Dear Tell All: While I don't agree with her politics, I've been mystified by Sarah Palin ever since she hit the national spotlight last summer. She obviously has a knack for climbing the career ladder. And similar to her frustrations with being governor, I'm tired of my job and don't feel like I'm achieving my professional goals. Should I follow her lead and just quit, hoping to be more effective through other means? Is this the latest trend in career building?
Fidgety in Fitchburg
Dear Fidgety: Must...resist urge...to trash... Palin. Don't want...to end up in doghouse...like Letterman. Oh, what the hell. One paragraph can't hurt, right?
When Palin announced her resignation, she said that she could be more effective outside of government and that quitting was "doing what's best for Alaska." Then she got her maverick on and tromped away in her waders. That's a bit like an airline pilot announcing over the intercom that he can do a better job of flying the plane from outside the plane, and then bolting through the door with a parachute. But if the pilot is incompetent, maybe that is best. Let the co-pilot take over.
In a normal economy, it would be completely irresponsible for me to tell you to quit your job without having another one lined up. In this economy, it would be ludicrous. But then again, there are times when a fresh start is exactly what you need to bring out your own inner maverick.
Five years ago I was working in a dying industry, for a company that didn't treat me well. I could see the writing on the walls of the sinking ship, so I simply quit - without any prospects on the horizon. It was a little unnerving, but it was exactly the inspiration I needed to do something crazy: I moved to New Zealand. Seriously. I spent a year and a half sailing, swimming with dolphins, hiking through rainforests and, yes, working, and it was an experience that I will never forget.
But if you're looking for a role model, don't waste your time on amateur quitters like Palin or me. Look up to a legend. In 1993, Michael Jordan did the unthinkable and quit basketball, partly to pursue a childhood dream of playing baseball. After getting sand kicked in his face, he returned to basketball in 1995, then quit again in 1999, came back in 2001 and quit for good in 2003. By definition, you could say he was a professional quitter.
So if you quit, you're in good company. But do it wisely.
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