As I complete my tour of duty with the current (now former) employer there is plenty of time for quiet reflection… perhaps too much time for an unhealthy amounts of reflection.
Did I do the right thing?
There is always some doubt, no matter how sure you are of making a decision to leave a company. What if just around the corner things would start to improve, something would get better, somebody would finally get it, etc? What if? You can never completely rule out that possibility.
A good friend of mine once used the 20th century Russian history to debunk this line of reasoning. See, Russia’s history has been marked by periods commonly known as “thaws”. During the thaws for a brief intoxicating instant one could be a little freer, permit oneself to oppose the regime a little more than usual, to go a small step beyond what was normally allowed.
These episodes quickly conjured up the illusion that more easing was right around the corner. You probably already know where this story is going — I don’t need to spell it out in gory detail. Accidental whiff of change, no matter how desperately desired, should never be confused with a fundamental change in human condition. This illusion was always another build-up for yet another letdown.
I really like this analogy because I am from Russia. I also like it because (in a very dramatic way) it illustrates something profound about the human nature. There are those who expect the conditions to change, and there are those who change the conditions.
During the thaws it was sometimes possible to leave the country. There were those who immigrated given the choice, and there were those who stayed — the pragmatics and the wishful thinkers.
I am oversimplifying, of course. I would be the last to claim that anyone and everyone can rise above their circumstances. It’s as much a function of a person’s character as it is of the circumstances. And yet I know for a fact that many people who could have left chose not to, many of them for seeing this imaginary light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
Career decisions rarely have such dire consequences as thinking that the regime’s change of heart is coming. Transformative change of one’s environment is just rare, especially if you are not actively participating in making the change happen. If it happens it’s an added bonus, and yet it never seems to be the history’s preferred course.
This time I needed the change, and I knew that I couldn’t wait for it to happen on its own.