We’ve discussed before how words are basically names. And sometimes naming something differently can help give it a fresh perspective. For example, let’s look at the word quitting. I hate the sound of it. It screams “failure!” It rears its ugly head and says, “You’re a loser!” I’ve got a little more spitfire in me than that word will allow me to live with. But aren’t there times when being a quitter is good? If you’re a smoker, being a quitter can add years to your life. But what if you’re in a job that is slowly sucking the life out of you? Maybe you have dimwitted, sycophantic workmates or maybe you have a boss that makes Michael Scott look like a genius.
The question for people in situations like this was best put into words by the punk rock group The Clash, “Should I stay or should I go now?” Are you a more successful person for knowing when it’s time to get out of Dodge or are you a better person for bucking up and sticking it out? I’ve certainly put in my time working with bosses who consistently delivered Dilbert-level leadership and even then, it still wasn’t easy to quit.
I read something recently that helped me in answering The Clash’s epic question. In a series of quotes on success by Mireille Guiliano (great name!), one read “If you don’t like your boss – fire him” (or her, I would add). Whoa. I like the sound of that…a lot! Maybe that’s the problem with the word quitting. It sounds too passive; like you’re a loser who can’t quite hack it. But firing your boss? Now that sounds an awful lot like you’re taking control of the situation…and possibly your life. You’re standing firmly, hands on hips, moving your head side to side and saying (in your best imitation of a 10-year old), “YOU are not the boss of ME!” (Of course, this is metaphorically speaking…there are very few instances where you want to resign from a job with words like that.)
Amy Bloom says in her article, “Packing Up Your Psychic Baggage,” that her mom used to say, “There are things up with which one should not put.” She continues that “Spring is a perfect time to learn to love what you have, change what you can’t love, and get the hell away from what does you harm.” On the list of what she referred to as things that do you harm are bad bosses and energy-sucking jobs. And there are plenty of things that are good to quit – cigarettes, cussing, and twinkies are a few that come to mind. Bad bosses at energy-sucking jobs might just be another one to add to that list.
Steven DeMaio got a big break in his writing career when he wrote in his blog about quitting his job. I’ve seen similar posts and comments and I’ve been surprised to learn how many people who were either considering or had already quit their jobs. Some with no real purpose for their future, but they knew they needed a new direction. One commenter to Steven DeMaios’ blog said this, “If life is one of those snow globes, wouldn’t it be a crying shame never to have picked it up and shaken it?”
So this is what I did recently. I shook up my snow globe by firing my boss. I walked away from a comfortable salary with benefits. To do what? I don’t really know. I’m going to figure that part out. Designer Stefan Sagmeister talks about the value of taking time off in a recent TED talk. Every seven years or so Sagmeister closes down his design shop for about a year to recharge his batteries and refresh his creative outlook.
That is exactly what I’m talking about. There were plenty of reasons to quit my job when I did, but none as important as this: my snow globe had been dormant too long. I’d even forgotten that I had little sparkly snow confetti ready to be glistening all around. I needed a little bit of shaking. The thing is, quitting a job may be words that sounds too much like failure. Taking control of your life by “firing your boss,” will shake up your snow globe a little. Albeit a little scary, it can be just what you need to get back into the flow of what inspires you. In the words of Thoreau, ‘”Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”