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Lesson 6: The Final Lesson — Prepare for the Next Chapter

So… what’s next? Well, we’ve made it to the end of my series: “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.” Fittingly, we’re concluding with lesson 6: You are never really finished. I hope by now I’ve made it clear that your life isn’t one long, run-on sentence (something my editor calls me out […]

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So… what’s next?

Well, we’ve made it to the end of my series: “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.” Fittingly, we’re concluding with lesson 6: You are never really finished.

I hope by now I’ve made it clear that your life isn’t one long, run-on sentence (something my editor calls me out on too often). Instead, life is a book filled with different chapters; different starts. The end of a chapter isn’t a finish line, it’s a fresh start… something I needed to remind myself when my career at the Tribune came to an end.

It was disheartening, emotional, and certainly felt like a finish. While I didn’t want to let my company define me, my departure left me wondering, what’s next?

Coincident with my departure, I received a new title, “Grandpa.” Turns out, it’s a title for which I finally feel qualified, and plan to retain forever. Becoming a Grandpa provided me with inspiration and a desire to reinvent myself again.

The birth of the next generation has rekindled my commitment to the development of emerging leaders… leaders capable of leading teams through massive disruption, and that lead with authenticity, integrity, humility and passion. Leaders that are results-driven, yet kind and compassionate. Leaders who value people, and results; leaders that want to create an atmosphere where people can do their best work.

Part of that mission was the impetus for this series. I shared my lessons and roadblocks with you hoping you would get value from each of them:

1. The importance of a strong foundation

Foundations are the guiding principles we use to make decisions and develop ourselves. Whether you were given a strong foundation growing up or not, surround yourself with great people who can help you create that foundation.

2. “When you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

One of my favorites lyrics from the band Dawes. Develop a strong vision for your future by clearly defining your goals, leveraging your mentors and preparing for the unexpected and setbacks. Speaking of setbacks…

3. Failing isn’t falling down, it’s staying down

A good journey is made up of failures and setbacks that allow us to learn and identify our development needs. Failures build resiliency, creating the bounceback, the rebound, and the application of new knowledge and capabilities. Don’t be afraid to take on challenging work, AND be brave enough to get back up each time you fall short of expectations.

4. Breakthrough moments are right around the corner

Breakthroughs occur when circumstances, opportunity and preparedness converge. Only one of those (preparedness) is under your control. Develop a toolbox filled with capabilities and experiences so you are ready for the unexpected.

5. Reinvent often; Big ears and thick skin

Listening to learn and grow is key to a successful reinvention. Through active listening, you identify nuggets of truth in the criticism you receive. Thick skin is a mindset, and an ability to “compartmentalize” your feelings in order to effectively lead under duress.

To summarize the series, it’s never a straight line to success. You will encounter many starts and finishes…it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Success requires a significant amount of hard work; an ability to survive setbacks; a belief in yourself and others; never being satisfied.

Think about my journey…a guy from the south side of Chicago, who was afraid to speak up and was not born with an ability to lead…who didn’t know how to create a vision and frankly, made many mistakes along the way.

The one thing that I learned was to adapt, evolve and reinvent. Many reinventions later, I find myself at the end of one chapter and the start of another. Stay tuned for my next opportunity to “Lead from the Front.”

Thank you for following along with this series and I hope you’ll join me for the next one.

This article was originally published on medium.com on 7/10/2019.

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