More than a decade ago, I was working hard to climb the corporate ladder. My responsibility at that time focused on the targeted overseas market, which was the reason our senior leadership visited us over there very often. Here is the story. There was one time that I had a chance to join our president for dinner to introduce myself, but I turned it down. What was the reason? It was because I promised my family to be on webcam and listen to them practice during a long multiple weeks’ overseas travel.
You can find in so many coaching books that building a personal relationship with influential people is critical for careers. So, was that a difficult decision to skip such a wonderful networking opportunity? Not really, because I have decided that family is the most important thing to me. Of course, I did participate in many social events and there is no doubt those helped my career. The key message is what would be the choice when things are in conflict?
“What do you really want” is the question I ask most often when providing coaching & mentoring. Money and power are the most common things that people are chasing after. The reality is those excitements fade away so fast, and it makes people pursue them like an addiction. I was lost in my career many times too, but I was lucky to have many mentors help me to find my path back. Jim was one of them. It was during a time when I was frustrated about being in the same position for a couple years and wanted to move up again. We had a session to chat about his journey in his career. He was very successful in the finance area and was known for his role in developing the next generation of talent. He had an overseas assignment, which is typical for raising stars. I asked Jim, “What would you do differently if you could start your career again?” To my surprise, he said, “I would do exactly what you do.” “What do you mean?” I asked.
Jim told me that I did the right thing to keep my focus on family. He focused so much on his career that he grew apart from his daughter. It was something he didn’t realize until it was too late. They were rebuilding their relationship in her 20s and it was difficult. Jim told me, “Our relationship is better now, but I will never be able to get those years back.” It was powerful, and it calmed me down. Knowing what is important has helped me making the appropriate decisions in life. Jim may not know how much his words influenced me. This is a shout out to him, we lost contact after he retired, and I moved away. If you know him, then help me to let him know how much I appreciated his words.
Of course, the “wants” change according to “needs” in life. For example, you are likely focused on finding good paying jobs when you are worried about college tuition, but that could switch to work-life balance as an empty-nester. At the end of this blog, I want to share my key of finding my real “wants”. It is thinking about what I want people say about me at my funeral. What do you want people say about you at your funeral? Trust me, a good company with a solid succession plan won’t miss a beat without us. It makes perfect sense that we are all replaceable at work.
Keep in mind who will cry when we are gone? It is not likely to be our bosses at work. I think you know the answer and it should be our compass in finding our “wants”.