Unless.

Unless

Three weeks ago, I tendered my resignation at the company where I’d worked for twelve years. I spent nearly a third of my life there. When asked if I’d considered “not going out with a bang,” the answer was no; but my bang wasn’t in any way destructive.Driving in on my last morning, I found the right way to say goodbye. Below is my farewell letter to staff.

As I cleaned out my desk this week, sorting through twelve years of creativity, project plans, pencil-drawn wireframes, and printed-out emails scribbled with ideas, I had a chance to reflect on my time here. I’ve been given many opportunities to influence the course of the organization, and for that, I’m very thankful.

I’m thankful for A., who hired me, and who listened when I brought up the idea of making our employee newsletter into a website. I’m thankful to K., who gave me a server to host it on, despite her puzzled look when a copy editor came and asked for this. These events changed the course of my career here, and as time would tell, the course of my life.Over the years, I’ve been told that I care too much. Thing is, I can’t stop caring. I can’t stop caring about an organization like ours.With that, I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts.

Always fight for quality.
Anything less doesn’t count. Remember that everything we do, everything we say, and everything we put out on the Internet is competing against posts on Facebook, funny stuff on Twitter, and emails from Target, ASAE, ASCO, and everyone else for our customers’ attention and time. Make it good. Make it as good as possible.

Admit your mistakes.
We all mess up. We’re supposed to. And we’re supposed to learn from those mistakes, have a laugh, and move on. If you mess up, admit it. Fix it. Learn from it. I’ve had some epic fails during these twelve years, and each time I’ve spoken up, admitted my mistake, and moved on. If this is scary, it shouldn’t be — it’s liberating. I don’t hide the fact that I have a strict intolerance for errors, but I’m sure this letter has a copy edit or two that I’ll notice later, maybe tomorrow. But I’m human just like the rest of us, and it’s OK.

Listen to each other.
Don’t discredit the voice of reason simply because it speaks with emotion. If you’re in a meeting with someone who seems upset, there’s likely a reason. Chances are this person is feeling something that she or he is afraid to say; seeing something in a different way, despite what the group is discussing; or wanting to contribute but can’t find the words. Talk to this person and listen. Find out why. Because the people who show emotion are the ones whose personal goals align with the goals of the company. They care, and they have a passion for what we do.

Take it personally.
We all should. Yes, it’s “just a job,” but it’s a job we should all care about. To quote Erin Brockovich (Soderbergh, 2000):

Ed Masry: PG&E is demanding 90. In other words, everybody. Do you understand? This is serious.

Erin Brockovich: And what, Ed? I’m not serious?

Ed: You’re emotional; you’re erratic. You say anything, you make this personal, and it isn’t.

Erin: Not personal? That is my work! My sweat! My time away from my kids! If that’s not personal, I don’t know what is.

Remember that the work we do touches the lives of oncology nurses. These brave men and women hold the hands of mothers, brothers, dads, sisters, and kids during the most difficult times of their lives — and often, at the end of their lives. Remember that our organization helps nurses, doctors, and patients, and the work you do every day touches them in some way. Remember this, and do the best work possible.

By the time many of you read this, my account will be disabled, my years of service plaque will be removed, and my work here will just be a memory. Please keep in touch.

If you’d like to say hi, you can email me. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Polar, SoundCloud, Vine, and whatever other social network crops up that seems cool and offers something new and lets me log in with an existing account.

I also have a personal website, kateda.ly. It’s responsive, so it’ll work on the mobile device of your choice, but the desktop version works nicely as well.

Goodbye, and good luck.
Kate

References

Dr. Seuss. (1971). The Lorax. New York: Random House.

Soderbergh, S. (Director). (2000). Erin Brockovich [Film]. Beverly Hills, CA: Jersey Films.

Support oncology nurses with a gift to the ONS Foundation.

This essay was originally posted on Medium on November 27, 2013, and has been backdated accordingly.