When is the right time for a successful leader to move on to a new position?
Leaders often get restless. The more ambitious and entrepreneurial the leader, the shorter their attention span tends to be.
But restlessness is not necessarily a problem. The key to knowing whether it’s time to transition is recognizing there are two types of restlessness: positive and negative.
Positive restlessness is constructive. It pulls you toward improvement. It comes from your desire to grow, to make a greater impact and to serve others more effectively. John Maxwell says, “Every major growth decision I’ve made in my life grew out of this positive kind of restlessness. It came when I thought to myself, I can do better than this. There’s more in me, and I want to tap into it.”
Negative restlessness, on the other hand, is very different. It comes from being bored or unhappy. It comes from a desire to escape. This type of restlessness causes you to be impatient and often jump out of where you are without a plan for the next destination.
I’ve seen many people allow the desire to escape drive them from place to place, only to end up in a worse place for them. My friend Elmer Towns, who co-founded Liberty University, says, “Don’t leave something; go to something.”
When you are thinking about transitioning, it is important that you identify whether your restlessness is positive or negative.
Ask yourself three questions to test your restlessness:
1. Have I given my very best where I am now?
This is very important. Don’t move anywhere else until you can honestly answer this question with a YES. To transition with integrity, you need to have done your best possible work. Then you can leave with a clear heart and mind.
2. Am I trying to get away from pain or go toward growth?
Great leaders never seek a move to make things easier on themselves. John Maxwell says it best, “Everything worthwhile is uphill.” Uphill goals aren’t won with downhill habits. You cannot expect to rise to new heights as a leader if you are making decisions based on avoiding pain.
3. Am I willing to be patient and wait until a fantastic opportunity presents itself?
Remember, every transition in life is a trade-off. And the more successful you are, the harder it is to make those trade-offs, because greater success demands greater trade-offs. Positive restlessness requires patience and maturity, which will empower you to consider your possibilities as you seek to transition.
Once you have identified the restlessness you’re feeling, it’s time to make a decision. If you are experiencing positive restlessness, it is most likely time to pursue other positions. If you’re experiencing negative restlessness, it is time to pause and reflect on the source of your displeasure.
If you’re in a season of positive restlessness, let me encourage you: don’t be afraid to act and move forward confidently with the transition. In my experience, the two things that leave behind the greatest scars of regret are indecision and inaction. Don’t live your life haunted by the question “What if?”
Transitions are hard. But you can’t lose so long as you’re learning.