... --- .-. .-. -.-- ..-. --- .-. -... . .. -. --. .- .-- .- -.--
Morse Code Translation: Sorry for being away.
I’ve been meaning to write you, to share with you the nuances of Turning the Page from corporate America to full-time company founder. When you read the below, you’ll have some context around why I didn’t for the last couple of months.
Last Friday, I retired from Corporate America and today, started full-time as my company’s founder. It is exactly how I envisioned it to be - carrying forward the (clean) energy and momentum from my previous job into one that is deeply meaningful to me.
Turning this page took a couple of years, with the last paragraph being the most intense, taking the past 2 months to write, read and edit.
Here’s what it looked like for me in the hope it’ll help you turn your next page.
Writing A Chapter’s End
To write a chapter’s end, you need time to notice enough elements that you love deeply. It’s about knowing who you are (North Star), outlining and planning the path to your destination by being clear about what it was going to be.
I loved the company I worked for - they took care of the associates’ essentials in the best way I’ve ever seen.
First world annoyances, like the ice machine breaking down, by all accounts were infrequent. I always felt physically safe and taken care of in that respect.
World class associates, the likes I am honored to have spent time with, possessing astounding intellect, integrity, overwhelming generosity, acceptance and kindness towards my unconventional style are the gifts I will take with me forever.
Aging “glue” that I found easy to crack open to move paradigm shifts forward with my sense of compassion, one project at a time which allowed me to grow into the next phase of my life. I love change because it gives me a chance to influence where we can go next.
Enough cloudiness by enough people to allow me to repeatedly summon my courage to demonstrate another approach to getting shit done. I love the unknown because I know who I am and where I’m going…and I have enough chutzpah to invite others to join me. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” Oscar Wilde
Honor my psychological and creative need to be free from anxiety by saving enough money as I jump into full-time entrepreneurial-ship.
Reading the Draft
I planned my transition thoroughly by immersing in the present time as it slid forward along its path and by adjusting and deepening my personal trajectory at the same time. This is the stuff that I now teach full-time.
This is about being “in it” because what you do affects other people. Although a legacy doesn’t need to be the driver of your actions, what you leave can help those left behind to drive their way onward.
I always seem to take the projects that are too hard because it’s stuff I feel needs to be done. I bring up what people sweep under the rug for decades but with options that those left behind can choose from. Quick, fast and cheap or the standard, hard, slow, and expensive.with hybrids in between.
As I rounded the corner to getting out, others suddenly woke up that this single source of success left them vulnerable and at a loss. Suddenly, I became “vital” to the company and as they deconstructed my role, they identified the need for 6 teams to replicate what I did. The weight began to disperse into an undefined future state where I could provide input and recommendations rather than drive the way forward.
Workstreams began to form their paths through clouds of newness where I intended only to serve as a light post, if it was needed, to share of where the hidden landmines were and connect the dots for an easier passage.
I could see the ending clearly but spent the majority of the past 2 months fully guiding and teaching those who would eventually stand up to improve and perfect my recommendations as time went on. I could already see these teams and individuals as powerful butterflies and spent most of my energy in shielding them from predators until they had the confidence to fly on their own. They’ll get there…but it was necessary for me to leave in order for them to do so.
Editing the Chapter
As with all drafts, the art of the pivot and turn, the base of my corporate life, will come into play as the new reality set in. It was also about leaving enough space and safety for those left behind to feel good about their collective destinations.
I love the associates I worked with deeply. Often, they were the reason I came into the office because I loved being around them so much. Many farewell best wishes included observations of my energy and embodiment of my name. I knew this was only possible because of these beautiful souls. It took me over a year to process what it meant to not see them every day. I wanted to take my time on this one, so I savored the grief alone, deeply, quietly and honestly.
Despite the transition planning and execution, I will tapped on the shoulder for new developments up until my last day. My last week at the company was too long. I wanted to tell people, “Find a new friend on the playground,” but I didn’t even after my gas tank was long emptied, I wanted to leave as I had started my tenure - by doing the right thing for anyone I came across while pointing them to the new paradigm.
