I remember the first time taking the city bus home from high school. I knew where I got on the bus, a block from home. However, I was so completely overwhelmed at riding the bus and not sitting in the back seat of my dad’s car (where I felt safe), that I didn’t pay attention. When school was out, I was terrified of a few things. One, I couldn’t seem to remember which stop was mine. It was on the opposite side of the street and I didn’t look out the adjacent window that morning. Two, It was also the city bus… not a school bus. So, I was going to ride with random adults and kids from school.
To add to the anxiety of riding public transportation, there was no safety Bus-Aide to wake me if I fell asleep, or to yell my name if I didn’t get off when the doors opened at my stop. Only increasing the possibility of me failing to get home safely. The driver could care less if I got off or not. He was only concerned that I had my bus pass or my fare. It was all on me. If I was asleep when we passed my stop, I’d have to get off, walk home or cross the street and wait for another bus to ride home in the opposite direction.
I needed to be vigilant. Look out the window, don't get distracted by the people, remember to pull the string to signal the driver and exit the bus using the front door (not the back door just in case an upper class-men tried to push me down the back stairs).
I eventually made it off the bus. I only missed my stop a few times. When I did, it was a stop too early or a stop right after mine. No more than a block to walk home. But as I think back to my bus riding days from high school, I’m reminded of those moments in my career when I needed to be just as vigilant. Paying attention to the shifting sands of the organizational climate. Paying attention to how I was feeling about changes in my effort, my interactions, my excitement (or lack of), for what I was involved in. I’m also mindful of the number of times I’ve mentored someone who has considered making a change and how they had similar experiences and thought processes right before their moment of truth. I want to use this post to provoke you to ask and answer some questions about the decision, the timing and the motive related to your move.
1. I was so completely overwhelmed at riding the bus and not sitting in the back seat of my dad’s car (where I felt safe) – Have you reached that milestone in your current space where you know you should be stretching yourself to do more; but because you feel safe in your current space, you are resistant to change? Are you so bound to what’s familiar that you’ve become paralyzed?
2. I was so completely overwhelmed…that I didn’t pay attention – Does the thought of outgrowing your current circle equate unease and anxiety? Does moving from familiar relationships distract you from expanding your network?
3. There was no Bus-Aide to wake me if I fell asleep, or to yell my name if I didn’t jump up to get off when the doors opened at my stop… increasing the possibility of me failing to get home safely – Do you plan your failure by coming up with all the reasons you won’t be successful? Do you count yourself out of new opportunities before you even attempt to go after them? Do you hold yourself accountable for your own success or failures?
4. It was all on me. If I was asleep when we passed my stop, I’d have to get off, walk home or cross the street and wait for another bus to go home. – Does the thought of success being on your shoulders push you to work harder, or give you permission to hide your potential?
5. I needed to be vigilant. Look out the window, don't get distracted by the people, remember to pull the string to signal the driver – When it comes to your career, are you alert, ready to go when the door presents itself? Can you identify resources and pull on them when needed or do you find yourself easily distracted and often confused about what your next steps are?
6. Exit the bus using the front door (not the back door just in case an upper class-men tried to push me down the back stairs) - Do you have an exit strategy? Do you have a plan to avoid pitfalls and trip-ups?
I know this creates some awkward mental imagery, but life is a mere repeat of middle school and junior high. Just in different acts. If you consider your interactions with other adults in your peer group, first introductions are equally as uncomfortable. It’s a natural response to the unknown. Do I shake hands, are my hands sweaty, how’s my breath, my outfit, my hair blah blah blah. For me it was riding the city bus for you it might be the first time you walked to school or went to your first formal dance. The setting is different, but the decisions involved are the same. At some point we mature and life forces us to decide what we need to do. Your career is no different. We are not meant to stay the same. Motion is life. Movement is life. So even if you are happily married and well placed in your current role. Take inventory…does it provide the same level of fulfillment it did in the beginning? Saying no or questioning if it does, doesn’t necessarily mean you need to move. But it certainly means that you need to be vigilant about understanding what has changed and how you adapt or how you combat. If you are no longer in love with what you do, why? What has changed for you?
Life is full of defining moments… are you in yours and too distracted to notice? I’d love to hear how you answered these questions. I’d also love to help you figure it out.
~these are my thoughts…ratedpg