A friend of mine recently shared this story with me:

My wife and I recently visited retired friends at an upscale community outside Charleston, South Carolina.

We could not have been more impressed with the quality of life and the relaxed atmosphere of the community—seemingly free of the anxiety of people rushing from one place to another. The amenities included a beautiful golf course, a club house with an outstanding workout facility and several restaurants featuring excellent food and matching service.

My friends were enjoying everything they imagined their ‘golden years’ would offer. With three grown children, two in college and one a senior in high school, it was time to enjoy the activities and freedom they’d sacrificed for over the last 20-plus years.

My friend, a successful retired financial analyst, quickly fell into a regular golf foursome with three older, but equally happily, retired gentlemen.

The camaraderie was interrupted when one of the four members became seriously ill and “Grant,” a new, recently retired club member, was introduced as a replacement.

Grant was young, at least in comparison to the other three members, and dressed in only the most expensive golf attire, accompanied by a Rolex watch, a fancy gold neck chain and two large rings on his left hand.

Shortly after meeting the members of his new foursome, Grant began regularly dropping comments about his expensive house, how much money he was worth and the powerful people he knew or had met while running several successful companies.

On their third or fourth round playing together, the newly formed foursome was on the back nine of the golf course. Grant was once again holding court, this time about how brilliant his children were, how they attended Ivy League colleges and received multiple prestigious job offers. At that point, “Marty,” the oldest of the foursome and by far the wealthiest and most successful, simply had enough.

“Grant,” Marty asked patiently, “may I offer you some friendly advice?”

A little taken back, Grant said: “Why certainly, Marty, what’s up?”

“I think it would be a good idea if you learned how to shut the #&%* up,” Marty offered somberly.

Stunned, Grant stuttered, shook his head and replied:

“I don’t understand. Marty, what are you saying?”

“Grant, you don’t hear any of us talking about how much money we have, how successful we were, or how terrific our children are. Notice that?”

And without waiting for a response, Marty continued: “Know why? Well, I’ll tell you why, Grant. Because we’re PIPs, Grant, that’s why. And if you want to get along in this community and learn to enjoy your retired life, you’ll give that some thought.”

“PIPs? What’s a PIP?” Grant stammered.

“A PIP, Grant, is a Previously Important Person,” Marty finished.

This story illustrates how growth and evolution in life go hand-in-hand. We have all seen people who are constantly reliving and referencing highlight reels from their pasts, whether it’s a winning touchdown or being voted Prom Queen. It’s almost as if time has frozen for those people in those moments and they’ve never really moved forward. Their best lives lie in the past.

Living in the present and becoming the best version of yourself here and now, requires accepting changes in your role or status. Specifically, it means consciously deciding to look forward, not backward, with respect your identity.

My friend’s story reminded me of one of my favorite interviews on the Elevate Podcast—my conversation with Derek Sivers. Sivers was a musician and circus performer before he founded a thriving eCommerce business and had an incredibly successful exit. When I introduced him as a successful entrepreneur, he noted that he doesn’t use that title, as it had not been true for over a decade. In his mind, being an entrepreneur is something you do, not who you are. Today, Sivers identifies as a writer, thinker and a musician, even though he could easily coast off his entrepreneurial past for the rest of his life.

Where in your life might you be holding onto that is just not true or relevant anymore? In many ways, becoming a PIP might open the door to what is next, and help you find an identity that is more relevant to your environment or circumstances today.

Quote of The Week

“Stop being a prisoner of your past. Become the architect of your future.”


–Robin Sharma