When my eldest daughter left for college, her sister took over her room. Now when Caitlin comes home, she doesn’t even have closet space. The nest has become uncomfortable. Nature reminds us of the way God has set up the universe to work, including how we nurture our young out of the nest. It doesn’t bring me joy to see Caitlin on her own. There are days when I wish she didn’t have to grow up, but that’s not a nurturing mindset; it’s a selfish mindset.

Same when we nurture our people out of the nest at work when they have outgrown their role. I left a five year job when the project I was working on was phased out and there was no longer a role for me. The week after I left, my former senior manager called and asked me to breakfast.

“Donna, I’d like to encourage you to see this time as forward movement in your life. Maybe God has been giving you signs and you were afraid to make the next move. When we need to fly and we feel paralyzed in that free fall, sometimes mama eagle has to nudge us out of the nest.” I left that job and started the path that led to what I’m doing today, which is exactly what God designed me to do.

When we need to fly and we feel paralyzed in that free fall, sometimes mama eagle has to nudge us out of the nest.

We can’t not nurture. It’s in our DNA. That senior manager modeled for me how I’d like to mentor other women through the struggle of curating a career path. Sometimes we know we need to make a change and it’s uncomfortable. As the nest gets less and less appealing, thank God for mentors who are able to speak into the lives of younger women and say, “It’s time.” It might be time to fly to our next promotion or it might be time to fly away.

Nurturing is not just for women. I know a successful sales executive who had the heart of a shepherd when he had to direct the path of a team member who had outgrown his post. He didn’t have to care. He chose to care. The fact that he took the time to nurture that sales manager through that separation is a sign of tremendous maturity as a leader. He didn’t get angry and he didn’t vilify the employee, he just pointed him in a new direction. It’s a smart investment in the trust of his team and in the brand equity of every employee in the organization. The fewer people who kick the dog when they leave, the happier everyone will be – at work, at home and even the clerk at the grocery store.

When nurturing doesn’t come naturally it’s a skill we can develop because it truly does come naturally when we are healthy. If we can curate the ability to be in the moment, to keep our energy stoked to full capacity, we will be amazed at the difference in any given leadership moment.

But what if nobody is pouring into my cup? Ancient wisdom says do the right thing and your cup will be filled. Next week, how to curate the energy we need to really connect with others and lead well.

With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt. Zig Ziglar

Photo credit to Matthew Schwartz.