Nancy Roman


I discovered something.

It wasn’t a sudden lightning bolt epiphany. But there was a lightning bolt of a sort. The kind that hits you with a gentle slap to the forehead, saying, “Duh -of course!”

I’ve been working at the library for six months now. It is exactly the right job for me at this time in my life. Interesting but not difficult, quiet but not solitary.

I spent much of my career in management. Mostly I liked the job I was doing. I did not like being the boss. But all those years of Bossdom have made my ‘post-career career’ so much easier. Because I think like a boss, but I don’t have to be one.

Looking back on my so plus years as a financial executive, I know that I was an excellent thinker. I was committed, creative, and productive. But I was not an especially good boss. Oh, I was nice to my staff. And I was a good teacher. But not a leader. Not a decision-maker. I liked doing the thinking, not the deciding.

Those years of management – however successful or unsuccessful they were – made me a nice living for a long time.

And here is my small epiphany: My management experience has made me a much better subordinate.

Why I didn’t see this earlier in my career – I don’t know. Certainly, I was a subordinate as well as a boss. There were plenty of executives in positions above me. So many big shots calling the shots. But I didn’t see them as much more than obstacles in getting my own work done.

But now that I am a subordinate only, with no management responsibilities, I find that I am looking at my boss differently.
It is not an interruption of my work to respond to the boss. My work IS to respond to the boss.

When I get to work, the first thing I do is check my emails and inbox for anything from my boss.

There’s often a report or a question or a bill that needs paying – something – that she’s asked for or wondering about.

I do that first.

Right away.

I fulfill my boss’s needs FIRST.

Then I get to my own schedule.

And OMG. Here’s what I get for my efforts:

My boss thinks I am a genius. That I’m fantastic.

And do you know how I feel about my job – working for someone who thinks I’m fantastic?

Pretty fantastic.

I was a success in my previous career. But now I wonder how much more successful I would have been if I had made it a priority to make my boss’s life easier.

And I also am wondering now how I can apply this knowledge to my personal life.

I’ve thought about it – but maybe not in the way you think.

I’m not necessarily thinking about catering to all the needs of my family and friends – so that everyone thinks I’m fantastic.
That’s nice, I guess

But I’m my own boss in my own life. I am thinking more about how to make MY life easier. So that I think I am fantastic.

Paint more, play more, read more. Oh, I think about my family and friends too. But it’s like the emergency instructions on a plane. “Put on your own mask first so that you are in good shape to help your loved ones.”

It’s not easy, but I’m working on it.

I don’t think I’m fantastic – yet.

But I’m pretty sweet.


PS. It’s my birthday. I’m now 71. And every year on my birthday I post a unretouched selfie to say to Mother Nature and the world and myself, “I’m not quite old.”


  1. Gabi Coatsworth

    Good for you, Nancy! That library is lucky to have you 🙂


  2. Happy Birthday! Isn’t great to have a job you really like.


  3. Celebrating your every success! HBTY and then some.


  4. Happy belated (now) birthday! I’m sure I told you that I, too, was a manager at a bank for a gazillion years. I retired in 2006 and went back to school and got my masters in information (the old library science) and actually got to work for one year in a library system before the 09 financial crisis happened when I got layed off. Had to go back to the bank. Just about broke my heart. But I get the whole manager vs worker thing. I was a good manager too, but I was also an excellent library employee and would have loved to stay there for several years. I’m glad you’re enjoying your position now! I agree that understanding management’s point of view makes being any employee easier.


  5. This is an interesting perspective on working life!


  6. Thank you for this uplifting post.


  7. What a GREAT post! I love the insight. I love how you turned being a boss in your personal life to taking care of you so you can take care of others. Brilliant way to see it. And Happy Birthday!


  8. Deb

    Happy Birthday Nancy! I’m retired now and am adopting the same philosophy. I need to serve myself first.


  9. Anita

    You are beautiful inside and out!!! I aspire to find that perfect position after I retire. Thank you for giving me hope!!


  10. Little epiphanies are great. The library is lucky to have you, and how wonderful you found such a good place to be. (Oh, my, the library is definitely one of my favorite places to be!) Happy birthday! I’ll be 77 in May and I’m not quite old either.


  11. Doug

    Happy Birthday! I have been looking for your next article. I enjoyed this one.


  12. Paula

    I, too learned this–almost too late. My whole working life improved once I really “got” this and it has made the rest of my life easier.


  13. Happy Birthday Nancy. Still looking good!


  14. Happy 71 Nancy. You’ve got a long way to go to catch up to me. I rethought working and my life after my husband died 24 years ago and decided that even though I was a goid boss, I would spend less time at the office and more time on me. Eventually of course, I gave up working and now only do the things that inspire and please me.
    Retirement is great for that.


  15. Birthday wishes and how good is it that you have a job you like and are good at


  16. The one thing I learned both from being “managed” (for almost forty years) and being a “manager” (for just a few of those) is that you get the best from your “subordinates” when you treat them with respect (also: be clear in your expectations, and offer not just criticism when things “go wrong”, but praise every time things “go right”). Good for you for figuring out that you are the “boss” of you! I’m taking that advice “under advisement!) Wonderful photo, BTW – you look great!


  17. Happy Birthday, Nancy. You may not be old, but you have grown up while working at the library.


  18. You are lovely and I think you have already achieved your goal of being “fantastic”. Now you can aim at being more fantastic 😉


  19. SuzyM

    Wishing you the very Happiest of Birthdays ~ Enjoy!


  20. Nancy, happy birthday, and I’m glad your job is working out for you!


  21. Ray G.

    Happy Birthday! And welcome back to your blog.


  22. Happy Birthday! You look fantastic! Your job description sounds exactly like mine working in a CBD store! Perfect for me at this time in my life!


  23. I love the way you look back on your hard-won perspective. I want to be just like you.


  24. Helen

    Happy birthday Nancy! You’re looking fantastic!


  25. Hope you had a lovely Birthday!!!


  26. t

    This is a sweet post and I like your photo and your idea that “I am not quite old”. I am about your age and that is a good way to think, Happy Birthday a bit late.


  27. Happy belated birthday. You look great!


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