You don’t have to run the largest (and increasingly controversial) company to be thoughtful about succession planning. You don’t have to be a techie, a founder, or even the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) to learn some important lessons in leadership.
Jeff Bezos announced last week that he would step down as CEO, elevating his long-time second into the role of CEO. Bezos will stay engaged at a greater distance, focusing on strategy, new products and larger questions of company direction in his new role as Executive Chairman.
So, what can us regular people learn from this transition? A few things to consider:
+ What’s your plan for institutional knowledge? Not all of us can choose our successor and groom them for 10+ years, but we can begin to transfer our knowledge. (The earlier, the better to prevent feeling so overwhelmed!) All of that stuff that only exists in your head is valuable. It’s also stressful and heavy. Ensure that someone else can access that information, either through a central depository or through verbal download, or both. Bonus: you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night, worried about all the things that completely depend on you.
+ Know thyself. Why do you love this work, or do you? What lights you up? If you keep tabs on what’s interesting and powerful for you, then you’ll be able to envision a more focused future. Well-known for being extremely hands-on, Bezos isn’t walking away entirely. He’s refocusing and honing that energy on the future of the company. Bonus: this clarity might also help to prevent burnout.
+ More than a pretty face. Your shareholders, colleagues or the larger community may blur the line between ‘you’ and ‘the organization’ – but this doesn’t have to be a permanent state. First determine to what extent this is true through honest conversations and/or the help of a third party. Then find ways to elevate and give credit to your stellar teammates. Bonus: giving genuine praise and support to others is good for you too.
+ Relationships matter. Emotional intelligence isn’t usually measured in your quarterly reports or annual review but the challenges of change are rooted in emotion. Whether we admit it or not, business is not devoid of feelings – tension, fear, anxiety, excitement, guilt, anticipation, hope, and more. Strong relationships can open up new options for growth, advancement, and stepping back or stepping out. Bonus: you’re more likely to get the benefit of the doubt and a little grace on a bad day, if you have strong relationships.
+ Philanthropy now! Giving back and supporting a better world doesn’t have to wait until you reach some particular milestone. Lead by example now and create depth to your work and perspective. See Mackenzie Scott.
It can be intimidating to think about changing your status and responsibilities. And whether you proactively think about it or not, change is inevitable. Take some of the potential sting out by preparing for the future and reap the bonus rewards now!
Interested in learning more about navigating leadership or life transitions? Let’s set up a free chat!
(And how to make the most of it)
Are you seething a little bit? Feel a low (or high) level burning as you get through your day? Find yourself numbing out or snapping at whoever is convenient? I just snapped at my cat. I feel you.
This is hard. The stress is real.
Frustration and anger is not bad. You are not bad for feeling those things. Those emotions are trying to get your attention. Here’s 4 ways to demystify the beast within:
1. Get it out of your head Journal, vent to a good friend or a safe virtual group, paint it out.
2. Peel it back What exactly is annoying the crap out of you? What is hurting you or leaving you feeling anxious? No judgement. But keep digging so that you can be as specific as possible.
3. Decide what’s right for you, right now Should you address it now, should you cool off first, or can you just let it go? What’s the right timing? You are in charge. Make the decision that is right for you.
4. MOST IMPORTANT – Notice it. Stop ignoring what you are trying to tell yourself. Things that were already a burr under your saddle are now Big Freaking Problems. (Thanks quarantine!) Instead of pretending that’s not true and will just go away, notice these pain points. What can you learn from them? What are they trying to tell you about your life and the sources of your unhappiness and anxiety?
No judgments or shame. What we are feeling makes sense – and can spur us to greater creativity and positive action in our own lives.
Hey y’all –
I’ve spent the last few days touching base with clients and friends and colleagues. We’ve been having intense conversations where the only thing we know is…we don’t know. There’s so much that we don’t know.
But here’s the interesting undercurrent I want to share – in the midst of all the unknowing, there is some deep clarity taking shape. Maybe it’s not here yet, but it’s forming. Maybe you are seeing some of this yourself?
Have you noticed –
- Things that used to be important have suddenly fallen off of your ‘To Do’ list?
- Your focus has shifted
- You’ve let go of things
- Your feelings are closer to the surface
- You are seeing certain relationships, structures and ‘impossible’ things in a new light?
This moment is an opportunity.
The cool thing is that this opportunity doesn’t put more pressure on you. You are already doing the work – I’m simply asking you to notice it. Take it seriously. Write down the shifts you are noticing, without judgement. Allow yourself to imagine the future. You don’t have to do anything about it today. In fact, you probably can’t do a whole lot today. But dreaming is an important component to creation. It allows you be intentional when the moment comes to act.
What are you noticing about your new patterns? What ideas about how you want to work and interact with the world are surfacing?
I encourage you to simply notice what is happening to you. What is changing? What has remained?
It’s ok to take what you are learning and weave it into a vision of the life you want. How do you want your life to have meaning and impact? There is no right answer – there is simply the answer that only you can create.
Rest friends – take care of yourself.
Change is happening. Embrace the creativity of transition.
It’s almost 2020.
