When things are going right, turn left.

Michael Pillay
2 min readJan 19, 2022

Written in 2021.

This is something that I’ve wrestled with over the last couple of years, and something I tried writing about a few times — My scribblings of this ilk are usually shelved as Google Keep notes that I dismissed as too true to publish. Too true to be read by The Man.

This time is different because the narrative is now one from a perspective of growth & a vantage point of the bigger picture. But there had been that river of regret to wade through before arriving at growth, and it also took a while for my boots to dry from it, but such is life.

I loved every single day of my first job — pumped to leave home & head to the office every day going on 4 years. Purpose, energy in the environment, day-to-day fulfilment, motivation and chemistry within the team. All the boxes were checked.

I was then approached with an opportunity to move on, to bake another layer on my tiered career cake. Except this layer, I was to find — while it looked great from the outside, and on the CV — was not great in practice. Less purpose, less positive energy in the environment, less fulfilment, less motivation.

Though, as soon as I became comfortable in my new role and my new environment, I was rung up with another opportunity. One of great promise. A great escape. Yet, in the neatly wrapped box, lay a colossal disappointment where the chocolate chips are raisins, the cookies are complacency & the sprinkle is prejudice.

I hopped from the frying pan into the fire. So in context, regret made sense. Until I learned that I’m on the right road to satisfy my ambition with this thinking from Francis Mallmann:

To grow, you have to let go at your best possible moment. When you are at your happiest. You have to go when you are doing your best work.

When you think “God, this is a great chair”, it’s time to move on. And it’s important to go. For somebody else will come up. That transfer of energy, of power, of work, makes a difficult moment, but it passes and new people grow into it.

And that hit my soul. But what made me share this learning curve, is that the very next day, I watched Christoph Nieman’s episode of Abstract — with his statement then hitting home again: “I’m convinced you always have to change direction while things are good”, he said.

Fast forward to today, the job is fresh, the people are great, the environment is human-first —and I now have very real experience on what leadership should be.

Understanding the difference between good leadership, bad leadership and the absence of leadership is revelatory, and identifying those quickly, would help us to shape our output and our headspace with ease.

So in closing; it may not be enjoyable, it may taste like bitter regret. But if you’re looking to grow, and I am. It’s good. Much like veggies.