Last week, Culture Infusion published a guest post by Steve Huffman, who recently left a very successful position with a renowned healthcare organization to follow his dream. Huffman, who held CIO positions at Beacon Health System and Memorial Health System of South Bend, shares what he did to ready himself, his family, and the organization for which he was working for his big move.
After 22 years in Healthcare Information Technology in a very successful career, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime to move in a completely new direction. This new opportunity led me to make a fraction of my salary and work in an organization that is 1/100th the size of the health system I worked for. What sounds crazy and unimaginable became a reality after following a dream and realizing the importance of following a passion.
In July, I transitioned from marketplace (CIO & interim-Hospital President) to full-time ministry, and in the process, found that chasing a new dream was the right step for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my previous employer, or future marketplace opportunities, but instead found incredible satisfaction in following a completely different path. What I’ve learned over the last few months is there were things that I intentionally put in place to help with this future transition that allowed me to take advantage of an opportunity that became available in a short period of time.
I can’t say I navigated the process perfectly, but here are some practical ways in which I developed a “dream ready” culture, so I could take advantage of the opportunity:
Share information freely. Hoarding information leaves you as the primary responsible party. People are willing and waiting to learn the skills and information you have. Never use information to your sole advantage, it’s how you use the information that should be your advantage (and share how you do that as well)
Develop leaders who can freely take your place. I had someone who reported to me that has now become the permanent replacement as CIO. I did everything possible to prepare for the transition and involved him in many activities and responsibilities to ensure he was ready. It took years and I was willing to pour into that person continually.
Be financially prepared to off-ramp. If you are financially burdened by your lifestyle or by previous financial mistakes, then your option to off ramp to a new opportunity or to follow a dream can be almost eliminated. Live below your means and evaluate whether you really need all the toys that the other executives have. Financial freedom creates a dream-ready culture in your life.
Realize that lifestyle changes are educational opportunities for your family & children. Taking a significant jump from marketplace to ministry and significantly reducing my salary has been a game changer for my teenagers to learn what is important and to see someone chase a dream. I think my jump has reinforced that following a dream is possible and you don’t have to wait until you’re 65 to do it.
Realize it’s a small world and don’t burn bridges. While I no longer work in healthcare, many times I run across individuals I’ve worked with who have helped in my new position. I could have just walked away and stayed disconnected, but instead I attempt to maintain relationships. It’s amazing how frequently you run into people you’ve worked with around the country at different events.
Realistically evaluate what your dreams are. It’s easy to chase a workplace dream, a promotion, or a higher salary. Ask yourself why you are chasing those things. Ask why more than once (5 times is good), to get to the root of what dream you are chasing and why. Without doing this, I wouldn’t have made the jump to chase a new dream.
While I’m still less than a year into my new opportunity, the impact on individual lives and opportunities is significantly greater than my marketplace position, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ll still maintain the tips I outlined above, because who knows what dream I’ll be chasing over the next 10 years.