I recently left a position with a manufacturing company where I had it made. I had been promoted frequently with sizable pay increases at every step. I had outstanding benefits with company contributions to a 401K and pension. It was a job that I could have stayed with until my retirement…but I didn’t. Not only did I walk away from a company where I could have been employed the rest of my working life, but I did so in the midst of the worst economy this country has seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
So why did I do it? Looking at it from afar it was non-sensical. In the present financial climate jobs are to be cherished and hung on to. Not discarded and given up on. Yet as drove home I was more satisfied than I had been for years. I literally had a smile on face that couldn’t be knocked off with a sledgehammer. I felt great.
So, again, why did I do it? The answer is actually quite simple (although I’ve been trying to develop a sense of drama). I simply did not enjoy working there anymore.
Not the, I-got-up-and-didn’t-want-to-go-to-work kind of day. This was more like a deeply rooted dissatisfaction with the type of person I had become after working there for six and a half years. The stress had been eating me alive. On the right side of my neck, where it meets my back, I had developed a lump the size of your fist. When I went to Med-Check to have it looked at, the doctor asked me how much stress I was under. Then she made several suggestions how I might try process it better. Additionally, as I climbed the managerial ladder I was becoming increasing unsettled with the disconnect between the public face of the company and what was standard operating procedure on the shop floor. The bald face lies I was required to tell the rank file was in direct opposition, to not only what the company professed, but also what I personally believed. I could no longer look in the mirror and be proud of the individual who was looking back at me.
So I quit.
Now my wife and do not have large sums of money lying in a bank vault. We don’t have large sums of money anywhere. We are not the type of people who have many letters after their last name and thus in high demand. In fact, neither my wife nor I have graduated from college. We are, what was once called in this country, common folk. We do not live extravagantly. However, what we do have is a core, foundational belief that a person should be able to put food on the table, clothe himself and his mate, and provide shelter, without having to endure a job that often reduces him to tears because he doesn’t know how he is going to make it through another day.
I had been gone from the manufacturing job for about a week and a half when I decided to visit a neighbor who is a dear friend to make him aware of my recent resignation. He attends the same church as my wife and I, and over the years he and I have discovered we share a lot of the same interests. I drove over to his house (we live in the sticks, so the neighbor is about a quarter of a mile away) and knocked on the door. When he opened the door, and before I could say a word, he exclaimed, “Wow! You must have found another job!” I was stunned, but I finally stammered out, “Yeah, but how did you know?” His reply was, “Easy, this is the first time in over six years that I have looked into your face and you don’t look like a hunted, scared animal.”
Shortly thereafter I had a chance encounter with a former co-worker who told me (after much prompting from his wife) how he broke down in tears every Sunday evening before returning to work on Monday morning.
It shouldn’t be this way. This is crazy!
That is why you are reading this now. I am living some of the changes I advocate. I am taking my mind and deciding how I’m going to believe. Not that I’m ignoring the facts. I’m just deciding how I’m going to interpret them.
So there you have it. Is change easy? No. Is it worth it to stay employed at a place (or in an abusive marriage/relationship, or cling to beliefs) that is/are literally killing you? No!
In the coming days, weeks, months, and hopefully years I am going to share with you many of the concepts, ideas, principles, and techniques that I have found invaluable. But this isn’t just me writing and you reading, and me writing, and you reading, ad nauseam.
I want to hear from you. Tell me what is going on in your life. Eventually we will add a chat room where we can talk about what works and what doesn’t.
Here is the bottom line…I don’t have all the answers. Nobody has ALL the answers. I hope that isn’t too big a shock to anyone. What I do have I am willing to share and I hope you are too. I think if we collectively put our heads together we might just be amazed at what can happen. One of Steve Jobs’ operating mantras was, “How can we do this better.” That is what I want to know. How can we do this thing called life better and then share that knowledge with the human race.
Let’s do it.