During the American Revolution, there was a really, really badass guy named Daniel Morgan. At one point Morgan was in command of forces that were going up against the British Colonel Tarleton. Tarleton was an intimidating figure with a reputation for brutality and he had an infamous legion of dragoons. Morgan knew the men under his command would break ranks and run when the dragoons bore down on them.
Instead of fighting it, he gave them permission – in fact, he ordered it. He told every man to give him exactly two shots – the one that started in their rifle, one reload, then the second shot – and then run. But he also told them where to run: a specific exit route he had mapped out. They did, and exactly as Morgan predicted, the bloodthirsty Tarleton gave chase. But where the American soldiers fled, Morgan was waiting with his own cavalry and he rallied the riflemen and together they trapped and defeated Tarleton.
Anyway, apart from being an awesome story (one of many about Morgan!), it carries a really interesting lesson. People are going to run. They’ll quit. That’s just inevitable, and if you try to act like it’s not you’re going to be really disappointed most of your life. No matter what thing you care about, other people may help for a while – but at some point, your paths may well diverge again.
Instead of trying to stop that or being mad about it, predict and direct it. Is every employee you ever hire going to stay with you until retirement? Probably not – so be open to learning about their own career ambitions and predict when and why they’ll leave, and plan accordingly so that you all benefit both from your time together and even the manner in which they leave. Not every friend you make will be a “lifer,” so plan accordingly – have fun now and make sure you send them off on good terms when it’s time for them (or you) to move on.
These things happen. Life ebbs and flows. Rocks sink to the bottom, but sailboats ride those currents to new and exciting places.