Whether you’re creating your succession plan or your secession plan, it’s good to think it through—yes, even with your spelling.
Even the best of ideas can fall through without the right attention to detail. Maybe you’ve learned that the hard way. Maybe you’ve learned it by a typo hitting you in the face. (This is absolutely one that can do that.)
- “Succession” is the order in line for a leadership position or simply the process of following in order. We’re talking heirs to the throne, groomed employees, or ketchup bottles on a conveyor belt. (You didn’t see that last example coming did you?) “Succession” is a word that’s been around in English since the 14th century, stemming from the Latin word succedere, meaning either “to succeed” or “to take the place of,” depending on its use.
- “Secession” is a breaking away or departure from something, with examples including the secession of many southern states from the United States during the U.S. Civil War, the many independent countries that broke off from the U.S.S.R., and the interest of the Basque regions to separate from the rest of Spain. The first use of this word was in the early 17th century in English, where it arrived after a long journey that began with the Latin word secedere, meaning “to rebel” or “to withdraw.”
- “Success,” of course, is a victory of sorts—though the nature of success, I’ll always argue, is up to you. Its root is the same Latin word that gives us “succession,” which I find quite optimistic. Way to have some faith in your leadership, English language.
Thinking on the use of these words: Perhaps if some don’t like the succession order of leadership, they could plan a secession of their group from the whole organization. Will they find success with this? Time will only tell.
As verbs, these words seem at first glance equally complicated, but I promise, they aren’t:
- “To succeed” means to step into a position of power or rank, to follow after something else, and also to find that victory, however one defines it. It’s all a matter of pronunciation. The two noun forms, “succession” and “succeed,” both share this verb spelling in common.
- “To secede” means to depart from the larger group, whether militarily or otherwise.
Putting it all together: If a company’s vice president succeeds to CEO, here’s hoping that employees won’t fraction off and secede, believing this is their only way to succeed.
Success with seceding or your succeeding order can be complicated. You know what else is complicated? The spelling of these words. Spell check won’t help you, and auto-correct might just lead you astray. It’s one you just have to double-check to ensure you’re getting it right.
We don’t have much hope from succeeding from the English language in our everyday life, so take one more moment with this one, folks. Will you succeed with it? I have no doubt.
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