Yesterday, I closed a door I’ve needed to close for a while. After five years, I packed up the final remains of my office, turned in my security, door and company car keys and said my final goodbyes to my team and valued colleagues. It was time for this chapter in my career to end and an exciting new one to begin. I am looking forward to my new beginning with great excitement and hope, for I know wonderful things await in the crystal blue sea beyond.
But as I have worked to bring this chapter to a close, the lessons and the learning that has come with the process has not been lost. The past few months have not been without some great moments of reflection; there has been many an opportunity to look deep into the time I’ve spent honing my skills, forging new relationships, cultivating talent – both young and not-so-young – to do bigger things. I’ve been tested in ways that will make me a more seasoned professional and learned about facets of industries that I can build upon for the remainder of my professional career. It has been a good five years, indeed.
My decision to leave was a surprise to many. Perhaps not to those who really knew me well, but therein, I believe, is the biggest lesson of all. In the countless conversations I’ve had with my organization, my clients, colleagues and industry peers over the last few weeks, a few key take-aways emerged that I hope I don’t forget as I move on to my next role. They are pretty good lessons, so I thought I’d share them here, too:
1. Tell people NOW that they matter. Everyone wants to know their role and the significance of their unique skills and contributions to the greater picture. Make sure everyone you deem valuable to your life work knows – and hears often! – how important they are to you. Don’t assume someone knows the “big plans” you have for them and ensure you are making time to grow and develop the people you want to be a part of your organization or industry for the future.
2. Don’t underestimate the impact simple gestures have on others. We are all placed on this Earth to make a difference and, for many of us, we will never know the true impact of our life work until Judgment Day. The little actions we take to help and encourage others go a long way; far longer than we will ever realize. The most rewarding part of the “goodbye’s” I’ve had in recent weeks are the unexpected hugs and notes of appreciation from those who were touched by my actions. The people who felt that I had impacted their future in some great way and yet, I hadn’t even realized it. Acts of kindness, support and humanness go such a long way. Don’t forget the importance of making time for others.
3. Give 100% until the end. There were several months between the time I accepted my new position and was finally able to leave. For personal reasons, I had to manage my time and keep my focus on my present responsibilities and give 100% to my current position. When I did resign, I elected to not share details of my new role with my current employer. I wanted to keep the focus of my remaining time on helping them transition work and responsibilities appropriately; no one needed the distraction of where I am headed and why. I believe strongly that as long as I am accepting a paycheck from an employer, I am responsible to give them 100% of my time and attention. When you can no longer give you all, be sure to know where the door is. Period.
4. Positions end, relationships do not. The beauty of change is that you get to take the good parts with you and leave behind that parts that aren’t so pretty. I have been fortunate to make some enduring friendships with clients and colleagues during my time that I will be blessed to continue in my future. I have some (now) former employees that I have coached and cultivated; continuing to mentor and support their careers is something I hope I am fortunate to be able to do going forward. My industry is a service industry and people are the number one asset; good relationships are the life blood of all I do. With every season comes change and it is important to remember the beauty of the old and look to the new with wholeheartedness.
5. Say thank you and good-bye. Life is so full of opportunity and behind every door is a new chance to explore and discover untold potential. But before you move ahead, don’t forget to take the time to say thank you and good-bye. Be the one who encourages and uplifts the teammates discouraged by your departure. Offer words of appreciation to those who supported you and worked along side of you. Be a positive force to those who barely knew you. Extend kindness to everyone – even those who were not your supporters. You never know when your paths will cross again. Let your last impression be one that speaks volumes of the asset the organization has lost.
Taking on a new role brings great excitement and revs up my professional engine. I’m looking forward to what the future brings, knowing it is time to put my passion, skills and competitive spirit to work in new ways again. As I shift gears and transition into my new position, I am mindful of the great accomplishments I’ve made over the last five years. With great new relationships, expanded knowledge and seasoned skills that broaden my abilities, my sails are adjusted, full of wind and ready to sail into new waters. Look out opportunity, here I come!