Story: Good-bye's: Choosing the 'high-road' departure

First published May 25, 2016, updated January 31, 2024

By Randee Fox

I have witnessed a variety of career departures in my over 40-years of career life. Some have been mindful and eloquent. Some not so much. Some look eloquent at first blush but underneath, upon “reading the fine print”, not so eloquent, in fact, even destructive. 

Here is what I know and what I choose to follow whenever at all possible. Never burn a bridge – and this does not come easy when I am ‘seduced’ by the lure of the change I am making, by what is next or if there is ‘unfinished business’ to complete.  

It takes a lot of discipline to ‘complete the unfinished business’ and leave on the ‘high road’ with good closure as best as I can.

A poor departure would be like selling my home, clearing it out but leaving bags of trash and not having it cleaned for the new owners. A good departure would mean that the house was left sparkling clean, better than I found it and with a gift and kind note for the new owners.

My Nia practice has supported me…”what we leave in our wake…the residue…is it positive or negative? Either way, the wake’s residue will follow me and either litter or nourish my future path." 

True success (the kind that lifts my very Soul and supports me), for me, is all about relationships, afloat on a foundation of love. 

I learned early in my career as a Gap corporate executive at age 25, never to burn a career bridge. When I left that position to become an artist, due to a strong calling, I left eloquently, mindfully with good notice, making sure someone was trained for my job. I let them know my truth - that I wanted to follow my dream to become an artist. They supported me. Even before I left, The Gap immediately rehired me as a freelance artist. This set me up for a very successful career, allowing me to build a solid portfolio.  My boss at the time, even reached out to me just a few years ago, just to say hi and catch up. I have always been appreciative. Thus, whenever possible, to this day, 47 years after leaving, I still shop at The Gap! 

Since then, I have seen people leave incredible positions in a variety of ways. Sometimes seduced by the lure of ‘what is next’ has clouded their ‘good judgment’ and enticed them to make poor and even self-destructive choices. Or when there were ‘unspoken truths’ or ‘unfinished relationship business’ and hurt feelings, poor, even damaging, choices were made. 

I told one beautiful, friend this when they made a choice to leave a company and create something in direct competition with the company they left:

“What I see clearly in your new website is your choice to burn the bridge you crossed to get to where you are. Unless you choose to rebuild that bridge, which could take a very long time, it could be very difficult to flourish, being fed from the all of the relationships you invested so much time, energy and love into.” 

Since then I have seen a variety of departures. The ones I have been most impressed with have been the departures done with honesty, completion and grace, love really. 

My brother, David Fox, who also lives by this rule, talks about the metaphor of a gymnast's routine, doing their routine beautifully but screws up their dismount. What do people remember? Their dismount. 

My spouse and I have lived by this rule. With decades as career professionals, we have cultivated long time professional networks, many paving our future paths. Some relationships go back to grade school and college days. All have been mutually prosperous. 

These relationships have not only boosted our ability to become successful in our present careers, goals dreams, the people have become 'family members'. After 35 years together, our networks have even intertwined and created a gorgeous, delicate and intricate weaving with beautifully weathered and wise but no broken threads, supporting us in our goals and dreams...and so it continues...

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