“Careful, Don’t Burn Your Bridges”
The saying goes back to ancient Roman Times. When an army crossed a river to invade their enemies, the commanders would order the bridges burned to guarantee that their troops couldn’t and wouldn’t retreat.
Since there was no escape route, they had to fight to save their lives. Sometimes the country being conquered used the same approach in reverse. As they retreated they burned the bridges so the conquerors couldn’t follow easily.
Today we use the adage in business. When a person starts a job search and they are thinking of leaving their company, they are warned not to burn their bridges. Meaning, try to leave on good terms.
The theory, of course, is that you never know when you might need to work with the company or the people again and sometimes you need a reference. It falls into the category of “never say never.” You don’t want to shut the door prematurely to potential future opportunities.
Burning bridges can also give you a bad reputation. The way you conduct yourself and treat people will follow you around everywhere you go. Perception has a funny way of becoming reality.
It’s a good general guideline. Professionalism is the always the best approach.
There’s also the heavy weight of negativity and the drain of positive energy that goes along with burning bridges. Those things hold you down and when you are chained, you can’t soar.
It eats away at you and that only serves to give the person or company more power over your feelings. Too much wasted time is spent plotting how you can pay someone back for their bad deeds.
Why harbor so much pent-up frustration that you need to “have it out” with them?
In most cases, move forward. Upward and onward. I also believe that karma can come back and bite you in the butt – but that’s just me.
But, There’s Always a But...
Sometimes you need to burn the bridge.
Sometimes you have to burn the bridge.
You don’t want the craziness to follow you! You don't want them running after you or having quick access to you. You need to put distance between them and you.
Reasons You May Want to Burn the Bridge
There are some reasons that warrant blowing the bridge to smithereens. Think about it as redirecting your career instead of enacting retribution.
Reasons to Blow the Whole Thing Up
- A boss or co-workers is verbally abusive.
- Corporate mentality: Was the company’s bottom line more important than the well-being of the employees?
- Unethical or illegal behavior with no consequences to this behavior.
- Questionable activity by leaders or with the company at large.
What’s the point in continuing a bad relationship once you’re out the door?
Is there any reason you need those behaviors or those people in your life? Who cares if they won’t hire you back? Would you want to work there under those circumstances? Would you ever trust those people or that organization again?
Rid yourself and say good-bye. Cut the ties that bind.
The greatest revenge is success.
Let your frustration and anger go. Place the dynamite appropriately, light the fuse carefully, and let it blow! Watch your frustrations filter out into the cosmos.
Keep on moving and don’t look back.
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Johnston Osburn is a Career and Life Coach who helps people turn dreams into realities. After years as a Global Talent Acquisition Professional, she realized how frequently people limit themselves because they lack belief in their abilities. They are afraid to dream, let alone dream big. [...]