He walked into the coffee shop at 7:25 a.m. 5 minutes early. No surprise. He was a big time seller. Now he managed a team of big time sellers. Showing up 5 minutes early for meetings was inside his DNA. He was dressed the part. When he looked at me he couldn’t help but flash the grin. I was just coming off vacation. Two weeks unshaven and in my summertime office wear: jeans, a t-shirt and tennis shoes.
He called the meeting. A friend of a friend I’d come to respect. Just north of 30 he was knocking it out of the park. Big career progression and by all accounts, big time success. He wanted to buy me breakfast and pick my brain about his business. That was all I knew.
As we moved past the small talk into the purpose of meeting I listened as he talked about the changing nature of his industry, the challenge of growing the business and the reality that this work was all he’d ever known. He was successful and enjoyed the lifestyle that accompanies that kind of sales performance. After a few minutes of background I interrupted him with a very specific and straightforward question:
“Why are we here?”
His four word answer:
“I lost my passion.”
Now I needed to know more.
He went on to explain that he simply no longer wanted to do what he was doing. Sell what he was selling. Lead who he was leading. Work for who he was working for. He actually used that phrase that I hear all too often lately, “I hate going to work.”
In sharing his feelings there was a fair amount of guilt. He recognized that many people are struggling. That many people would trade places with him in two seconds. The people inside his circle of trust thought he was crazy to even consider making a change. He had it all from their perspective. What was he thinking?!
He was thinking that he doesn’t want work to be miserable. He wants to find more meaning in his work, recognizing he still needs to make a living. He is wicked smart with enormous talent and limitless potential. He is more than capable of changing lanes and reinventing himself. His company could have done so many things differently to capture his emotional commitment but they didn’t. They missed. And he is going…going….
The next part for him will be hard. Change is never easy. There is that question he asks himself several times a day:
“What am I going to do next?”
It is a question only he can answer. Quit or stay? Start a company or make a career transition? Those are life decisions. The good news is none of them are final. In fact, over the course of the next 30 years he may experience all of those things. His career arc is just beginning. The better news is he certainly doesn’t have to spend the next 30 years doing something he hates.
He’ll read this book. Draft the plan. Learn more about himself. Listen to opportunities that align with his values. And make the next move. This experience alone will prove quite valuable in his career progression.
I admire his quest to find his passion for work again and see if he can make it intersect with the paycheck. I am quite confident he will and will post an update on his progress.
Tomorrow I’ll introduce you to 3 people who put passion first and watched the paycheck follow. It isn’t for everyone. But if you like to Dream Big you might enjoy.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.