Let me discuss with you in this Leading Thoughts a big macro-principle I want you to live out and then also a smaller truth that may save you some trouble.
We live at a time when people, particularly leaders, work their main job, but they also have a whole lot else going on besides. They also have their “side hustle” or their home-based startup or their attempt at multiple income streams leading to wealth.
It is fine. I’m all for it.
Yet hear me when I say that you will not be a success at your main work unless you plant your feet, unpack your bags, and devote yourself fully to your work while you’re working. Trying to work or lead with your bags packed, with your escape hatch constantly open and in view, will make you a lightweight and ineffective.
I know because I’ve done it. I spent some years in a very unhappy work situation in a rural, fairly barren area of the United States. I constantly wanted to leave. I kept my bags packed, emotionally speaking. I lived with my escape hatch open. I applied to other jobs. I complained. I even tried to get the CIA to hire me once. It was comical.
Finally, I got serious with myself, my employers, and God. Then I dug in. I unpacked my bags, closed the escape hatch, and settled in for the long haul. I gave it my all, and did so as though I would be there for the rest of my life.
Things started to change. Our firm grew. I became happy. My reach and impact spread. I was less frustrated and more engaging. I had more friends. I felt more in place and had much more success.
The principle is that you cannot be a success with one foot out the door, while not making the main thing the main thing with full devotion. I’m all for multiple ventures and well managed “side hustles,” as we say today. But I’m opposed to cheating our employers. I’m opposed to distracted, lightweight leaders. I’m opposed to never putting our hearts into what we do.
Take a look at your leadership life. If you are as I was, make a change. Change your approach to your job. Change jobs. Change career fields. Even shut down your startup projects if you find you can’t juggle it all. But be fully planted where you are supposed to be fully planted. Joy and success will follow.
Now for that smaller principle. When you announce that you are leaving a role, things will change. You will not have the authority you had the day before the announcement. You will not be as much in control of your immediate future. I’ve seen this dozens of times. Often, it goes badly.
So, don’t attempt the “I think I’ll leave in a year, guys, so why don’t we start talking about it” approach. No. Know when you ought to leave. Give due notice. Don’t expect a gradual exit with parades and parties along the way.
I don’t want you afraid, but I do want you informed. You tell ‘em you plan to leave, and your leaving starts happening. Don’t be naïve but do be respectful. Tell them what you have to tell them when you have to tell them, but know that the situation changes almost immediately. Manage it well, leave well.