In the past six weeks, life has taken a dramatic turn for three families in our circle of close friends. No, make that four. I will include Cathy and me.
Why all at once? Look past the details, Peter. What does the big picture look like?
Family 1: A husband left a job he loved. The poor leadership skills of his boss reduced his vocation to just-a-job. It was difficult to watch the gradual but systematic weathering of my friend’s core being. The chaotic circumstances stranded him, with no protection from the elements, on a professional plateau. He told me in a phone conversation, “I just decided, right now, that I will resign.” He stepped-down (or climbed down a steep edge) to change the landscape he looked at every day. Not yet on his feet with a new employer, I still believe a new professional opportunity will serve him well.
Family 2: A wife spent 20+ years in service to her employer. She saw the ruthlessness of corporate America inflict damage on coworkers and friends. She retired before she became a victim. A new and attractive job offer came fairly quickly. She refused it. Why? Her husband landed an opportunity to leave his job as an “adult babysitter.” He accepted a demotion in job title with a different company and agreed to move 2,000 miles west. He joyfully leaped down from his professional plateau to climb a new challenge. And his wife? For the first time in her life, she will live in a state other than Connecticut. Exhausted, scared, emotional? I’m sure of it! I still believe new, professional, and personal opportunities will help them grow and will serve them well.
Family 3: A husband, wife, and three children left the many comforts of their New England life to explore an uncertain future in Florida. A new job brings new responsibilities and a formidable set of challenges. With the support of their family, friends, and their faith, I believe stepping off their comfortable plateau will serve them well. Early reports are in. They are still adjusting, but doing well.
Initially, making life-altering decisions can terrify us and cause an enormous amount of stress. I have no doubt there have been sleepless nights because we have been (and still are) in their shoes before. I have been a victim of a large corporate layoff, I have made misguided decisions in my career/job choices (remind me to tell you about the time I thought being a kangaroo keeper was a good idea) and here I am with a wealth of knowledge and experience.
In taking moments to reflect on these situations, clarity came to me. For each family, they didn’t give up a life where they lived. Rather, I see it as they completed their “jobs” here. What I mean is that these families served their purpose in the space they occupied. While they will be missed, their professional, personal, emotional, and spiritual skill sets are needed more by employers, people, and communities they have not met yet.
The impact on the lives of those around them hit a plateau. They could do no more. They are accomplished and successful teachers. They will bring an impressive set of skills to their new communities, places where those skills are sorely needed.
My dear friends, go and give of yourself to a new life, new friendships, and new experiences. Please, don’t ever stop sharing your existing gifts with those you love. Learn from strangers and keep on growing because the world surrounding you is begging for your unique help.
And the story of Family 4: Cathy and me? That’s for another post. Cliffhangers are frustrating aren’t they?
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.