Lessons Gleaned from a Year of Change

31 Dec 2016

The year of 2016 marked significant change in my life, first with my resignation from Cerner after 25 years, followed by the sudden and unexpected death of my father. The wonderful bit about life is that events, both within and outside our purview of control, usually have silver linings that teach us a thing or two about perseverance and resilience, and living life.

Leaving Cerner

My resignation from Cerner in August 2016 was a bittersweet departure after 25 long and fruitful years. There were too many memories to recount in any sort of concise or reasonably fair way, though perhaps detailed recollections might be worthy of future writings. What did surface during that quarter century were countless lessons in leadership. Those years also taught me to honestly assess my own strengths and weaknesses, and to focus on leveraging strengths while compensating for weaknesses.

The decision to leave Cerner was a process that played out over several years, culminating in a leap of faith to try something new. Even though Cerner had been a fantastic place to cut my teeth on engineering problems and leadership experience, I was dying on the inside. The CEO, Neal Patterson, once quipped during a management meeting circa 1995, “In business, you’re either growing or you’re dying.” While those words never escaped me, I realized that the wisdom of the message applies equally to individuals. The growing sense of demise in my inner self was essentially the trigger that prompted my eventual departure.

Even though I have no regrets staying with Cerner for such an appreciable part of my working life, I do recognize more so now that change is an essential component of learning and living. My advice to everyone, young and not so young, is to consider making a change once you begin to experience a sense of dying on the inside.

Losing my father

Oddly enough, lessons from the loss of my father began 20 years ago with the untimely death of my mother, who perished at the ripe age of 49 from complications of breast cancer. Losing a parent at such a young age reveals the importance of maximizing experiences in life and staying connected to family. Despite the unexpected passing of my father, we had the great fortune of spending the last 20 years growing a bit closer.