Sunday, April 26, 2009

Is it time for you to quit your job?

One of my favorite books is one that is also not widely read, The Courageous Follower: Standing Up to and for Our Leaders by Ira Chaleff. Courageous followers are interdependent with, not dependent on leaders. We become interdependent by first assuming full responsibility for ourselves. We also have to have the courage to serve purposeful leaders, challenge those whose behavior or policies have wandered off purpose, and to take moral action, including quitting, if necessary.

Chaleff outlines four reasons why we might lead to leave our current job:
1. Personal growth
2. Group optimization
3. Principled action: If we have failed to serve the purpose in some important way, we should be willing to resign the position given us in trust
4. Principled action: If our leader has wandered off purpose and all our attempts to bring her/him back on purpose have failed, we should quickly move on.

I tell my students that I hope they get the opportunity to quit a job for the right reasons early in their careers. They need to know that that can survive quitting and in the long run will actually thrive by doing so.

In her excellent new book, What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, Tina Seeling says this about quitting:

Quitting is actually incredibly empowering. It’s a reminder that you
control the situation and can leave whenever you like. You don’t have to
be your own prison guard, keeping yourself locked up in a place that isn’t
working. But that doesn’t mean quitting is easy. I’ve quit jobs that
were a bad match and abandoned failing projects, and in each case it was
terribly difficult. We’re taught that quitting is a sign of weakness, although
in many circumstances, it’s just the opposite. Sometimes quitting is the
bravest alternative, because it requires you to face failures and announce them
publicly. The great news is that quitting allows you to start over with a
clean slate. And, if you take the time to evaluate what happened, quitting
can be an invaluable learning experience. (p. 79).

That is great advice. I have quit five jobs so far, and while it has been difficult at times, I have always landed on my feet and am better off today because of it. I'm in the process now of preparing to quit my current job if I want to!

And I ran across a new blog the other day that I just love! Rebecca Thorman writes about life and career advice for the millennial generation. Her post “Don’t burn bridges is bad career advice” is right on! I strongly agree with her point that the ability to start over enables unlimited opportunities, and when we have options we are in a stronger negotiating position.

“Work exists for the person as much as the person exists for work” (R.K. Greenleaf).

Let's find our purpose at work, assume full responsibility to serve that purpose, and our work will make us better people.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link love Bret. I love that quote from Tina as well, "Quitting is actually incredibly empoweing." - I feel the same way! So is turning down a job offer.