Go where you’re celebrated – not tolerated

Recently I stepped down from a leadership position that I really enjoyed. I like to be called the Chairman but the reality is I do too much. Not to mention that I am not great at time management – so I had to make some changes to protect what little time I have to do the things that I am required to do. And in my case, the next in line for leadership was a great choice to step in and sail the ship.

It’s never easy stepping away but there comes a time when you know you should. The question is do you listen to that little voice -or- heed the tug in your heart that the organization might be better off without you at the helm. Hard, I know…

I am someone who likes challenging myself to see how well I do (within reason of course) and then once I see that I am up to the challenge it rarely holds my interest. I get bored easy and tend to wander off looking for something else to capture my attention. I’m pretty sure that I am like half the world in that way. The other half of the world will stay until they are asked to leave.

As I work with others, I find it interesting just how full their lives are with things that are not required. I agree that it is good to give back and do your part when you are able, but I wonder if you arel hanging onto projects and organizations that no longer hold your heart and soul.

Are you filling your time to keep busy so you don’t have to do the things you should be doing? You know, things like your taxes, polishing your shoes, cleaning out your car, attic, garage and tool shed. The answer is probably yes.

We fill our lives with things that were, at one time, of great value. Why is it that we hold onto them until we are now just filling a seat? I think it is because many are afraid of being forgotten. Wow-forgotten. It hurts me to even say that. But I have been around long enough to know it when I see it.

My friend Ann gave me some advice a long time ago that I have not forgotten. She said: “…go where you’re celebrated – not tolerated.”

For many of us, the perception of obligations hold us long past the expiration date. And just like the milk label says, “Best if used by a certain date.” When that date is past, you might want to consider leaving.

And let me give you a few reasons why.

  1. You’ve done your part – you’ve set a direction, cleaned up a mess, steadied the ship to sail to new harbors…good for you! Now go!
  2. Others need your seat at the table so they can learn and contribute. That will not happen if you’re sitting there until they pry your cold clammy hands off the table. Too bad you didn’t go…
  3. The organization needs new blood and new ideas from the new people who would like your seat at the table. So now it’s time to go.

No matter how much they tell you they need you to stay, they really do want you to go. They don’t want to hurt your feelings, lose your financial support (that’s a ridiculous threat – really if you can’t stay you wont give – that’s generous of you), or more likely it upset your spouse because now you’ll be home more often. My friend jokingly tells her husband, “I married you for life not lunch and dinner.

Stepping down is never easy; that old pride gets in the way and the thought of being dispensable hurts. It really hurts the pride, hurts the self esteem and ithurts your heart since it was something you once loved. And even if you do still love it, the time will come when it is necessary for you to move in a new direction. Friends, I hope in life you understand the concept of go where you’re celebrated – not tolerated.

I’m not saying that tomorrow you cancel your membership in all your charitable or service organizations. This year why don’t you consider stepping away from a few of the places that you spend large amounts of time. Nothing makes a heart grow fonder than when you re-appear in a year or two. If you still have an interest after some time, then you can see the results of your years of hard work that built an organization to its prime.

Now I know that my words are going to fall on plenty of deaf ears. Some of you listening today can’t imagine a world without you at the table and while I love your self esteem, it might be misguided my friend.

It is always hard to know when to step away but let me give you a few ideas when you should.

  • I worked for year in the political realm and there is nothing worse than a politician who keeps the job but stops listening to their constituents. When they stop taking their concerns to heart, then it’s time to go.
  • In business, many want to keep the job because it makes them feel important but they no longer really contribute. If you are just holding a space, then it’s time to go. How about a coach who no longer is interested in learning new play or new ideas on training, focus and health – if that’s the case, it’s time to go.
  • Here’s the one I probably hear the most. Family members are resentful because of the perceived duty of a parent to an outside organization that trumps family and friends. If that’s the case, it’s time to go.

Nothing is so sad as to see people hanging on to power that was lost long ago.

I could go on and on about once great organizations that are now nothing or are  damaged permanently. Those organizations suffering because leadership would not let go and embrace the truth of “go where you’re celebrated – not tolerated.” The flame died and the people left and all that was good is now gone.

How about you? Are you hanging on for one last gasp in hopes of being remembered or thought of kindly? If you overstay your welcome that is the last thing people will remember about you.

Let me talk to you directly and move this to your personal life. Do your friends celebrate you or tolerate you? Does the person your dating or even married to celebrate you or tolerate you? Do your work colleagues celebrate you or tolerate you because they have to –at least for a time?

It is hard to reconcile, but you know in your heart the answers to these questions.  So now the question is, “What will you do about it?

I subscribe to the thought that if you keep doing the same thing and expect different results, that is not going to happen no matter how hard you hope. This is why you and I should go where you’re celebrated – not tolerated.

I looked up the word tolerate and here is what it says…

  • Endure something: to withstand the unpleasant effects of something

Now compare that to celebrate which means:

  • Show happiness at something: to show happiness that something good or special has happened by doing such things as eating and drinking together or playing music

Ah, friends, take some time to figure out who celebrates you, who shows happiness that you are you, because it is important that you Go where you’re celebrated – not tolerated for a lifetime.

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