A long-term assignment is wrapping up and you’re about to saddle-up and mosey down that dusty road into the warm, golden sunset.
What’s wrong with this picture?
If you’re a consultant, instead of being that stoic, lean and mean stranger, who rides into town, sets things right, or who stirs them up, depending; you’re more likely to be, at the end of that engagement, a wobbly basket case who can barely summon the gumption to press the elevator’s down button.
Well, man or woman, as I see it, you’re going to have a case of the postpartum blues, partner.
What are those, you’re wondering, especially if you’ve never been a parent? They’re the odd and often radical emotions you feel after you have carried a baby to term, introduced it into the world, and your hormones are in a transitional state.
You grew and bonded with this marvelous organism and now it is much more independent.
That’s exactly the feeling you get when a big-time consulting assignment is approaching “term. ”
You have separation anxiety. How are you, soon to be two, going to get along without each other?
“But they’re not ready!” we wail, when we’re really speaking about ourselves.
What are WE going to do without THEM is really the question.
If you’re a good consultant, you do bond with clients, creating lots of identification in the process.
When I was part of the largest civilian Navy management training program in history, 18,000 senior managers trained in 18 months; members of our consulting team actually identified so much with our client that they joined-up at the end of the assignment.
My U. S. Navy coffee mug, in fact, is about eighteen inches to my right as I type this article. What does that tell you?
Where we stop and they start, where dependency turns into independence, is never clear to the consultant. Saying goodbye is especially hard when we’ve inaugurated an entire unit or business function or when we’ve saved a ship (pardon me) from sinking.
Having consulted for more than 20 years, and running a seminar for consultants and coaches at UCLA Extension and elsewhere, I console myself and my colleagues with these three thoughts:
(1) This is the life we have chosen for ourselves, and being able to have a big impact and then to leave in a timely way to engage the next challenge is exciting and rewarding.
(2) Consultants aren’t marathoners, we’re sprinters. Great in the 100 or 220 we FLY cross-country, we don’t run it.
(3) We should be like those teachers that say: “At the beginning of the year I’m happy to see students coming, and by the end of the year, I’m happy to see them going. ”
Still, when we’re the ones riding all by our lonely into those sunsets, we need to buck-up and say: “Hey, it’s ok; even consultants get the blues!”
Dr. Gary S. Goodman is the best-selling author of 12 books and more than a thousand articles. His seminars and training programs are sponsored internationally and he is a top-rated faculty member at more than 40 universities, including UCLA Extension, where he has taught since 1999. Dynamic, experienced, and lots of fun, Gary brings more than two decades of solid management and consulting experience to the table, along with the best academic preparation and credentials in the speaking and training industry. Holder of five degrees, including a Ph. D. from the Annenberg School For Communication at USC, an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management, and a law degree from Loyola, his clients include several Fortune 1000 companies along with successful family owned and operated firms across America. Much more than a “talking head, ” Gary is a top mind that youʼll enjoy working with and putting to use. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org