Too often we hear the horror stories of a break-up, of a person leaving a company with just disastrous thing to say about their experiences. Time in role, level in the company, it doesn’t matter… somewhere the relationship goes south. And it doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way.
I’m deep in conversation with an executive who is ready to leave their company. He knows he is going (he’s actually already accepted the position). Past events have destroyed trust, damaged relationships and left him “suffocating”. He is clear that it’s not good for him to be with the organization anymore. He’s ready to break up.
Despite the reasons for moving on, he is in agony over how to tell others. He vacillates back and forth about what to say, who to say it to, when to say it. He doesn’t want to “hurt” anyone, he wants to make it “okay” that he is leaving. He is clear and committed on his decision to depart, but all over the place on how to actually make the break. He has a desire to sprint towards the door, yet wonders if he should pace the transition out over several months to make it easier for others.
“Tell me how you break-up in a romantic relationship,” I ask. “I actually suck at it,” he replies. And that’s how it is. And I don’t know why it has to be that way.
I believe most of us have a relationship with our place of employment. And there are qualities to that relationship that are similar to rhythms present in interpersonal relationships.
They start out all filled with wonder and excitement. We are enamored with the idea that Somebody likes me! On one side of the relationship there is elation the “I was picked for this job” and on the other we are relieved and excited that “they like us…they said YES to us! It’s all new and fresh, and exciting, there’s so much to learn about one another.
Over time, the magic of the love bubble fades. Novelty is replaced with routine. We start to notice little things, that then become big things. What was once “cute” now, not so much.
As individuals we are constantly growing and changing. Rarely does growth happen in sync with one another and at some point, we notice shared interests have become deepened divides.
What we once trusted, we now question. Grace gives way to annoyance. Unspoken acceptance becomes voiced intolerance. And our lens shifts to differences. We make one another wrong. We reject and hurt, and we break up.
Does letting go require rejection?
I’m curious what would happen if we approached a break up as a transition in our life’s journey. To look back on a relationship, work or interpersonal, through the lens of what was gained, rather than what went wrong. If we chose to focus our intentions on what the relationship gave you, where it allowed you to grow, what you learned about yourself and others as a result.
It doesn’t mean there wasn’t hurt, or pain, or sadness. But you get to choose where to place your focus. What’s possible when you step forward from a place of gratitude, honoring the gifts of the relationship, rather than focus on negativity, fault and blame?
When you are at this point of transition, either as an employee or a manager here are three things to consider:
- Where have you made contributions to this organization that you want to claim and celebrate.
- Express Gratitude. What are you grateful for and to whom do you want to share that with. Who are the people that made this experience significant and meaningful…let them know the impact they have had on you.
- What are you taking forward with you and what are you leaving behind. I don’t mean the stapler. What have you gained as a human being: skills, experiences, friends? And what no longer serves you that you can leave behind: Disappointment, resentment, failure, people who might be toxic for you.
You get to choose. I vote, let it go and grow.
Thanks for joining us for this weeks “Five-minute Epiphanies How to Mine the Mess for Success: Tips, Snippets and Stories.” For more information check us out at www.stepupleadership.com and join us next week when Jeff will be here to talk about powerful questions. What they are they and how to use them.