Have you as a leader ever gotten a message from a member of your organization who said they were quitting, or were “done?”  Has it ever been right as you feel this member is gaining momentum and about to break ground on a new opportunity, or about to see massive growth in a strategic area?  You have just hit the big time!  
Yes, this can be really aggravating, but actually, this could be just the beginning of great things for you and your mission. This is a perfect chance for you to see the silver lining!  We’re going to talk about how to take a lemon you are handed and squeeze it to get juicy, tasty lemonade.  Shall we?

Getting a phone call like this the first time can really be shocking.  You may wonder what in the world someone is thinking! Your organization is growing, people are helped, your group is on-task to reach the mission.   So, while it would be tempting to ask that person why they are bowing out, it’s much better to envision what opportunity this opens up for you. I’m going to show you how you can do that and co-opt this phone call to catapult you and your group to greater heights.
  1. Your organization is sorting itself out.  We are all at a certain level of personal excellence when we start out.  The people we attracted at the beginning of our journey will not be at the same caliber as the people we are attracting along the way and will attract in the future.  As you rise in effectiveness and impact, the people you used to work with may not fit any more.  Often someone telling you they want out is a great reflection to you that you are attracting a different person in and to your organization. Embrace that change!
  2. You are abundance minded rather than focused on lack. It is super tempting the first time you get a message like this to panic, especially if you are within the first few months or years of your high-achievement career.  However, remember that someone opting out is someone giving you space back in your brain to focus on all the people out there looking for what you have.
  3. Having clarity where someone stands helps you focus your attention and resources elsewhere. Again, it’s great to know where your members stand.  It’s a resource drain and a shock to think someone is invested in your mission, when they really aren’t.  It’s better to know where someone stands so you don’t have to focus your attention on someone not committed to your core mission.
  4. What you focus on, grows. You can see how fantastic it is to know where someone stands.  You can devote your attention to a fired-up team now! John Wesley, an 18th-century English spiritual leader, said, and I paraphrase, “give me a hundred passionate people, and I will give you a world that has been transformed.”  Go get ‘em!
  5. Practice fantastic leadership. Great people bless others to do what they feel they must.  Kind leadership when someone decides to go multiplies as you progress in your work. This, too, will duplicate.  If someone knows you loved them despite their movement away from your organization’s goal, they feel it.  They may not come back, but their chances increase with your grace.
  6. Find what feels good in your body. It’s an icky feeling to rehearse someone leaving!  Anyone who’s dated knows this! Getting over someone is best when you take care of yourself.  This includes rehearsing pleasant and positive thoughts.  It’s not just good for the other person, it’s healthy for you, too.   Over time, too, you will find yourself gravitating and appreciating blessing and releasing others.  Life is too short to take baggage with you.  You know the popular Disney song I’m thinking of, the one Elsa sings?  “Let it go!”   Want tips on what you can rehearse, whether from contemporary or ancient literature?  Please reach out!  I have a treasure trove of affirmations and positive sayings.  Also, practicing gratitude daily can make you more predisposed to find the good in every situation.
  7. Often the most beneficial things can be the most polarizing! It’s super important to remember that we are in a business of changing lives.  Not everyone is going to respond well to those changes, even if these changes are or simply have the potential to be helpful.   Everyone comes to our opportunity where they are at the time, and often people must go through their own crises as they experience the reality and gravity of changing their own lives first.   This is an intensely personal journey, and as a leader, you are best served when you realize people will best process their responses to situations on their own.
  8. Many times, addressing objections can just solidify someone else’s position. Certainly, it’s appropriate sometimes to ask good questions and address challenges.  However, at other junctures, you can tell when someone has concluded that they need to get out.  If you recognize that’s happening, stop, and choose at that moment to affirm them and appreciate their presence on your team, and assure them you will always support them, no matter what.  You can also tell them the organization will always be there and welcome them, should they ever decide to come back.  It could be critical for them to know they have a spot at the table if they change their minds.
I’m curious! What has your own thought journey been like when you’ve fielded questions like this from members of your organization? Which thought pattern above is a new one for you, and what will you do to implement this next time you have an opportunity to sift your team into a team of higher achievers?  Which one have I forgotten?


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