As I'm writing this post, I'm on a plane from Chicago to Los Angeles staring at the blank pages of what will be the next chapter for our family. So many questions. So many unknowns. So many possibilities.
The past couple months have been stretching for the Iguchi clan but also such a time of learning. I've said this many times, but it bears repeating.
Difficult seasons give you opportunity to be introduced to yourself. Don't waste them.
I've had the unique privilege of attending and serving in the same church for over two decades. Over that time, I've seen countless individuals exit. Everyone from top leaders to volunteers and just about every level in between. And now, I find myself in the same position.
Here's a few things I've noticed.
- Some left well. Some left poorly.
- Some left honoring. Some threw stones on the way out.
- Some poured their soul into their work till the last day and beyond. Some left mentally far before they left physically.
- Some were launched. Some were snuck out the back door.
- Some left a legacy. Some just left.
- Some were loved as they left. Some left others relieved by their absence.
- Some were an example. Some were a warning.
Here's the thing: Change is inevitable. Most likely the job you have today will not be your last job. There will be transition. Some positive. Some negative. Most somewhere in between. Regardless, one thing is true.
Transition is hard. It just is.
It's hard on you, your family and those in your orbit. It's also hard on those you are leaving.
So much of what is swirling in those seasons is out of your control and you have to be ok with it. It's not easy, but it is what it is.
How will you be treated? Will people tell the truth about your actions? Will you be honored, thanked, and blessed? Will people say the same things to your face as they do behind closed doors? Will history be rewritten for better pr? Will those you think are your friends end up acting like your friends? Will you feel supported or neglected? Loved or dismissed? Honored or forgotten? Will you be a catalyst or a scapegoat?
So many questions. So many things that are 100% COMPLETELY OUT OF YOUR CONTROL.
So don't stress about it. People will be people. They are flawed just like you. Just like me. Yes, you may be misunderstood. So what? Does that change who you actually are? No. So go on being you. In the end, how other people react to your absence is much less important than the integrity you display in your leaving.
This may come as a shock, but....The organization will go on without you. Maybe it'll even flourish after you're gone! So what? Did you think you were immortal? Irreplaceable? If you really believe in the mission of the organization, aren't you thankful they are successful without you? If they fail, no one wins. For you to win doesn't mean they need to lose. Applaud that.
These are the moments when you have to really determine if you live for an audience of one.
The question you need to ask yourself is,
Are your thoughts and actions honorable in the view of a just God who sees all?
So whether you are in transition like I recently was or will be one day, here are some thoughts to consider as you do the hard work of LEAVING WELL.
Honor the place you're leaving.
Don't throw stones on the way out. Speak well of your old coworkers and leaders. Use your influence to set them up to win. To add to their momentum. Use your voice to add wind to their sails.
Don't leave before you leave.
I saw this all the time. Here's the thing...If you cash the check, do the work. You don't have to do the work. You can show up late and leave early. Totally up to you. But then have the decency and the self respect to not cash the check.
Realize that people are watching.
One of the last lessons you can give those you lead is how to leave well. Before leaving, I pulled a few individuals aside and told them to watch closely. Take notes. I definitely wouldn't be flawless, but I wanted to teach them one last lesson as their boss. They'll move on themselves one day. I wanted to show them that not only was it possible to leave well, I wanted to give them the gift of an example.
You can't do this with everyone, but make sure to have some key moments with people that matter to you. As a leader, your words weigh a thousand pounds. Use them to invest key ideas into the world changers you work with. Keep in mind YOU WON'T WANT TO. You'll be stressed and tired. Your brain will be full of a million details that need to be taken care of. But trust me, when you are on the other side of this transition, it is the people you will most miss. Invest into those relationships while you can especially during a season when the future scarcity of your time gives your words more weight.
This post is already WAY to long, so I'll end it here.
Remember, focus on being faithful. Focus on what you can control. Don't stress about what you can't.
Yes, there are a lot of things that may or may not have gone the way you wanted. People aren't perfect, but thankfully God IS. His plan for you and others goes forward.
You cannot control other people but you CAN control your actions.
In spite of everything swirling around in your soul, do everything in your power to LEAVE WELL.
Trust me, you'll be glad you did.