I want to live and die like Andy Rooney. This past week he passed away at the age of 92. After watching Mr. Rooney’s life from my seat in front of the TV since I was a child, I have come to the realization that when it came to work, he got it right. I never met Andy Rooney or knew much about his personal life or religious views. That’s not the point of this post. But here’s what he taught me about life over the decades as I saw him on my tv.
He taught me that I need to love what I do. There was no question Andy loved his job. At get 92 in this final interview, Mr. Rooney answered the if-you-had-to-do-it-over question with a simple answer: I would have been a journalist; I would have worked for 60 minutes. In other words, he would have it done it all over again. I want to look back in my career and know that I did what I loved in a the place where I loved doing it.
He taught me to speak my mind. Andy cared more about speaking what he believed than what it was popular. Whether you agree with Mr. Rooney’s views or not, he let you know where he stood. A few years ago, he said something that upset a minority group. CBS suspended him for a month and saw a 20% decline in viewership. He was quickly re-instated. I want to stand up for what I believe even when it’s not the popular thing to do.
He taught me that while my body might age, my mind doesn’t have to. He was old, he was feeble and according to some, cantankerous–at that age, I say you can be whatever you want to be. But his mind was sharp and his memory strong until the end, allowing him to write and comment on the world around him with a perspective very few could have. After all, he didn’t read about it but lived through The Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, Reaganomics and beyond. I want new generations to engage with the content that I produce in my latter days because it brings a critical perspective that only experience can generate. It’s not looking back and glamorizing the past, but interpreting the present in the light of where we have come and understanding where it might take us.
He taught me that I should not quit until I’m really done. Mr. Rooney died less than a month after his last broadcast. What great timing. I want to contribute to my world until the day I die: nothing left to do, no more work left to be done, no bucket list item left uncrossed. I know that’s not up to me, and God’s timing is different for all of us, but what an awesome way to go.
How do you feel about working until you die? Shouldn’t we retire?