Forks in the road


Tonight I found out that another co-worker is taking the next step in their career and leaving our company. Selfishly I’m sad I won’t be working with them anymore, but honestly I’m happy for them and know they have a very bright future ahead.

What really got me thinking was the conversation we had after covered the basics (e.g. sorry to see you go, where are you heading, etc.). The reality is that most careers don’t follow the clean-cut path they have in the past. Not very long ago it was common to work for the same company for decades, leave with a gold watch, benefits and a pension. That definitely isn’t the reality I live in, and I often think about the going on five years I’ve invested in my current organization. Granted my career path has been pretty interesting over those years – but I’ve been at the same place.

Today you are responsible more than ever before for your own retirement, your own career and your success. My friend made the comment that loyalty doesn’t exist anymore, I responded that I don’t think it is gone but I think it has changed. Today’s loyalty is a bond between humans, not between a human and an organization. I think I like it that way

When giving me advice at one point a few months ago a senior executive whom I’ve grown to trust said to me that the only way to build the kind of bond he and I were talking about at the time, where near frictionless disagreement and collaboration are possible, was to go through “battle” with someone. He didn’t mean this strictly in the military sense however I can only imagine the result is even stronger in that case. He was referring to the absolute certainty to the guy standing next to you will still be there, fighting right along with you, even when things get ugly. In some jobs, that might be an everyday event or an extraordinary circumstance. Either way the result is the same, you learn who you can trust. You learn who you can count on and you learn whom you can’t.

I’ve lost another one of the people who fit solidly in former category. The good news for me is that you never really lose those people; you just might not know how or when your paths will cross again. In fact, I got a call from another one of the people I’d put in that category earlier today asking me to speak at a User Group his organization is hosting next month.