Executive: Look at these numbers, they have given up.They aren’t trying.

Business Development Manager: Yup. I see the same thing when I coach. There is a bad play and you can physically see the whole team has give up. You see it  in their body language

Hearing this conversation this week made me think about resignation and the difference between giving up and giving out. Giving out is being unable to continue  due to mental or physical exhaustion. There is a will,  but in that moment, there is no way. You’ve seen the athlete collapse in exhaustion but still try with everything in them to keep going. That look is very different from giving up or resignation. Resignation  is the acceptance of something undesirable but inevitable. The body language of resignation is like air being let out of a balloon. There is no fight left. It doesn’t matter, there is nothing that can be done and there is no interest in trying to impact an outcome.

I was once in a team building exercise, Fifteen  of us were blind folded and put into a maze. We could raise our hands and ask any questions as we wanted. It was announced when people got out. After a while, there were three of us left. One got a headache and another was concerned about medication. I stated, “I don’t care any more. I’m tired of this. They have a scheduled to keep, the dining room closes promptly at 6:30, we started this exercise at 4:30, there is a 30 minute walk back to campus, they will have to get us out here soon, so there. Guys we can just chill out.” In a final display of defiant sarcasm, I raised my hand and asked question. “will you please get my friends and I out of here.” Turns out, that was way to get out of the maze, ask for help.

The maze was a  10 ft by 10 ft roped off area with no way to exit. All kept you in. Once out of the maze, people were instructed to be silent and observe those still in maze. Yes, everyone watched me go into a snarky fit of rationalized resignation, which they all found humorous. For me, it highlighted a resignation pattern. While I’d like to think of myself as persistent and determined, it was time to think again. A few years prior to this I was close to the finish of a 50 mile bike ride, once I realized there were only a couple of miles left, I sprinted. I was thrilled to have done my first half century. But, when my friends suggested we just bike back to the hotel instead of getting shuttle.  I threw a tantrum worthy of a 3-year-old denied ice cream. I fell off my bike and cried  exhaustion, it was raining, I was wet, tired and my hair no longer looked cute. Could I have physically done it? Yes, this was not a give out, it was a give up. Giving up is a mental thing and I’d gone mental.

My resignation with the accompanying histrionics is draining and demotivating. Once I give-up on one thing, it’s easy to get an attitude of  nothing is going right and become a vortex of negativity. This past week, I observed resignation in myself. I was able to examine the darker aspects of myself and how I got there. I found my resignation is triggered by expectations that weren’t met or were the impact of those around me. This week, when I found myself about to go into resignation, I evaluated my options. Most of the time I found I could I could steer things an alternate way and impact the outcome.  For a few things, well, is it really a priority to win very singe game of words with friends?

There are times when resignation is useful, when measured against priory and values, some things didn’t matter a lot.  Accepting an undesirable outcome allows you to move forward with alternate plans. When did you last go into resignation? What triggered it? Was resignation useful? Make this week, resignation observation week. Learn what works and doesn’t work for you. You may find you have more choice  than you thought. With a little insight, you may find what seems  like an inevitable undesired outcome is just an invitation to try something else, not by resignation, but by choice.