Finding certainty in uncertain times

A group of young professionals from many walks of life and from around the world asked me recently “how do you know when it’s time to move on to something new?” The essence of this question came from a space where they needed guidance in a world where uncertainty feels like the only certain thing. 

I told them that in my career, I have been incredibly lucky. I’ve had the pleasure and genuine privilege to learn from many cultures, professionals, and yes the next generation (them). Generations, by the way, that I have every confidence will lead us all to even greater opportunities in our personal and professional lives.

For myself, I’ve learned that it’s time to move on not when there are fewer opportunities to invoice, advancement in the company or pursuit of yet another title. It’s time to move on when I’m no longer helping others succeed. 

My goal, even in my own business was to make myself ultimately, irrelevant. That may sound insane, but I always found the greatest joy in knowing others were free to share ideas, and felt confident in sharing them in an open forum regardless of who was in the room or on the call.

Once they realized that culture, a culture I helped them find the courage to create, titles and hierarchy became ultimately irrelevant. When the teams were producing without guidance, it was time for me to move on. 

I lost a lot of money following this methodology. I’ve had many so-called business partners break promises, not follow through after years of support, and many more stories of pain, anger, and disbelief. 

Over time, however, I learned that it was in thanks to both those who helped me and those who let me down that has allowed me to ask better questions; to be accountable without blaming others for any outcome. 

The most valuable “awards” I’ve received in my career are hand written notes, and incredibly heartfelt gifts of thanks. 

Much of what I’ve designed, considered, and lead no longer exists over the past 20 years. What remains is the positive impact I’ve had on the lives of other people. There’s no award, application, or arbitrary opinions on social media that can take that away. 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not valued in uncertain times. What can provide focus and value, in my experience, is to consider how you want to help others succeed. 

Being part of any organization (regardless of size) means you’re part of a team. To succeed, it’s not just about “doing your job”. It is ultimately about demonstrating the realization that it’s not entirely about you. It’s about us. What do we want to do to ensure everyone feels valued and what they are doing is of value. 

Start every day by asking yourself, and others … how can I help?