Resolution or Resignation?

5 min. read

2022 is the year of Ladderburning. 

When the number of people who’ve left their jobs since April 2021 equals the combined population of the top 5 cities in the US, something more than Covid is at work (actually, it’s not at work). 

Covid was a catalyst, but the rumblings began a long time ago when the issues of work-life balance were spoken out loud, Gallup began to track employee engagement, and burnout was one the most talked-about concerns on the lips of workers and researchers alike. 

No, my friends, this storm has been coming for a long time.

While it may be rough in the interim, I believe the 19 million resignations and counting could be the destruction that gives way to a new and better way of deciding, “what do I need from my job, career, profession, maybe even a vocation or calling?

They are basic, important requirements that – when unmet – increase stress, depression, anxiety in adults and particularly in kids.

How much of this can a person take?

Many employees don’t question their ingrained beliefs about success at work. They aren’t clear on what they really want (hey, we’ve been there too – no judgment here!) so they often follow the treacherous climb up the corporate ranks – a.k.a. the ladder without many questions. Unfortunately, most of those individuals lose themselves on the way up.

The ladder – once thought to be the workplace iteration of the American Dream, has been unveiled for what it is – a rigged system where, even at your very best, you stay late and bust your ass, miss your kid’s basketball game, fight with traffic and use the middle finger more than you ever have. There is a better way.

Fortunately, something deeper and more meaningful is going on. Millions – with more millions to follow – are finally asking some really great questions about their work:

Is this job, organization, profession worth it? 

What’s success look like? 

How can I live my life and achieve what I think is most important?

What we’re witnessing in the workplace right now is HUGE! It’s the start of some major transformation.

These millions of workers are finally looking within and asking some big, important questions about what truly, deeply motivates them. And, in the process, they/we are DESTROYING stifling societal norms, unproductive mindsets, and limiting beliefs about work, success, and what it looks like to get ahead.

Welcome to 2022 – the year of Ladderburning.

Destroying the old ways that simply don’t work anymore.

Creating new life-giving pathways for ourselves.

Creating the conditions for success at work requires something different of us all. What actions will you take?

I resolve.

It’s the end of January–how are those new year resolutions going for you?

My opinion – forget all this emphasis on New Year Resolutions.

They are lame statements about doing something big, like running a marathon in the fall when you’ve spent the last two years living in a cave with no treadmill.

For most, resolutions are a cheap and easy way to set yourself up for failure.

To resolve is to take meaningful action.

For those of you left in your current workplace after the mass resignations, what are you willing to commit to when it comes to creating the kind of work & workplace that fills you up? Trust me, this is not just for your benefit… this ripples out to everyone around you.

I resign.

Since April 2021, the McKinsey Quarterly reports that more than 19 million US workers – and counting –  have quit their jobs.

People are struggling. They want out.

I don’t buy that all that “free” federal money made it easy for people to quit and stay on the dole rather than work. Multitudes of people are worn out, can’t make ends meet, exhausted, fed up, stressed, depressed, sick to death, and sick of death.

For those people who hated their jobs or worked for idiot bosses…  Gone. Good-bye.  Adios. Sayonara. Hasta la vista. Ciao. Check you later. 

As a result, organizations are struggling. This bidding war for talent is liable to be around for a while. I’ll discuss the organizational awakening to help employees find what’s meaningful to them – what McKinsey calls “the human aspects of work” –  in an upcoming blog. If you think I’m going to get snarky about this “new” realization, you’re the winner of a chicken dinner.

I Burn Ladders.

No. It’s not about becoming a pyromaniac.

Ladderburners are the antithesis of Ladder Climbers.

They believe that work with long-term meaning and purpose is not realized with more pay, promotion, on-site gyms, or hybrid working conditions.

Don’t get me wrong. More pay is a good thing. Zoom meetings in your most comfortable clothes – not bad either. And if you’re in the office, what can beat that piccolo latte or macchiato or red-eye to get your motor started.

My point is these motivators have a shelf life, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s shrinking every month.

To burn ladders is to embrace that the creation of meaningful work begins with destruction – the destruction of the belief that external motivators alone will bring you the joy you want at work. 

Ladderburning fuels the fire within. When you harness this newfound energy and focus it on building relationships and helping others succeed, you won’t care where the coffee beans are from or how they’re roasted. You change the game, not the rules. 

Ladderburning is a commitment to change your head and liberate your heart. You can do this.

So did 4.4 million people who quit their jobs last month.

Stop. Breathe. 

You can resolve. 

You can resign.

You can become a Ladderburner. 

2022 is your year. 

In the face of the Great Resignation and all the other workplace stresses, a solution is clear.
2022 is THE year of Ladderburning.