Leaving

drop the mic -

1 (slang, idiomatic) To do or say something decisive, meaningful, or impressive.  (from Wiktionary)


One of my least favorite sayings is one I am embarrassed to say I have used on several occasions:

"Drop the mic."

When something becomes so contrived that exiting presidents and cell phone companies are using it, you shouldn’t. 

One of the vagaries of a world that tries to make the case that everything is interesting, is that nothing is interesting.  If every meal I eat, every place I go, and everything I experience, is share-worthy into the social media-sphere, what constitutes something being truly special?

Everybody wants a theme song.  To make a grand entrance.  To make a dramatic exit.  They want to say something profound, drop the mic, and exit stage left.  Some people even like to make a grand exit when they leave a job.  (Remember Jerry Mcguire walking out with a loud declaration and a goldfish in a ziplock bag?)

I was leaving a job I had for almost a decade and a half.  I loved the job, the company, and carried a lot of respect for the people I worked with, but I was clearly being called away.  It was going to be an incredibly costly decision, but God had made a fairly incontrovertible case.

A friend challenged me to leave well. 

I indicated that I always strive to do that, but he had some very clear steps that he challenged me to take. 

Here is what he helped inspire:

  1. Document - in making such a bold and unconventional move, I needed to powerfully and clearly document all the confirmations I had in making the decision.
  2. Forgiveness I - there were people that challenged or frustrated me during my career.  I needed to forgive and release all that.  Lay it down and leave it behind.
  3. Forgiveness II - there were some people whose lives I made difficult or who were challenged by how I accomplished my work.  I need to sit down with them and ask their forgiveness.
  4. Honor - I needed to thank everyone I appreciated before I left.  Honor what I valued in them, tell them what I had learned from them, or share how they had aided or impacted my career there.

Documenting the reasons (#1) created a pretty undeniable case for my exit.  I needed that conviction as I was leaving. I needed it for those I was leaving behind to help them understand. And finally, I needed it for myself; to have it written down so I could cling to it like a life raft when the costs of my decision started washing up on the shore.

I forgave a few (#2) and sat down to ask for forgiveness from a few more (#3), but it was the honoring of others (#4) that truly changed my life.  At last count I had crafted 47 hand-written notes, many accompanied by books that had impacted my life and leadership.  

Aggressively honoring others was a muscle I had rarely flexed up to that point, but the strengthening it gained during that season has impacted every day of my life and my leadership since that time. 

I try to make that part of my daily regimen and regularly challenge others to do the same.

If you really want to leave well, leave them with the fragrant aroma of a Father who is crazy about them and delights in what is unique and glorious about them.

  • Have you ever left anywhere really well?
  • What part of the four steps above would you consider using if you ever did leave somewhere?
  • How often do you honor and encourage those you love and lead?  (It is a learned, but infectious behavior.)