When to Burn a Bridge

When to Burn a Bridge

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. One of the topics we talk about in Be the I in Team is burning bridges, but even though we talk about it in our book, it feels harder to write an advice blog on the topic. I’ve read several other articles and even elicited the opinions of my team. To preface this writing, I will say that burning a bridge is extremely personal and the reasons for doing so are far more diverse than I will be able to mention. Please know that this blog will do its best to give a well-rounded view of when to burn a bridge (or when to let go). Your experience is unique, and my hope is that this blog will provide some guidance on your journey to discover whether or not it’s time to burn a bridge.

Slow Down

We talk about slowing down a lot at The I in Team series, typically because slowing down allows us to gain more control of our emotions and thoughts. When you’re considering whether or not it’s time to burn a bridge, the first step you need to take is to slow down. This can look different for everyone. For some, it may mean taking some space and time away from the person you are considering burning a bridge with. For others, it could just be a night of your favorite activities and showing yourself some love. The biggest thing to remember here is that slowing down means giving yourself time to process your emotions and get to a place where you can think logically.

Once you’ve slowed yourself down enough to think clearly, you can start asking yourself questions to determine if the issue you are experiencing with this person is because of you or them. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but there are times when you will experience issues with others that are not because of them. These are typically due to a fear of intimacy, so you may push others away before they can push you away. These feelings are valid and may be rooted in some trauma, but burning a bridge with someone because of your fears (rather than their behavior) can often deepen and exacerbate those fears and emotions. Regardless of what you discover while slowing down, the best second step after you’ve gained conscious thought is to communicate your perspective.


Communicating how you feel to another person isn’t always easy, but it is necessary for your own growth and the growth of your relationship with that person. In most cases, it’s only fair you give this person a chance to change their behavior by being honest about your perspective. However, there are exceptions to every rule. For example, if you’re experiencing physical abuse. There are some times when even communication can’t help you and you need to move immediately to step three (which we will cover in a moment) which is putting yourself first. But, in most cases, communicating and being honest about your perspective of the relationship is the best second step.

Even if you are afraid of intimacy, you should be able to be honest about that. Whatever your reason is for setting some boundaries and having communication with this person, they should respect that. If they don’t, that might be a sign that it’s time to let them go. If you’re discussing an issue you have with how they treat you, you need to give them some time to adjust their behavior. Keep in mind that people will only change if they want to change, but you can’t force anyone to change. If you find that, even after communicating, someone isn’t changing how they treat you, it may be another sign that it’s time to walk away. You deserve to be respected and surrounded by people that give you positive energy more often than not. The life you are living is your experience, and, ultimately, you must always put yourself first.

Put Yourself First

For some, it’s easier said than done. Putting yourself first is the ultimate act of self-love and is necessary, even if it is difficult. Here are some things you might want to be on the lookout for in your relationships when you know it’s time to put yourself first and start letting that other person go (after you’ve tried communicating): they are constantly weighing you down with negativity or drama no matter how much energy and support you give them in hopes they will be content, they are an attention hog and show no interest in you, they lie or withhold information from you, they expect too much from you without giving anything in return, they gaslight or manipulate you, they don’t treat your other friends or family well, they don’t allow you to be yourself in front of them, or they try to hold you back. While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a good starter list to get you thinking about who in your life doesn’t respect you enough to keep around. Letting someone go, or burning a bridge, is ultimately an act of self-love.

One question that came from my discussion with my team: Is it possible to let someone go without burning the bridge? The consensus was yes, that it is possible. Letting someone go is simply putting distance between yourself and that person. It could mean talking or seeing each other much less, or even not at all. Burning a bridge is ending the relationship forever for good, severing all ties to that person. Sometimes, all you need is some space from someone to slow down, cool down, and evaluate what kind of relationship you want going forward. In the end, you need to do what is best for you. Always put yourself first. If you don’t put yourself first, you can’t be your most positive influence. As we always say here at The I in Team series, your influence is your single greatest responsibility. Treat yourself well and influence responsibly.

Positive and Ethical Leadership Qualities

Positive and Ethical Leadership Qualities

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Everything we teach here at The I in Team series helps current and aspiring leaders understand what it means to possess positive and ethical leadership qualities. Being an ethical leader has an immense influence on your team; it can be the difference between building a high performing team and going out of business.


Being present and available is one of the key qualities of ethical leadership. This means your physical presence is necessary. Absent leaders (leaders who do not show up to work, are late for work, or who do not engage with their employees) are considered unethical leaders. The foundation of leadership is being present to lead your team. For those who are leading a remote team, being active and checking on your team frequently will show your presence. If you’re leading a remote team, try to communicate with them often as you would in a traditional office.


