Getting Where You’re Going By Walking Away

Stan Skipworth is the Director of Safety at the Claremont Colleges and serves as a public policy/public safety consultant and legislative advisor for national campus law enforcement professional organizations.

Shortly before the holidays got underway this year, I had the pleasure to attend a former colleague’s ‘retirement’ party.  Actually, he was stepping away from a highly successful 18 years in law enforcement to pursue life as an entrepreneur, specifically, as the owner of a new restaurant.

While still a very young man, Chris had begun to strongly consider acting on interests outside of his role as an Assistant Police Chief and had taken significant strides in learning and preparing his resources, and his family, so that when the most opportune time arrived he could make a full commitment to his new career as enthusiastically as he had upon entering into public service.

The party was a great success and tribute to Chris, and I enjoyed the occasion to reconnect with past co-workers and friends whom I had not seen for some time.  Of course, many of our conversations rightly focused on our collective excitement for Chris and his future role as an entrepreneur, and included some mild intrigue as we admired his decision to step away from a rapid rise throughout his public safety career when so many others might shy away from a change at a similar time or stage in life.

Indeed, I realized, we all can get to where we are going if we are willing to walk away from where we have been—and trust in ourselves to stay the path of where we would like to go.

STAN SKIPWORTH

Eventually, I was able to share some very special time talking with Chris.  As he explained to me the genesis of his goal to pursue a business opportunity as a restaurant franchisee, it was clear that Chris had developed a goal and vision based on his interests, values and the imperative trust in himself and his family to pursue and enjoy both the processes and the successes that will come to him in his new career.  Moreover, Chris was thoughtful, considerate and deliberate as he worked diligently over the past two years to learn key components to the work and strategies that will ensure his best opportunities for early growth and continued success.

And as he explained this with such confidence, I remembered a very interesting quote I had heard only a week or so before.  A few days before Chris’ party, I had watched the movie, Christopher Robin, with my family.  During that story, there is a conversation between Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh.

As Christopher Robin explains to Pooh how he is trying to determine how to leave the ‘Hundred-Acre Wood’, Pooh shares with him a highly profound observation by saying, “I’ve always gotten where I wanted to go by walking away from where I have been.”

In this way, I could see that Chris’ vision was one that was supported and influenced in large part by the experiences and development he had gathered and valued throughout his law enforcement career.  In this way, Chris’s enthusiasm and confidence were understandably high, but they were also equally well-reasoned and illustrated the type of trust one can and must have to succeed at levels they are willing to work toward.

And as Chris described his vision and developmental process to me in some detail, I came to understand how much his actions and confidence paralleled the observation Winnie the Pooh had provided to Christopher Robin.  Indeed, I realized, we all can get to where we are going if we are willing to walk away from where we have been—and trust in ourselves to stay the path of where we would like to go.

We can get to new levels of personal advancement, be they in improving our health and wellness or accomplishing new learning for professional or personal interests.  We can also arrive at new social circles, professional networks and, like Chris, perhaps even new roles, responsibilities or leadership positions.

Perhaps this is the essence of Pooh’s wisdom.  For like Christopher Robin, we too can arrive at any of these desired future states if we employ the courage to walk away from where we’ve been and by continuing to trust the values and knowledge, we all possess in such unique ways as the primary instruments we can masterfully utilize to accomplish our goals.

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