Why I Turned Down a Dream Job

authenticity leadership


I was recently offered what seemed on the surface like a great job opportunity. It would have solved all my money problems, set me up for a good four or five years, and been a great resume builder.

But I said no.

It was not an easy decision. There's so much in our culture prioritizing money and career advancement. A solid, steady income often trumps all other concerns, and we usually excuse our friends and family for blowing off commitments because of work. It's just the expectation that we will prioritize our income over anything else.

However, I don't believe that is an authentic way to live. And so, when it came time to make my final decision, I asked myself if I really would be a good fit for this position, which was implementing a fitness program I didn't believe in, in a very rigid environment.

And as much as I wanted to say, "Yes, I'm a good fit. Sign me up and send me that paycheck," that would not have been at all authentic. I've been there before, and it drove me crazy, to say nothing of my employer's experience. It would be like trying to get a round peg into a square hole.

So, as hard as it was, I explained this and turned down the offer.


What was really amazing was how good I felt afterwards. I expected to feel disappointed in myself, frustrated, or at least sad. But I felt true. I had acted with integrity and it felt amazing. I had a sense of possibility instead of a feeling of having lost an opportunity. I guess when you make a commitment to living up to your greatest self, and actually follow through, you can do things you never imagined.

I mean, sure I'm still struggling, my career prospects are foggy, and I'm drowning in debt, but I have the great honor of having been authentic with myself when it really counted and when the stakes were high.

And I say "honor" because that's what it was all about: honoring my principles and values, what I've been calling my Greater Self. Not in a pushy or prideful way, but in the way you might honor your parents or a beloved teacher. You respect their ideas and their values. That's what I was doing for myself.

I'm not sure if that's a valuable trait in today's economy, or any economy, but I wasn't going to get very far with the alternative.

So, yeah, life is uncomfortable, but I get to be at peace with myself, which is not something everyone can say.


I'm not saying great jobs and great opportunities are bad, just that looking to them to rescue us from our problems is a dangerous mindset. Definitely work hard in pursuit of your golden opportunity, but realize whether it happens or not is up to you, and the effect it has on your life is totally up to you.

Act in accordance with your greater self, the one that isn't afraid and cannot be coerced, bribed, or, perhaps, even reasoned with.

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