There is no need to say sorry for your career.
You don’t owe any company your entire life. There are some things that are non-negotiable if you want to have a life that isn’t dedicated to worshipping of thy revenue numbers.
Too much business is bad for your brain.
Here are the things I will never apologize for in my career to inspire your own actions — plus a few more that have been crowdsourced from more than 400,000 people on LinkedIn.
1. Quitting bad bosses.
Nobody has the right to make each and every workday hell for you.
If you meet a bad boss, divorce their ass. Smile until you find your next career and then get the hell out of there. Run a million miles an hour.
Let them destroy their career dream while they attempt to control the uncontrollable: humans.
You don’t need to live with a bad boss. Here’s what a bad boss looks like in case they’ve abused you so much you’ve forgotten:
- They talk down to you.
- They don’t have any idea what your career goals are.
- They treat you like their slave.
- They only care about your performance.
- They can’t name anybody you live with.
- They never ask you about your weekend.
- They make you work stupidly long hours because they can.
- They fire people with a smile. Humans are a disposable resource in their twisted minds. Mortgage motivation is a real concept to them.
- They treat 1–1 meetings like a one-way street, where you report your weekly activities and hope they approve.
If you meet a human known as a boss, get the heck out of there! Run faster than Forrest Gump to the first leader who asks you the underrated question of “so, what do you want to be in your career?”
2. Spending time with my partner.
If I don’t spend time with my family I die a little inside. Your family reminds you of why you go to work.
Spending time with your partner or family gives you motivation to go to work and solve business problems. Solving problems is incredibly hard.
The bigger the problem, the more money in it for a business. It pays to have a decent reason to go to work. I can’t think of any better reason than spending time with those you love.
Use the money you earn from work to buy back time to spend with your family.
3. Not answering the phone on Sundays.
I used to be a 7-day-a-week-man.
This means you could call me on Sunday during a picnic lunch with somebody else’s puppy dog, and I’d answer. I would talk loudly on the phone and pretend to be the Wolf of Wall Street closing deals. All that was missing was the cigar and the bad boss Bentley.
Now I don’t take calls on Sunday. I’m unavailable. You can email me and I won’t know, because I don’t care on Sundays. Sunday is the one day a week where I reflect and do mostly nothing for the day.
If your brain can’t decompress at least one day a week, then how will it grow. It won’t. Your brain will die, quietly.
4. Leaving toxic workplaces.
Toxic workplaces rot from the head down. It starts with terrible leadership. A toxic workplace has two traits: 1) Lots of blaming 2) Lots of complaining.
If most of your time is spent playing politics and handling fragile egos, then you can do better. There are workplaces that focus on doing business and delighting customers with valuable products and services.
I’ve worked in two really bad toxic workplaces in my career. One workplace I created at my own startup by being an insecure, arrogant, asshole. The second toxic workplace was one I joined and discovered later on. Everyone was real nice… until the knives full of lies jabbed me a thousand times in the back.
I thought my bulletproof mindset could get me through. The problem: a toxic workplace makes you toxic, even if you didn’t start out that way.
It’s like dropping cyanide in your coffee. Your coffee can be 99.9% made up of water, coffee and oat milk, and still kill you with a drop of poison.
It’s not your fault if you find yourself in a toxic workplace. You’re human and you will make mistakes. Take a warm shower and wash off the toxicity. Then find a workplace built on human culture and decent values.
5. Going backwards in salary for a better opportunity.
The biggest step backwards was when I went from earning 6-figures in my own business as an entrepreneur, to earning $50,000 AUD a year.
Everybody laughed at me. They called me names. They thought I was a failure for walking away from a business I loved. The thing is if you hate the person you become then no business can make your life great. I needed to destroy everything in my career to rebuild it again.
I took a better opportunity in a call center. I never really understood why until recently. Subconsciously I knew my mind was a mess. A lower-paying job came with hardly any stress and gave me the time to figure out what was going on. Not only did I beat the disease, but I discovered how to treat people properly and learned about self-improvement. This led me to become a content creator, which the best decision I’ve ever made in my career.
You don’t need to apologize for falling down the career ladder. Sometimes you have to start again to reinvent your career and find a different type of work.
The people who make fun of your change in career status aren’t people who will be in your life long-term.
6. Choosing a group of people over a job title.
I used to choose careers based on salary, bonuses and titles. By accident, I found a group of work colleagues I now call friends.
They taught me that you don’t need to apologize for saying no to opportunities so you can work with smart, quiet, brilliant, artistic, intellectually stimulating people.
When I was on the job hunt last year I turned down plenty of jobs because I didn’t like the people, even though the title would have looked nice on my LinkedIn profile.
The people you work with make doing the work worth it.
7. Being a leader, without the job title.
I have zero direct-reports in my career. Technically, in an interview, I don’t have management/leadership experience in the traditional sense.
But my job title is leader if you were to ask me. That’s because I choose to act like a leader. All this means is I try to be the example I wish to see in the world. I’m not a perfect example by a long shot.
Leadership is a mindset. Leadership is how you choose to act.
You can be the cleaner at a Fortune 500 company and be a leader. You don’t need to apologize for your lack of official leadership acknowledgment by your employer. Leaders don’t need permission.
This article was something I posted on LinkedIn as a short text post. It’s one of my most shared thoughts of the last 5 years.
Here are the crowdsourced responses to things you should never apologize for in your career:
- Mohamed Amin — “Being your true self at work and not pretending to be someone else just to be in conformity.”
- Rinki Sharma — “Telling the truth upfront.”
- Carla Wall — “Speaking out about all of the above.”
Aanchal Garg — “Asking even when I know the answer would be a ‘No.’”
- Judith Obi oha — “Being an introvert.”
- Zeta Yarwood — “Not conforming to the societal constructs of what success is.”
- Anne Gauthier — “Being a full-time mom for the first years of my son’s life.”
- Melanie Ayock — “Wanting to smile more and cry less.”
- Phike Tshoke — “Choosing to be humane over a little bit more profit.”
The collective power of everyday working people is incredible. I found these ideas to be a real eye-opener and I hope you do, too.
There’s no need to be sorry in your career.
You only get to live once, so you may as well enjoy the work you do and meet great people along the way who inspire you and help you unleash your potential. Life is too short for bad bosses and toxic workplaces.