I resigned from my job today. It took a long time, but what did it was the sense of being trapped, like in a dream where I am moving through a high viscosity fluid and each movement forward is too many times harder than it should be. At work, success meant being able to do my job in spite of the obstacles. I’m sure many people like that type of challenge. I personally prefer to do work, solve new problems, and being able to see and touch the results of what I have done every day. Having authority figures always say no and having to convince them over and over again it’s not my type of challenge. Been there, done that, hated it.
I truly enjoyed most of the people I worked with. The ethics of the organization are outstanding. The benefits are to die for. My company is a very good company. Yet it suffers from the corporate disease of excessive bureaucracy, overorganization, and overprocessing that happens when you put too many people working together with a reward systems that doesn’t understand human psychology.
The natural reward is to be able to see what you have accomplished and feel proud of it. But in this environment rules and habits win over the pragmatic drive of getting the job done; anxiety and fear of failure win over the excitement for new and better solutions; politics win over collaborative synergies that create exceptional results. So people take pride in holding tight to their own territory and their job roles; they get some nourishment and recognition from the small control they can exert on their environment and on the work of others (which usually means stopping others from doing something or resisting doing something). I understand it; I’ve done it. It doesn’t work.
Moving from the fluid satisfaction of being happy because of your accomplishments to the frozen sense of security that comes from exercising control on others is endearing and deadly. Endearing, because it’s so human and so desperate. Deadly, because it’s the early symptom of the crystallization process that transforms an organization from a vibrant living and growing organism to a paralyzed bureaucracy. In the end, it becomes inefficient, wasteful of talent and resources, and soul starving. In the end, the tiny amount of nourishment that comes from control over others is not enough to keep you alive.
I’m talking for myself. I’m sure other people see and feel things differently. People thrive on different things. The barriers that suffocate me can be reassuring for others. Rules and bureaucracy that draw my energy and enthusiasm away are felt as necessary checks and balanced by others. I respect that, it’s just not for me.
So today it was like saying good-bye to my friends and family at a train station. I said goodbye and I was sad because I will miss the people; it’s a big piece of my life I’m leaving behind, as many times before. But I can feel the future and the road ahead of me and it’s a powerful, irresistible call.