We build too many walls and not enough bridges. -Isaac Newton
In the business world and especially in the entrepreneurial business world, burning bridges is a no-no. As an entrepreneur, you need as many people on your side as possible. You never know if a bridge that you are burning is the link to a connection that you need. Talk travels fast and you never want to miss out on an opportunity because your ego is in the way. Plus, you do not want to be known as the person who walks over people and burns bridges all the way to the top.
I try to keep this in mind. I’m not perfect though, my ego sometimes gets in the way. However, as I get more experience in life I get better at not burning bridges. Half a decade ago I would have not thought twice about it. Not so much in my professional career, I was raised to never burn a bridge when it comes to work or a job or your career. However, when it came to networking or relationships, in the past, I was not one to really try to avoid burning bridges. It’s certainly something that we as entrepreneurs or future entrepreneurs or even just professional adults, should focus on avoiding. It shows maturity and tact. Even something as simple as an emailed explanation or a simple apology could be enough to save a relationship. We certainly should not ghost on any contacts or be a horrible person towards others on our journey. It only makes things harder on us, it makes the proverbial travel a ton more difficult when we need to cross a bridge and find that it is our own fault that we can no longer cross it or are forced to take the long way around to get to who we need, what we need, or where we need to be.
Ty Morse, who is the CEO of Songwhale, an interactive technology company focused on domestic and international enterprise SMS solutions and direct response campaigns, says that the advice “don’t burn bridges, build them” was the best advice that he has ever had. In his article with Inc., he presses the idea that you never know who will be meaningful to you on your path to the future, that nothing is worth completely cutting someone off. He is a true believer in focusing on building bridges in networking and building relationships with those that we come across on our journey. Just as Schussler in “It’s A Jungle in There”, Morse also encourages us to take the high road and to not let our ego get in the way. He says that the business world is about doing business not being defensive or petty. I could not agree more.
Sometimes you must take a step back and ask, “is this really worth it?” This is something that I am having to learn on my professional development voyage. I’ve always been taught to “pick my battles” and as I grow, I try to not let my ego get in the way. I try to look at the big picture and ask myself about what truly matters. Will it be of concern down the road a bit? Does being right for the sake of being right do anything for me? Is an apology the right option? Morse says to have tact and to avoid being defensive and petty. Most things that we get so twisted up about do not matter in the big picture and our pride is just all in the way. It is okay to be wrong (or right without making a big deal about it) and it is certainly acceptable to apologize. It is most definitely fine to not burn bridges.
Once we learn how to find that balance and to not burn bridges but to instead build them, we will see that things get so much easier.
Schusssler, S. (2010). It’s a Jungle in There. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.