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Friday, March 2, 2012

... Know When to Fold 'Em

     A couple of weeks ago I sat around a table in a conference room with my coworkers for our weekly staff meeting.  With two new employees and changes underway, I listened intently as our newbies were welcomed into the fold.  It caught my attention that the newcomers were called "the future of ...[the agency I work for].  I also noticed that for myself and the other office "veteran", there was no eye contact, no mention, no acknowledgment that we even existed.  It was at that moment that I fully accepted something that I already had a nagging suspicion of:  far as our manager is concerned, we have become irrelevant. If they are the future, we are the past---workhorses waiting to be put out to pasture.  This realization would be hard for anyone to take, but since I have a good 20+ years left in the workforce, being irrelevant really sucks. 
     So where does one go with that?  Here's the reality....I should have gotten' my hat a long time ago.  Once eager and ambitious, I had dreams of leadership.  As overtures were made to suggest I would have a place in management someday, I held on.  But then the tides shifted.  And that's OK, because sometimes people change their goals and direction, and that can effect people underneath them---so be it, they have that right.  Yet as times changed, so did respectful treatment.  Appreciation and value gives way to condescension.  You become shut out of decisions you once were invited to weigh in on.  Kenny Rogers gave good advice as to how to handle this:  you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run....
     Unfortunately, I can be a bit slow---the writing can be on the wall but I still pine for some alternative outcome.  I cling to things returning to what was instead of "folding" and moving on.  How many of us do this---hanging on when we are long past the point where we should let go?  Maybe it is a friendship that is past its season, no longer reciprocal.  Or maybe it is a relationship that should have been taken off life support years ago.  Or the job that no longer creates opportunity for growth.  For some of us it may be all of these.  It is important to learn and to understand that dead things rot, and they stink.  When we hold on to something that no longer serves us, we slowly kill our souls.  In order to maintain our dignity, self respect, and self worth, we must do like The Gambler and know when to fold 'em.