Authored by Christiane Montuori on Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 3:40 PM | Add the first comment!
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“‘Tis the season to be jolly”, of course.
But not for all.
‘Tis also the season for defeated politicians to face their return to “civilian” life.
For many of the 2 United States Senators, 26 Members of Congress, and 3 Governors (4, if you include David Paterson, whose retirement was more prudent than voluntary; his challenging adjustment was chronicled in a New York Times article on Sunday) it will be a hard adjustment.
Their phone calls will not be returned. They will have to start carrying their own cash, typing their own e-mails, doing their own errands, buying their own groceries. They will need a job. People will not stand up and applaud when they enters the room.
Someone will inevitably approach them and ask, “Didn’t you used to be …….?”
There are deeper issues of identity at play that also go with the territory of transition, not only for ex-politicians, but for anyone in a challenging role who is trying to exercise leadership.
Exercising leadership is always risky and survival is always an issue, but over and over again I have seen folks exercising leadership who were so caught up in their role that when the role ended, they thought they had ended, too.
You are not a Governor, or a CEO, or the Executive Director of a non-profit or whatever it is that you do that gives you a current professional identity. No matter how important your work seems, or is, your job is just a role that you are playing at a moment in time. You are also a spouse, a parent, a jogger, a stamp collector, a volunteer, a blood donor. There are innumerable roles you play, every day.
When your current professional role ends, and I hope it ends on your schedule not on someone else’s, you do not have to end.
That is why it is so important when you are trying to save the world, or your part of the world, to remember that the sense of meaning and purpose that you get from that work is what is important, not the particular meaning from the particular work.
I am writing from Italy, one of the few places where I can truly relax. One of the distinctive qualities of Italians is that they do not identify themselves primarily by what they do professionally. They deeply understand that they have multiple identities and that meaning in their lives comes from family, food, and a sense of place more than it comes from how they earn their living.
So during this season of joy, and reflection, think about where you will find meaning in your life when the leadership challenge that is now consuming you will come to an end.
What will your next act be?