In 1946, gas was 15 cents a gallon, the average wage was $2,500 a year, and Elena Griffing worked at the Alta Bates Community Hospital making about $120 a month. The name of the facility changed to Sutter Health Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, but Elena Griffing stayed her consistent self – never changing jobs and with an impeccable work ethic. She has taken only four days of sick leave in her 70 years of work – sound incredible? One Sunday some 15 years ago, she needed her appendix removed, but that didn’t slow her down much. The next day after surgery, she put on her robe, walked one floor down from her hospital room and went to work. 

“I CAN’T WAIT TO COME TO WORK EVERY DAY, THIS IS MY HOSPITAL,” SHE SAID. “I ENJOY ANYTHING I CAN DO TO BE OF SERVICE. TRULY, IT’S THE PATIENT THAT COUNTS. IF IT’S HELPING SOMEONE, IT’S MY BAG.”

Griffing just recently celebrated her 90th birthday. When asked how long before she retires – her answer – “until they throw me out or they carry me out in a box.”

The Next Leap Forward

70 years on the job for any human being is an incredible accomplishment. Even better, 70 years doing what you love – is a gift. Elena Griffing loves helping people – translated – this makes her days at the hospital seem like a holiday. Each of us need to follow in her footsteps in choosing our work habits wisely – so that we love what we do.

My best advice – if you’re just starting out in your career, do what you love – the choices you make now will impact your mindset like no other. If you’re nearing retirement – don’t retire. Never retire your mind or your body. Stay active. Push the boundaries. Work those brain muscles – until they hurt!

If you’re in the middle somewhere – are you doing what you were meant to do? Are you living your dreams?

If not – wait no longer – make the leap and find your “reason for being.”

“Everyone talks about age, but it’s not about age. It’s about work ethic. Winning never gets old,” says Lisa Leslie.