When I was making the decision to leave, I was very concerned about others’ perception. Would coworkers be angry? Would they feel that I abandoned them? Would my manager and leadership team consider working with me again?
To my surprise, the most frequent response I have received is enthusiasm and even jealousy. I have had coworkers and even previous managers tell me they also had dreams of a startup, but with family and kids the opportunity had passed. No one blamed me – they were excited for me, they even wanted to live vicariously through me. It’s not like I am leaving for a competitor – no one can blame me for following my dreams. Granted, some people have looked at me like I am crazy, and perhaps I am just a bit. Some have even asked if they can work for me, which is an honor.
It’s also interesting how relationships change. Coworkers who were upbeat have scheduled time with me to tell me how they also need a change and to learn more about my decisions and plans. One of my biggest regrets is not getting to know my coworkers as human beings. There are individuals I have worked with years where every conversation I had with them was robotic and rushed. I have been compiling a list of those I have worked with for my farewell email; it already includes well over 100 people. I have been fortune to get to know a handful – let’s say 10 – quite well. But even most of those relationships are falsified, like those you have lunch with and talk about work, even family without getting too personal. My conversations since I have given notice have been the most real and personal in 4.5 years; I hope in my future endeavors that I can be open and get to know those I work with very well. Once again, it all seems to come down to finding a situation where I can be myself.