I don’t watch many movies, but I recently found myself on a long flight, so I decided to catch a flick. Network, a movie from the 1970s captured my attention. Howard Beale, the dean of newscasters at the United Broadcasting System is forced to retire because of poor ratings, but he is not going quietly.
After learning that he has just a couple weeks left on the job, Beale informs his audience to tune in one week later because he is going to kill himself on the air. The network brass is irate that he made this comment, and immediately fires him. The next day, however, they were surprised that Beale’s newscast received a high rating, and there was new enthusiasm about the candid approach taken by the veteran newsman.
The decision was made to give Beale a new role in which he was able to discuss any controversial subject. In one episode, he asked the audience to go to the nearest window and shout: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Many of his viewers heeded his advice, and shouted the words into the open air.
What About Us?
As I watched the movie, I began thinking of what makes me upset, frustrated, and mad. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could make the decision right now that I will not take it anymore? For some, their work is too problematic, and they are in the fast lane to nowhere. For others, personal relationships are taking a toll, and it’s time for a change.
I remember a corporate job in which I reported to a micromanager. Before his arrival, the team operated without a manager. We knew what needed to get done, and largely self-managed. It wasn’t perfect, but we did excellent work, and each of us was accountable. The micromanager made it a priority to oversee all our work, and we were burdened with more admin duties that took us away from creative work. In essence, he was trying to fix a part of the business that was not broken.
After a few months of working with the micromanager, I decided it was too much for me. I was unhappy, and my performance was affected. I gave my notice, and was soon out of the company. Two other top performers followed suit a couple months later. Even though it was difficult to make the move, my situation is much better today.
Drawing the Line
Everyone has a threshold point. There are some who can take the punishment longer, and others who will flee quickly. Avoid quitting without having a backup plan. In the case of walking out of a job, you must have means by which to maintain your current standard of living.
My guess is that most people put up with more hell than they should. They stay in a tough situation far longer than they should,take more abuse than is necessary. They have a plan to make things better but fail to implement. It’s almost as if they think the problem will resolve itself.
At some point, you need to listen to Beale and not take it anymore.