On leaving a job that I love / by Tim Mahlberg

I believe that each day you get out of bed and head out to work is the day you choose your current job. It's an active, daily choice, rather than just a decision you make when you put in your application, have the interview and score the role. The day you start thinking that you want to do something else, or dream of the next stage, is the day you should start to create that next move. 

After I announced to my work community that I was moving on from my amazing role as Host of The Village, many people couldn't believe that I would leave. After all, it is clearly a role that i loved and was proud of (and still totally love it). When you find (or in my case, create!) your perfect role, then why would you choose to give it up? 

And just why did I love it so much? Well, because I was paid (by a bank!) to:

Photo credit: Kate Hanley

Photo credit: Kate Hanley

  1. Bring my whole self to work every day, and invite others to do the same. (Somedays that just meant being a dag)

  2. Build a community based on inspiration and empowerment

  3. Work with some of the most awesome people I've ever met (small business owners, entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders and big business innovators... what a mix!)

  4. Help other people to imagine more for themselves and their work, and build courage to act on their dreams

  5. Hold a vision for the community and the organisation that supports it (in this case, a top 4 Australian bank)

Yep, it was a pretty special gig, and definitely not your standard job description (I'll admit that the "official" one wasn't so inspiring)

So why would I leave it? After all, people can go a lifetime toiling away at work that they are not passionate about. Well, I believe that this work is just a stepping stone to something even bigger and I owed it to myself to explore that. I wanted to create the space and time in my life for that next big thing. In fact, I believe that it has been preparing me for something even more exciting. 

There was a quote that played on my mind as I contemplated leaving:

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for

J. A. Shedd

If The Village was my harbour, and I was the ship moored there, then really, it was an easy choice to leave. The very nature of the harbour and the people visiting, whispering stories of seas yet sailed upon, and lands yet explored, did nothing but feed the growing curiosity of what is possible outside. Being surrounded by amazing entrepreneurs and innovators does that to you!

I wanted to feel the waves on my bow, the wind in my sails, and the sun on my face. I definitely didn't want to be safe, because that's not where the fun is. So, after a year and a half of building the harbour and the ship, I was off sailing. 

Sailing has been a powerful analogy in my life ever since I learnt to sail with my Mum when I was 10. There is something raw and majestic about battling the elements in a small boat across rough waters and being confronted by the awesomeness and power of nature. When I was a teenager, there were a few moments where storms had overwhelmed me and my boat, and I felt like it could be the end, or at least the sense that death was a possible outcome if things were much worse. The destructive potential of nature captivated my imagination and grounded me in that moment; a mere child mesmerised by unknowable forces that ruled the world, and a complete surrender to fate. 

There is something about letting go of what is known and controllable with sailing that I find so empowering. It reminds me to imagine what might be, remain in awe of the mysteries of life and be open to surprise and the ever-present serendipity. There are so many uncontrollable forces at play in life that we would be fooling ourselves to believe that even with our hand firmly on the tiller, we are never truly in charge of our destiny. 

This is one last quote that I hold when I make my life decisions. Making big calls in life and work isn't easy for anyone. It takes courage and risk. But, the rewards are worth it, and there is something reassuring and beautiful in falling asleep each day feeling that you have chosen that day in all it's entirety and wouldn't change anything at all.

Photo credit: Tim Mahlberg

Photo credit: Tim Mahlberg

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. 

Explore. Dream. Discover.

- Mark Twain