Recruitment | Executive Search

You Lose Before You Lose: Tackling Inner Resignation

Being a single, independent and stubborn woman, I often find myself browsing the web for everything Do-It-Yourself-related. Naturally, after successfully crafting a Halloween costume and baking a berry crumble pie, I figured I could so too, assume the role of my own therapist. During one of my therapy sessions, I recall coming across an amazing article. In it, the author stated that: “You lose before you lose.”

At first glance, I shrugged it off as another new-aged Zen quote, but for some reason, I could not get it off my mind. I was unable to comprehend how THIS quote would act as motivation to keep going. This ‘new’ quote had completely dismantled everything I had ever learnt about perseverance. What happened to: “It’s not over until it’s over?” Where was the optimism? I was sure I had missed something…and I did.

After doing some research, I realized that this profound quote, was in fact, about boxing, but what I learnt next, still amazes me to this day. Apparently, when you realize you are about to lose a boxing fight, your heart realizes it too. Moments before you lose, your heart actually pumps less blood to your muscles, resulting in physical weakening and ultimately, losing the fight. Hence, “you lose before you lose.” If that’s not motivation to get you to believe in yourself, then I don’t know what is.

Sadly, however, statistics show that globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from low self-esteem and depression. Depression being the leading cause of inner resignation, it does not come as a surprise that 18 % of all employees suffer from inner resignation. Inner resignation, an uncommon term for a common state of mind, is the corporate version of “you lose before you lose”. The term can literally be defined as quitting passively or resigning from the psychological contract between employer and employee.

Normally a decision is made prior to an action. In this case, it is inner resignation. Typically, employees resign emotionally, before they do so physically. However, many never act on inner resignation, yet the company still suffers for it. Lack in work performance, sloppiness, lateness etc. are but a few examples. In many ways inner resignation in the workplace is worse than physical resignation. That is, if inner resignation does not result in getting fired anyway. Having said this, inner resignation does not have to lead to a parting of ways between employer and employee. There are alternative ways of dealing with it. First you need to understand its cause, before you can start to identify and remedy it.

What causes it?

  • Dissatisfaction with work situation
  • Bad office atmosphere
  • Unclear allocation of tasks
  • Time pressure
  • Seeing a job as mere obligation
  • Lack of trust
  • Confrontation between employees
  • Confrontation with superiors
  • Authoritarian hierarchical leadership style
  • Changes in an organisation or someone’s job description
  • Unwarranted and random encroachments into employee’s field of competency

What are the signs?

  • Lack of willingness
  • Doing the bare minimum
  • No personal initiative, lack of adding new ideas
  • Retreating into privacy
  • Passiveness
  • Increased Sick Leave
  • Sarcastic comments

What is the solution?

For Employers:

  • Open a line of communication with your employees: Often, regularly, informally
  • Encourage feedback
  • Take complaints seriously
  • Employ self-reflection
  • Take an interest in your employees
  • Strengthening of We-feeling. Emphasising of common goals.
  • Improve office climate
  • Adequate salary
  • Avoidance of maliciousness
  • Honesty and transparency

What is the solution?

For Employees:

  • Tell your employer what encourages you
  • Tell them if you have problems
  • Set goals for yourself
  • Challenge yourself
  • Make suggestions

Being stuck in limbo is worse than taking action. Don’t let lack of communication get in the way of winning your fight, whether it be running a business or making your next career move. Rather “win before you win” than “lose before you lose.”

Looking a job or looking to hire? We can help you find the perfect fit where inner resignation will not be a concern! Contact Initiate International at:

(t): +27 021 488 9805