Corporations have slowly rotted my soul.
Six months ago I made the tough decision to quit my job — not only my job but my entire career.
Some of my colleagues helped me make the decision. They said things like “will be joining you soon.” It made me feel like I wasn’t alone during this difficult time in my career, made worse by a global health crisis.
The delusion I fell into is that my triumphant resignation was going to matter. That the company may listen to the shenanigans going on and do something about it. They did nothing. They didn’t even wish me all the best.
I thought my close colleagues wouldn’t be like that.
They’re friends for life. At least they won’t abandon me.
After I quit I thought they would call me every week or two to check in. The phone never rang. I made one desperate attempt to become relevant again.
I sent texts to a few of them when a well-known leader got fired or a business bomb blew up inside the company. They still didn’t respond. I realized that my mocking of their (still) employer didn’t improve their careers. So they cut me off. Fair enough. My mistake.
The same applies to you. When you quit a job you think people will miss you. That’s not what happens. Here’s why.
What really happens to your work colleagues when you quit your job
They don’t miss you at all. In fact, they have no time to think about you.
They’re still trying to put food on the table. They have to make the most of the situation with your old crappy employer. They have to fill any gaps you may have left.
Former colleagues forget you quickly because business moves too fast, thanks to technology, to get romantic. Our memories at work are short. The employment market is so fluid that we’re guaranteed to have new colleagues on a consistent rotation.
Modern-day employment has become a revolving door. LinkedIn has democratized hiring, and makes poaching child’s play. Even a bad recruiter can easily steal workers from one company and put them in another.
There’s no time to look back. Only to look forward.
Your ego lies to you
Your ego tells you you’re important. It makes you think your role in a company has far more usefulness than the reality. You think the company will suffer or die without your knowledge, connections, and inputs.
Our egos at work overcompensate because we want to feel like our work matters. We want to feel significant. We want to feel like bad leadership has consequences.
Many companies have terrible leaders and do just fine. Bad leadership is rewarded. It’s the norm. If you micro-manage and talk down to fellow humans so you can increase revenue, you’re considered a god.
The payback comes later. When the inflated ego of a toxic leader becomes their downfall. When “the team” shares your errors in judgement with a new guard of management and releases your dirty little secrets.
In the end most companies resemble a Game of Thrones operation model — where the (perceived) strongest survive and the weakest get given orders and thrown around like rag dolls. It is what it is.
Don’t let your ego tell you that you’re special. You’re only special when you’re an owner in the business. Otherwise, you can be fired with 4 weeks’ notice. Coroni-macaroni has shown us the light when it comes to career safety.
No job is safe.
The truth is you are replaceable
The special knowledge you think you have doesn’t matter much. If you died in your office chair today while working on a spreadsheet, they’d have a job ad on LinkedIn tomorrow to replace you.
Anyone can be trained to do a job. Your fellow colleagues have the pieces of the puzzle that they will happily give to management to forward on to the next person who takes your job after you’re gone.
Don’t be sad about these facts.
Move on. Take your career to the next level. Do what you have to do to survive and hopefully thrive. Look forward. Become obsessed with the future.
What’s happened at your old job doesn’t matter anymore.
The incredibly rare people who do stay in touch
Two people have stayed in touch since I quit my job. One person I knew previously, so they don’t count. They got me the job in the first place.
The second person is the rare gem. They are the only person to stay in touch. That person has become a friend for life. We’re like brothers from different mothers. We don’t spread toxic rumors about my former workplace or complain about past business leaders.
We don’t even talk about work anymore.
We focus on the future. We talk about where technology is heading. We share our passion for Web 3.0. We do random coffees on the weekend and have the occasional picnic with our wives.
When one random person stays in touch after you leave a job, they’re friends for life. Hold on to those people. Appreciate them and be there for them during tragedies they will inevitably face.
When you quit a job, your ego makes you think everyone will miss you. The truth is, nobody will miss you except maybe one person. That’s the lesson. Don’t collect business connections like empty beer bottles.
Stay in touch with one gem from each employer that you’ll be friends with for life. Those people are the ones that make your career feel special. Everybody else is noise on your LinkedIn timeline.