The End is not a Failure

Often people talk about things that have ended like they were a failure. Mostly with relationships but often with other parts of life. Just because something ends, that doesn’t mean it failed. It could of been a great 5 year relationship that has lived it’s course or leaving a job  where you had a great time.

Things often come to an end, it doesn’t make it a failure.

Accepting the things we cannot change

I recall reading Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change a few years ago and there’s one thing I always liked about it. It takes the quote:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

And then harps on “the wisdom to know the difference” part. The goal of that chapter was that there is always a way to impact change. That we don’t need to accept things we cannot change.

I’m not sure if I follow that. I think in a sense for me, not accepting the things we cannot change doesn’t mean banging your head against the wall trying to do the same thing over and over. It means reframing the goal. Giving things up the original way we intended to impact change to approach things in a different way.

In a sense knowing when to quit something to change completely the approach. I didn’t accept that I couldn’t change politics as much as realized that wasn’t the only way of going about my goal of making the world a better place.

You can impact change, sometimes you just need to totally ditch the current approach and do something completely different.


I think there’s a big misconception about burnout in today’s society. We assume that burn out is just when you do too much work. If you work 70h a week or something like that you’ll burnout.

I don’t think that’s the case. We already know what motivates people. Yet seem unaware that burnout is the opposite of this. Managers often are trying to “shield” employees and making decisions that are “for their own good” but creates the opposite result. Really what drives people to burnout is:

  • The lack of self-direction (Autonomy)
  • The inability to impact necessary change when it’s needed (Purpose)
  • The inability to grow in the direction we want (Mastery).

In the past, I’ve let folks work on things I thought were a waste a time. Not because I didn’t think they could use their time better but rather because not letting them would reduce their output to lower than it currently was. Even if they now spend 20% of their time on something I disagree with, the other 80% will be much more productive because of it and, in the end, that will help the team.

Now you may say, well I really don’t want that person to work on that. Or I really don’t think that’s a good idea. That means you don’t share the same vision as your employee and the only real solution is to let them go.

In the knowledge economy there are 2 things you should do with employees:

  • Empower them
  • Fire them

You should only ever do those 2 things. All the other ways out of the problem just postpone or create a worse problem in the future. As much as letting someone go is tough, most organizations I’ve been a part of should have done it more often rather than less often.