I ended up being really, really tired physically as the exit sign came closer and closer. I saw and dealt with all types of corporate and relationship glues in my last chapter, and found I was each type during my corporate career.
What Type of Glue Are You?
I’ve found that there is a need for a different kind of glue, depending on where you’re at. The type affects how easily you can turn the page on your life book’s chapter.
In my transition, I had to let things drop on the floor….and break very publicly which impacted many, many teams. This was very uncomfortable for me…but as one leader told me, “No one can escalate or fix things if you keep fixing them.”
People don’t see the things that have to be fixed unless it’s right in front of their physical eyeballs. I know this because I can see stuff before it happens and why I think it’s important to teach others now how to do it for themselves.
Nevertheless, as uncomfortable as it was, it did open space for others to shine.
Diluted “Polygrip” - it slides around so much that the pages fall out.
Until I announced my retirement, I had been the person to get shit done with no resources other than abundant creativity, positive determination and plenty of delightful foul language. I knew just about everybody in the company and was well-liked enough to call on anyone for help.
I endlessly talked about the “opportunities” (gaps) in process and the end-to-end disconnects that put us at risk. I got nods of sympathy but because everyone was a Polygrip at that time, the solutions just slid around until I plugged the holes in specific projects.
I did so because it was my job because the company, at the time, wasn’t evolved enough to understand the unintended consequences of having a single point of success.
Gorilla Glue - this locks shit in place…for all eternity!
This is the extreme opposite of Polygrip because it keeps people stuck. Look around you, at the company you work for, at people in unhappy relationships, or at the top news story of the day. All reflect some sort of struggle, opposing viewpoints, or people who have just given up.
I’ve seen it in leaders unable to lead because of the fear that comes from potential threats to reputation self-preservation. And I’ve seen it in colleagues who are too afraid to speak up because of the fear that smallness brings.
For me, the brittle glue of 80 years of inaction cracked when a very large enterprise project and all its loose pieces came crashing down. It was hard for me to watch it and no words can adequately describe how terrible I felt about the impact that, in years past, had successfully prevented. It unraveled savagely.
Putting things back together, in the way I had recommended for years, was a death by 1000 cuts. One step forward, 2 steps back.
But something beautiful happened. People were finally willing to look at the collective responsibility…primarily because I was leaving, making room for others to step up, and there was enough leadership backing to solution for the opportunities because they had to. Collectively, people were given space to speak up and act.
Rubber Cement - it holds things together but allows enough flexibility to move things around.
I ultimately ended up in this place by the time I left. I wanted to shift from drive to ride but found that even self-driving Uber cars need a little guidance once in a while. Nonetheless, I set the GPS, pressed others’ feet on the gas, and only turned into a backseat driver if we stalled or headed towards a cliff.
The goal was for the new drivers get their sea legs and test things out on their own, all the while, I was thinking, “Fly birdie, fly!”
Folks get shaky in new paradigms. They get shy and scared when things are new. If you’re facing a new chapter, I want you to know you can influence and create your future by simply “doing” it now. You probably have more clarity and know-how than most leaders, so I say, “Go for it.”
Folks at my previous employer are having to do it, I am doing it as I put both feet into my company, and you are going to do it, too, the next time you turn the page.
Any type of glue comes down to how much control are you holding onto. How much room and space do you give to life to unfold?
Recipe Card for Turning Pages gracefully.
Know who you are and why you love what you love and hate what you hate. This all pivots on your North Star. If you don’t know this, what you do next will follow a false trajectory and you’ll need to restart the new chapter.
Savor the planning by being honest about what you are leaving when the page has turned. Deal with any tarry residue while you’re in it so what you bring to the new blank page is clean. This includes all the tactical shit that will be needed in your new chapter. Use the old chapter to start living what you want now, so that when the page turns, it’ll be a graceful landing.
Immerse in all of it so you can notice the gifts of the small shifts as the page turns as you change the type of glue you are on this last page. Be sure to leave enough goodwill space for others to adjust and take over.
Step into the new chapter. You will be fine, you will fly, and I will be watching you with a grateful heart.