Why I almost resigned after a promotion, and ended up taking a stand for myself
Author: Ngo Dinh Thao Phuong, Senior Executive Assistant, Mekong Capital
December 11, 2018
Two years ago, I accepted a promotion to become Mekong Capital’s Administration Manager, a promotion up from a Senior Executive Assistant role. I made this decision from the context “if someone can do it, I can do it”. But soon I realized that I was putting too many expectations on my shoulders. In addition to maintaining my existing accountabilities at the time, I would also manage Mekong’s whole office administration team of around 6 people, which was a full-time job. I expected myself to take on many tasks and deliver them all because I had been promoted. I expected myself not to back down because I needed to be fearless and have relentless perseverance. I expected myself to be strong and hold on to handle everything because if I failed, it would be look bad. I expected myself not to complain or share my difficulties because everyone had his/her own issues, and mine were nothing compared to others. I expected myself to be responsible for my decision of accepting to be the Administration Manager. Those expectations were a big burden on me. I was a mess, trying to deliver what was expected and trying not to fail — but I truly never felt fulfillment. In my heart, I knew this was not right. So every day, there was a fight inside me — between me and myself. I was just too tired. I thought I could be fulfilled by quitting all this stress, slowing down, planting some trees and becoming a farmer. So I decided to send my resignation letter.
After sending my resignation letter, I went home. That night I kept thinking about my decision. I wondered if that was truly a good decision. I kept thinking about if I was ready to give this up, go farming and if that would really lead to a more fulfilling life. That was when I suddenly understood that I was the only person who made my life become so frustrated. No one forced me to take on all of this work. And instead of delegating to my team, I was trying to do two people’s jobs at once because I wanted everything to be perfect. I was the victim of myself and I let it impact my life. I created so many expectations that served no result, and created so much complicated burden that kept me away from my fulfillment. I didn’t stand up for what I said I wanted in life: fulfillment. I needed to find a way to deal with myself rather than giving up and running away. The next day, I decided to withdraw my resignation letter and continue in only one role, no longer trying to do everything. I chose to change my context: “My life will be fulfilled by me doing what I value and by me creating value. I take a stand for this.”
To stay on track with this, I still have to make an effort to be self-aware and catch myself every time I go back to the old me who didn’t want to say “no” to any request. Now I only commit to things that I can create value and reliably deliver. I stop putting expectations on myself to be something I am not, but rather just do what will fulfill my commitments and what will add the most value. I say “no” to the other stuff. I stopped worrying about what others might think.
It took me 2 years to realize that living a responsible life includes taking a stand for myself, my fulfillment and what I am truly committed to. I am the source of my fulfillment. Now, everyday at work I can see myself more effective and engaged by focusing and prioritizing the results that create the most value and are a good fit with what I am really committed to. I deliver on these accountabilities very well. For example, I am really committed to Vision Driven Investing being fully implemented at our investee companies, so I chose to be the internal coordinator for tracking Vision Driven Investing and I really enjoy it.
This had a profound impact on how I live my life.
In Mekong, we have a core value called Genesis. Genesis means choosing the view of life that you are the source of what you choose, what actions you take, what impact you have and how the world materializes around you. It took me two years to understand that being Genesis includes me taking a stand for myself and for my commitments. I am the source of my fulfillment.
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Mekong Capital makes investments in consumer-driven businesses and adds substantial value to those companies based on its proven framework called Vision Driven Investing. Our investee companies are typically among the fastest-growing companies in Vietnam’s consumer sectors.
In January 2022, Mekong Capital founder Chris Freund published Crab Hotpot, a story about a bunch of crabs who found themselves stuck in a boiling pot. The colorful cover of “Crab Hot Pot,” complete with expressive cartoon crustaceans, looks like a children’s tale at first glance. But as one continues reading, it becomes clear that the work has an important message about organizational transformation, leadership and focusing on a clear vision for the future.