Passing The Torch

Succession planning can be an intimidating subject for most everyone, but the fact is that it shouldn’t be.  It’s not something that has to be overly complicated nor should it be viewed in a negative light.  If handled properly it can be an amazing experience with new opportunities and optimism in its wake.  As a follow-up to the previous article, “Changing of the Guard”, we would like to leave you with a letter passed on by one of our clients.

passing the torch

RE:  The Passing of the Torch: My Impending Retirement on May 15th

To:  My Fellow Comrades In Arms:

In working here for almost 30 years, I have come to see both business and personal life very differently.  So much has happened that I had never expected.  I have found friendships that are incredible and valuable. I have had to become a stronger and better person than if I had been somewhere else, and I have seen how lives can be either elevated or destroyed.  I have come to understand how business careers and personal lives are so very intertwined and similar with not much difference once you look below the surface…

As you ride this “wild beast of business”, I want to share with you some of what I have learned that may make your path a little easier, more valuable and exciting!

  • Be open: Open to new ideas, new people, new technologies, new ways of doing things. Change is not your enemy; rather it is the way forward to learning and becoming better than you were before. It will be difficult, especially when you are fatigued from things both inside and outside the company. It will be more difficult when each day seems to bring another crisis in the form of a lost account, a potential lawsuit, an equipment failure or personal difficulty, health issue, etc. Persevere and be open even when you are tired or the journey will seem like a waste of time… I have seen too many people with that “sickness” slow down and get eaten by the bear!

You have to come to your closed doors before you get to your open doors… What if you knew you had to go through 32 closed doors before you got to your open door? Well, then you’d come to closed door number eight and you’d think, ‘Great, I got another one out of the way’… Keep moving forward. – Joel Osteen

  • Realize that not all conflict is bad: Some conflict stems from something as simple as not having the same information available to make a decision, or a previously bad experience with a similar method or goal, or a personality issue that bleeds over into the workplace. In some cases, the conflict will mean a parting of ways with someone when there is an issue you can’t overcome, like a values or culture mismatch. This too is not “bad”, since it helps each party find themselves in a better situation where they can perform at a higher level. After a while, the right conflict causes a higher level of creativity, better results and deeper relationships! As some people have said, “let’s have some intense fellowship!”

For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate. – Margaret Heffernan

  • Address things quickly and in a direct manner with the person who has caused you the trouble/pain/hurt/embarrassment: Talking about it to a third party results in drama, gossip, and suspicion about people’s motives. If you find yourself as the third party, suggest the first two people talk about the issue themselves and follow up with each until they have worked it out. If you are the one in that position, or are concerned that you have caused that. Go talk directly to that person, privately, with an open mind.  You will find that in most cases in results in a better relationship, collaboration and progress!

Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem. – Jonathon Mead

  • Titles don’t matter, people do: You can probably learn more from the worker on the front line than you can from the corner office, as they live the realities of “resource allocation” in the face of what our customer really wants. Treat everyone with the Platinum Rule: treat them as they would like to be treated, not how you would like to be treated. Too often I have hear that “it is not my job”, or “they should be doing this”.  The reality is that sometimes followers need to lead and sometimes leaders need to follow.  Get out of the normal structure and ask, “What can I do to make this happen?”  If you have already been trying, quit doing the same old thing and try something dramatically different.  Change the game and do it for all of us!  People will appreciate you and respect you for this!

No matter how busy you are, you must take the time to make the other person feel important. – Mary Kay Ash

  • And most of all…, have fun!: Enjoy your progress that is small as well as your big leaps!  Both are needed to achieve and both need to be celebrated.  Also celebrate your failures as you learn from each and every one of them.  You will look back and realize that in so many of the failures were the seeds of success and the supposed “failure” is what finally cracked open that seed!  It is an exciting time to be alive with lots of change.  It is within change that most fun and opportunity are found!  Ensure that others around you are having fun also.  It will make the journey so worthwhile!

If it isn’t fun, forget it!  – John Adams

Overall life is not easy.  Most of the time, we will be tired at the end of the day.  Not all of our tasks will be accomplished.  The difference is between having a good tired feeling or a bad tired feeling:  a good tired feeling comes from having accomplished a lot that is a high priority, valuable and important.  It comes from making important progress.  It comes from helping others in strategic high impact projects!

Whatever you do, keep learning!  Risk yourself in an endeavor that you can give your life to!  If you do, you will become truly one of the best!

I look forward to coming back to visit and hearing of not only continued success, but success at an amazingly higher level that is unprecedented!  I am 100% certain you can do it if you make that choice!

Sincerely and gratefully,

An Anonymous Retiring Employee

Hopefully you relate to the closing thoughts shared by this employee.  If you would like to speak to Don about your own succession plan or that of another leader in your organization, call us at 800-786-4332 x108 or email us at

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