The Break-Up: The 90-10 Rule (Part 1)

Rob Jolles

In business, as well as in life, there are certain cycles most of us go through.  There is the thrill of being hired for a new job, and the joy of being wanted and appreciated.  But part of the cycle is  “breaking up” and moving from one job to another.  Gone are the days when that first job ended with a 50-year celebration and a gold watch. Much like the end of a marriage, sometimes these breakups are easy and sometimes they are not.  And every now and then, they are downright cruel.

This cruelty can create a hole in our hearts, and even worse, it can leave us bitter and confused.  When we have been treated unfairly and we have been asked to leave, it is crushing and painful.  These breakups often stem from intense, dysfunctional relationships, and it’s not easy to move on after something like that.

The worst part of all is what happens next.  We carry this confusion, pain, and anger with us, and before long, it infects our spirit.  It makes us cynical, and impedes our happiness.  Even if you haven’t lived through this, you’ve certainly seen it.  When someone is going through a breakup, any conversation you have with that individual will eventually take you to the sadness and the darkness that he or she is feeling.  One story leads to another, and another, and each one will bring with it a deeper level of rage.

This not something I hypothesize about, or have viewed only through the eyes of others.  Twenty-five years ago, I went through my own breakup from a manager who simply was not a good person.  Enough said.  I too was held hostage by my own anger and feelings.  I was never aware of the power this anger held over me until someone would innocently ask me about the person who damaged me so deeply.  No matter how free I thought I was, I’d be right back to square one – furious and depressed.  Part of the scars we carry are self inflicted because of our inability to move past this pain.  It can throw us in a free fall of despair and pity, and even worse, it can keep us from moving to the next place we are meant to be.

I can confidently tell you that there is a way out.  There are two things you must do, and if you do them, you will be free.   To begin with, you must put away the victim card, and ask yourself this question:  “What could I have done differently to have avoided this situation?”  Yes, you have been wronged, and yes, you have a right to be angry.  But no matter how you spin it, there is no scenario that places the full blame of a breakup squarely on only one person’s shoulders.  There is a lesson to be learned, and if you learn it, you will not only take the first step to healing, you’ll be rewarded by never making that mistake again.

It’s not unusual for people, particularly for those who have gone through a recent breakup, to struggle with this step.  In those cases, I recommend adding a small filter to the question.  Permit me to add that filter and ask the question again:  “Assuming you are 90% correct and without fault, what would be the 10% that you can take responsibility for?”  When you are able to answer this question you will turn this misery into an opportunity to evolve.  You’ll feel an immediate weight being lifted from your shoulders.

A person can, and will, move past this chapter in his or her life, but not without taking the first step necessary to remove this burden.  They’ll need to accept a certain level of responsibility.   In doing so, they will not only learn something about who they are, but they’ll also be able to share this hard earned lesson with others.

We’re halfway there.  In part two of this BLArticle®, I will have a much easier assignment, but one that requires a different form of discipline.   Stay tuned.

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