When is it time to get out?
You need to recognize when your reading of the water, the business market, the work environment indicates that you should not proceed. For example, avoid waterfalls. The roar provides the first clue. The sound starts as background noise and grows to a din that fills one’s experience, driving out other realities. Perhaps an assignment amounts to a waterfall. It’s ill-conceived or woefully resourced. Maybe it’s a new boss… or a changing old boss. Maybe it’s the business or even the industry overall. Maybe it’s you and your evolution or your weariness. Regardless, your well-being is at stake, your professional well-being, your personal well-being. Continuing on could mean emotional or even physical harm.
First, recognize the threat. To paraphrase Napoleon, leaders understand reality and create options. One cannot lead one’s self, one’s career or one’s life, without understanding reality, without seeing it for what it is.
Second, get off the river. Seldom does anything about getting off the river feel easy: dragging the kayak out of the water, figuring out a portage, executing the portage, and then getting back on the river with thoughts of ‘well, why didn’t I just stick it out, the waterfall doesn’t look THAT big… at least from here’. At work, friendships end or are least feel strained. The linear track of career or job progression falls. You give up much, including some or all of your gear, perhaps even treasured pieces. All true. And, you honored yourself on the river. You took yourself and your journey seriously. Good for you! (For more on portaging, see Chapter 6 in Your Job Survival Guide.)