Tuesday, December 1, 2009

End of the Road II

A part of my job is to destroy people's life-long dreams, to break hearts. The question of how to approach such a serious, but necessary task, is a difficult one for those in my field. I can certainly tell you that this is not a task that we enjoy or relish or from which we receive one iota of pleasure. However, at some point it is essential that this task be carried out, and carried out with compassion and brutal honesty.

If they have not seen this coming, they are either naive or have completely fooled themselves. The fact that they have not been able to critically examine their own work or to realistically compare themselves to their peers is a signal. Time to go. Uncerimoniously dumped, discarded, and the path cannot be changed. In truth, the die was cast many years ago. Perhaps they had advisors who were not honest with them and who should have given them proper advice years ago. Perhaps for a time their work ethic and energy were enough to overcome lack of talent or deep thinking. But now, everyone knows but them and the end of the road has been reached. It is time to have that painful, but necessary talk.

To be sure these moments are difficult. Working with people, you get to know them and their stories. But the time for realistic thinking is now at hand. For some, the conversation is kind of a relief, and can lead to a kind of awakening where they can finally admit and grasp the truth. For others, the moment leads to recoil. A release of anger and harsh words. Like a wounded beast they fight back. Still others try to hold on a bit longer before they lose their grip and slip away. We must realize that we are not doing anyone a favor when we give them false hope about their chances for success. Here is the end of the road, it is time to go.

(Part 2 of 2)