I run the Regional Office that is in the same town as our Corporate headquarters. It is an odd arrangement because both offices are in the same town but are in separate locations. So, when we have meetings at the Corporate office I “travel” in for the meetings like my counterparts in the other regions.

While I was preparing for our Leadership Conference this week, the CEO called me and asked if I could come into Corporate early and meet with him. I was honored to receive the Leadership Award at last year’s conference, and at this year’s conference I have to make a presentation to this year’s winner — I assumed this was what Rich wanted to talk about. Since Peggy and I just got back from Louisiana on Friday and my boss was not in the office on Monday, I was already planning to get to the Corporate office early today to tell Steve that I am leaving the company.

I showed up at headquarters this morning about an hour before my meeting with the CEO and my boss was not in the office yet. When it was time for the meeting with Rich, Steve had still not arrived, so I went down to meet with Rich.

Rich immediately launched into a conversation about an upcoming project that he wanted me to lead. I felt I had no choice but to break protocol and tell him that I was actually giving my notice to leave the organization. I told him how much I regretted leaving, but the family situation with both my father and my son was just too much to pass up. He was obviously taken by surprise — as I have been by this entire turn of events — but he was exceptionally gracious about everything. I explained to him that I had not been able to have the conversation with Steve or my staff yet, and I asked him for the opportunity to do so before we began our meeting. I told him I would be back in time for my presentation and left to meet with Steve.

Steve was just as surprised and equally gracious. I love working for this company, so the decision to leave has not been made lightly. I told Steve I feared that if the announcement was made at the Leadership Conference then my staff would hear about it before I had the chance to tell them myself. He agreed and told me to go back to my office and notify my team before they could hear it from anyone else.

I’m a baby. I cried when I told my folks I am leaving. I have poured seven years into this place, and it is emotional for me to leave. I have only been working with this group for about seven months but they have made incredible strides in a short time. It is hard to walk away from something that is working so well.

I went back to the Leadership Conference and made the presentation. When I was finished Rich surprised me by coming up and announcing to everyone that I was leaving and giving me his blessing on the new venture. Yes, I cried again. It is that kind of thing that makes it hard to leave, but I know I am doing the right thing for my family.

This organization will not miss a beat. I will miss them more than they will miss me. I was dreading the conversations I knew I was going to have today, but everyone was so gracious that the day was not nearly as difficult as I expected. But I am exhausted!

I am staying through the end of the month so I will have time to say the rest of the goodbyes. Today was a very necessary start.

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