People who follow me on social media and read my articles and blogs know that I had a successful 35-year corporate career that included working in 20 countries on 5 continents in the service and manufacturing industries. I have also written four Amazon International Best Selling Books. My life has been filled with small and massive accomplishments that have formed and shaped me into the person I am today.
But there was a time when it was not all about the successes, accomplishments, and celebrations. Very early on in my career, I came out as a gay man and with it came some risks. In 1982, gay people were being fired from their jobs for being openly gay. I knew it was the right thing to do when I came out, however, how could I know back then that I would become a global leader who was expected to work in countries where being gay was illegal.
I determined it was prudent to act discreetly and discerning in my business meetings and interactions with leaders in countries where being gay were punishable by the local laws. I avoided talking about my personal life in a way that would be self-incriminating. I am grateful for each of the times, I was able to board the flights to return home from China, Russia or the United Arab Emirates.
My career successes and accomplishments were always a source of confidence and pride for me and I enjoyed celebrating each promotion, relocation, or project completion. When I woke up in May 2006, I was gripped with fear about what to do next in my career. I had just finished several back to back massive organizational turnarounds for some very prominent Fortune 100 Companies and I was burned out.
I was gripped with fear, anxiety, confusion, and exhaustion. I was paralyzed with the fear that comes when you are faced with making a life-changing decision. I had to make a decision on what I was going to do with the next part of my career.
I had competing thoughts that were relentless in taking up space in my mind, they left very little room for hope, clarity, or discernment. One thought was I will lose everything if I stop working and the other was I will kill myself if I continue to work at this pace. These thoughts kept me awake at night and kept me from being present with the people around me like my colleagues, friends, and family.
While driving home most evenings these thoughts were along for the ride. I was overwhelmed by the emotions while driving and started to cry uncontrollably. The tears often clouded my vision and I would pull over to dry my eyes so I could see what was ahead of me on the road. I was not myself and did not recognize who was looking back at me in the rearview mirror.
One of the worst parts of this experience was the isolation I felt from my family and friends. I hid from them in shame which left me to decide this on my own. Gratefully, I found the space that I needed and made my decision. And that decision led me to clarify my life’s mission and purpose.
And now it is my mission to serve and support others who are struggling with making decisions about their career. The mentoring that I can offer others will allow them to make the best decisions for themselves with support from someone who has traveled a similar journey. I did on my own so I know the value of another person’s support all too well. Being compassionate is just one distinguishable feature of my mentoring style.
We all want to be empowered in our careers and make the best decisions, however, having a mentor, coach, or ally will accelerate your career development. Finding freedom from conflicting thoughts in your mind can happen when we develop specific strategies. Self-care and success will come to us when we have clarity and a growth mindset. Let’s all get the most out of our careers.
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