Continuing To Have Presence
By Erica and Karen
As a group, we had presence. We learned the lessons early and well. We paid a lot of attention to how we entered a room and how we made our presence felt once we were there. We sat at the center of the table, or the ends. We were respectful, but not deferential. We understood that body language and delivery were key to the ability to persuade, and so we slowed down, lowered our pitch, and spoke with a smile and high energy levels. We made eye contact. We sat up straight with our feet on the floor. We dressed the part and looked like we belonged.
We had confidence that we were entitled to be where the action was, no matter how august the company or the level of conversation. We knew we had earned it, that we had something to add. It was the world we lived in, and we felt it was very much our own.
We are not in that world any more. We no longer have the status or the titles that were so much a part of who we were, and how we presented ourselves when we walked into the room.
Right after we retired, the change unnerved us. We felt our bodies deflating when we said, "I am retired." We didn't feel as confident. Our shoulders may not have been as square, our dress as assertive, and our conversation as forceful as it had been before.
But that was not really us, and we knew it. We reminded ourselves that we are the same people we were yesterday, just with new purpose. Forty years of professional experience does not just disappear. And we are not just "retired." We are engaged in new adventures and businesses, using the experience of our lifetimes. We think we are pretty interesting, with our new status, and new titles. We know we have as much right to participate as we ever had.
So it’s still matter of presence. And we still have it.