For a hard-working, dedicated, conscientious worker, voluntarily leaving a job is one of the hardest things to do — especially if you’ve worked at the same job for many years.
This weekend, my wife decided to leave a position she’s held for fifteen years. She made the decision after many months of thoughtful consideration. Once she’d finally decided, (it was 3 a.m. after a restless sleep spent tossing and turning), she felt as if a gigantic weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
When it came time to write a letter of resignation, the full reality of the decision struck her hard. She felt some guilt, sadness, and a touch of some ethereal form of pity for her boss; she knew that she played a very vital part of his practice and would be especially hard to replace.
I think many of us feel as if we owe our bosses something, and we have to be reminded that they don’t necessarily reciprocate that sense of loyalty and commitment. The folks who run the show aren’t used to being “terminated” by their employees, but a resignation is — in some ways — an implicit “firing”, a subtle statement that something is wrong with an organization, a rejection of sorts that carries with it a refined and delicate rejection. The egos of those in charge don’t take these implicit insults lightly; one doesn’t leave a situation that has been provided through generosity and corporate magnanimity.
With that in mind, I wrote the following:
Do you have to be reminded
that you are not a slave?
That this is no plantation,
nor your desk, an unmarked grave?
They paid you lots of money
for your work and for your time;
but you helped the business prosper
and you earned your every dime.
They could fire you at any moment,
as they did to many friends,
but now you fire the company
and you choose just when it ends.
You owe these people nothing,
and for bosses — never grieve.
You made the choice to work here
and you make the choice to leave.
So you find you have the power:
depart the building, close the door.
But in that mighty gesture
you have opened many more.
* * *