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executing Couragously…

by | Dec 11, 2021 | Courage, execute, Journey

I landed the role I am writing about this week late in 2002 …. with some luck … during the opposite of what we are seeing now. An economic downturn after 2001 had frozen hiring, depressed salaries, and I felt fortunate to get anything, even what was now a meat-grinder role. The Courage to think about doing something else was tied up in one of the hardest issues to confront – money. Do we have enough, will we have enough, particularly with kids just heading into College. And yet, I knew that this was going to slowly kill me if I stayed…

We now reach the part of the popular VH1 series “Behind the Music” where the egos and other issues start to tear at the fabric that had knit together such amazing harmony. Herbie Herbert had forged the band out of the pieces of Santana and built a juggernaut of both music and business. The band was touring relentlessly to generate income and continue to drive the brand into different markets. That toll was particularly pulling on Perry’s voice with the nightly high harmonies…

In a parallel to Gregg’s Departure, Perry executed the same Escape:” …I just told them, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I’ve got to get out for a while. I just don’t want to be in the band anymore. I want to get out, I want to stop.’ And I just sort of fell back into my life. I looked around and realized that my whole life had become everything I’d worked so hard to be, and when I came back to have a regular life, I had to go find one.” There were rumors of throat cancer and other myths, but the truth was the success he had created wasn’t what he really needed. Thus the band came to a halt for nearly 10 years as they all went their separate ways…

There is a correlation to Courage and age, and not like you think. When you are older, you just don’t have the energy anymore to fight the fights that are not worth it, take on challenges that appear interesting but ultimately are Box Canyons. This is what ultimately forced my hand. Knowing I only had a few good working years left, and that this business was fatally injured, I guessed (correctly) that there would be at least 2 more CEO transitions, along with conservatorship that is actually STILL ongoing after over nearly 20 years.

More importantly, the work with the coach helped me see a different path forward. I knew I wanted to get back into a technology business, one that was truly customer-facing, and not in a service/IT type role. And again ironically, the assessment that gave me the Courage to really pursue this Change was called… wait for it… The Strong Interest Inventory. Named for a person, still the title helped me (and my son) really embrace the Courage to Change.

… as did my stance on partnering. You would probably be thinking “how did he have the energy to do a job search”… and you would be right. Luckily a long-time partner that I had worked with called and suggested a role was open that could be tailor-made for me “… if I was looking”. Yes… yes of course I am looking. And that also gave me the Courage to start doing less to make room for the search… something that I now help others do. Once you are thinking of something else, you start to build the boundaries you should ALWAYS have that prevent overwork/burnout/exhaustion even in “normal” roles…

… and just then, the VP that had lost his inspirational touch walked into my office, sat down, and closed the door. He had never done that before, and said “I think that I can arrange a package for you if you want to leave. I will deny I ever said this.” and got up and left. And there it was – did I actually have the Courage to execute? I had progressed to the point that I was well into the offer process, and negotiating hard with the new employer – but could I actually get these to line up – wait long enough to get the cash to ‘leave’ and not upset the new group? Having tried this exact play upon leaving IBM, I was nervous… but executed it…

Money – is it a tool that helps you stay true to your path – responsibilities and all – or something that is like handcuffs that hold you hostage and steal your future – and your Courage? I have so many friends that laugh off the phrase “Golden Handcuffs” and sit still in jobs and roles that are not challenging, or worse –slowly corroding their wonder, their partner skills – well, all of the empower competencies I write about. And… yet – there are the few that are able to leverage their own Courage to take control over money and other trappings to move. I am pleased that as I had been seeing even pre-Covid, many more are opting for a different path. A future like what Steve (and Gregg found) that is more in their control, more rewarding for them, and one that requires them to go Separate Ways (Worlds Apart).

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