This past December 31st was a hard day for me, my ego and my faith in business. It was also the day I had a complete epiphany about my personal self-worth, and figured out why we as individual should ever be the only ones to control our personal destinies. Here’s what happened:
All that day – no, make that all week – I’d been waiting to hear back to find out if I got a well-paying corporate hotel job that I applied for – to say I was anxious is an understatement, mostly because out of eighty candidates who applied for the job a month earlier it was down to two of us, with a decision was being made that day. Since my future well-being was at stake, the sheer suspense of it all made it a day of pins and needles.
But I wondered, did I really need to fret so much? Shouldn’t this be “my job”? Isn’t it a “sure thing?” I mean seriously, let’s look at the facts:
- I’ve spent 25+ very successful years in middle and senior management in the industry, including 8 years at this very company
- I’ve had two successful interviews with the top brass and H.R. departments which exceeded two hours each
- My references are top-notch talent from the industry including one who works for the company I’m applying for, and the other a senior V.P. of a major hotel chain know for his strengh of building great teams, one of which I was once apart of.
With so much firepower behind me, other than hearing a perfunctory “Congratulations – Welcome aboard!” the job was practically mine, right? Because knowing all these things were working in my favour, I wondered how I possibly couldn’t be chosen…
Except I wasn’t.
After a long and very gracious speech on the phone, the employer had to concede to the fact: He’d hired the other guy, and then wished me all the best in 2016.
But what made this an even headier blow than it normal was that the exact same thing happened just two weeks ago; I kid you not!
It’s true: A month ago I answered an ad for a hostel which was looking for a “Manager Extrordiaire” (note the singular) citing that candidates needed to possess strong leadership skills… Being a traveller and experienced leadership trainer, this sounded right up my alley.
Truthfully, I liked the idea of a fresh, funky environment where I could practice my management and leadership skills to a young staff, most of whom were in their early twenties. Oh sure, it would be quite a departure from my corporate background, but hey, why not open my mind and try something new? And with this logic in mind, calls were made and interviews were had; then had, and had, and had again.
After four – count ’em, four – interviews (+ salary and benefits negotiations etc. AND a working shift) I got an enthusiastic “We’ll be in touch tomorrow! Thank you!” Surely this was in the bag!
Only it wasn’t. Again.
The next day an email arrived saying: “While it was a difficult decision as there were also many things that clicked, we’ve decided to take a different route. One reason being that we really do want to have two managers here, which you were very clear wouldn’t work for you”.
Are you kidding me?
Sure, I said I didn’t want to partner up with a second manager, and for good reason – the advertisement I answered was for a manager – singular – and one with leadership experience.
Besides, I had a bigger reason for not wanting to share leadership responsibilities with another manager, since three of the five I’d met that day under 23 years old who’d only become “managers” by default. Seems they were hired as desk clerks (or cooks or housekeepers) then over time had responsibilities heaped upon them, and then manager titles assigned – all without any real training.
In my book these aren’t managers; these are eager, hard-working youth who are being taken advantage of. Besides, at this point in my career I want to help shape these kind of people into REAL managers and leaders, not collaborate with them under the false pretence that they ARE already managers and leaders.
To be honest, the red flags about this business were many – starting with the first interview. This is when I learned that – just like two of my interviews – the business is “managed” via daily Skype calls by the owner from his home half-way around the world.
In addition, during my working shift I questioned the staff about the operation, which also confirmed my fear that the owner wants to control every minute detail of the operation, like insisting a “stir-fry” be called a “stir-sautee” by Skyping from his home on the other side of the world… really? It all sounded pretty crazy to me.
But I needed work. I needed money. And after 3 interviews, an agreed upon salary and having already worked a four hour shift with rave reviews, I figured I could adjust to this unique environment out of sheer survival instinct, and actually have some fun along the way. So I went for it, offering to work for about 65% of my usual salary.
But clearly, even this wasn’t enough for him, and hence the email showed up basically saying “Thanks but no thanks”.
Now to be honest, other than the fact that this place was a far less prestigious or professional of an operation than I’m used to being a part of, the build up and let down both jobs was almost identical; but when even the scuzzy places don’t want to hire you, it can be be quite demoralizing. Then when the corporate gig fell through one short week later, the self-doubting voices in my head begin to pipe up…
“What did I do wrong?! Was I too X?!! Was I not X enough?! Did I come on too strong?! Not strong enough?!! Am I too old? Too intense?!! Are my skills obsolete?!”
On and on such thoughts go, until finally settling on the worst one of all… “The bottom line is that they don’t want to hire ME.” And with this thought, I became quite depressed.
Out of anger and frustration, I went down to the beach for a walk, trying to clear my head; and that’s when it hit me…
Standing there on Gonzales Beach, on a crisp, bright and sunny New Years eve I realized WHY I didn’t get those two jobs; let’s call it a New Year’s Epiphany.
I didn’t get them because they won’t serve me in becoming what/who I want to become. In order to do this, I have to (as Jim Rohn says) be willing to “risk the unusual”. Let’s look at the facts:
Despite what the first ad advertised, the hostel dude didn’t want to hire a “Manager Extrodinaire” who leads people; he wanted a couple of minions who would would be called managers and work for a buck over minimum wage. Period. No wonder he didn’t hire me.
And the corporate gig? I’m not sure why I didn’t get it, but it doesn’t matter. Because despite whatever I bring to the table from a skill-set point of view, I’ll always be a “square peg” which will rarely ever fit into a traditional businesses “round hole”, which is probably what happened. If this is how I’m to be perceived by business, why even bother trying to get them to understand what drives me? My journey is better than that; I’M better than that!
And with this realization, I decided right then and there on that beach, to LIBERATE MYSELF from these kinds of jobs and people and businesses etc. by not looking for work any longer. Instead I’m going to “risk the unusual” by working to create the business I’ve dreamed of for so long. I will no longer be defined by who will or won’t hire me, what job I hold, or what title some random company chooses to bestow upon me. No more!
I can say this, because I was truly inspired by so many brave, wonderful people this year (many from WDS) who’ve already taken this route; and in 2016 I plan to follow their example, jump in my life with both feet and my time, energy and focus on the things that are important to ME. In other words…
This soul is no longer for sale!
Does this mean that I won’t ever look for work again? Maybe; but if I do it will be part time, and something that allows me to stay on the path that is far more important to me; the path of being true to myself.
Will it be hard? You bet.
Will it be tough? Oh yeah.
Will it be rewarding? Of course! And that’s why it will all be worth it!
Because living on the wire whilst being true to ourselves is far better than becoming someone we don’t want to be just to bring in a few extra dollars so we can feel “safe”… because as I learned on this very day at the beach, that version of “safe” is pretty frickin’ scary, and something I never, ever, want to be again.
How about you? Are you ready to take back a little bit of your soul as well? I’m sure you are.
And if you are as annoyed as I am, then I know you will~!
All the best to you in 2016! Don’t forget to stay true to yourself, and keep struggling to be “normal”; trust me when I say that you (and I) are are WAY more interesting just the way we are.