For those who do not know me personally, allow me to describe my previous job with as much brevity as I can muster and believe me it is not easy!
I left school at 16 and despite a short term role as an apprentice carpenter I joined the British Railway system, and stayed in that area of work for the next 19-years. When I started I was earning £4,628 per annum and when I left my salary was £45,000 per annum (with annual bonus payments as a nice addition). To put this into context, I live in South Wales in the UK, and in 2009 the average annual salary in this part of the world was £26,332 per year. There were years when my bonus would take me in excess of £65,000 per annum.
These days I have a new role and love nearly everything about it. The only downside is also a benefit. I get to travel all over the world and participate in some wonderful experiences, but I do not get to enjoy seeing my son grow up. Yesterday, I found myself literally banging my head against the wall with the frustration of trying to balance having a career I dearly love and a son who misses his father.
In a recent conversation with him he asked me why I decided to quit my job on the railway? He told me that if I hadn’t quit my job, then I would probably still be married to his mother and we would not have the problem of seeing each other. It was a really difficult conversation to have with a child.
So why did I quit my job and should you consider quitting yours?
Command and Control Thinking
Throughout my early years on the railway, life was a doddle. Everyone was happy to come to work, have fun and leave after earning a few shillings. Money was the primary motivational factor, but we also enjoyed ourselves too. At the same time the rail companies were struggling to make operating a railway a profitable venture. Things needed to change and there was a new way of thinking. Out went the old and in came the new. The new people incorporated a top-down totalitarianism hierarchy and it began to work. As we earned more and more revenue the companies thought the model was successful and employed more and more little Hitler’s to Command and Control.
I had employees who were telling me that they could end up getting killed if changes were not enforced within the workplace. We were sacking people left, right and centre and begging the remaining people to work countless hours of overtime. I was responsible for all of that. I took the orders from the hierarchy and I implemented them without ever once transferring the responsibility of those decisions to that hierarchy (until now). After a while I hated what I had become. Each day when I walked into the office I felt as if someone had slipped LSD into my cups of tea. It really was that surreal. I would go to a seminar and be told that I needed to lead, that I had responsibility. I would return to the work place and be told not to think and just follow orders. I had a boss who told people his phone was always on and then refused to listen to anything anyone said. It was his way or the highway and I chose the highway.
Working in a Command and Control environment renders your existence meaningless. You wake up each morning to the shriek of an alarm clock and the pain just continues all day long. You are consumed by the sheer negativity that surrounds you in a suffocating cloak. I need meaning in my life. Sure I had a wife and child and a wonderful supporting cast of friends and family, but I needed more. People have to earn money in order to survive and I needed my vehicle to offer me meaning. I needed much more than I was getting.
That is one of the reasons I left my job and if any of this relates to you, then you too should quit and quit now.
Does this sound familiar to you? Have you thought of quitting and if so what is holding you back?
The inspiration behind this blog post is my son. This may sound strange, but when I left the marital home I never once considered the possibility that I would have problems spending time with him. Over time my job became more complicated and I found myself working abroad far too often. I am trying to solve this problem but it takes time.
To an eleven-year-old boy life is so much easier than the way an adult portrays it. I shout amongst the rooftops about how clever and strong I am because I quit my job…yippee! But I have a son who is telling me, if it is really that simple Dad, then quit the one you have now. I could quit my job and would easily find a new one, but I love what I do for a living and equally miss my son with all of my heart.
I am not ashamed to admit that right now I am a father who is rather lost. I am searching for my guidebook and cannot find it. I am bumbling along the father/son corridor and I cannot find the light switch. So in the meantime I will just write and hopefully it will help me to make sense of everything, as it has done for me so many times in the past.