I am a big consumer of fresh vegetables and fruits. I know they must be consumed much quicker than my canned goods, or my other shelf-stable items. They don’t come with a stamp telling me the ‘use by’ date, it’s something I determine by their look and feel, texture and odor. Perhaps you do the same?

We are witnessing 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every single day, and how have we prepared ourselves to replace them on the shelves of our organizations? If you are like most firms, well, you haven’t done anything at all. Not yet anyway. Maybe soon. Change has its highest potential when the pain (i.e. cost) of the status quo is greater than the change.

I want you to consider the transition component of succession planning – of changing out the item on the shelf. First, we don’t have expiration dates stamped on us, so understanding the right timing for transitions that aren’t timelined is difficult. Much like my veggies, it’s more about the look and feel. I suspect you have all heard the adage, “he/she stayed a little too long”. Maybe as it pertains to professional athletes, maybe as it pertains to a leader in your organization.

How do you know when it’s time to start planning your exit? If you begin exit planning as soon as you arrive, all the pressure is off. No one wonders or whispers about your successor when you’ve been mentoring, educating, training, and coaching those around you all along. If you have criteria that you know made you successful (or ones that would have helped even more), make that list. Start today. Look around for who might have the potential to lead your organization forward.

Today is the best day to start.