Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Burn Those Bridges

I was looking through some of the articles on this blog and I got inspired by Teflon's blog posted on September 30, called "The Path to the Future". The quote posted in his article says:

"The path to the future is brightly illuminated by the bridges burning behind us".

I love this motto.  Think about it: traveling through life is so much easier when you truly decide to let go of the past and focus on the future. You don't have to carry the weight of a tough childhood, an abusive ex-partner, etc. All you have to do is focus on what you want in the future and how to act in the present in order to bring your desired future into being.  Doing this lets you enjoy the present moment.

After reading the Teflon's motto, I spent some time thinking about all the things that I have let go of, things that I didn't want in my life  and are no longer in my life.  It felt so good to recognize the choices I've made and it felt great to silently celebrate them.

The same evening I was talking to my friend Mark K. I mentioned that I had withdrawn my application from a position at work because I didn't trust the manager. Mark asked me why my reaction was to withdraw my application. He suggested that I could have changed my relationship with the manager or I could have asked to work in that position under another manager. He wanted to know why my action was to simply redraw.

I explained my reasons. Although I had made attempts to change our relationship, I had decided that I didn't want to trust him. I had also made attempts to switch organizations (which might have actually happened in the end), but hadn't happened yet.

As I talked with Mark K., I got tired. I felt exhausted!

Mark also got tired of listening to me!

Wearing Myself Out
Initially, I thought I got tired because I felt that I hadn't "succeeded". I wasn't "good enough" and I could have "done more".

And this might have been true, but...  Today, I realized that my problem was the following: I had made the decision that "the man was not trustworthy by my standards, and that I did not want to work closely with a man of his standards".  This would have been fine had I only  BURNED MY BRIDGES. 

I hadn't!

Instead, I had held on to the belief that everything would have been better if I simply could have inspired the manager to change or if I could have inspired the organization to remove him from the department where I wanted to work.

Simultaneously, I held on to the belief that I could not have changed the situation in any way!

On the Horns of a Trilemma
I've been taught that I should split the situations I face into one of three categories:
  1. things over which I have full control
  2. things I can influence or over which I have some control 
  3. things where I have absolutely no control
    In this case, I decided that this situation fit into the second category; I decided that I would be able to influence or have some control over either the manager or the organization.

    Why did I decide this?

    Well, a teacher told me that she believes she can control the weather. So, why would I not believe that I could change my department or my manager? Maybe I already have influenced my department!

    Understanding that this was my decision, I have now made peace with my decision, burning my bridges and looking forward.

    I can always look at my dis-empowering beliefs about which parts of the world I can influence and which parts I cannot influence.

    Looking Forward
    For now, I can take credit for the changes I have started in the organization by pointing out that low standards are not acceptable to me. Maybe highlighting one person's low standards is what it takes for ten other people to raise their own standards.

    Next, I am going to make a list of all the parts of my life where I have low energy and see for each of them if there are bridges I need to burn. I already feel my energy level getting higher!

    Thank you Mark .K for being such an honest friend. Thank you Mark T. for introducing this great motto which I'll repeat:
    "The path to the future is brightly illuminated by the bridges burning behind us."

    1 comment:

    1. Hey Joy,
      Really looking forward to seeing you and burning some bridges together.

      We have a little fire pit in the back yard. Perhaps you want to bring a couple of tokens that represent the bridges you want to burn.


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