I can break my career, and life for that matter, so far into three distinct parts: Growing, Crashing, Rebirthing. From birth through to my early twenties, it was all learning, growing, experimenting and finding out about myself. I went to small schools on the Sunshine Coast, then off to the University of Queensland to study Science, play soccer and party with my mates. This phase of my life was fun and constantly eye-opening.
The next phase was Crashing. Here is where I got into my first proper relationships, mostly for the wrong reasons. I got jobs I didn’t like to make more money. I then bought things I couldn’t really afford and took holidays on bulging credit cards. I was a Management Consultant, working long hours on important projects to make important people lots of money. I worked harder, drank more, made more money but it was toxic. I disappointed people, I felt empty. I made mistakes to feel better and in doing so broke people’s hearts, people who were actually important, people I cared about. I became a person I hated. I crashed. It all fell apart in a big mess of broken relationships, sadness and long hard looks at myself… the disappointing stare that glared back, it was the face of despair and triggered change.
So now I entered the most recent phase, the Rebirthing. The change of behaviour, stopping bad habits and forming new ones. Supporting charities, making new friends, finding new love, based on happiness. The demons still surface, but they no longer drive the bus. This also lead to a change of career, to work in the space between corporates and charities and help make positive change in the community. No longer was I focused on making loads of money, I was focused on making a change in the lives of people. I grew and lead a successful Foundation. We made a real difference and seemed still to have so much opportunity to make more. I was in a great space… then, just a few weeks ago, I quit.
Why did I quit? Because I had a new focus. As part of the rebirthing, was a real birth, the arrival of my little daughter Zoe. I can honestly say, love was a word I didn’t understand until now. So at just 10 weeks old, I made a decision to quit my dream job and spend more time at home with my little girl and my wife. I didn’t just do it for my wife, or my little girl. I did it for my future and the future of all people.
I quit my job for three reasons, and I think more men with young families should think through these reasons and see if making a similar decision makes sense for them.
1. To show that it can be done
The first reason is for the masses. I quit my job was to show it is possible. I’m not a lone trailblazer, many parents have given up their careers to spend more time with their families. But I wanted to add another name to this long honour role. I believe I can make a new life, career and family work better for me than the traditional family roles of a Dad at work all week and a Mum left to raise the pups. I believe that I can make it better for us and share my story high, wide and proud.
If I succeed, I hope more will do the same. If I fail, I hope more will learn from my mistakes. If nothing else, I will be a loud advocate for this change and one who will ensure his voice is heard. If we want more people to walk the path, we need to see more leaders and senior people taking the step forward. So I’ll add my footprints to this path, will you?
2. To focus on what I am most passionate about
The second reason is largely for me. In my generation, and even more so in those before mine, careers are long, steady and often predictable journeys filled with unintentional turns, undesirable actions and too often ultimate submission to the job. I spent a long time walking through turnstiles, swiping my pass and watching the expressionless faces of my peers do the same. Together we stood in the lift, silently, staring at our phones, or worse, the small LCD display of which floor we were on. We trudged through the day, then through the week, all in the hope that the weekend will bring some life back into our tortured souls.
Enough of this! If a big chunk of my job isn’t my passion, I need to change. For me it was only 25-30%, but that’s too much. I am passionate about changing the world, building empathy as a way for businesses and leaders to connect to real people. I’m passionate about shaping the minds of young people and old alike to find a path to understanding with people not like them. I’m passionate about bringing society together, charities, companies, people… just people coming together. But I need space to fight this fight.
I quit my job to find more space to chase these passions. Will they pay the bills? Only if I can create enough value that people will pay for it, and that is my challenge to take on. But I need that 30% back to do this. I need my space to chase passion, so I took it all back. How much of your job isn’t your passion?
3. To free up space to those more passionate
The last reason is for them. Those who love the work I was doing, those who love it more, are more skilled, more committed and more capable than I’ll ever be. There are people who love accounting, law, history, mathematics. But too often, someone like me is in the job they want and they can’t get it.
If we want to have better companies, better leaders and a better society for us all, we need the most passionate people focused 100% on their passions. We need those brilliant lovers of beer making beer. Those brilliant accountants making magic with numbers and spreadsheets. We need those brilliant managers of Foundation’s focused on the governance and those passionate about social change, leading the fight and influencing others.
I believe we need to break lots of jobs, pull them apart and give the work to those who love it. So what parts of your work should you give up? Who can you help move up by moving aside?