Conventional wisdom says don’t “burn bridges”— I am referring to the idiomatic expression. At least that’s what I was advised my entire career in the corporate world.
Some bridges are actually meant to be burned.
I first started considering this when one of my coaches shared the idea with me. At first there was the mental resistance to even believing that…which is accompanied by fear, mainly of dropping an idea I’d carried for so long. What if this? What if that? It’s a very normal feeling.
Do you know where this expression originated?
It was from ancient Roman times when armies were commanded to burn the bridge so that they could not and would not retreat. They had to commit to a course of action. There was no escape route and one had to fight for survival.
You are probably wondering what application this has in modern-day work life, right? So, in the business world, burning a bridge means we have ended a relationship that could have benefited us or that we never know when we are going to need someone’s help.
So, I am not suggesting that you break off all your relationships or give no regard to others. Burning a bridge can mean ending a relationship. It can also mean breaking a less-than-positive habit and never turning back. It can mean committing to put yourself first even when it feels uncomfortable. Oftentimes, the dialogue in our minds that connects our thoughts and action/inaction is the very bridge we need to burn…so that we can build a new one.
Burning bridges are necessary to move beyond one’s comfort zone.
What I am suggesting is to audit your relationships, your habits and routines, your habitual reactions to things and so on—and consider this:
a) How many of them propel you forward to success, happiness and satisfaction routinely which is often times on the other side of your comfort zone and
b) How many of them keep your confidence low, keep you stressed-out and exhausted and elicit negative reactions from others towards you?
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself.
- Is “burning the bridge” a necessity driven by your ego (to be right, hold a grudge, etc.) or from a higher perspective (operating from awareness, compassion towards yourself and others)?
- Is burning a bridge really necessary or do you feel there is actually a compromise, including putting aside your pride as an example or realizing that you are at a different place in your evolution than another
- Is this required for your mental, emotional and physical well-being and effectiveness in your world?
- Are you ready and willing to accept personal responsibility for the consequences, no matter what?
- Do you know how to manage your inevitable emotional and mental (loss, guilt, fear, etc.) journey once it is done?
P.S. To reiterate: don’t forget to build new bridges.