Career Choices - You Decide

Whether to Stay...?

Is it best to remain with my current employer or try something new?

My response below was inspired by this student's question.

You are asking a powerful question that many ask daily: "Should I stay with what I have... or try something new?"

It can be a very tough decision to make, and each one of us can only answer it ourselves, drawing from our own internal direction. Here, I will mention some of the factors that would affect my decision:

Do I love what I am doing?

It has been said that if you love what you do, then you never work a day in your life! Some may say that this is "in the clouds" or not a realistic criterion. But, let me ask a question:

Do you believe that you are worthy of enjoying a satisfying and challenging career (not to mention home life)?

I have found in my life that I attracted exactly what my expectations were; e.g. if they were low ... I got low and if they were lofty then I got great!

Is the company and its people in alignment with what I hold to be important?

I think of it like choosing a close friend or relationship ... hold out for the best! I realize that 'this is the real world' and that this ideal may not be realized immediately, but I am talking about having high standards.

Why is the bar so high?

Because we deserve to be happy and by our choices we are in control of our lives.

Now, for those that are currently working in difficult environments we have a challenge!

What to do? I believe that we have 3 choices:

  1. Accept it

  2. Try to change it

  3. Leave it
Please allow me to discuss these:

Accept it: Acceptance is the starting point and from there comes the clarity to be an instrument of change. Please understand that acceptance does not mean condoning or agreeing with the situation. We are just accepting that things "are as they are" right now = reality. To do otherwise ultimately creates internal conflict or unhappiness. Byron Katie in her work "Loving What Is", nicely describes the peace she found going from rejecting to accepting 'what is'.

Try to change it: There is only one person in this world that we have some measure of control. That person, of course, is ourselves. When we would like to change a given situation, the only effective way to start is with ourselves. By being a positive example, and by that example others may be influenced. Gandhi said, "You must be the Change you wish to see in the World".

You may think that you are only one person and what possible difference could that make in a large company? The same argument could have been made by Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, but it did not stop them from living their belief ... that we can raise ourselves to a higher standard of caring and cooperation with those around us. These leaders had a strong knowing about what kind of world they wanted and just lived their lives that way!

So back to the office: We have a dream of what the ideal environment would be and we start conducting ourselves in a manner that reflects that belief. And then ... an amazing transformation will begin!

Please allow me to share a personal story:

About 4 years ago, as a newly minted general manager for a chemical blending facility near Toronto, I was faced with several leadership challenges. When I was first appointed as (acting) GM, the plant was not even covering its costs and I was told that it either turned around or else!

I met with all employees and explained the severity of the situation and that we would all need to do what we could to increase sales and improve performance / reduce operating expenses. They all appreciated my honesty although were very nervous about their futures.

I then started working with each department head to determine how I could support their efforts. At first, they thought that I was looking to fix the blame for inefficiencies, but over time, they realized that I only wanted to help them find solutions.

They learned to trust me; as when things sometimes went poorly, I told my boss that I was the person in charge so was responsible rather than pointing my finger at one of my direct reports. When we gained new business and it directly improved our bottom line, I praised the efforts of the entire team to senior management.

The plant workers became more and more motivated and now they all seem to really enjoy their jobs and I feel honored to be their leader. Do we still have challenges? Yes, but the strength of the team is such that we all pull together to face them 'as one'; kind of like a family facing life's ups and downs.

Leave it: Now returning to the choices mentioned earlier. The final option is to leave a situation that, for whatever reason, does not / will not align with our core values and expectations. Please allow me to stress that we should remain professional and leave the relationship intact so that all involved would be inclined to speak well of us in the future. Our previously employer (no matter what were the conditions) still holds a great impact on our future endeavors. So, try not to burn any bridges that you may later need to use!

Good luck in finding the answer to your important question!

Copyright 2009 Edward G. Drennan