Parting: Lessons from Leaving

A few weeks ago, I stepped out of a group that I’ve belonged to for about eighteen months. It was not easy make the decision. I was nervous as I made the announcement. The group includes coaches and consultants striving to learn and serve our clients better. I did learn a great deal, but I did more than acquire knowledge. I learned to appreciate other’s points of view. And my own.adieu

With this group, I came to see more clearly that my point of view was limited. And while that’s obvious, working with and being challenged by others who see the world differently gave me pause. I stopped and listened. It was uncomfortable. It took real effort. I believe I’ve learned that a wider view is the best place to start most things. That openness is also the mindset to adopt when facing ambiguity and confusion.

But I also came to recognize that my own point of view is a solid home base. I don’t mean that my view is simply where I’m most comfortable. I didn’t conclude that I had been right all along. I found that I could trust my self as a learner, a coach, a teacher, and a consultant. As I write this now, I wonder how you’ll hear that.

Think of times when you felt at ease and could listen without busily working out what to say next. Think of the times when you felt your feet solidly underneath you and felt ready to move at any moment. That’s something of what it feels like to know your home base. If a memory of home base experience comes to mind, hold it there, notice how it feels in your body. That’s a footing to step onto when you’re feeling blown around.

I recognize that I owe those colleagues a great thank-you for their generosity. They challenged me to listen, most often by their example. And in turn they listened to me. When people really hear us, we recognize the sound of our own voice.

These are all lessons learned in parting. Not leaving exactly. I’ll be hanging with these folks in other ways for years, I hope. But the lessons of membership are different from the lessons of parting. It is a sweet sorrow because it is leaving and also pressing on, a future vision clearer every day. Marking these parting lessons is one way to bow in respect to the time and attention of those who were members with us. Imagine me bowing low and long.

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