Every career – like every life, I would argue – is built in large part on relationships. We rely on classmates and friends to make it through school and our early years; we build relationships in our job interviews and leverage networks to secure those interviews and create a place for ourselves in an organization; and our experience of our careers over time is often determined more than anything else by how we feel about the people who make up our workplace community, how valued we feel by them and how connected we feel to them.
The Cheers song from which I have taken my title for this chapter says, “Making your way in the world today / Takes everything you’ve got.” If what you’ve got includes a good team around you, work takes a lot less out of you and gives a lot more to you; if you don’t, at a certain point you are likely to decide that it’s just not worth it. And sometimes, you’ve got to figure out how to somehow hold on to the team without forcing yourself to hang on in a job that has stopped working for you.
Knowing when and how to shore up your relationships and when and how to “break up” with one company to start fresh with another thus forms the centre of this chapter.
Sometimes in the process of turning your work upside down to get a life that reflects your authentic vision of yourself, you start to hear voices. Not in the Sybil or Sixth Sense, “I am vast, I contain multitudes of dead people” way, mind you, but in the “hmmm… I must have internalized my father/Aunt Millie/first grade teacher/last boyfriend on that one” way. We take in a lot more than we realize from the people around us, a lot of it just seeping in without notice – so much so that sometimes, despite even our very best intentions, what we are trying to do and what we actually create with our actions are worlds apart. This is perhaps nowhere more true than in the ways we approach our relationships, and just as true in work as in the rest of life.