(Written on Day One of life after 5,370 days with the only employer I’ve ever known.)
When I woke up yesterday, standing at the precipice of my 15-year career with Prudential, a question consumed my mind:
How will I show up to complete this chapter of my life, my final day, TODAY?
In my career I’ve seen my fair share of departures. I’ve always been fascinated by how people choose to leave the organization – and the communities of people – that have employed them for years, sometimes decades, of their lives.
Some went out with ceremony. Others faded into the night. And still others simply didn’t show up one day.
But these were 15 of the most transformative years of my life, so I felt the gravity.
And it was all about to be in the books, etched in stone for eternity.
How will I show up to complete this chapter of my life, TODAY?
And then my answer came:
“Who gives a shit?”
I mean after all, I’d already done all the right things.
The organizational announcement had long since gone out and the two week wind-down was in full force:
Successfully handoff all projects…check.
Create succession plan…check.
Celebrate like it’s 1999…check.
The boxes were all checked, and this was simply the final throwaway day.
Put on a Hawaiian shirt (maybe even a parrot head), waltz into the office, pack up the cardboard boxes and ride off into the sunset.
Except, I gave a shit.
This was the FINAL DAY of 5,370 remarkable days. I’d invested my heart and soul into my work and the people around me during that stretch.
Was I willing to go out like a balloon farting out all its air?
Or was I going to race like a sprinter, unleashing my best burst of energy while leaning out maximum-force over the finish line?
I chose to be the sprinter.
I got out of bed. I shaved (which I dislike and look forward to doing 87.7% less often now). I put on my best suit. I nailed the perfect half-windsor (after 4 attempts).
I called every single person on my team to tell them how proud of them I am, how grateful I am to have served as their leader and what I see in each one of them that makes them special as individuals.
I conducted business calls up until 5pm, devoting my energy as if I was vested in my team’s mission for the next 5,370 days.
I then spent the next 3.5 hours responding to each and every email from an extraordinary group of people who took the time to open their hearts (in some cases to confide in me) and encourage me to get after my dream.
At 8:30pm, I poured a glass of Blanton’s Single-Barrel Bourbon (neat) and sat down to take in the breath-taking view from my 37th floor office in the Viacom building in Times Square for the last time (pictured).
At 9:00pm, I called my parents to thank them for teaching me how to treat people.
And then I turned out the lights.
Just for kicks, I rode home on the subway with a single cardboard box containing my most precious office artifacts. It looked like I’d just received the cinematic and proverbial unexpected shit-canning. Because I thought it would be funny, that’s why.
(And it was…the sympathetic and uncomfortable looks I received were classic.)
When I walked through my door last night, I was flooded with a sense of internal satisfaction that no accolade, recognition or commission check could ever rival.
The best part of FINISHING STRONG is how I feel today:
At the starting line of a new race…one I’ve never run before…one with many obstacles I have not anticipated…one with no finish line in sight…
…I stand confident.
What are YOU about to finish? A project…a relationship…a career? Don’t be the balloon. Be the sprinter.