Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Job Transition: A Bittersweet Symphony

Every end may be a beginning, but when you are in the end part it still feels odd.

Today is my last day of work at my current association.  I am lucky enough to have found a new opportunity for professional growth at another association, and have worked over the past three weeks to tie up loose ends, and set things in place where hopefully everything will be smooth in the transition to finding a new Director.  I leave behind colleagues that have become friends, a solid plan for the year to come, and hopefully new avenues for growth that did not exist before I was here.  I could not picture a more positive departure....

...but it still feels weird.

There is something that gnaws at you that you have laid out great plans and potential, but will not be present to execute and evaluate.  As much as you can try to transition all responsibilities, leaving behind a strong team is still a feeling of loss.  You become an outsider to the insiders. 

Of course, there will be a new team and new projects.  From what you leave behind, someone will step in and take up the mantle of continued growth and improvement.  In between those two moments - of leaving and starting - there is this moment of bittersweet finality.  Reflecting on what you were able to do, what obstacles you could not overcome and the legacy you leave behind.

I know many blog posts ask provocative questions, give a top # list of things to implement or consider, or describe upcoming trends.  Though this post does none of those, I wanted to capture this feeling of in-between since, in truth, how many of these days do we have in our life? 

Tomorrow will bring a new start - new mentors and partners, new strategy and possibility, new community and commitment.

For today, I will simply be open to feeling the loss of my team and the end of my efforts here.  I will take my name plate down, turn off the light in my office, and, as I leave, look back one more time at what was another great stage in my professional life.

Here's to a wonderful new year and new beginnings, and to the endings that have brought us here today.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2012 Resolutions

One of my favorite posts this week is from Shelly Alcorn on Association Subculture - Five Terms for 2012.  We each make New Year's resolutions, and joke before the clock strikes midnight about just how long they will last.  I love the idea of focusing on five terms, hanging them above your workspace, and allowing them to serve as guideposts for your efforts.  Following Shelly's lead, here are my 5 for 2012:

1. Give Half the Fridge to Failure - From finger painting masterpieces to report cards, the fridge always served as the wall of fame in our house growing up.  It was a place to show off a job well done - a reminder of success.  In 2012 I want half of what I (symbolically) hang to be reminders of where things did not turn out as planned.  I believe that, while not ideal, failure in itself is not bad - failing to learn from failure is the downfall.  Failure is often swept under the rug - and in the coming year, if I am going to learn more from the times I do not succeed, then I need those times to remain fresh in my memory.

2. Better Technology, NOT More - I am a sucker for new gizmos and gadgets.  I love to window shop at Best Buy (without the windows) and it is not unusual for me to have multiple tabs open at once with item upgrades and devices that are awesome, but I do not need.  For 2012 I am going to concentrate my dollars and cents on purchasing those items that I will really use and that will (hopefully) truly improve my quality of life, and not just be a shiny toy.

3. LISTEN to answers of "How are you" - Asking how someone is has become an unconscious part of just about every conversation I have, yet too often I find that the answer sails right by as I move on to the real reason that I am talking to the person.  I want to hit myself upside the head at this one - this is a rude, thoughtless and stupid thing to do.  If we really listen to how someone is, not only will we have greater insight into the experience they are bringing in that moment to the conversation, but we make tighter relationship bonds that go beyond the interaction.  In 2012, 'How are you' is going to become a point of personal investment, and not rote repetition.

4. Smile when Crafting - Emails, chats, blog posts, phone conversation - words can make an intellectual memory, but your tone can make an emotional one.  Whether I want it to or not, I know when I am smiling that my attitude takes a swing towards the positive.  Therefore, if I smile more when communicating I think I will be able to imbue those words with a greater happiness.  Maybe I will just look like silly with a grin on my face (note: get webcam to see if I stick to this one), but if I can get you to have one on yours too, mission accomplished.

5. Celebrate - Everything - There are so many things that beat us up and tear us down - we need to celebrate more.  Not just birthdays, holidays or the big accomplishments - those are the easy ones.  In 2012, I am going to acknowledge, be thankful for, and celebrate the smaller positives as well.   Lunch with a friend I haven't seen in a long time, safe travels, looking at my phone contact list and realizing that I have a whole bunch of people in my life who make me a better me - they may not come with all the bells and whistles, but without any of them my life was be radically different.  Times of sorry and pain can't be avoided - let's celebrate life and all the joy in it all we can in 2012. 

What's your five?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Working in the Association World - Love It.

High unemployment rates, graduating from school with way too much debt - it is not easy to enter the workforce right now, that's for sure.  Most graduates want more than a paycheck - they are looking for a job that is fulfilling, and serves a higher purpose (in truth, aren't we all??).  My answer?  Check out the Association World!

Anyone who is working for an association is contributing to making the world a better place by making professionals better in their profession.  Providing opportunities for engineers to meet to work on new green initiatives, continuing education so that regulators produce safer pharmaceuticals, certification so that companies know their new employees have the knowledge to do their job safely and well - association help with all of this and more.

These is just one of the reasons why I think working for an association is a great professional decision - for more thought check out my guest post on the millenial chat blog!

Want to find out more for yourself?  ASAE is running a free Introduction to Association Careers Day in Washington, DC on December 14, 2011 if you are in town - check it out!  You may just find that you love the association world too!