5.8 Exit with Integrity
EGL Newsletter Volume 5.8
We know that during times of significant change you leave many things behind. If you step back and look at the scenario of a person who has a vision of a very different life, but you see them living exactly the same way, involved with the same people and the same associations, surrounded by the same material possessions, you can be reasonably assured that the vision state will eventually erode away. It is a natural and constructive part of life to deconstruct the old to make way for the new.
Perhaps the most important part of this step is in taking time to recognize that everything you do in life, you did for a good reason. You adopted every single practice and association because it fit some important part of you and served you in some way. At the same time, we all live in a connected world, so everything you have done has had some sort of impact on others as well. People have depended on you, you have had responsibilities, and you have provided services to others. This has all had impact, and it has all had purpose. Your life has been spent pursuing some purpose, and the act of creating a vision that takes you in a different direction does not suddenly take away from the importance of what you have done or are doing now.
As you look at what you will stop doing, take a moment to do so in a way that honors the usefulness it once had, and the importance it maintained to you and to others. We want to leave things behind in life with our integrity, as well as taking care of those who we are impacting through our action. As an example, if you chose to leave a job, make absolutely sure you take the time and effort to wrap up all the loose ends and create a solid turn-over to others. Spend a bit of time saying goodbye and complete issues with the people around you. One of the hidden drains of energy, even to the things that you most care about in life, is the unfinished business of the past. Small regrets, unresolved conflicts, and even unfinished projects can subtly drain away important thoughts and emotional energy that might otherwise be directed towards your main passions in life.
It is important to look for natural ends or hand-offs of projects or associations. Sometimes this step requires a transition plan, as it is common for some handoffs to take a bit of time. I have seen some transitions take months, and even years. Ideally, if there is an aspect of your current state that it will take a long time to complete and it is possible to do so, find someone who can handle the turnover so that you can remove that from your consciousness. However, only do this if you can know with full confidence that it will be handled well for you and for all of the people who are depending on the outcome.
This can sometimes present dilemmas to leaders, who have committed to projects or situations with all their hearts and minds, and now are going to withdraw to pursue a different direction. In these cases, the reframe needs to take into account that you can still be committed to the ideal or the intention of the situation without being involved any longer. This taps into the power of “no” in how they literally say, “I care about that, but it no longer serves my highest purpose, and because of that, I no longer serve by being involved”. Continued involvement is a disservice to all involved. It is critical to remove your energy as soon as a new direction emerges.