Communication is often the hardest aspect of leadership, but it is vital to building a high performing team that rallies with you to meet organizational objectives. How you communicate your thoughts and emotions will determine the communication culture of your entire organization. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but it does mean that you need to work to communicate effectively with yourself and others. Ethical leaders are not ones who are perfect; they are ones who know they can grow, learn, and adapt.

Growth Mindset

Having a growth mindset means that you believe you and others are capable of growth, as opposed to a fixed mindset where you would believe that you and others are stagnant and unadapting. When you adopt a growth mindset, you believe in and empower yourself and your team members. This makes an ethical leader because they know their team possesses the skills necessary to complete organizational objectives, as well as one who understands that failure is inevitable. Coming to terms with the fact that failure will happen is imperative to being an ethical leader because you and your team will fail but it’s how you move on from those failures that defines your organizational culture. Having a growth mindset combined with a heavy dose of objectivity will allow you to remain ethical when helping your team recover and learn from failure.


Objectivity is required to be an ethical leader, especially when you are dealing with multiple people who have diverse lives. If you are not naturally objective, it will take some practice and patience with yourself as you learn this new skill, but it is imperative to gain the ability to be objective so that you can make equitable decisions. Being objective means overcoming bias and bigotry; it means slowing down, remaining present, and growing your ability to be emotionally intelligent so that you can respond to situations appropriately. Leaders who are objective are ethical because they create a culture of accountability and compassion.


Compassion is a necessary trait in life; it is the understanding that everyone deals with difficult situations combined with the wish to alleviate the negative consequences of those situations. While we can’t help everyone, we can have compassion for them. Having compassion for yourself and your team allows you to communicate with them effectively and objectively, knowing that they are a human being with wants, desires, and motivations just like you. Compassion builds an ethical leader because it allows you to treat your team with respect. In combination with all the ethical leadership qualities listed here, any compassionate leader can compel their team to reach even seemingly impossible goals.

While this list is certainly not exhaustive of what it takes to be a positive and ethical leader, they are some of our top five ethical leadership qualities. In contrast, unethical leaders are ones who are absent, dishonest, corrupt, unfair, manipulative, and more. Unethical leaders can deteriorate teams and cause high employee turnover, low engagement, low creativity, and more. The negative effects of unethical leadership can severely impact an organization’s ability to grow and be successful. If you wish to create a company that thrives, you must be an ethical leader.

The Puzzle of Perception

The Puzzle of Perception

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Brian and I were recently in Hawaii with our new publisher (Made for Success) drafting the content for our third book when we had an interesting discussion centered around what it means to understand that the world is “gray.” This “gray” world is rooted in objectivity and pragmatism, as well as the understanding that for everything that exists, the opposite also exists. It became a discussion about the puzzle of perception, how we each perceive the world in vastly different, and perhaps even opposing, ways. While there is no definitive answer to the question, “Who is right and who is wrong?” we are going to attempt to tackle this puzzle so that you can begin to ponder what it means to be objective while remaining confident in your perception.

Four Sides to Every Story

Our discussion started with the idea that there are four sides to every story: 1) Yours 2) the other person’s 3) the perception of anyone you tell this story to 4) the truth. The fourth side is the side that caused much debate because “the truth” is nearly impossible to know. Every bit of information that we take in becomes tainted by the lenses through which we see the world (our perception). When we describe our experience, our communication is filtered through these same lenses, which is, again, filtered by new lenses of the person listening to us. We each form our own “truths” based on how we perceive and interact with the world. However, that doesn’t mean that our perception is the “true” perception; there is no way to say what is the “truth” because our mind warps reality to fit with our perception.

Does that mean we are all liars? No, it just means that we need to remain mindful that others may perceive the same situation differently based on their unique lenses. Does this mean that we can’t root ourselves in our own “truths?” No, we can still choose what we anchor ourselves to (our values) and strive to remain consistent in our beliefs through self-reflection and logical reasoning. However, this also means that we need to understand that whatever values we choose to root ourselves in, there are people who will directly oppose us. This is hard to wrap your head around because your mind wants you to believe that your way of perceiving the world is the only way…the correct way.

If you’re interested in reading more about the four sides to every story, click the link to read our blog on IA Business Advisors.

What is Truth?

