A teacher once told us a story about an ancient king.
Perhaps it was not a true story, but it has come to be prescient and repeatedly pertinent to me as I have aged. Maybe it is untrue, but supposedly there was once a king who set a challenge. He asked his court to offer him a proverb that would apply to both the best and worst of times. Of course, there were numerous witty but lame replies. And then there was the one that has remained with me.
“This too shall pass.”
This saying meets both challenges.
Not long after that lesson, I recall playing soccer and having the worst stomach cramps of my short life, up until that point, and then I thought of the phrase. Just as she had said about the ancient king, the simple realization that even though I was on the ground in a fetal position, I knew that at some point the pain would be over.
And, on the last day of summer camp, surrounded by so much cheer and happiness, that adage found its way to my consciousness. And, in an instant, I was overcome by impending sadness.
It has been years since. All grown, with kids of my own. But that wisdom – from a teacher whose name I no longer recall – still rings ever-so insightfully.
When recent changes in head office due to a merger changed various policies, I was faced with having to decide – do I stay or do I go. The new management was keen to cut costs while doubling our workload. Though there were many ways to fight it, for example refusing to work unpaid overtime, I felt that not only would that be hard for me, but that I would have to implement those policies on others.
Without unions, my only option was to protest with my feet. I especially felt that I would be betraying my sense of right and wrong, and could not be part of such a myopic team. I also feared that if I stayed, others would brave it out. And I did not want to be the reason for others sticking it out on a ship that would surely run aground.
Looking around at colleagues with whom I had worked for years, one especially who had interned for me and then I had hired full-time, caused me to relive those stomach cramps of how hard it would be to say goodbye. Likewise, I was certain that our district manager would take my departure hard.
I also realized that there was little mileage in a screed on how our company had fundamentally been betraying its one-time core values. Looking around at the nation, and the world, I doubt I am the only person wanting to be somewhere else and not a part of the problem. But at the same time, I do not want to burn any bridges. While I hope the pendulum will eventually swing back, and I tell myself, this too shall pass, one also has to factor in, but when?
Fortunately, connections in the community, especially if I would be among the first to leave, made it fairly easy to find a soft place to land. So protecting one’s reputation, especially in a small community, is paramount. That is unless you plan to move far afield.
As with everything else in my life, I look to what others have to offer. I hate just jumping in and missing something fundamental. Lensa has a good template on writing a 2 weeks notice that was useful. Just as I discussed earlier, it too recognized the fraught feelings one can have when having to say goodbye while at the same time, not wanting to gush about how, where I was going to was loads better and not full on the sour feelings that had been foisted on us by a tin- eared head office.
Among the many things that I realized I had to spell out, it was providing information on what I was doing and what my soon-to-be ex-employer would need to do to replace the work I was doing.
But overall, though I was distraught, I realized that whatever else, I had to be professional. And that meant until I was out the door, I had to continue to help the company with its mission; regardless of how at odds I felt with the way, it would now go to market.
And I expect the way I carried myself must have helped those who remained to push for a softening in the hardball the new management wanted to play with them after living through the pandemic and subsequent logistic crises.
Looking around in the aftermath, I realize that mergers failing is not new. Just googling such brings up scores of stories like this one on Dealroom.net or insights at TMF-Group.com. While some of these were due to bad due diligence and overvaluations, others that sounded remarkably similar to my own experience: a focus solely on the bottom line and blindness to stakeholders.
Bringing a score of years of experience, the farewell tears I felt on my last Friday were replaced by the hearty welcome I received from my new colleagues a couple of weeks later. And, now a few months later, sitting in the breakroom I am into my new routine, feeling good about our mission and the people I now work with. But again, I temper myself with that grade school adage: this too shall pass and I try not to feel t0o attached.