Letting Go

By Leanne Tait

As I prepare for my pending retirement (March 1, 2017), I am enjoying the process of going through old gems that I just couldn’t throw out: those things that had such influence and meaning for me in my career, and in that messy space between career and personal life.

... the drawings from my kids that say “love you mommy” in bright markers, which they made for me as they waited in the office for mommy to be ready to go home.

... the birthday cards and well wishes from staff at the annual roast that is a Tait birthday celebration.

... the photos of events where I enjoyed the company of clients that I also count as friends.

... the bits of shared humour that we would pull out at staff meetings to get us started in the right frame of mind.

... the snippets of articles and stories tracking Tait’s successes in the media.

... the pearls of wisdom from some of my favourite mentors and coaches, like Marsha Walker, Dr. Kenford Nedd, Michael Wilkinson, Stephen Covey, and Joe Williams (even if they never knew what a huge influence they had on me).

And in this treasure trove, I found an article, written by Joe Williams, which he shared when I attended Dialogue in the Desert ten years ago. I can’t remember if I found it relevant then. But I most certainly do now. I have his permission to share a little bit of it with you. It’s entitled “Letting Go”

There is tremendous freedom in letting go. It is liberating to free ourselves of things that clutter our lives: too many possessions, negative emotions, unhealthy habits, ineffective ways of doing our work, and even people that drain our energy. All of these things and more can weigh us down. Every once in awhile it’s good to “clean out our closets” both literally and figuratively.

Like pruning dead branches or like a snake shedding an old skin, we need to let go of what no longer serves us or what no longer fits, so that there is room for something new, something alive, something that is needed at this time in our lives….

This is the freedom I’m heading to in my retirement. After starting, growing, and operating Tait Communications and Consulting, both it and I need some freshness and less clutter. I am so excited that what I have built, and which has consumed such a huge place in my life, is getting new energy in owners Matt Mossman and Stu Impett. These two entrepreneurs have the energy I used to have, and share my passion for delivering outcomes and solutions to problems, not products; for being a partner to our clients, not a supplier. What a great feeling to be able to “clean out my closet” and make room for something new, alive and so needed!

Another of Joe’s articles is entitled “How do you want to be remembered when you’re gone?” More good food for thought.

I hope, as others take on the leadership of the company I’ve nursed from infancy, watched grow, and am now preparing to hand off as a strong, well-grown company, that my influence will remain at Tait, and I’ll be remembered in these ways:

  • I was passionate about the work I did and so were the people around me. This passion meant that we put our heart and soul into all the work we did, which paid dividends for our clients and for our sense of pride in our work.
  • I had high expectations of myself and those around me. And the expectations set were met. If you demand little of yourself and others, you get little. If you demand much, you get much.
  • I owned my mistakes. And I learned from them. I apologized when I was wrong. And I made sure the firm did too.
  • I had fun… most of the time. As hard as we worked, we also took time to play and to celebrate our successes and each other.
  • I let people be who they were. When you work in a creative field, not everyone comes out of the same cracker box. Variety is good, and adds richness, and I hope people remember me as someone who demanded excellence, held people accountable, but let people be themselves.
  • I grew my people. I hope I am remembered by those who came to Tait and through Tait as someone who coached, mentored, helped people build their skills, and helped and encouraged people to pursue their potential and their dreams, even when that meant leaving Tait.
  • I was compassionate. We face deadlines, demanding clients, and frustrating situations regularly. But work is work, and life is life. And life trumps work. When members of my team needed personal time, I hope they will remember the support and compassion extended to them. Not relying on rules and policies, by relying on human decency and common sense.
  • I was fair. As the CEO, it often fell to me to set and uphold the “rules”, and ensure compliance with this or that. While I held people accountable, I hope people will remember that I was balanced and fair, especially in difficult situations.
  • I lived and personified our guiding principles of STRIVE!: Strategic thinking, Team, Relationships, Integrity, Value, Excellence and !nnovation. 

So it is time to “let go” and move on. Letting go is not the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I can do it knowing that the little company I’ve built is well on its way, and will go far without me—probably much farther than I could take it myself. I can also let go knowing that I am still (relatively) young, very healthy, and able to embrace new adventures ahead of me in retirement with the same passion I gave to Tait.