Clues in the Leaving: How your farewell messages reveal your true strengths




Last week I left a role I’d filled for three and a half years. It was a day of sadness and joy – sadness to be leaving behind wonderful colleagues and students, and joy because this is a change I’ve designed and created wholeheartedly for myself. 

For me it’s the start of something that brings together my highest values, my deepest purpose and my real talents – and for that I’m immensely happy. 

So now I step fully into being a business owner. I’ve cut the safety nets of sick-pay, security, paid holidays, time off in lieu, regular salary rises, pension contributions and clients someone else has marketed to and enrolled. 

Is this terrifying? The thought of it certainly has been! But today I’m feeling complete elation, and there are two very simple reasons: 

*I’m standing confidently in my highest values of authenticity, freedom and creativity 

 *Through this business, I’m expressing my deepest purpose of inspiring others to believe change is possible, then to go and create the future they truly want.


Signs and messages…. 

It’s certainly a time for reflection. I’m spending a couple of quiet days letting it all sink in. Marking time, making this transition. I’m re-reading cards, looking at gifts received and remembering speeches made. In the process, it struck me that this is a source of potential enlightenment for others in the search for fulfilling work and wholehearted living.

Have you ever thought of looking for new career ideas in your leaving cards and messages? This is the time when your colleagues are often most emotionally open about the impact you have had on them and what your real contribution has been. On a daily basis your teammates don’t often let you know how you’re doing, what you mean to them and what would be missing if you weren’t there. But when you leave, they often do! And this is a rewarding and interesting seam to mine.


Voices from the past …

I was also clearing a pin board today (new broom time) and uncovered a letter I’d received when I left Dubai and a dream job as Head of Programming for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. My most recent role has been another career strand entirely - Career Consultant for MBA & Masters students at the University of Exeter. Yes, different roles and very different sectors and locations. 

I was very moved by the content of this letter, and how strongly it resonated with the messages I received last week. I concluded there must be some abiding truths here. I was still the same person even though the two roles were so incredibly different.


Designing a life with words?

Words from four years ago like: ‘inspiration’, ‘ideas’, ‘so full of possibility’, ‘poetic’, ‘joy,’ taste in macaroons’, ‘dress sense’, ‘singing in the mornings’…. All these find literal and metaphorical echoes in yesterday’s messages. 

So if you happen to have kept leaving cards from previous jobs, hunt them out. If not, dig deep into your memories - you’ll be surprised at the gold you discover. They point to your human strengths.

Your true impact after all is not in how well and often you’ve met strategic objectives, but in how your colleagues and clients will remember you. And those personal quirks, habits and indicators of being human, if given fullest expression, will take you into the next exciting phase of the future you are already designing!


We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is much before us.   
— Leo Tolstoy - War & Peace


Uncovering strengths and the kind of impact you want to make in your life and career is an important part of my Quickstep Career Change Programme. If you’re ready to dive into working on your future and turning dreams into reality, give me a shout. I’d love to be part of that!