The title of this post is the first line of the song “Wind Beneath My Wings”, best known as Bette Midler’s big hit from the film “The Rose”. I am using this as a comment on an email that I received from a former work colleague.
However, I really want to think aloud for a few moments about what it means to move on from one job to another and the nature of relationships with the people left behind.
At the end of 2009 – more than nine months ago – I left a job that I loved with an organisation where I had worked for a VERY long time. I did not fall out with anyone there and have been in to their building on a number of occasions since. I have even been paid as a freelance trainer to provide support in a specialist area and will soon be providing some training to them as well.
I happened to have booked a day off from my present job (which I also love), and spotted that there was a meeting of the network of people who I used to work with a very interesting agenda that was relevent to what I do now. Out of politeness, I dropped an email to my former colleague saying that I would like to come. Although the reply was friendly enough, I was surprised and a little hurt to be told to stay away. I have edited it to remove references that could identify individuals.
I think it’s best if you don’t come to <the meeting> next week (in the nicest possible way)….we have been working very hard to give the <network> a new identity since you left, with firstly me and <colleague’s name> taking it on and now myself and <another colleague>, and I feel it would rock the boat a bit if you came – not only as some people may get confused as to why you are there (seeing as you’re not a Vol manager/Coordinator or working in <our area>) but also as we would feel that we were working in your shadow somewhat. <Colleague> hasn’t been in his role for long and this is the first <meeting> he has led on. I genuinely don’t think it would help his confidence to have you there Dave, sorry. I hope you understand.
I’m very sorry, I don’t understand.
I am very much a volunteer manager – and very proud of my team of staff and volunteers. I agree that I am no longer based in their area, but I work with organisations based there as part of a regional volunteer managers’ group.
I know that I am (and was then) very good at my job and that I am still fairly highly regarded by many members of the network that I left behind. However, I have no idea that I had intimidated the people I used to work with!
It also seems that I pose some kind of threat to someone who joined the organisation after I had left.
OK, I’ll stay away. But I wonder whether I was wrong to want to revisit, or are my former colleagues being a little paranoid?