For better or for worse:

The art of burning bridges

“Your network equals your net worth”, chanted resoundingly throughout the halls of a self help workshop, aimed at elevating self esteem and introducing questionably fresh business ideas. The catchy phrase is barely the culprit to the social phenomenon of keeping bridges.

Before every exit interview, you might find that several would come to you with an earnest advice that you should not “burn bridges”, which can be translated into “ forfeit your chance to give beneficial, or any feedback at all, to avoid potential repercussions in future.” This may well present itself as prudence in handling one’s social reputation, therefore safe guarding future interests. However, this is the cornerstone of a big hole in genuine social connectivity. Put simply, everybody you know ought to serve some sort of purpose in your life or career, and therefore are important that you keep them. It ultimately reduces people to mere capacities.

If you are who you associate with, we ought to make choices in the kind of people we keep around us. But the aforementioned motto, puts us in place where we can no longer make genuine choices of who we keep in our lives. It is almost we hoard people, whether or not they are good for us. Since we cannot make everybody happy with who we are, this often also imply in certain cases, where we find that we have to suppress what we stand for, in order to preserve toxic connections, not even relationships with people whom we strongly disagree with, and may not even trust or like.

It is futile that when we focus on such contemptible notions in attempt to grow wiser, or at least appear more shrewd. When we conduct our lives in such manner, soon, people ought to forget who we really are, and what we stand for. We become merely chameleons of social acceptance. Rather, it is the bridges that we burn, that sheds light to who we are. It is the tangible action of carving out our values and beliefs. Who your enemies are, very much define who you are and what you stand for. It is more preferable to have the wrong enemy than have no enemies at all. Well simply because, it does take backbone and self respect to make enemies. There is nothing respectable when everyone likes you. It is either you are a hypocrite with no backbone, or merely just someone nobody deems as a threat. Thus, rather than keeping the dry wood around, why not burn them?

It is admirable that we learn this art (of burning bridges) with tactfulness and integrity, that the end results would lead us to become wiser, and more genuinely introspective beings who understand ourselves and what we stand for. Not promising that there will be no repercussions in burning bridges, but rather than selling our integrity for gains that have not even been materialised at all, we ought not to live in fear of the future, but adhere to our values and nurture the courage to stand up for them. I allude to my last post, that it is important to understand what we are thinking about, and not let our thoughts be clouded. Hence, conscientious choices of who we keep close is indefinitely something we all ought to practice.

Lastly, I quote Nassim Taleb “ People focus on role models; it is more effective to find antimodels — people you don’t want to resemble when you grow up”.

Girl in the Black Dress