It’s no secret that many professionals nearing the end of their career are choosing to retire early—over 3 million and climbing according to the St. Louis Fed. The number of retirements reflect that today’s threats are categorically different than those faced in the past. They require fresh energy and creative problem-solving. The numerous departures leave openings for the next generation of leaders to forge a path of success.

How can rising leaders meet the obstacles—and opportunities of today?

Listen. One fatal mistake young (and many not-so-young) professionals make is to dismiss the wisdom of the leaders who have gone before them. The outgoing wave of leaders hold valuable experience and hard-earned knowledge. Take time to learn from all they’ve come through. Is a leader at your college retiring? Take them out for coffee. Be intentional to hear what they would like to share and you can glean key institutional knowledge and time-tested discernment.

Imagine. Emerging leaders often have fresh eyes to see situations in a new way. Don’t be afraid to take bold steps forward. How do your unique experiences give you added insight that can serve your institution? Trust your instincts and hone your acumen. Integrate the results and feedback to your projects so that you can continue to grow rather than stagnate.

When administrators pair thoughtful learning with humble reflection and creative strategies, there’s no end to what can be accomplished. I can’t wait to see what comes next.