I can say no to camping, spicy food and bug retrieval. But yet I can't seem to say no to work. And when I take on something else, the only thing left to cut seems to be sleep. With toothpicks propping open my eyes today after a paltry 5 hours of sleep last night, I'm reminded that quitting can be a good thing.
In 2005 I went back to get my MBA at Vanderbilt. Two music, bacon and case-study filled years later, I finished but had a hard time letting go of Nashville. This Philly girl loved, loved, loved the city and being back in school. So I couldn't resist when they asked for my help leading the Alumni Council. I give back, looks great on a resume, and I have the privilege of attending the Alumni Board meetings with some pretty amazing alumni. But I just quit. Yep, I am a quitter. I was feeling bad about it until Stephen Dubner told me (and all of radio land) that it's not such a bad thing.
In my role as Alumni Council President, I launched an alumni-led survey and gave some fantastic feedback to the school. I reached out to my own class and shared some cool ideas to energize others. But this year, frankly, I've sucked at my job. I'm taking longer to respond to email requests for help, and I haven't been innovative, interesting or proactive in the least.
I felt bad about quitting, but after the Freaknomics therapy, I realized it's actually better for my brand. When you overcommit, you take away from something. And no matter what that something is--family, hobbies, day job--you feel guilty about it. And that hurts your brand. For me it was sleep. And when I'm tired, I'm super cranky and I don't think well. Which is important since a big chunk of what I do involves strategy and innovation.
So while I hate to let the responsibility go, I know in the long run it's better for me, better for my brand and for Vanderbilt. I can sleep tonight knowing that giving up breadth of focus means I'm getting much more depth. And it's the depth of the brand that matters. Sounds caffeinating to me.