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When to Burn Your Bridges

Sometimes, I find myself wanting to wave the white flag, surrender and move along for good. But I learned very early in my career that it’s just not that easy. Working within the healthcare industry for 12 years has taught me very valuable lessons that I will carry on for a lifetime. Within my 1st three years of employment, I saw many highs and lows. It was my first time witnessing what most people would call “a revolving door” within an organization. I saw management change, coworkers promoted, demoted, discharged, laid off, quit etc. Some moments were sad but others were encouraging. It became such a joy to see the people who left, boomerang back into more lucrative opportunities. A nurse left and come back as a compliance officer. A secretary left and come back as an insurance auditor, an orderly left and come back as a surgical technician. How were they able to do that? Why were they welcomed back so graciously I wondered?

As I thought about these questions, I realized that there were very important factors to consider. Work relationships, networking and mutual respect are required just in case you may have to cross back over that “glorious” bridge. Sometimes it’s simple to cross back over because you left on a good note. Other times, it’s way too complicated to make the trek over the bridge because it’s worn, shaky or completely dismantled and in need of a complete repair. Yet, some bridges are not made to be rebuilt and it may be best to keep on walking with your head held high. My rule of thumb of when to burn your bridges is if that bridge:

  • Affected your health

  • Mutually harbored hate or disdain

  • Led to you being disrespected or degraded you personally or in front of your peers

  • Caused irreparable damage (mental or physical) to you or anyone close to you

If any of the above has happened to you, I would recommend not rekindling a relationship of any kind. Think about it; if that person could be that heinous towards you, what would make you trust that they will have your best interest at heart? What would be the purpose to keep that line of communication open? More importantly, what will YOU get out of it?

There are better bridges to be built. Networking can bring on a wealth of contacts with valuable resources and like-minded goals. So if you have to “burn a bridge”, go right ahead and look towards a brighter future.


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