If we cannot ever be sure of what is true, how do we know what the truth is? Unfortunately, we don’t. The truth we come to terms with in our mind is based on a variety of factors, including trusting others, how well we know ourselves, and our perception. We must put our faith and trust in others that they will tell us their perception truthfully, but we must also understand that their perception is tainted by their personal worldviews. This allows us to remain objective and listen with the intent of learning more about the speaker. Does that mean what you are hearing is wrong? You will have to decide for yourself based on what you know about the person and how much faith you have in their ability to communicate with you honestly.

When deciphering what you will believe to be true, you need to know yourself and understand the lenses that influence your perception. This will be a little difficult as we all have lenses that taint our view that we might not be aware of: bias. Nonetheless, the more you know yourself, the easier it will be to understand how you interpret information. And while it might seem that this writing is trying to confuse you, we only mean to help you understand that there are opposing views anywhere you look and that you must remain mindful of this fact by understanding the nuances of “truth.”

Good vs Bad

This section is going to be quite philosophical and possibly triggering, so I will do my best to explain linearly to aid in supporting the claim that we cannot know the only “truth.” The idea of good and bad is completely subjective, meaning, what one sees as bad another may see as good and vice versa. I’ll use a personal example to help describe what I mean by this. I am vegan and personally believe it is wrong (bad) to kill life; I see doing everything we can to prevent killing life as good, hence why I am vegan. In opposition to me are those who may enjoy hunting, fishing, and eating meat; they do not see taking a life that doesn’t belong to them as wrong. So, who is right? Neither of us because we each root in our own values and perceptions of the world. Both ideas exist on the same plane.

Let’s take the example to the extreme and discuss killing humans. Is it okay to kill humans? I would say no because that is my belief. However, what if we could sacrifice one human to save many, would that make killing okay? Say, for example, if Adolf Hitler had been murdered before taking reign of Germany, his death would have saved six million people (at least). Does that make killing Adolf Hitler (before knowing how truly devastating he was for our world) okay? Is it right to save the many for the few? Additionally, there are laws in place meant to deter us from killing our fellow person. However, we still have war. We still have mass shootings. We still have people on death row, some of who are completely innocent. I cannot say for you where the good and bad is rooted in these scenarios because I can only describe how I see the world from my perception, but I challenge you to remain objective and try to come outside yourself to understand the world from new, often conflicting, ways.

If you made it to the conclusion, you probably feel a bit confused and overwhelmed. That’s okay and completely normal. I’m trying to explain concepts that are hard to grasp, hence why our discussion centered around the “gray.” My goal with this writing is to challenge your ego to help you understand that there is more than one way to see the world, and just because you feel you are right doesn’t mean that you are. In the pursuit of growing in your positive influence, challenge yourself to be objective while holding compassion for those who oppose your way of being, thinking, and living. We all exist on this planet together, so the least we can do is be understanding of the diversity of life. In fact, it should be celebrated. Without your opposite, you wouldn’t be able to define yourself; light cannot exist without the dark.

Cultivating Patience in an Immediate Gratification World

Cultivating Patience in an Immediate Gratification World

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. For some time, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be patient in an ever-changing world and how our privilege with access to technology can make us feel more impatient as we begin to demand more to feel gratified. While the tools we use can be great for helping us be more productive, I wonder if they also make us believe that things can happen quickly regardless of if you’re using technology or not. Patience is a virtue as impatience can lead to poor judgment, irrational behavior and decision making, and having a pessimistic view of the world and others. If you feel your patience waning, you can work to give yourself peace.

What is Patience?

Patience, in the most basic terms, is the ability to endure without succumbing to negative emotion or intent. This looks different for everyone because what one may find difficult to endure, another may thrive. Nonetheless, patience is when you (from your perspective) can wait without becoming annoyed, stressed, or angry. While some may feel that patience is automatic, it is not. You control your patience through your thoughts and what you choose to become attached to. You can certainly grow your ability to be patient.

Growing Patience

One of the best ways to grow your patience for others or situations is to consider other perspectives. For example, when you begin to grow impatient because your partner is running late for dinner, or the line at the grocery store isn’t moving, try to step outside of your perspective and consider the moment from another perspective. Your partner may be late because their car broke down or they had to wait for their manager to sign off on something. The line at the store may be long because there is a new cashier training and they didn’t expect the store to be so busy. When you can reframe your experience and consider other possibilities, it’s easy to feel patient for things that you can’t control. This comes with a little emotional intelligence, empathy, and compassion.

