If you’ve read very many of my posts here on Vibrance, you know I think much more than I say. Such was the case late last year and early this year as I left what many considered a thriving position and moved into full-strength uncertainty. I intentionally said very little during my exit. I wanted to leave with dignity and class, not create a firestorm.
When we left Nebraska to return to Wisconsin I had a few strong leads, but nothing definite. So why go before any were certain? Why not stick it out and wait until I had something to step into? Answer: To borrow a term from author Henry Cloud, it was a Necessary Ending. Necessary endings are never comfortable, always require intense thought, even analysis, but – needful.
Under the heading “The Anatomy of Hope” Cloud describes the process that moves one forward, even in the absence of certainty, towards hope. In my case, I came to anticipate the cyclical *silence, silence, flash, silence, silence, criticism, silence, silence*. The absence of across-the-table or over-coffee dialogue about expectations, goals, preferences was long-standing. Could I have sparked those discussions? I suppose, but after several unsuccessful attempts with subjects like planning and strategy, one accepts the norm, albeit less than satisfactory. I was second-chair with little to no communication from first-chair. While in many respects I enjoyed “freedom to do as I wish”, the absence of strategic vision was glaringly apparent. The continuously-improve side of me had nothing to go on from higher up, except when we reached the occasional flash-point.
Henry Cloud lists these questions: (perhaps they’ll help you with something you’re facing)
- Do I want this same reality, frustration or problem six months from now?
- Do I want this same level of performance a year from now?
- Do I want to be having these same conversations (or in my conversations – lack thereof) two years from now?
- What reason is there to have hope that tomorrow is going to be different?
- What in the picture is changing that I can believe in?
- If nothing, am I willing to sign up for more of the same?
I looked carefully at the four years leading up to November’s flash-point turned fork in the road, and with guidance and counsel from a handful of trusted advisers, concluded “This is my exit”. For my first-chair to come to a conclusion about my fit with either his style or the organization (I don’t expect to ever know) and yet not put it on the table for a year and a half was the catalyst for the decision. I couldn’t help but wonder, “What else are we not talking about?” With nothing in the picture changing for me to believe in, my dream for that position died, my wife and I both resigned our jobs (she to come with me), we sold our house along with some of the creature comforts we’d added while there, I sold one of our cars, we gave a lot away to friends and Goodwill, and we moved ourselves back to the Midwest.
In those final weeks I stayed within the boundaries I scribed for myself. What I would and would not say. Nothing new, no new projects. I was careful to leave no gaps as I carried out my responsibilities in the time remaining. I made myself available to those who would temporarily pick up my responsibilities after my departure —or carry them out long-term; I’ve since learned there are no plans to back-fill my position.
As a couple, my necessary ending cost us, just as the necessary ending you might be considering will come with accompanying costs, so do your best to count them ahead of time. Then add 25% at least; we always underestimate things like this.
What could it cost me in time and productivity?
What could it cost me monetarily?
What could this ending cost me emotionally?
Consider related costs. For example, what “hit” might my career track take if the transition stretches into months of searching and applying? Or, what might if cost me if the other party decides to go to court, if that’s an option in your situation. Are you prepared for it?
This is full-strength introspection, far more than the proverbial belly-button-gazing. This is looking as far as you can see down life’s highway, your lights on high beam, so you can say to those closest to you, “It may prove costly and probably will but this is the right thing to do.” Your self-assessment, along with counting the cost, will allow you to move with determination and confidence, knowing you’ve made a sound decision; a choice made with the best information you have available at the time.
Once you’ve decided, do not let yourself second-guess yourself. Doing so destroys your sense of confidence and resolve. Like a hurdler, long distance runner, assembly line worker or farmer, look ahead. Aim into the future. Transitions are never fun. They demand intense resolve. Looking back while still in transition siphons off the much-needed energy you need to emerge on the other side.
Does this make sense? I hope so, it comes from the wisdom only experience can provide, and as they say, “this isn’t my first rodeo”. I hope it helps. If you’d like to discuss something further you may add a comment or message me using the form below.
Best to you –