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Manny Says “What?!”

August 17, 2022

Lessons from This is Us in Response to Job Switching and the Great Resignation

My wife and I were late to the This is Us party. We’d heard of it but hadn’t been watching the episodes as they aired.

Eventually, we decided to give it a try and wound up binge-watching all six seasons in a relatively short period of time. Five stars – highly recommend!

The obvious advantage of binge-watching is that it provided us with instant gratification that seems so prevalent in society today. We know what we want, and we want it now! But another advantage was that by fast-tracking through each episode, it really accentuated the growth of the characters. I could cite examples for every character on the show, but in the interest of brevity, I won’t. However, three characters really stood out to me:

  • William, who endured many struggles and pain throughout most of his life, became a man of faith, hope, and love, while constantly giving out nuggets of wisdom.
  • Kate, who struggled with self-esteem eventually learned to love herself. Kate frequently questioned her mother Rebecca’s attempts to instill her with confidence. Yet, when questioning why Rebecca selected her as medical decision-maker, Rebecca’s response cured so many deep-seated wounds by simply saying “Kate, it was always you.”
  • Kevin was the star athlete in high school, then starred on a TV sit-com where he played a male nanny, referred to as “The Manny”. He was rich and famous. He had it all… or did he? Behind the façade, Kevin struggled with substance abuse and constantly abused his relationships. It’s interesting that Kevin, who played the role of a caregiver (“The Manny”) on TV, seemingly only cared about himself. Then, as he matured, he became a real-life caregiver to others, including his uncle Nicky and his mother.

A quote from the show that really stood out was in the series finale when Rebecca said to Kevin “Sometimes you have to work harder to become what I know you can be. And it’ll make it so much sweeter when you do.” This quote applies to so many things in life, including our vocations, hobbies, relationships, and faith journeys.

Relationships Matter

For many viewers of this show, the parallels between the fictional Pearson family and their own family dynamics are obvious. The same was true for me. But the show also got me thinking about my work family. I’ve worked for the same company for approximately 40 years. Granted, the company has changed hands multiple times, and many other changes have come and gone, but what I treasure is that many of the people that we work with have remained the same. We’ve gone from watching each other get married and have kids, to attending graduation parties for those same kids, and now attending retirement parties and sharing stories of grandkids. We’ve attended funerals of parents, and sadly, some of those same co-workers. Over the years, we’ve shared many memories, had lots of laughs, shed some tears, been through some tragedies, and often prayed for each other. Through it all, in good times and bad, we’ve been there for each other. In short, we’ve been a tight-knit family all along.

I’m sure there’s a little bit of William, Kate, or Kevin in all of us. (Or perhaps a lot of all three of them!) Some have been through some painful times but have come out on the other end of it with wisdom to share. Others have once lacked confidence that was eventually developed by making mistakes and learning from them. And some have at one time been self-serving, only to be humbled and realize the benefit of teamwork. So, with respect to how we function in the workplace, we’ve all grown up together; at times receiving help or guidance and at other times giving help or guidance along the way. And it’s been a beautiful thing!

So what does this all have to do with job switching and The Great Resignation?

During my career, I’ve seen many people come and go. For the first 30 years or so, most recognized that the grass isn’t always greener and stayed with the company. The company was loyal to them, and they were loyal to it. At the risk of sounding like “back in my day” or “get off my lawn” guy, I can honestly say that it’s different now than what it used to be. I’ve seen many people get hired, stay for a year or two, and then leave for what (they think will be) greener pastures. Some of them may be right, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they are wrong. Regardless of whether they do indeed find those greener pastures, what they’re truly missing out on is the opportunity to develop those long-term relationships with a work family – one that they can look back on decades later and really treasure. And while all of the memories are treasured, to me, the real value is in looking back and seeing the growth in the people – both as individuals and as a collective work family. As said earlier, relationships matter.

I understand that, during this period of The Great Resignation, many leave their jobs because they are simply burnt out. I’ve been there and know that it’s not easy. Burnout is biblical – see I Kings 19, where God sends Elisha to succeed the prophet Elijah who was burned out and giving up hope. (This goes to show that burnout can happen to just about anybody) While some situations may leave you with no other option; however I don’t believe the answer is always going to be to switch jobs or to quit. Quitting altogether brings on its own form of stress (disclaimer: retirement is another story, and I look forward to that day) and switching jobs will often lead to more of the same. In my case, the burnout was alleviated by requesting more help (on the job) and also through prayer and seeking out guidance from some trusted men at my church. It was a process but has been much more rewarding in so many ways than if I’d simply cut and run.

So my message to you is the same as Rebecca’s message to Kevin: Sometimes you have to work harder to become what I know you can be. And it’ll make it so much sweeter when you do. Manny says “What?!”

Written by Ed Merritt, SVP at Big Village.

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