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Leadership Thought #373 – Go Out On Top and Move Forward

I remember when they asked Jerry Seinfeld why he would turn down $5m an episode and leave one of the top rated shows in TV history and he said he wanted to go out on top.  He also said he wanted to get a life and that work had become all consuming.   At the time I couldn’t quite understand his decision but now I respect it.  Too many people stay on past their prime whether its entertainment personalities, public officials, business leaders, etc.  There comes a point for each of us where the value we are adding begins to diminish and it’s time to reinvent ourselves and do something different and/or focus on other priorities.

A life is meant to have many chapters not just one or two very long ones.  When you find yourself holding on for the mere fact of holding on, it is time to rethink what you are doing.  Successful people need to have a bit of an edge.  They need to have a passion for what they are doing and genuinely want to be the best at it.  Going through the motions because you don’t know what else to do or you’ve become accustomed to the money will eventually catch up with you.  People will begin to notice that you are no longer bringing your “A Game” to the table.

Change can be scary even for self-confident accomplished people.   It much easier to cling to what you know rather than risk uncertainty. However, when we resist change we stop growing personally and professionally.  We also lose our ability to proactively influence the outcomes in our life and instead are more likely to become victims of circumstance.  Most people as they age become naturally more conservative, but society depends upon our collective ability to be progressive in our thinking.  The world is constantly changing whether we like it or not.  You can’t move forward with any degree of success if you are always looking in your rear view mirror or unwilling to change direction.

I’m not advocating change for the sake of change.  This can be equally problematic for people.  However, I am encouraging you to pay close attention to how you are truly feeling about your work and life.  Instead of always doing what is easy, convenient or expected; push yourself to redefine what’s possible.  If you feel yourself slipping a bit or losing your edge, ask yourself why.  Success should never just be about money, power, prestige or position.  In everyone’s life there comes a time to walk away from “what is” to recreate and embrace “what could be.”  My own personal belief is that we need to reinvent ourselves every 5-7 years.  The most successful people I know are always much more focused on “why” they are doing something rather than just “what” they are doing.  Good can be the enemy of great if you are not careful.  Comfort can also breed complacency.

Once you have scaled the mountaintop find another mountain to climb.  Go out on top and move forward!


One Response

  1. Hi Ed – how timely! I left full-time employment last Friday to start to spend real time in and on my consulting business. I had been working in senior roles for GE for 9 years and felt that ‘my time was done’. So, over the past 2 years I have been developing a small business knowing that the day would come when I felt like I was no longer able or willing to provide a high standard to my team and employer. The stated 5-7 year timeline is spot-on, or at least that has been my journey. Your article really hits home!
    Steve Riddle: CoachStation.com.au

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