Learning, Earning, Returning

Having some short time-outs, I have been living in this lovely city for about thirty years, but there are still so many places which I have not yet explored. Istanbul is a city where you can always discover something new and come face to face with a novelty every single day. A resident of Istanbul knows some unwritten codes and rules specific to this city, which are mostly good to know things. You never want to say something negative about Istanbul, except one big issue “the traffic”. Sometimes I spend so many hours in traffic that I start thinking of these hours as time stolen from my life. While waiting for a radical city-wide solution for the traffic, one of the recent solutions I have found is listening to “audio books” while driving. These days, I am listening to the book “Where have All the Leaders Gone?” written by Lee Iacocca in 2007, the former CEO of Ford and Chrysler.

Istanbul, the only city in the world built on two continents. Photo by Osman Orsal, Reuters.

Lee Iacocca reads his book himself. It is a manifesto on American business and political life with also sincere reflections on his own life. The book is interesting as a whole but what has left the greatest impression on me is the chapter about his retirement. Despite a business life full of success, he admits that his transition to retirement was a real fiasco. After he retired, he left Detroit, the heart of the automotive industry where he had spent his whole life, moved to Los Angeles, bought an expensive house in a fancy district of L.A. He then tried to get into in golf, the most popular sport among American business man, but as he said “the golf bug didn’t bite me”. Soon he realized that it wasn’t golf, or any other pastime, that would make him wake up early in the morning, but “work”; “being active and engaged in life”. Iacocca defined the life-span simply in three phases:

1. Learning

2. Earning

3. Returning

According to him, retirement is the time for “returning”. Being retired and still having a meaningful life is possible with the virtue of returning. In order to achieve this, you should find something that has a meaning for you and this must be something “real”. The greatest fear of Iacocca and many of his fellows is having lives which are not worthy any more. He recommends that you can overcome your fears about the value of your life by returning back to society what you have learned and earned till then. Iacocca has been ‘returning’ ever since he retired through the foundations he has founded and supported, the books he has been written and the numerous voluntary activities he has been engaging in.

Having a meaningful life is a basic human need.  This need leads you to strive for a happier, healthier and longer life and whatever the life phase you are in or whatever your role is, there is a way to embed meaning to your life. It is just a matter of state of mind.

Remzi Kitabevi in Kanyon, Istanbul offers a wide variety of Turkish and English audio books. I have chosen my my next audio book. It will be “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell.

My suggestions for further reading:



Edited by Neville Wells

One Reply to “Learning, Earning, Returning”

  1. Bernita Hendy says:

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