Do whatever it takes! Success at all costs!
These are the mantras that I was either consciously or subconsciously thinking throughout my previous career in tech sales. Stakes were high and we all knew what the objective was. Close as many deals as humanly possible. Why? Because it made our bosses happy, took the pressure of the sales rep and (here’s the best part) it could make you some good money and elevate your status within the sales org.
I was eager to prove to the world that I could be successful. I started out in an entry-level role and I worked my butt off. I was the top rep and before long I earned my first-ever promotion. For the next two years at my startup company I was determined to be the top dog at all costs. I didn’t care about the toll it was taking on my mind, body or spirit to push myself to the limit. I was determined to be ‘successful.’
And successful I was.
I was named the AE of the year two years in a row before being promoted to a senior level sales position. Incredible right? I was a major success story having moved up to the highest level in tech sales in just two years. I must have been overjoyed and so grateful for everything I’d accomplished. Only I wasn’t. It was a sad reality that greeted me at the top. What I thought was going to be the land of milk and honey turned out to be anything but.
Long story short I felt disillusioned that after all that hard work, struggle and sacrifice that I was no better off.
Instead of getting to enjoy my success I was more stressed out than ever as the expectations and demands just went up and up. Meanwhile, my coworkers who were content to do their jobs in a reasonable way seemed to far more content despite the differences in our paychecks.
Is this something you can relate to?
Have you ever chased a dream thinking that you’d be happy to attain XYZ goal only to find out that it wasn’t what you thought it’d be? What was that like for you? What lessons did you learn? For me the lesson that I learned was that it is never worth it to struggle or fight tooth and nail to achieve XYZ goal in the hopes that having achieved it would make me happy. It’s pure fantasy. Something that others feed us in the hopes that we’ll take the bait and work harder than we really should.
I’m not saying that hard work is a bad thing.
It’s actually a good thing and very necessary if you do want to have a significant positive impact on the world. What I am saying is that needless suffering is a bad thing. That the ends (in my case sales commissions) don’t justify the means (aggressive sales tactics) if it’s making you miserable or if it causes you to violate any of your core values in the process.
As a career coach I work with clients that are stuck in the wrong line of work and are looking for something more suitable where they can truly shine and find meaning.
They’ll never find this if what they’re focused on is being ‘successful.’ This is especially true when being successful becomes synonymous with making a lot of money. What if instead of success and money the focus instead shifted to finding work that gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning?
Oftentimes when we look at people who have gone on to become extremely successful what we find is that these people weren’t doing it to prove something to the world or to become rich and famous.
They did it because they were passionate about whatever the activity was that was central to their profession. In the documentary, Finding Joe, a movie about the teachings of Joseph Campbell and the journey of life we learn about the importance of following your bliss. We hear of examples from celebrities like Mick Fleetwood, the drummer in Fleetwood Mack, or professional skateboarder, Tony Hawk, who have gone on to live extraordinary lives as a result of pursuing those activities that give them the most joy and satisfaction in life.
It is this notion of following your bliss that is most central to the work that I do.
Good things always happen when people begin tapping into those activities that energize rather than drain them. And that’s the key. If you’re in a line of work where the activities you routinely engage in are draining then that is very likely a sign that you’re not very well aligned. For example, I’m a people person and I’m not good with details. Therefore, when I was working in clinical trial operations prior to tech sales where most of my time was spent in Excel spreadsheets I was not in alignment and as a result very unhappy. By moving into tech sales I was moving in the right direction but still out of alignment because I highly value autonomy and in the highly structured environment of a sales organization I was never going to be able to work the way I wanted to.
It wasn’t until I came to fully appreciate that my bliss was in working one on one with people in an environment where I got to do things my way in a way that would positively impact others that I would be truly happy.
Alignment, alignment, alignment. That’s what it’s all about. It’s also the hard part because how can you just know what your bliss is if you’ve been disconnected from it for so long? The answer is to find a good coach. Someone who will take the time to get to know who you are and what you’re all about. He or she should be asking you questions that get to the heart of what really makes you tick. These are the initial stages of determining your direction in life. This is what ultimately becomes your true north.
I had a client who has been working in advertising for a number of years and it was really taking a toll on him.
He just couldn’t do it any more because he had no passion for the product analytics role that he found himself in. It wasn’t until we discovered his passion for creative pursuits like music and his desire for a more entrepreneurial and adventurous career path that opportunities began coming into focus. Almost as soon as these discoveries were being made he began getting some promising leads on two fronts. One was to pursue a position working for the music streaming service Spotify. The other was to pursue an opportunity to open up a new office for his company in Latin America.
Without the clarity that he gained over the course of my Confusion to Clarity program there’s no way that he could’ve identified these opportunities that have set him on a whole new course.
If you happen to be feeling stuck and directionless then shoot me a note and I’d be happy to schedule a free strategy session where we can begin to review your plans for how you’d like to pivot in your own career.