I was recently watching the amazingly inspiring movie, Unbroken, a film that tells the story of an awe-inspiring World War II hero, Louis Zamperini. As I was watching the movie, I was completely moved by this incredible veteran that never, ever gave up. It made me contrast today’s struggles in our everyday corporate environments. How sometimes it feels a bit like a psychological war zone. There are always friends and foes – the one’s that empower you to succeed and the ones that push you to the breaking point.
In some work settings, you feel like every day is a fight for survival. Respectfully, it’s certainly nothing like what our soldiers experience physically and mentally. For the cube-warrior and the 9-to-5’er however, quitting is also not an option despite painfully tolerating a toxic environment. You have responsibilities, bills and of course your very own ego! I’ve learned that during my career of very versatile environments, each step away from a negative experience was one step closer to prosperity.
I mention ego because we all know we have one. They come in the form of egomaniacal managers to our very own stubbornness. Ego or fear is what keeps us in bad jobs. For me, I had a plan to build a startup and become a leader in a culture in which I could be proud. I had seen many examples of exactly the thing I did NOT want to become and examples of what I aspired to be as a leader. As I dreamt of my professional goals, I continued to stay where I was stable – for security.
I stayed in roles where I felt like I was getting everything I wanted on paper, but I still wasn’t following my heart and it just didn’t feel right. At one time, I was sent on an international business trip, given a promotion and my own team, and yet in the end, the work culture from the top was the same. Despite the ounce of hope, it was still a dead-end job under fragile leadership and I knew I was only postponing my true ambition.
It is times like these that leaving or quitting a role is much like the moment in the movie when the soldier stared his oppressor in the face and lifted the heavy beam over his head to persevere. It feels like you’re letting someone or some organization down by leaving, however, you are forging your own path and pushing through to a more desirable challenge and adventure. If you stay, you continue to drown, holding on to the baggage and the fear. Having partners can help push you to take that much-needed leap of faith. Great business colleagues that you move forward with will help you trust yourself. Surround yourself with a supportive network that will encourage you to progress in your life and your career.
Sang from Kelly Clarkson’s solid vocals: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller… and I know I am grateful for the downs as much as I am for the ups because they’ve all made me stand a little taller and appreciate the moment of clarity when letting go means moving forward and when stopping something to start something new can give you power, promise and potential.
Be bold. Be stronger.
And don’t stay up too late.