We recently witnessed two NFL players exit their home fields for the last time. One departure was spectacular; one was a spectacle. Let's face it, departures are a fact of life. We constantly generate or abandon ideas, friends, cohorts, relationships, jobs, churches, habits, etc. So, change and movement is part of the cycle of life.
There are two ways you can depart. You can go out in a blaze of glory or crash and burn. I discuss this at length in my latest book, Burnett or Bridgett: A Tale of Two Employees. One of the five key behaviors that separate the best from the beast is how individuals act when leaving an organization. A Bridgett-type employee leaves with grace and gratitude. They are thankful for what they have learned and achieved and show a profound sadness about leaving their professional family. A Burnett-type employee goes scorched earth causing as much disruption and drama as possible.
As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I made sure to watch Monday night’s event because I had heard it most likely was 19-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s last game at his home Heinz field. The Steelers did win, but what was so incredible about the game was watching Big Ben at the end. He was emotional and thankful, as were his fans who gave him a standing ovation and secured his memory as a player who loved the game as much as his organization.
Then there was another game departure this time with a player from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Antonio Brown. Brown decided to quit mid-game by taking off his jersey and t-shirt, throwing it into the crowd, and then running around the stadium and exiting via the tunnel. Again, I saw one player who attempted to stop the tantrum, but the majority just let him do what he was going to do.
The sports commentators were abuzz Tuesday morning commenting on these two players. One left a legacy bridge to stay connected, and the other burned any memory or achievement.
How you leave an organization is how you enter the next one. That's why it's so important to always go with grace, dignity, and respect. To do anything otherwise doesn't punish your previous employer or spouse; it only makes you look childish.
There are ways to deal with things we don't like, and our behaviors reflect our emotional maturity. So be sure that when you exit, your team members and fans are saying, "Godspeed, God bless, and come back anytime!" versus "Don't let the door hit you where God split you!"
In honor of Ben Roethlisberger's tremendous legacy, check out the Big Ben Bundle!
Remember, always leave with your head held high!