I Saw a Man Pursuing the Horizon by Stephen Crane

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never —”
“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.

A few years ago, I met the CEO of a business who was in his early 60s. He travelled to Europe a few times every year for business and had raised his kids and built a wonderful life while running his business. I was surprised to learn, though, that his mother was still involved in the business at 85 years old (plus).

She and her husband had built the original company and when he died (after her kids were adults and were successfully running the company) she kept going into the office every day. As she became too old to drive, she would have one son or the other pick her up on their way to work and bring her home. Her sons were respectful and understanding, but it was one of those situations you could tell made them uncomfortable.

As nice as the business was in providing a living for a small group of people, they will probably close it down after she is gone. None of the adult grandkids are interested (much less the sons) and the family has taken the money they need for their retirement and estate needs already.

When I think of her and other business owners who can’t let go, I see the man pursuing the horizon. It’s not like the man has set a goal and can someday achieve it. He is running after the impossible-to-catch horizon. Don’t we all know some people who put themselves on the track of an impossible goal and can’t seem to let go?

I’m not talking about people who will probably never fully retire but will dabble in their field of expertise or interest until they can’t talk or walk. Those people I’ve met are on a mission to educate others or finish experiments or mentor young people. I’m talking about the people who are frozen in their chairs, not really making a difference in the world and who are operating from tired habits.

If you are one of those people, I hope you can let go of this chapter and be free to move into the next part of your journey. The business will probably do better with fresh eyes and thinking. Hopefully, you have already provided for your retirement and estate plan needs and have been working because you didn’t know what else to do.

I’ve seen men and women anywhere from their 50s to early 70s make that exit from their businesses. It’s usually harder than it seems since you’ve spent more time in the business than anywhere else! The rewards can be huge in moving forward. On this journey of continuous self-discovery and improvement, letting go of the old is the way to clear space and energy for new options.

If you’d like to discuss your readiness to let go so you can move into the next phase of your life, or if you want to explore your options for exiting your business, let’s have a conversation. It’s rarely too early to think about these goals. We also help companies who want to grow by buying another company or who want to prepare their company for sale. Have you bought a business and are having trouble with integrating it? We can help with that too.

I can be reached anytime via email: [email protected] or phone at: 224-688-8838.

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Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio

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