Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sometimes the only way to win is to quit

One of my recent clients has a very inspiring story of hard-work, determination, and perserverance. As you might imagine, part of what is so inspiring here, is that this person overcame great odds and boundaries in order to reach a level of achievement experienced by only a select few.

Where I can only admire how strong this person is, and her unwillingness to give up was much of the fabric of her success, there are times when such stubborn determination can be detrimental to an individual's success and well-being. So is the case when this person came to me. Recruited from a prestigious graduate program, this young woman found herself in a nightmare job. The leader in the organization, who she was hired to report directly to, was harshly abusive to everyone. Where this young woman entered the organization feeling on-top-of-the-world confident, she soon found herself feeling lost and discouraged by a barage of negative feedback and a lack of training or clear expectations to avoid this abusive negativity.

Staying true to her former recipe for success, this young woman did not give up, and instead watched eighty percent of her peers leave, while her situation worsened. By the time she came to me, she described her work day feeling like getting a root canal without the anethesia.

Robert Sutton has written a book on the topic of workplace bullies, which he perhaps better names the title: The No A!!Hole Rule (I just couldn't bring myself to type out the actual title). I suggested that my client and all those going through similar circumstances read the book, since the number one tip for dealing with jerks in the workplace is to is to get out as fast as you can.

This advice goes against what my client was comfortable with, and she resisted until her job started to take a physical toll on her. Initially, the worst thing for her was facing the potential sense of failure by quitting. After much encouragement, she did quit, and has already found herself in a much more desireable place. Sometimes our greatest strengths can work against us when they are not appropriately applied in a given situation. Sometimes the only way to win is to quit.

No comments: