Breaking Up and Letting Go
April 14, 2016 § 5 Comments
I’m deep in conversation with an executive who is ready to leave their company. He knows he is going (he’s actually already accepted another position). Past events have destroyed trust, damaged relationships and left him “suffocating”. He is clear that it’s not good for him to be with the organization anymore. He’s ready to break up.
Despite the reasons for moving on, he is in agony over how to tell others. He vacillates back and forth about what to say, who to say it to, when to say it. He doesn’t want to “hurt” anyone, he want to make it “okay” that he is leaving. He is clear and committed on his decision to depart, but all over the place on how to actually make the break. He has a desire to sprint towards the door, yet wonders if he should pace the transition out over several months to make it easier for others.
“Tell me how you break-up in a romantic relationship,” I ask. “I actually suck at it,” he replies. And that’s how it is. And I don’t know why it has to be that way.
I believe most of us have a relationship with our place of employment. And there are qualities to that relationship that are similar to rhythms present in interpersonal relationships.
They start out filled with wonder and excitement. We are enamored with the idea that Somebody likes me! It’s all new and fresh, there’s so much to learn about one another.
Over time, the magic of the love bubble fades. Novelty is replaced with day-to-day routine. We start to notice little things, that then become big things. What was once “cute” now, not so much.
As individuals we are constantly growing and changing. Rarely does growth happen in sync with another and at some point we notice shared interests have become deepened divides.
What we once trusted, we now question. Grace gives way to annoyance. Unspoken acceptance, becomes voiced intolerance.
And our lens shift to differences. We make one another wrong. We reject and hurt. We break up.
Does letting go require rejection?
I’m curious what would happen if we approached a break up as a transitions in our life’s journey. To look back on a relationship, work or interpersonal, through the lens of what was gained, rather than what went wrong. If we chose to focus intentions on what the relationship gave you, where it allowed you to grow, what you learned about yourself and others as a result.
It doesn’t mean there wasn’t hurt, or pain. But you get to choose where to place your focus. What’s possible when you step forward from a place of gratitude, honoring the gifts of the relationship, rather than focus on negativity, fault and blame? You get to choose. I vote, let it go and grow.
Let it go and grow. Otherwise the bad feelings or negativity will just eat you up inside. Which could make the start to your next step in your journey less enjoyable.
Thanks Carolyn. I could not agree more!
Great post, Debbie. Thanks for causing me to think. I think, especially as we grow older and have a range of experiences, that it is not only sensible, but perhaps even brilliant when to dare to design the relationships in our life, including the one we have with our work.
I read Chasing Daylight, by Eugene O’Kelly a while back. O’Kelly wrote the book while dying from terminal cancer. One of the many things I took away from the book was his “unwinding” of relationships as he approached the end of his life. Ever since reading his book, I’ve unwinded some relationships. I don’t think we need to be dying to consciously unwind certain relationships, and I think it’s a great approach to life and work. And in fact, I think there’s something respectful about “breaking up” in this way.
Thanks for your comment. I loved Chasing Daylight and so appreciated how he began to examine the energy he had placed in relationships that held minimal emotional value to him, yet he had spent decades fostering and maintaining them. We tend to hold on to the negativity for way to long, and life is just too short for that!
P. S. I realize it may be too late to break up/unwind with the organization and people he’s leaving… but maybe it could be useful for some of the relationships there that he values while he turns the page to his next chapter.