The Heat from Burning Bridges


About ten years back I knew a super talented designer. They had more than just pure skill, their dedication and hard work ethic opened doors for them. In the middle of the great first great depression of the 2000′s they were offered a new position across the country, where they could craft their title, plus moving expenses. Wow!

Time passed.

Super designer was bored.

They’d been at their job for years, and while they’d worked really hard, they wanted a change. Gratitude was replaced with resentment. Late one Friday afternoon, they went into the president’s office and quit.

I heard the story as they excitedly packed up their cubicle. They were moving back home across the country! They had no job lined up! The plan had been hatched during their lunch break!

Burning your champions.

People often think about burning bridges in the context of their life’s travels. To burn a bridge is to say goodbye to some far off land that they’ll never journey to again.

But before you burn a bridge you should make sure you’re not standing on it.

The goal of a career is to build personal champions. These champions will help spread the word about your talent. They will vouch for you in times of need. Most importantly, they will kindly provide you with work, job offers, or advice.

If how you leave breaks promises, causes a grander stage for your personal dramas, or makes those around you feel foolish for trusting you, you’ve just lost everything you invested. Years of your career just vanished into ash. Your champions became enemies.

burningbridges_insertFanning the flames.

Super designer went home, box o’ 9-to-5 in hand. The rush of the moment began to fade. And by Monday sheer panic had set in. They’d made an unfortunate mistake.

They did what anyone would do in this situation: they begged. The apology tour began with their boss, next their boss’ boss, and after a staggering amount of ass-kissing, they reached the president. Surely they’d crumble to the super designer!

But this person’s champions had been made fools. No one wanted to help them. And so they were escorted out of the building before the fire spread further.