The topic of career transition is something that strong, successful leaders rarely talk about, despite the fact that it is something that almost every professional will experience in some way, at some point in their career.
Transition isn’t something you are going to learn about in business school, and chances are you won’t even know you need to know about it until you find yourself in a situation where your career or life are undergoing a major change.
I will be the first to admit that I didn’t know much about career transitions, and what I thought I knew wasn’t even close to reality. I have experienced many changes and seasons in my life; I assumed a career transition wouldn’t be much different. But I’ve learned that career transitions are distinct from other major life events, and require a different approach to successfully navigate the turbulent waters ahead.
Focus on transformation.
I am surprised that CEOs and top executives are not more fluent in this topic. The average time in one location for healthcare CEOs in my region of the Pacific Northwest is only about three to five years. So even if you don’t find yourself in transition, it is very likely that one of your closest colleagues or even your spouse is on the cusp of change.
If this experience is so common, then why the silence on the subject? Is it because we are afraid it means we are admitting failure? Is it because we don’t want to be judged? Is it because we are ashamed or embarrassed? I say, let’s talk about what people are not talking about.
It is interesting that once you have the opportunity to experience career transition, suddenly people you have known and respected for years will come out of the woodwork and offer to tell their story of transition as a way to console you. Some of the colleagues who reached out to me, I had no idea they had a transition story. Some who have been through this journey are so successful in their current roles that you may have thought their transition was all part of their plan.