Two other great methods to practice growing patience are to be mindful and show gratitude. Practicing mindfulness can aid in your ability to see other perspectives, but it can also make you less impulsive as you become more aware of your mind in the present moment rather than allowing a negative emotion, like anger, sweep you into feeling impatient. If you identify impatience setting in, take a few long, deep breaths to calm your nervous system. Additionally, you can practice distracting your mind by showing gratitude. Instead of focusing on what is going wrong and irritating you, focus on what is going or has gone right and feel thankful.

Your Health and Patience

Cultivating patience comes with a variety of health benefits, some are long-term while others can be felt immediately. Those who are patient usually experience better mental health. This makes sense because feelings of anger, resentment, or annoyance often accompany impatience. Aside from many of these negative emotions increasing your blood pressure and cortisol levels (stress hormone), experiencing these negative emotions that often come with impatience can disrupt your mood for days, weeks, or even longer depending on how often you become impatient or ruminate on that experience.

Other research has found that impatience can lead to a number of not-so-fun bodily symptoms, including but not limited to: acne, headaches, and ulcers. This is because impatience, as mentioned, usually creates cortisol which can lead to these symptoms, prevent a good night’s sleep, and weaken the immune system. This becomes a vicious cycle as those who are dealing with cortisol, lacking sleep, or feeling sick are more likely to be less patient (and who can blame them!). It’s not fun to not feel good or to feel stressed out, but that’s what makes it more important to work to get ahead of the curve before it gets to a point where you are burnt out and have difficulty cultivating patience.

As with all habit building, the goal is not to be perfect right away but to make incremental steps to being and feeling better. If you are regularly impatient, consider where you are impatient the most and start practicing there. Many people have road rage and become impatient while driving, and this is a great place to practice seeing from another perspective. Slow down, breathe, be mindful, and remain present to cultivate patience. Your body and mind will thank you.

Influence and the Butterfly Effect

Influence and the Butterfly Effect

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Many of us have heard the theory that if a butterfly flaps its wings at just the right time and location, it can cause a hurricane on the opposite side of the world. This theory is known as the butterfly effect and it stems from chaos theory. The butterfly effect is a complex idea that when explained in simple terms may sound like this: everything, no matter how small or large, has the potential to influence actions that are seemingly unrelated.

In more complex terms, Jamie L. Vernon writes, “some complex dynamical systems exhibit unpredictable behaviors such that small variances in the initial conditions could have profound and widely divergent effects on the system’s outcomes. Because of the sensitivity of these systems, outcomes are unpredictable.” (And if you’re interested in learning more about chaos theory in an easily digestible way, check out Fractal Foundation.) As you may surmise, the butterfly effect is much like our individual influence, and this blog will help you understand the power of your influence.

The Influence Ripple

Much like a butterfly flapping its wings and influencing the weather, your thoughts, words, and actions influence all who are around to witness those things. You influence yourself through internal self-talk, whether you align your words with your actions, and more. You influence others by interacting with them, and these interactions (influence) cause ripples that you may or may not be aware of. For example, if you hold the door open for someone, it may seem insignificant to you because you were already there, but you don’t know how the person you held the door for perceived that action. They could be having a terrible day and that small act of kindness influenced them for the better. Conversely, if you yell at someone, you never know how that person will shape their perception of you or how they may handle your negativity. It’s possible, in both scenarios, that those people could go off to spread their own positive or negative influence from your positive or negative actions. This ripple that you don’t even see is what makes your influence matter.

You Matter

You matter because your influence matters. You are the rock that causes ripples in the pond after it is thrown. The butterfly effect says that one small act can influence a major event just as your thoughts, words, and actions influence other thoughts, words, and actions in ways you could never fathom. You will never understand how you influence someone because you are not them, but you matter because you do influence them. And when you influence someone, their influence impacts others (which you become a small part of). Some say that we are all about six degrees from everyone in this world, meaning we are each six people away from knowing everyone. That means all our influences are connected to one another, and it’s through our influence that we create positivity or negativity. When you understand that you matter, which path will you choose?

Live Consciously

Being more aware of your influence and how your influence relates to the butterfly effect allows you to live life more consciously. Consider how your influence ripples out from you to alter the influence of others, does that change how you behave? Or, consider how you speak to yourself and the perception you choose to see of the world, does that change how you think? When you start pondering your influence, be sure to employ some empathy and compassion for yourself. We are all human, so we all make mistakes.

If a butterfly flaps its wings and can cause a hurricane, imagine what your small acts of influence can do. Imagine what kind of impact you can have when you give someone experiencing homelessness a few dollars, or when you allow someone to merge into traffic easily when the highway is backed up. Think about the last thing that positively or negatively influenced you. How are your thoughts, words, and actions influenced by others?