Somehow, the 20’s became a magical decade. Many people never mature out of them or at least never admit to it. Perhaps the Roaring ‘20’s still capture our imagination. Maybe we just like the idea of a younger, more carefree version of ourselves.
Let’s call bullshit, shall we?
Let’s stop looking back nostalgically, or expectantly, or worshipfully. The truth is, wherever you are now, is perfect. It’s exactly where you should be to learn and grow in the ways that you specifically need. You’ve earned your way to this very spot. It is not good or bad, it just is. And it’s yours to live.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to stay.
Maybe that’s already painfully obvious to you. Maybe life and transition is happening to you right now, whether you feel ready or not.
- A parent requires your caregiving and suddenly you’re not sure if you can handle being both a ‘child of’ and a ‘caregiver of’ (not to mention ‘partner of’, ‘colleague of’, etc.)
- You have a new job or your work life is changing or you got a longed for promotion that’s scaring the pants off of you.
- You are thinking about leaving something (a job, a relationship, a social group) that has defined you for so long that you can’t really imagine there’s another side.
- You are getting divorced or are recovering from a deeply wounding break-up.
- You’re not even sure how to articulate it, but a small voice inside you knows you are stuck or lost and won’t let you rest.
So, let’s ask again – what are your 20’s going to look like? What will this decade hold for you and for your work in the world? The world needs you. We need your gifts and courage, your grace and engagement. And it’s ok to not know what that means or where to start.
You don’t have to figure it out alone. The 2020’s don’t just have to happen to you. But they are coming fast.
Find your breath.
Find your people.
Find your coach.
Do the creative work of making the life you want.
Now accepting a limited number of coaching clients to begin in January 2020. Group experiences coming in 2020.
Close your eyes. Take three deep centering breaths. Keep breathing and imagine what you want your life to look like in 10 years – your home, your social life, your spiritual life, your health, your career and livelihood.
Now two more deep breaths – what does this future feel like? Envision the feel of your day-to-day. Imagine the way happiness and fulfillment feel in your body. Do they feel solid and grounding? Do they feel light and free? Where does laughter and joy reside?
How did that experience feel? Did you have immediate ideas about your future or did it feel like you were looking into a grey void? Both are ok – and both deserve exploring. Immediate ideas should be considered thoughtfully. Where did those ideas come from? Are those ideas for your life yours, or did they come from someone else? Grey voids mean you have lots of room to create, to play, to try on ideas until the right ones fit.
What do you want?
Spend two minutes every morning for the next two weeks envisioning this life and feeling these feelings.
Our ideas of perfection are almost always external. We were taught about perfection, or we internalized ideas about it when we were growing up. Social media and regular media are a constant barrage of “perfection”.
By the time we are adults, our imperfections, on the other hand, are mostly internalized comparisons. We call them out to ourselves all the time – I’m fat. I’m lazy. I’m dumb. I’m not as good as…We judge ourselves again the external. I do it so much, I don’t even realize how often it happens.
What if our imperfections were actually something else entirely?
What if the internal judgements that we obsess over are actually helpful messages that we misread in our quest to be perfect?
I’m lazy. (Could also be – I need to rest.)
I can’t get everything done and I’m failing. (Could also be – maybe I don’t have to do everything and ‘doing everything’ is too much for anyone. I need help. I need to let go.)
I’m always tired. (Maybe your body need better nutrition? Exercise? Are you spending your energy on things that drain, rather than feed, you?)
Maybe our imperfections are important messages we are misinterpreting.
Can we stop beating ourselves up long enough to actually listen to what our ‘imperfections’ are telling us?
I fall prey to this one, and I don’t always catch it. I hear it from my clients – it slips out in moments of frustration and overwhelm. I see it at play in our overworked, oversaturated and under-resourced world.
I should be giving 100% to my work.
100% to my family.
100% to my community.
100% to my spiritual life.
Y’all – we don’t have that many 100 percents. I’m no mathematician but I know some great ones, and I’m pretty sure if I asked them, they’d agree.
Would you really want that anyway? Flip the tables and think about your favorite colleague or team member. Would you want them to give 100% – completely flame out in the moment and be reduced to a pile of ashes at your feet?
No. You’d want them to save something for themselves. You’d want to make sure they could show up as their full and capable selves – tomorrow, next week, three years from next week.
I invite you to think about what it would mean to not give 100% away. If you want to use this yardstick, then think of your whole life as 100%. First – how much are you carving out for you. It’s your life after all, and if you aren’t honoring it, then you can’t show up for the rest of it fully. The rest of your life needs to fit into what’s left over of 100%, after self-care (whether that means a day at the spa or #boringselfcare like dirty dishes in the sink while you get some extra sleep).
No one part of your life should get 100%. That’s not how balance works.
A little slow to post – but such a great conversation and group at AFP ICON. As one participant told me later,
“It’s so great to know that you are not alone but to also feel inspired by something that seems so hard.”
I’m excited to launch my first coaching & professional development ‘experience’ – focused on owning and claiming our space as Working Mamas. It’s not an easy path. Come celebrate all that you’ve learned, all the ways you’ve grown, and discover more about this very special superpower!