Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Not if, but When

By early 2010, I knew I needed a break from the corporate grind. I’d been subjecting myself to it since I was twenty one years old, all in the name of reaching the top. Now, I knew I didn’t even want the job if it was offered to me. It became more and more clear what I should have done, was to take some time off after being fired from Valmont, and set my life on a different course. Hind sight is so easy – in the moment when I took the job at Lindsay I was hurt, confused, and ready to jump right back into what I’d always done -- if for no other reason than it meant I didn’t have to think too hard about my life’s trajectory.

But it wasn’t too late. I hadn’t taken any irreversible steps – if I wanted to take time off to really think through my remaining thirty or forty years, I could still do it.

I met with a few mentors and advisors, including both Mintz and Fransecky, and began preparing myself. I charted a year’s sabbatical. I reflected deeply on my interests and pleasures before business had Shanghai-ed ninety percent of my waking consciousness. I thought about my family, and the legacy I would leave them.

I decided it wasn’t a question of if I would quit, only when. Being good with math, I aimed for November of 2010 -- after bonuses for the year were paid, and options vested.

But the situation at work was deteriorating. I found the management process to be increasingly grating. And there were issues – things I might have once shrugged off, like experiencing a public dressing down, or having to call off a deal multiple times because the CEO got cold feet. Those things were really bothering me.

Then one night, I came home whining about something that happened at the office – I don’t even remember what – and Paula looked at me and said, “I don’t know why you even work there anymore.”

The next Monday I went in and resigned from my position – November payouts be damned.

I offered to keep the resignation quiet for as long as the CEO wanted – through the end of the year, if necessary, so he could recruit a replacement.

But I found myself packing up my things and going home at the end of that day. While I agree it was his prerogative to do what he did, I wouldn’t have handled it the same way.

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