The Second Half: Transition Time

It has been a few months since I have retired as CEO/Superintendent of Schools and I am settling in to a life that is clearly different than the day-to-day demands, stresses, and responsibilities of leading a large organization. I have found that retiring after thirty-four years in public education has brought about feelings of unease, uncertainty, and some restlessness. I am definitely feeling a shift to a new season in my life still trying to envision what this season may bring.

Bill Hybels in Axiom suggests that organizations all go through different seasons and that the leader of the organization must define these seasons and the implications for the people in the organization. Hybels proposes five seasons each with significant signposts.

1. A season of growth where everything in the organization is flourishing.
2. A season of consolidation where the organization assimilates and supports its people.
3. A season of transition where there is uncertainty and people may feel off balance.
4. A season of malaise where an organization is stuck and there is little excitement or energy displayed.
5. A season of reinvention where an organization undergoes an extensive assessment to determine whether it needs an overhaul.

I would also contend that leaders of organizations personally move through these seasons as defined by Hybels and each has to continually reflect on what season they are in as leaders. But what happens when you are no longer leading an organization where you have had an opportunity to lead and influence people in a workplace?  Four questions can assist in assessing what season you are in when this occurs and how you can continue to contribute as a leader.

1. How do you continue to use your leadership strengths and abilities to impact and influence?
2. How do you continue to be in a season of growth and avoid malaise?
3. How do you transition into a season where you do not have to totally reinvent yourself but perhaps re-image and adapt to the changes?
4. How do you as Bob Buford in Half Time states, "move from a successful first half of your life into a second half of significance?"
 
As I reflect on these questions, I have realized that my decision to retire may have stopped me from leading an organization,  but it has not meant that I have to quit being a leader and curtail the use of my leadership strengths to influence, impact, and lead others. In fact, this season has given me permission to rediscover and redefine my sense of purpose and mission. How I do this and what it looks like may be different; however, my mission and commitment to developing and growing other leaders has not changed and will continue. Now that I have been released from the constraints and responsibilities of a CEO's position, and after being equipped for many years as a senior leader, I now have more time to spend mentoring, guiding, and coaching other leaders. I see this as a gift and a tremendous opportunity to impact, mentor, and lead with renewed enthusiasm.

Craig Groeschel in his powerful Bridging the Generation Gap presentation at this year's Willow Creek Leadership Summit challenges senior leaders to invest in the next generation of leaders by mentoring and guiding them. He shares that you can still make a difference and engage in and develop leaders no matter what age you are.  Groeschel emphatically states, "If you are not dead, you are not done. Invest in those who come behind you."

In my current season of transition I have come to the conclusion that I am going to embrace this season with passion and energy. I am not dead and I am not done. I am excited about this season of my life and am ready to let the second half begin.

What season are you in?  Is it time to reflect on your mission, purpose, and commitment to leading, guiding and mentoring other leaders? How have you benefited from being led and guided by a senior leader? What are your plans for your second half?  I would love to hear your thoughts.