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5 Things To Learn From A “Take-This-Job-And-Shove-It” Moment

Ahh yes, I love a story like this one. Greg Smith is a former (as of today) executive director at the investment bank Goldman Sachs. I’m sure you’ve heard of Goldman Sachs; they were one of the financial institutions that took billions of dollars in TARP money from the federal government when it looked like it, and several others, were about to go under and take the US economy (and much of the world’s) with it.

Anyway, Smith turned in his resignation today after spending more than a decade with the bank. In that time, Smith was privy to some stuff that didn’t sit right with him, namely, according to him, a shift in the corporate culture. He wrote in part:

“And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”

“Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way.”

It was Smith’s Jerry McGuire Moment:


We’ve all been here haven’t we? And if you haven’t been, you will be at some point in your life. Mine came after a disastrous audition at a cable news channel (that shall remain nameless); I called it my Target Moment because in that instant I knew I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do THIS anymore. What they were asking of me was too far afield of who I was trying to become. Taking a step in that direction would have been going backward, even though (as I sit here counting my pennies),  the paycheck would have been nice.

Smith got me thinking today about the 5 things to take away from that TTJASI or Target Moment.

**FACE YOUR FEAR: I’m sure you’ve had the experience of building something up so big and bad in your head that when it actually happened your immediate reaction was, “ Oh, THAT’S what I was worried about?” My mother calls it borrowing trouble; I call it a waste of energy. That’s not to say you don’t plan and prepare; not to do so is just plain stupid. But obsessing over what may or may not happen is a colossal waste.

**HAVE A PLAN B: and I’m not talking about birth control (though a Plan B there is also a good idea). No, this is about understanding fully, assessing completely your situation. I was talking with Buff the other day about a friend of ours who was just fired from his TV gig. Before he was fired, he bought a big house and was living just a little too close to the edge. I was saying to Buff how shocked I was that this person hadn’t taken a more critical view of the situation and his role in it. This friend of ours was not a main anchor, really more on the periphery. If he had been smart, he would have looked at the health of the industry and the station before buying that big house. That’s not being paranoid; that’s being prudent. Know the difference.

**THERE WILL BE OTHER JOBS: You may not be able to find EXACTLY the same job you were doing before but surely there are skills you learned that translate to a new field. I have to give special props to Debbie Mitchell, one of the producers I used to work with back at CBS. Debbie lost her job there about a year and a half ago and you know something? She is not letting any grass grow under her feet. She looked at the skill set she has and is incorporating it into new ventures. And if, by chance, a TV gig that she wants comes her way, she can take it, never losing sight of what she has built up for herself.

**IT’S NOT WORTH IT: Ask yourself this…. Does the company or job you’re doing align with your core principles? Does it bring you joy? That’s not to say there won’t be hardship; of course there will be. But do you wake up looking forward to what the day will bring and what you can accomplish or is there a sense of dread? If you’re chest is tight and your feet are dragging, I don’t care how good the money is, it’s probably time to find something else.

**LIFE GOES ON: Yes Lord and sometimes it’s even better than before. The sun will still rise in the east, set in the west. There will be bills due, college to pay, kids to feed and a life to live. The world will continue to spin on its axis, whether you go into work at Goldman Sachs, that unnamed cable channel or wherever you spend your time. In my case, my transformation, as uncomfortable as it has been at times, I wouldn’t trade for the world. I’m better, faster stronger and more sure of myself than I ever have been, a byproduct I’m convinced, of the hardship I’ve endured.

Normally I would say Greg Smith has his work cut out for him in terms of finding a new gig. But I think in the current economic climate, he’ll be hailed as a hero for taking a stand. Would you? Could you?

So tell me, have you ever had a Target Moment? What brought it one? Was it about a job a friendship or both? How did you handle it?

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  1. The Broke Socialite

    March 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Preach! Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and just sent the book to the presses. When the golden handcuffs start to lose their patina, it’s time to go. Life is too short to spend 8 hours (and 16 hours…at least… was my case) someplace that sucks the living breath from you. Oooh…let me not pound the keyboard so hard. Woo sah. Vestiges of the dark side and my misery just flowed through my veins for a minute. NOT going back keeps me hungry and focused.

  2. Ella (the assistant)

    March 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Mama Mia! You know I have personally and professionally. God bless those who don’t have the means to withstand. Splurge and save because it does help. Help others because it will be easier to lean when you need help. Do consider worst case scenarios (I splurged when I should have lived on my friend’s couch a little longer). When a moment of opportunity comes quickly – take it because it will also leave quickly.

    It is hard! But I sit here blurry eyed saying the struggle was worth it!

    Oh, yeah. Don’t just “take anything” if you can help it. Bet on your own skills and talents. Really. I did ( because I could just a little ) and I can’t imagine a better outcome – well, the lotto, but you know what I mean!

    God bless!

  3. The HR Maven

    March 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    I hail Greg Smith as a hero. I too have had my “Jerry Maguire” moment, and as I look back I do not regret my decision to walk away from what was a very lucrative career.

    That was two years ago, and I have yet to fully recover. I am homeless (after exhausting all of my savings), almost penniless, and learning that sleeping in my cousin’s 4-year-old’s room is demeaning to say the least.

    However, If I had it to do all over again, I would still make the same choice. Sometimes taking a stand is costly, but I was paying big time by prolonging the inevitable.

    I created my newest venture, “The HR Maven”, to coach the Greg Smith’s of the world. There are too many who feel they are “stuck” in jobs that no longer mesh with their core values. Prayerfully, I can be a tool to help them identify when “enough is enough” or to assist them in being a catalyst for change in their circle of influence. Sometimes the only change that will happen is moving on, and that’s a noble option.

    We live. We learn. We live some more.

  4. Sarah L. Webb

    April 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    I had that moment in college when I changed my major from architecture to English in my junior year. It was an intensly emotional transition. I’m going through it again transitioning from full time teaching to writing. Seems like I kept letting fear turn me away from purpose. But that stops now.

  5. Angel

    August 20, 2012 at 7:25 am

    I’m so glad I saw this. I’ve been agonizing over the decision to leave my job of 10 years. I’ve hesitated because of thinking that being hired elsewhere would be difficult because of my weight. That being said, the skills I’ve acquired are undeniable. I just need to discover a way to market them well. I can do this. I can make this change. This post is both useful and encouraging. Thank you.

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