Verb. burn one’s bridges: To destroy one’s path, connections, reputation, opportunities, etc., particularly intentionally
Last week was pretty interesting. I was in Lagos visiting some friends and we of course started talking about work, Now these ladies are very senior executives and one of the topics that came up was burning bridges. We each had a story to tell about something we had observed or a personal experience.
There was a story about a young woman who had recently quit her job. She wrote her letter of resignation, submitted it and told them that same day would be her last day. She was very proud of the fact that she would be leaving the company and her boss in a difficult situation. In fact she made sure the whole company heard about it. Guess what happened when the new company she was going to work for decided to check her references. What do you think the boss said?
I told the story of when I was in University and my professor helped me land an internship with a well known company. I was not appreciative of the magnitude of the opportunity and did not give my best effort. I completely burnt bridges with the company (they were not going to give me a job after graduation so that was a lost opportunity) and I could never ask my professor for a reference again. I learned my lesson after that. It was a lesson that allows me many years later to counsel people when I see them making the same mistakes.
Today, the world is a global village and therefore it is of utmost importance to remember at all times that all you have is your reputation. How you behave, work or treat others, will always follow you. I can’t count the number of times that someone has, unknown to me, asked a mutual acquaintance or a former employee about me. If someone asked about you, what would people say? Could you go back to a former boss for a reference? would your old company hire you again? It doesn’t take anything away from you to remain professional at all times even under the most challenging circumstances.
Situations at work can sometimes upset us; make us want to react emotionally . Don’t! The short term satisfaction does not always lead to a long term benefit and your career is a long term game. Count to ten before you react and make sure you always leave with your reputation intact. Never burn your bridges.
Have a great week.