Sure, we’ll have our story about how someone or something created the untenable situation that pushed us to quit.
We can talk about how continuing would have been a waste of our time and energy.
We can even describe how the emotional toll was so great that we needed to make the change before some type of permanent damage occurred.
All these reasons contain elements of truth. But, not the whole truth.
The whole truth lies in the balance of authority and responsibility.
Authority and responsibility live on opposite sides of life’s biggest equation. When we perceive that the authority we have matches up with the responsibility we’re carrying, we feel balanced. Satisfied.
But, get them out of whack, and our dissatisfaction begins to climb. Left unattended, the dissatisfaction we feel (subconsciously at first) will begin to overtake our patience. The cascade toward departure begins.
A world where we have ultimate authority and no responsibility would be nice. The “power” to do whatever we want without any ownership of the outcomes. Of course, this is a fantasy world.
Having authority over anything means having responsibility.
The key is the balance.
So, back to the quit or don’t quit decision:
If we stay the course, we’ll be forced to take ownership. We’ll need to assume authority and expend a ton of emotional energy. We can’t blame the “other.” When we decide not to quit, we’re deciding that it’s okay to be responsible for making the situation a success (however that gets defined in our heads).
Quitting is the easy way out of this “authority-responsibility” conundrum. It requires a lot less energy and eliminates our risk of failure. It doesn’t matter that the act of quitting may be an admission of failure in the first place. That’s just a sunk cost. The key is how much emotional energy we’ll have to expend in the future.
Why does any of this matter? We aren’t planning to quit any time soon. It’s not in our nature.
True, but what about everyone around you? What about the people who report to you? What about your teammates? What about your friends?
It turns out they’re working through this same authority-responsibility equation in their own lives.
And guess who has both the authority and responsibility to help them with balancing their equation.