Burn that Bridge… and then Bless It
everal of my young professional friends are paying, per hour, for some or other form of psychotherapy. After the initial shock of this discovery, I was not surprised to learn that most of them weren’t being counselled on their feelings about mortality. They were seeking help to cope with the dread they feel each morning at the thought of spending eight meaningless hours of their day at work.
What about your job could possibly lead you to a therapist’s door? With all the technological sophistication of the day, surely there’s a blog, tribe, or online chat room that has covered the issue at length? Well, it seems not. As it turns out, brewing in the underbelly of corporate culture is a four letter word that doesn’t quite make it into the wellness programme. That word is, “FEAR”. My friends are scared shitless of leaving their unfulfilling jobs and losing their societal relevance.
They are afraid of burning a structurally unstable, architecturally bland, and environmentally hazardous bridge that no longer serves them. So, I’ll say it, for free – to all those loyal, hardworking, and unfulfilled employees who are afraid of committing career suicide – if your work prevents you from having a meaningful experience, burn that bridge… and then bless it!
It turns out, some of us identify more with our job titles than the work that we actually perform. Our worth is intrinsically linked to what others perceive our value to be. What we do, where we do it, and how much we get paid to do it, is seemingly more important than being of value and providing service. We seem happy to find new jobs or titles with similar budgets and headcount as long as they don’t compromise our perceived societal value and power. The idea of leaving our seven-figure positions and possibly downgrading our lifestyles so that we can upgrade our lives, is met with veiled criticism. This decision suggests that we can’t handle the cut-throat nature of the corporate environment. As if anything cut-throat is worth nurturing!
We, as a workforce, have decided that it is acceptable to live a materially-enviable life at the expense of enjoying a meaningful and fulfilling work experience. We need to realise that the two are not mutually exclusive. You will find that when you’re doing what you love, and have reverence and respect for your work, you simultaneously serve others as well as your highest self. Combine the highest expression of your talents with technical mastery and the reward will be more valuable than any title or position.
The fear that losing your corporate standing will automatically negate all your hard work, intellect, and talent is, frankly put, ludicrous! In my opinion, this fear is the real reason so many professionals are in therapy.
We cannot continue to cross bridges that deplete and dehumanise us, all in the hope that we will amass enough wealth, titles, and respect to enable us to live out our true calling in the future. The purpose of a bridge is to help you cross over, not to imprison you. Through observation, we’ve learnt that we are meaningless and valueless if we don’t have a professional title paired with a German car and a 3000sqm house. We need to start unlearning this crazy lie! If your current bridge inhibits personal growth and is not of service, maybe it’s time to consider building a new one. So, I implore you – burn that bridge, and then bless it!