Where It All Began

When I tell people what I do for a living they often ask, “How did you get into that!?”  I understand their curiosity.  I mean, back in high school I didn’t even know you could be a coach unless you wore track pants and carried a whistle.   So here’s the story of where Career Clarity began…

It was 1998; I was a 22-year-old freshly-minted University graduate. Aerosmith’s, “I don’t want to miss a thing,” was topping the charts, NBCs hit shows were Friends and E.R. and Apple had just introduced the iMac.   Life was full of possibility and I was eager to unleash my brilliance on the world.

I had been carefully scrutinized and recruited by the largest (and arguably the most successful) private company in the world to begin a promising career as an Admin Manager*.  I was one of only two new hires that summer out of a possible 500 candidates.  I was on cloud-9.  I could see my dreams of becoming a corporate big-wig with a corner office and a stylish wardrobe coming true!  As long as I could tough it out for 6 months or so through an intensive corporate training program and – in the process shed the naive, small-town keener reputation – I’d have it made.  I was on the fast track to an exotic and powerful career with a company that had manufacturing plants in virtually every developed country in the world.

I had been warned that the first 6-months would be tough. Some staff even joked that it was their job to see if they could “make the trainees quit.”   “Uh….okaaay,” I thought, “I’ve faced adversity before and really…how bad could it be?”  Besides, these people had never seen the likes of me.  I was a hard-core keener, groomed for this very opportunity by years of relentless academic achievement and grueling public speaking competitions.   Hard work and schmoozing were my forte.

That was June 1st. By mid-June my Supervisor, the acting Admin Manager, informed the company that she was leaving to join her new husband in another city.  “Fine with me,” I thought.  We hadn’t really hit it off all that well anyway and I was sure that the company had seen this coming and had a contingency plan to support my training.  By July I knew that I was in trouble.  There was  no contingency plan.   Me and the other Trainee were assigned portions of her job and were instructed that this would “make great training opportunity!”

That probably could have been true except for one inescapable truth: I really sucked at this job. By October I had come to realize that I had neither the skill, nor the desire to hedge commodities.  And while I had dazzled my University roommate at my ability to conquer calculus, I now stared blankly at a computer screen as I tried to analyze a P&L.   Worse still, my lack of enthusiasm for the office minutia was blatantly obvious.  I kept requesting to accompany sales staff out on customer calls under the guise of, “learning the business from the grassroots level.”

By the end of October I informed the District General Manager that I was quitting.  Even as I said the words I couldn’t believe it!  Me.  The keener. The straight A student.  The overachiever…. was quitting?  No other job offers and no prospects…not even the promise of unemployment benefits.  Just the bitter humbling salvation of quitting a job that I knew I was incapable of doing.  It took less than 6 months to go from the highest heights to the lowest lows of career trajectories…

And in that dark place of personal reconciliation I found the seed of self-discovery.  Nearly 9 years after that first painful career experience I founded my business: Career Clarity.  It’s a business that’s devoted to helping talented professionals find their career fit and helping high performers to reach their full potential.  But no matter who I serve – my mission is to help individuals recognize and honor who they truly are.

Because, even smart people can get it wrong the first time…and what truly matters is what you learn along the way.

*Company name withheld to protect the innocent.


2 Responses to “Where It All Began

  • Becky
    7 years ago

    Hey there My WONDERFUL friend! I never did know this whole story…. and I believe that I understand you, and your ‘career clarity’ a lot more. You sure helped me at a time I needed it. I may never take on that specific career but you helped me ask myself some important questions and not be afraid of doing what I love.

  • Heather
    7 years ago

    Thanks for the comment, Becky! I’m glad I was able to help inspire you to think differently about your career – sometimes all we need is a fresh perspective to get us moving forward again. Cheers to doing what you love!!

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