She walked into the coffee shop this morning right on time. Just like I expected. I had heard a lot about her through our shared network. Many among them prompting us to meet. We had traded notes and connected online. She was reading my blog and provided a summary of some of the cool projects she was initiating to transform the culture of her organization. She has a big job, initiating big change for a big company. We had a lot of good reasons to connect, network and share ideas on people, potential and performance.
As we exchanged pleasantries and eased into the conversation she openly shared that our meeting on this very morning was a bit ironic. After a decade of leadership, contribution, achievement and growth in her organization she was leaving our meeting in the coffee shop to resign from her job. She was resigned to her conviction that it was simply time to move on.
Today was resignation day.
I could sense her anxiety and anticipation. It brought me back to that morning two years ago. To my own personal inflection point. I was naturally interested and invested in our conversation. I wanted to know more. I asked why?
I listened intently as she explained the genesis of her decision and her subsequent journey toward acting upon it. She was clearly well within the confines of the comfort zone. She had a very good career. With a very reputable employer. With a boss she respected and trusted. With a compensation plan and benefits package that provided security for her family. With perhaps no clear, compelling, concrete reason for resigning.
Until a transformational event in her personal life moved her to pay more attention to that whisper. To listen more closely that internal voice. To further explore a new direction with very clear purpose. To acknowledge her fear, doubt, anxiety, discomfort, hesitation and move through it. For an executive A player none of this is as easy as it might seem. She put in the work. She is moving on to pursue her professional passion with clear and compelling purpose. She is inspired. So am I.
She acknowledged that passion was a driving force in her decision. In doing so we talked a bit about how frivolous a passion pursuit can sound to others. How unreasonable. How it can be perceived as even borderline irresponsible.
That word receives its fair amount of scrutiny and criticism. After all, isn’t it only a job?
Not to her. Not to some of the most content, fulfilled, introspective, balanced and evolved people I know. To these people the meaning matters. The attempt to try and find the intersection between the meaning and the money is seemingly worth the risk and sacrifice that come when you dream big.
I thought about her a lot today. I am sure it has been a hard day. Whether the next step is the kitchen table or new career path probably isn’t as significant as the move toward something that simply matters a whole lot more.
A huge loss to this particular organization.
A huge win for my new friend. I think she will find the win really does exist in the choice, change, challenge and chance to try and find the intersection between passion and the paycheck.
Not the outcome.
I have no doubt she is going to enjoy the journey.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.