Five Leadership Stepping Stones To Welcome Your Act 2

The time is approaching when some leaders may be starting to think about what the next part of their career journey or even retirement might look like. One of my favorite leadership programs I facilitate has been “Where are you headed in Act 2?” I partner with organizations who may be offering a financial planning session on retirement and ask me to facilitate a session or provide coaching on  the leader’s vision of their Act 2. What I find most exciting is how the participants transform through these sessions. Often, they arrive with a great deal of uncertainty and concern and leave with smiles and feeling energized about their Act 2.

What is an Act 2? The best way to begin that discussion is by sharing a quote by CS Lewis about growing: “You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.” Whether you are at a point in your job or career that no longer seems to be working or you have reached a time to retire from a career, leaders can choose intentionally where they want to head in their Act 2. There are no rules about the next steps in that path. It is up to each of us to decide our next goal or dream.

How does that sound? Are you getting a bit excited and curious?

Here are five leadership stepping stones to welcome your Act 2:

1. Honor What You Have Accomplished

The first stepping stone is celebrating the achievements you have made along the way up until this point. Recognize the hurdles you have jumped over to reach places you never thought were attainable. Reflect on your academic, professional, and personal accomplishments and just glow in the moment. It may sound crazy, but put on your favorite outfit, look in the mirror and shout out “I am here because of all of my hard work and perseverance. I am here because of the amazing human being I am. I am proud of me!”

2. Put On Your Explorer Cap

You are now ready to begin the discovery stepping stone of your journey. Just as the explorers set out to find a new land, you can start by grabbing your flashlight and explorer cap and head out to sail. Take a deep breath and imagine yourself looking out on this new land.

  • What do you see first as you approach?
  • What are the sounds you hear?
  • Who is beside you?
  • What is your body telling you about this new place you are headed?

3. It’s Time To Stay Openminded

As you lead forward, this stepping stone reminds you to just welcome in the possibilities that may form your Act 2. Don’t rule anything out just yet. Think of the most outlandish experience you long to have and why that’s most important for you at this point in your life or career. No judgement, just feel this new direction. Shake off anything that may stop you from delving into what is calling to you. Write all these thoughts and feelings down to reflect on later.

4. Reach Out For A Thought Partner

Things are beginning to get real for you but perhaps there is a need to have someone on this archeological dig with you. The next stepping stone is finding the right person to walk alongside of you on this journey towards your Act 2. This thought partner could be a mentor or a coach who is there to:

  • Ask you powerful questions about your Act 2 desires.
  • Challenge you when something or someone gets in the way.
  • Offer insights about some of your ideas.
  • Notice and point out what seems to be your truths.

5. Put Your Plan Into Action

As leaders know, without concrete goals or action plans, our dreams will go to the wayside. So the final stepping stone is creating the goals and the actions you need to make your Act 2 a reality. Designing the road forward with the pivots you may need to make and the work that needs to get done is essential. Be prepared that your goals may change as you progress. Allow your heart and mind to work in tandem in order to bring joy and energy to your unique Act 2. Just keep rowing forward!

Related: Stretch Your Leadership Skills: Five Essential Exercises