A business colleague of mine told me about a quote from legendary television producer Norman Lear (All in The Family, Maud, The Jefferson’s) that is something every transitioning C-Level executive needs to embrace.
He stated that “there are two words that are under-recognized: ‘over’ and ‘next.’ When something is over, it’s over. And we’re always on to ‘next.’ And the hammock, the imaginary hammock in the middle is what I think is meant by living in the moment. I’m living in the moment waiting for next.”
Having just transitioned from being the CEO of a company I co-founded I understand the need to transition from “over” to find your “next” But I also know how this can be difficult to achieve.
Letting go of the past is not always easy but can be done and will be liberating. Let me share with you some strategies if you are ready to move to “next”.
Get Past “Over”
First things first - you have to accept “over”.
It is in our nature to analyze our past; find conclusions about actions and hang on to memories and experiences – both good and bad. There are constant reminders in our lives about our past experiences. For me the sight of seafood always brings back memories from over thirty years in an industry I just exited – and I love to eat fish! How do you get past “over” when you are reminded every time you pass by the fish counter at the local market of a long career you are trying to move on from? Not easy.
But I can confidently say I have gotten past “over”. My takeaways from my long tenure in one industry are now positive and I am using them to help clients benefit from my mistakes and the wisdom I learned over that time.
Everyone will have a different length of time to get past “over” but I would offer the following strategies that helped me to accelerate the process:
- If you haven’t already done so, quit whatever it is you are trying to get “over”. There is no way you can get past “over” it if you are still living it. For some additional thoughts on this check out my previous blog “Career Insanity”. (http://www.aventuremgt.com/blog/2016/10/20/career-insanity-and-change)
- I highly recommend you take some time off and indulge in an activity you like – spending more time with the family, travel, playing a musical instrument, being creative etc.
- Reconnect with family and friends that have been overlooked while you focused on your career.
- Try not to spend time talking about the past. If it comes up pivot the conversation to what you are doing in the moment.
If you have a hammock, actually spend time in it reading a book, listening to music, watching nature and generally decompressing. Start observing the world around you in the present – not the past or even the future. Soon after I left my company I was fortunate enough to spend time in Italy for my oldest son’s wedding. It took me some time to understand that my new relatives were very happy to live in the moment. A casual hello would often turn into an hour long conversation over a glass of wine. An evening dinner was rarely less than three hours and usually involved an expansion of the table to accommodate later arrivals. Living in the moment was more important than precise scheduling. I can’t remember the exact point in time the transition occurred but by the end of my trip I was mostly living in the moment. I went to Italy thinking about the past and left thinking about the “next”
Live in the (Hammock) Moment
As Robin Williams quoted in “Dead Poets Society” – “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys.”
These days I try as much as possible to live in the moment. During the day if I am in the middle of something and the urge hits me to go for a walk – I find my sneakers. The more you can live in the moment the greater the clarity of “next” will be. This will free up your thoughts and ideas will begin to germinate as to what you might do “next”. You will one day realize you moved beyond “over”.
And let me share a secret with you. The world will wait patiently for you to decide what is “next”. But if you don’t spend some time in the “hammock” you will have no idea what your “next” can be. This is your opportunity to be extraordinary – you have earned it – seize it.
What does “Next” Look Like?
You will know when the “next” happens for you. I did.
Not long after I returned from Italy I was offered a CEO position. Without hesitation I turned it down. I had the clarity to know that for me, being CEO of a large company was not what got me out of bed in the morning. I had come to the realization that I needed to be part of a team of partners who mentored and helped business owners navigate through many of the same issues I had experienced in my years of owning and running companies. I even agreed to mentor students in a local school on entrepreneurship. I discovered exactly what the “next” was that got me out of bed in the morning.