did the best, were the best you would be rewarded as such. UNTIL I found my male colleagues were being hired on more than me, when I was out performing most of them. In a fit of pique I resigned. Managment would not accept my resignation and I walked out of that meeting with a promotion and $15k more pa. I then realised this was how the ‘boys’ played the game.Don’t just do your job well, make a lot of noise about doing your job well 😉 Lesson learnt, career took off from there! I think what we learn from depression might be a bit more profound though. Good thoughts and blessings to you.

    • Robyn Green Sorry, it was a bit long winded but that was the short version. Haha. You are right. ‘Depression’ has taught me far more!

    • Oh dear, I meant it was a big lesson, not a long winded story my dear 🙂 Thanks so much for having the courage to share it xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *