We all have those moments in our careers when we just want to quit! Sometimes it’s a team, project, boss, company, or a profession. To quit means we want to rid ourselves of something and often what we want to free ourselves from is the stress, time, and effort we put in for what seems like little return on our investment.
There is nothing wrong with quitting something – and yet that word alone feels defeating. To quit can feel like failure. I have a lot of clients who are wrestling with transition right now. Some are questioning leaving their positions despite not having something else lined up. Others are facing changes they are not sure they want to tolerate. I would say the majority of my clients consistently ponder if they are the right fit – do they have what it takes to lead through all the uncertainty and complexity of this day and age? I often answer by saying, “If not you, who?” It’s not like there is this massive bench of qualified leaders hanging out without jobs who have been there and done this or that and ready to take over. The majority of good leaders are employed, and all are facing unique challenges they have not encountered before. And let’s face it, more years of experience do not necessarily mean more expertise to handle the volatility or ambiguity industry, government, healthcare, and education face today. Everything is a new type of hard.
For those who feel a change is needed – don’t quit. Instead, finish! To finish means to bring something to completion. Leadership is never complete – the work is never done. However, there are stages of our leadership or seasons, if you will. Sometimes we can bring our season of leading to completion or we can finish a particular phase of a project. Whether big or small, our goal is to allow a finish to our leadership versus just up and quitting.
For my colleagues and clients who are struggling and considering change – do what you can to end your seasons or stages strong. Even if it feels mid-stream, mid-project, mid-year, mid-chaos, mid-insanity. All of our sacrifice, tolerance, and meticulous planning will never change the fact that there is never a perfect time to leave a leadership position. It is also possible to stay too long and endure levels of suffering that are not reasonable or appropriate. Trust yourself to know when the time is right and then do what you can to finish in a way that suggests you were not focused on ridding yourself of something undesirable. Instead, you allowed your leadership to come to completion so that other good things could happen. Those things can be:
If you are considering a job change, what does a good finish look like for you?
Carrie Arnold, PhD, MCC, BCC
In no particular order: Author | Dog mom to Moose | Speaker | Reader Mom to human offspring Wife | Lover of Learning Leadership coach & consultant, The Willow Group | Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation | Program Director for Evidence-Based Coaching at Fielding Graduate University