I quit my job.
It was not an easy decision to make. Those of you who worked with me in the past know that I rarely do things half-heartedly, and leaving something (and the people) you care about is rarely easy. Especially the last month of my notice period was particularly bittersweet, and of course I put a lot of energy into ensuring a smooth transition for my work and my team. As I let go of things little by little, it was on one hand beautiful to see how the structures we built will continue to hold up without me. I mean, this is what we all hope for, right? That our work will continue to be meaningful, sustainable, and relevant even without our presence. On the other hand, I learned that not being needed anymore can feel a bit weird – certainly compounded by the covid/work from home situation and the fact that I did not take on anymore new topics because I was leaving. But when I am honest with myself, it was mostly weird because I was no longer involved. As someone who cares for what they do, it can be destabilizing to no longer be able to take care of things.
The lesson from this time of goodbyes is how it feels to truly let go of something. I feel that leaders sometimes shy away from this feeling – so often, there is still some kind of tether, a bit of control that we hold on to. But it will be necessary to truly hand over responsibility at one point if you want to take on something new, even without quitting the company. Even staying in the same job, you need to trust your people to free yourself up for new topics. If you want to keep a tether to everything you ever worked on, you will reach your capacity sooner or later, and there won’t be any energy left to focus on other things. Like many things in leadership, it does not have to feel good to be the right thing to do, and with practice, it gets easier.