June 25th. A day of change for me. It’s been slow coming, and fast too! I've spent the last 9 years building a business, eventually becoming COO of an award winning social media agency with a team of 28. On June 25th, I resigned.
I tossed around leaving my role for a few years. Not because I didn’t love our business - I did. My partner and I built something amazing! It’s not what we imagined on that patio 9 years ago when we first brainstormed a business plan. It’s so much bigger, more impactful. And the team we have! A long way from my “I’m never having payroll again” statement.
I loved my job. It wasn’t a dislike of the job that brought me to this day. Grow, change, support, learn, build, risk, jump, jump again, solve problems, adapt. That’s my gig! I’m going to miss it with a depth I can’t explain to you. My biggest challenge is going to be to just stay out of it.
A few weeks ago, I sat in my office for the last time. Sitting at my desk, I looked out into the main space, and cried. We’d come so far, from that first office. There’s still so much more that’s possible with that business. But I truly feel what’s possible, must be achieved by the team I've mentored and built.
Getting to this day has been hard for me. Every step I’ve taken in the last two months has been with successful leadership in mind. With the business in mind. Asking myself over and over, “how can I do this in a way that prepares someone to do it without me?”, “how can I help make this easier for the people who rely on me?”, “how do I lead through me leaving?”.
And at the same time, processing the loss and apprehension I feel in walking away from the day to day of an organization I’ve guided for almost a decade. It’s tempting to keep my toe dipped in. But right now, the leadership team needs to know they’ve got this, and the team needs to know they can trust leadership without me at the helm.
I love to trail run. And most days I run the same path. Why? Because it’s predictable, and I can focus my mind on the effort my body is putting in, without worrying about what’s ahead. But the best days are when I turn left, when I normally would turn right. Sometimes it leads to a dead end, and I have to turn around. Sometimes I discover an amazing new path. Sometimes it means I have to walk. It might take longer, or it might become a short cut.
But without pushing my mind along with my body to know I’m capable of handling whatever is down that path, I never get to discover new places or new things about myself. So yeah. Not knowing what’s on the path ahead is uncomfortable. But I know I’ll find a way. I know I have the skills necessary to get me where I need to be in the end.
On my last day, I left our team with these thoughts.
1. Always proceed with empathy. Before doing or saying anything, consider the path the other person might be walking.
2. Take chances. That’s how we grow. If it doesn’t work out, move on.
3. Don’t get stuck on “this is how we do it.”
4. When it feels too big, break it into smaller pieces.
5. Ask for help often.
6. Be afraid of things that will kill you. Don’t be afraid of other stuff. Start to look at whether you’re actually scared, or just uncomfortable.
7. Look for ways to help. Please don’t stop helping.
8. Value every single person on the team for who they are and where they are. Know you are valued.
9. Don’t forget to have fun. Laugh at yourself. Dance. Sing. Harass each other. Hang out.
10. Listen more than you talk and ask lots of questions.
11. If you should have said no, but you said yes, bring your best work to the yes.
In the words of my life coach, JBJ:
So here's to the good times, here's to the bad Here's to the memories we all had Here's to tomorrow cause yesterday’s passed us by Tonight we'll be starting all over again And it feels like the first time, I, no I’ll never feel this way again, starting all over again Do you remember, remember the odds we were given We had nothing and we thought that was living? Oh it’s been such a long, long road, long, long road. Here's to our old friends who helped us get by Here's to the dreamers, may their dreams never die If we believe we can all keep the good times alive
The freedom that comes with letting go, and having a wide open path makes me giddy. It's like Christmas. I can't wait for what's next!