Give It Up, Sister!

August 25, 2010  |  

“Wonder Woman Files” is a weekly career column on Madame Noire. Stay tuned for more topics, comment or write us at editors@madamenoire.com if you have suggestions!

Perseverance is a natural human instinct. Even faced with the worst challenges, our human drives do not let up easily. As such, society is inundated with positive mantras that help us trudge forward.  For example, from the time we are little, we learn about “The Little Engine That Could,” spending our pre-school days repeating ‘I know I can; I think I can.’

Yet, perseverance isn’t always a good idea.

Sometimes, we must gauge when we are on the wrong career paths or in the wrong relationships. In recent news, plenty of powerhouse Madames have done just that.  Check out a few below, who have proved that leaving–instead of “persevering”–can be a great idea.

Shirley Sherrod – The former USDA chief resigned her post after a national uproar over a speech during which she appeared to use the word ‘white’ too many times.  In a month since leaving, Sherrod has been offered an apology from the White House and the NAACP,  in addition to a new job offer which she politely declined.  While the incident was not a win for anyone, Sherrod’s exit kept the entire moment from becoming a ugly field day for the right wing media.  Lesson Learned: own your battles gracefully–and leave gracefully after the battle has been won.

Desiree Rogers – After the ‘party crasher’ fiasco at the president’s first State Department Dinner, it seemed likely that Washington had chewed up Rogers and spit her out.  However, the former White House Secretary returned to the scene after a brief hiatus and has been appointed CEO of Johnson Publishing–a job she may not have encountered had she left kicking, screaming and making a scene. Lesson learned: know that your setbacks can be preparation for your move to the next level.

Susan Taylor – For many, the departure of the iconic Essence editor signaled the end of an era. For Taylor, who joined Essence as a single mother in 1971, her exit came at its due time.  In reports announcing her last week with at the job, names from all across the industry expressed their admiration for the woman who had become known as the ‘soul of the publication.’ While she will be missed, we can appreciate her willingness to pass on the torch.  Lesson learned: know when it is no longer your time.

Oprah Winfrey – I won’t even front: I straight up cried the day Winfrey announced her talk show would be coming to an end.  But, by leaving the game while she is still adored, Oprah has left her audience wanting more- and that is exactly what she will give them.  The media mogul announced the launch of her own network, OWN, a move that is sure to add another chapter to her already rich legacy.  Lesson learned: never miss the chance to exit at the top of your game.

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