by Nathan Mellor, Ed.D., PCC
Last week, I was working with a friend who was in an unusual situation. For the past 19 years, she and her husband had worked for the same employer in a small town in the Midwest. As is often the case, when they moved there in 2004, they thought they would stay for a couple of years and then move on to the next opportunity. Instead, they fell in love with the community and invested themselves in their work. Until recently, they thought they would stay there forever.
Earlier this year, my friend’s husband was unexpectedly offered an opportunity in another state to lead an organization that was close to both of their hearts. Although the new position was not with a competitor, it required a similar skillset to the work he had already been doing. In addition, the pay was significantly better, which was all the more attractive as their teenage children both had hopes of going to college. After much thought, they shared the news with their friends and colleagues. The response was a tearful appreciation for the work they had done and a celebration for the opportunities ahead.
There was one problem. My friend had committed to leading a time sensitive project that would not be completed by the time they were supposed to move. Although she was the leader of the project, it was well within her rights to walk away with the project incomplete. In all honesty, the project was not a big one, and although it would have been a disappointment, it would not make a huge impact on the bottom line if they just cancelled it.
My friend was determined to finish well. Instead of leaving her friends and colleagues in an awkward spot, she decided to stay a few extra weeks to see it through. Although this meant her family would make the move a few weeks ahead of her, she felt it was worth the sacrifice. I asked her why she was doing it, and she said, “This is my love letter to this place. I raised my kids here and I love this community. I am not doing this because I have to, I am doing this because I want to.”
I share this story not to imply that everyone has to see every project through before they can move on to a new opportunity. Transitions, even when everyone is doing their best, can be challenging. I share the story because I was inspired by the depth of her commitment. She was intentional about being dependable and the result was a deeply felt gratitude from her colleagues. Your expression of dependability may look different, but it requires a similar intentionality. Sometimes choosing the harder path leads to more meaningful outcomes and deeper relationships.