Years ago, I was working on my doctorate. At the time, my wife and I ran a management consulting firm. Our company was growing with offices in several states and an increasing number of employees and clients. We also had two young children.
By any measure, we had more than enough on our plates. Nonetheless, I kept saying ‘yes’ to side projects & became involved in a not-for-profit endeavor.
I say all of this not out of pride, but embarrassment. Why?
I had become addicted to keeping doors open. Saying ‘no’ wasn’t part of my skillset. Having a lot going on felt good.
When a new door opened, I seized the opportunity.
At some point I realized that keeping all of these doors open was hurting our business, damaging key relationships, and taking a toll on me. I wasn’t giving anything my absolute best.
Something had to give. Doors needed to close. I knew it intellectually, but found it emotionally difficult to close a few doors.
I had confused burning bridges with shutting doors. One is toxic and destructive. The other is liberating and, when done well, relationship and career enhancing.
I’m a work in progress, but I have learned the importance of awareness and choice.
How about you?
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.