Monthly Archives: April 2016

I’ve Quit My Job – What Next?

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The message flashed onto my WhatsApp and looking at the sender, I was not only overjoyed but also very proud of the move this long time friend of mine had made.

The adage “throwing the cow over the cliff” emanates from the story of a Philosopher who was strolling in a remote area with his disciple. They came across this family living in a dingy house all dressed in ragged and dirty clothes. On asking them how they manage to survive, they pointed at the cow and narrated how it provides for their daily milk supplies which they use at home as well as barter for other commodities at the nearby town.

On departing, the Philosopher tells his disciple to go get that cow and throw it over the cliff. The disciple apparently filled with sympathy thought that was a very heinous act but had to do as he was told. Despite his rumblings, the Philosopher never went ahead to explain why.

This experience haunted the disciple that many years later he decided to go back alone and check on this family. On reaching the place, he found a big farm with all sorts of amenities, tractors, a big farm house, storage silos, a new car parked in the yard among other things. He quickly knocked at the door and asked the gentleman who opened where the ragged family that once owned that place had gone.

The gentleman responded, They still own the place. Well, we used to have a cow, but it fell over the cliff and died,” said the man. “Then, in order to support my family, I had to plant herbs and vegetables. The plants took a while to grow, and so I started cutting down trees to sell the wood. Then, of course, I had to buy saplings to replace the trees. When I was buying the saplings, I thought about my children’s clothes, and it occurred to me that I could perhaps try growing my own cotton. I had a difficult first year, but by the time harvest came around, I was already selling vegetables, cotton and aromatic herbs. I had never realized how much potential the farm had. That cow dying was a bit of luck really!”

Many of us are stuck in the rat race with work or jobs whose only effect is to give us the comfort that we can foot those bills like house rent, car loans, utilities, eating out, a weekend at the club, going for holiday in exotic destinations among others. These jobs psychologically condition us into thinking and believing that without them, we can’t survive. Like that ragged poor family, we believe that without that job, life is all over. Infact we can’t imagine anything called existence outside that highly billed job. This probably is the biggest reason why we get the Mid Life Crisis bug when we hit certain ages. Sometimes the best thing that can ever happen to you is to lose that job you so much want to stick onto.

We all have Cows that need to be thrown off the cliff if we are to achieve those dreams we harbored right from our youthful days. The death of that poor family’s cow got them into overdrive and behold, in a matter of years, they had stretched their imagination beyond the cow and acquired skills in crop husbandry, lumbering among others which eventually saw them start reaping. Of course the beginning is always hard (this I can’t lie) but once you remain steadfast with the decision to forge a way forward, the benefits start coming in droves.

I recall a marketeer who once worked with one of Uganda’s leading Telecom companies close to twelve years ago. This then young man was the perfect embodiment of his company’s brand. He was always the subject of the only available gossip column then in the New Vision called ‘Have You Heard.’ He was every babe’s dream guy simply because he had the money to flaunt around, a big company guzzler to drive anytime he wanted to and the assurance of a salary many could only dream of. One day, he went on leave and in his absence, quite some dirt was uncovered of his underhand dealings. Upon returning to office for work, he was gently requested to hand over all company property in his possession and just like that, he fell from Grace to Grass. Walking out of his employer’s air conditioned building, he looked for the next boda boda (motor bike) to take him back to his upscale rented residence. Just like that, he fizzled into obscurity, never to be heard of again.

This marketeer’s story is one of a cow being thrown over the cliff but it’s ending is full of uncertainties. The difference between him and the rugged family is that this then young man probably never had as much thirst and desire to survive and overcome his predicament when compared to the poor family.

My friend who sent that WhatsApp message had been contemplating for a while about leaving his job and pursuing his desired work as opposed to doing a job he studied for. When I shared that story of throwing the cow over the cliff, he reflected upon the message and saw that it applied to him personally. That is when he decided to take the plunge.

You might be in a similar situation, you have wanted to make that move, you know too well that the job you are doing only enables you slide through life with a smile but deep inside your heart, you would rather be elsewhere. Don’t deny yourself and your heart’s desires because you are definitely going to regret in future not having taken the step at the time when it mattered most. You are no different from a partner who hangs on in an abusive marriage because of the children and what society will think.

As one of the soft drink companies says, You Only Live Once (YOLO). The scare of not being able to meet your bills might over weigh your desire to pursue your first love but am here to encourage you and tell you that BITE THAT BULLET. The challenges you are likely to face are part of your future story since you can’t have a testimony without a test.

I know that for you to read this far, you have definitely considered throwing the cow over the cliff before but backed out. This is your time, this is your day this is your season. Discover your unlimited potential, THROW THAT COW OVER THE CLIFF !!!!!

@wirejames on Twitter

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