Saturday, October 17, 2015

Walking Away with Good Reason

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
~ George Bernard Shaw

A friend, and former colleague of mine, sent me an email the other day.  He was requesting a professional reference from me, as his former boss.

I was surprised, not because such a request is unusual, but because I recalled that I had received a similar request from the same person a little over a year ago. And, as I recalled, he had gotten the job he was seeking, which was that of a mid-level manager in a sizable biotech company.

So my surprise was that he had only "lasted" a year in the new position.   I was assuming, incorrectly, that he had been let go, perhaps the victim of another downsizing.

It turned out, however, that he left.  Quit.  Walked away.

And I am proud of him for doing so.
He ran into a corporate "drama", complete with all the usual intrigue, conflicts, and ultimately the strong suggestion that he "go along to get along."  But what they were pressuring him to do was wrong, and he knew it.  He decided instead to just go.  Period.

He said to me recently, "I am glad I was in a position to be able to walk away, rather than compromise my integrity." He was willing to deal with unemployment and the challenges that entails in order to walk away for the right reasons.
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An old Kenny Rogers song advises that we should "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em"; but few of us seem to know when to do either.

Sometimes in life, we seem almost equally torn between "hanging on" in situations where it would be healthier to simply walk away, and walking away from challenges, when it would have been wise, and ultimately more beneficial, had we been able to hold on a little longer.

What to do?

How to know whether to let go or hold on in any given situation?

Do I quit the job and walk away, or ignore the office politics and hold on awhile longer?

Do I sell the house now or settle down and deal with my dissatisfaction about it?

Do I invest more time and effort in a relationship or do I admit that I have done all I know to do and it is time to let it go?

The right answer for me may be the wrong answer for you.  Sometimes we make unhealthy promises - to ourselves.  For example, my mother was determined to work until she was sixty-five and then retire.  In the two years before her sixty-fifth birthday, her work responsibilities increased dramatically, and not in a good way.

Additionally, during those two years, she had recurring bouts of dizziness, weakness in her right arm, and bronchitis.  Finally, she was hospitalized with a serious bout of bronchial pneumonia.

I talked with her, more than once, during that time urging her to retire rather than wait.  After the pneumonia episode, her own doctor spoke with her about the fact that she was pushing herself too hard, and perhaps should consider retiring.  She refused.

She had saved and planned well, so it was not really about finances.  It was that she could not or would not change her mind.  She had made herself a promise that she was going to work until she was sixty-five and then retire.

It didn't work out that way.  One month before her sixty-fifth birthday she suffered a major stroke and was left with a paralyzed right arm and right leg. The last seventeen years of her life, instead of playing piano, working in her rose garden, and doing things she loved, she spent dealing with life as a hemiplegic.

There is a difference between honoring a promise - even to oneself - and clinging stubbornly to an idea or stance we have taken that no longer makes any sense.

We all make promises and commitments which we plan to keep.  And in most cases we should do everything within our power to honor those promises.  But sometimes ... yes, sometimes, we need to admit that we must walk away.  Not out of negligence, or indifference, but because it is the right thing, the wiser thing to do.
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Hope you are in a healthy place today, with good choices all around you.  But if you need to walk away - I encourage you to do it with your head high and your heart full of hope.  Until next time - your fellow traveler ~ Marsha


  1. I am so sorry for you and your mother... it's sad.
    But I hear you. Walk away and have NO REGRETS!
    I did that with my job. I quit (retired) when I was 62. My job turned 180 degrees in the last two years.
    So I quit, retired or what ever anyone else called it. My mental and physical health was to important for someone to take it away from me.
    My husband quit his job when they asked him and others, to check in on female patients. He had to walk into their rooms and bathrooms!!! They wanted a head count and needed to know where everyone was, at any given time. Husband explained he wasn't going to do that and quit.

    I hope others read your post and get the courage to walk away.

    1. Good for both you and your husband - for knowing when to walk away. Have a good evening. - Marsha

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  3. Luckily I have never been in a position like that. I am sorry about your mom, what a pity she didn't quit whilst she was ahead. I retired at 52 because hubby wanted to go south so that's what we did. We came back 12 years later having enjoyed ourselves. We then did some part time work for a few years. Then both quit again. We have been lucky I guess.

    1. It sounds like you and your hubby made good, healthy choices. good for you both!

  4. What a great post and such truth! So sorry about your Mom and just another example of how life often throws us curve balls that totally alter any of our own plans. But, thankfully, HE always manages to see us through each and every detail. Blessings abundant!

  5. Replies
    1. diane, Thanks so much. Don't know about "wise" - but at least it was honest. :)
      Have a good week. - Marsha

  6. You know, the virtue of honesty and integrity can never be underestimated. Great courage sometimes requires walking away. I applaud this friend of yours.

    Very sorry to hear about your Mom - what a tragic situation. I was reminded of the cliche, but still it's so true - "take time to smell the roses." You just never know when life will change, and there is no better time to enjoy it than the present.


    1. Sharon - Nice to hear from you - blessings to you , too. ~ Marsha

  7. I look back through the years and I remember in particular one time I should have "walked away". Being right is not always reason enough to stay. Very thought provoking, wise post! I love the way you think.

    1. Sweet Tea - Well I love reading your comments - and visiting your blog, too. :)