In my work, I have a front-row seat to a good bit of carnage. It is a reality that I have come to appreciate, a gravity I feel with acute awareness, and a welcome reminder that not long ago I was the primary driver of my fair share of dysfunction. Most weeks I speak with someone desperate to find a new employment opportunity. Usually, they have lost their job or are worn down from years in a toxic environment. Just as often I sit across the table from a leader of a business who is fraying at the seams. Either overwhelmed by inordinate business challenges, or strained personal relationships, or both. In their voices, I can hear the hope fading.

Inevitably, and without prompting, they will offer some glimmer of optimism. If we could just get rid of so and so. If we can land this one client. Sometimes these scenarios aren’t too far-fetched, but more often than not, they are a pipe dream. Usually, it is self-talk, a hope of speaking into existence a future that is unlikely to come to fruition. For the individual looking for a new opportunity, they know deep down inside that their manager isn’t changing and work will continue to be the darkest part of their life until they find something new. For the business leader, they know that increasing the sales and marketing budget, rolling out a new business unit or product line, or overhauling their middle management layer probably isn’t going to move the needle. They are not quite at the end of their rope but are pretty dang close.