My first answer is if people changed their behaviors enough that the work was unnecessary. Since the overwhelmingly most common behavior people show when I prompt them to think about changing their behavior is to justify why they shouldn’t change, I don’t see this change happening without significant leadership.
Frankly, I’m disheartened by how much people put their interests ahead of everyone else’s… how much they suppress and deny consideration of their externalities and the effects of their behavior on others. That lack of empathy and self-enforced ignorance to maintain a way of life they know hurts others threatens to lead me to give up on people.
I think about giving up all the time. It’s easier just to enjoy life without thinking about how my actions affect others. Nearly everyone alive is doing so. If you measure people caring by their showing their caring in their behavior, almost no one cares. They want others to change, but not themselves.
But I find more meaning and purpose in helping others and in living by my values than in physical pleasure, as much as I like it.
My second answer would be if someone more effective at achieving similar enough goals, I could give up leading, though wouldn’t give up acting on the goals.
Anyway, to give up on leading the environment, things that would discourage me enough to stop might include
- Finding a more important or pressing issue that took too much time for me to spare
- Possibly running out of money enough to lose my apartment, which I don’t see happening
- Someone doing the work better than I could
It’s hard to answer because many of the changes I made improved my life enough that there’d be no point in giving them up. The changes to live by my values have brought more pleasure to my life, even netting out the challenge. My food, for example, is more delicious than ever.
Living by your values improves your life. That’s nearly the only reason I do it.
I like to think that I wouldn’t give up out of frustration, no matter how little others changed their behavior, but that I’d keep learning more ways to get results. I guess I could see giving up out of frustration if nearly no one changed, but that’s already the case and it’s become a learning experience.
I think my final answer would be if too few people changed to make the work feel pointless and I ran out of options to try.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book