Goodbye, Again

Where’s the Power in Parting?

change-waving-goodbyeI recently enjoyed a wonderful family weekend. My oldest daughter was home for a few days celebrate Mothers Day and to help with a charity golf tournament for an organization we support.

Like all good times, the visit came to an end and we said our goodbyes, with extra hugs and a kiss for the dog.

Not 30 minutes later, the door opened and who walks in? That’s right, my daughter.

After a call with my husband, who wasn’t home at the time of her departure, she decided she couldn’t bear to make the 4-hour drive home. Instead, she came back for one more night, knowing she’d have to rise early, hitting the road at the crack of dawn in order to make it to work on time.

What does this story have to do with you?

Most of us have been in a position where we find it hard to move on. Even accomplished leaders occasionally find themselves nostalgically clinging to the past, afraid to let go of the good times to step into the void of the unknown.

Unfortunately, change happens whether we’re on board or not. Competitors charge ahead, employees evolve and customer needs shift. If you hesitate, savoring the past for too long, you’ll be in a position of playing catch up instead of leading.

Sustainable growth and consistent innovation are both hallmarks of successful companies. Each requires a series of goodbyes, leaving old strategies and tactics behind in favor of newer ideas and approaches.

Bittersweet Change

Every day brings new opportunities as well as new departures, but that doesn’t always make it easy to press on. Mastering the art of goodbye is tough, especially when we’re emotionally invested in the past.

  • Is it time to part ways with an outstanding employee who is ready to tackle fresh challenges in a new environment?
  • Did that product you created years ago – a real cash cow – finally become obsolete?
  • Do you need to jump into a new, unfamiliar market to accelerate growth?
  • Is the blessing of growth forcing you to move to a new location, leaving startup memories behind?
  • Are investors pressing you to adopt a new business model, pivoting when you prefer to stay the course?

All of these things can make us feel reticent, creating ambivalence when we should be embracing change.

As leaders, we’re still human, and it’s normal to encounter resistance when change is inevitable.

Change we didn’t invite or failed to see coming can create subconscious objections, even when our intuition tell us it’s right. Sensing that change is being forced upon us makes the child in us yearn for control.

Sometimes we fight the change, refusing to say goodbye, once again, to something we created, loved or enjoyed. Sometimes we give up, walking away – at least emotionally – rather than facing the pain of moving on.

Neither is healthy for long term growth, personally or professionally.

The power in parting is our ability to learn from the past, good and bad. Taking time to remember our victories and capture the lessons from our defeats making change more palatable.

Saying “Goodbye” can be hard, as my wistful daughter discovered. But when the alarm went off at o’dark thirty, she was up and ready to hit the road. She took her time to enjoy one last look at home (at least for a few weeks) and embraced the new day.

I hope you will, too.

Image by Elke Oerter.

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