It was a Tuesday afternoon like every other Tuesday. I called to my wife since it was the end of the work day to find out what we were going to do for dinner that night. I did not anticipate what she would say when she answered the phone, “I quit, I am so sorry but I quit.” This cam with of course a lot of crying and that was pretty much the only tangible thing that I could make out. I told her it was “Ok” and “No Worries.” How could I be so relaxed, so nonchalant about this, my wife just quit a job she had been at for 8 years and cut our income in half in the blink of an eye. How did we get here, how did she get so unhappy that the only thing she could think of was to quit.
Lets go back 8 years to figure out how we got to where we are now. My wife was in between jobs looking for something new and fresh. She wanted to find something that she could be excited about, something that she could be emotionally invested in. For my wife it has never really been about money but more about the emotional investment from the company and something that she could be emotional about. For her, when she goes all in she goes all in. Her opportunity came to work for a company that had been around for a few years but was recently purchased by a young man who had talent and great vision. He was a forward thinker and energetic but more than anything he was emotionally invested in the success of the company. He was the son of the former owner when he purchased the company. His vision was going to take the company to new heights. My wife’s aunt worked for the company and was able to get her in working at an entry-level position. She was excited and liked the idea of a smaller company and was happy to get back to work. Once she got the job she knew that something was different about this place something refreshing something new.
It didn’t take long for her to begin to spread her infectious attitude throughout the company. She finds the best in everyone and rarely sees their faults. That job is left for me. She would come home at night tell me how great here day was and was generally excited all the time. She loved going to work and couldn’t wait to see what would come next. Slowly she began to want more, she could see the company was growing and she wanted to provide more, she wanted to be a bigger piece. For here she couldn’t figure out what she was going to do, what was she good at. We talked and talked and she began to ask if I thought she was going to be good at sales. To me it seemed like a no brainer. Everything that I had ever saw was that the only natural talent you need to be a sales person was to personable and have the ability to network. The light didn’t go off in my head it exploded. I remember having conversations with her about how she was a natural at networking. She didn’t know what I meant or how it translated. Simply enough anywhere my wife goes she meets ten new friends, she as a way of making everyone feel important in the room and genuinely thinks everyone is awesome. I explained to her that if she did the same thing over the phone then customers will come, the only she would need to do is learn the paperwork part, but gaining customers will be almost to easy. Her boss was the one who originally saw some this and brought it to her attention. It wasn’t much longer before they began grooming her to become a key player in the sales portion of the company.
Over the years she would come home either sad, frustrated, or excited about new opportunities. We would sit and talk and figure out of to tackle her new objective. If it was something she was struggling with we would game plan different approaches on how to over come it. If she was struggling with being a women in a male dominated world, I would give her perspective on how man react and pursue things. If she was excited we would toast and enjoy a great night-cap.
The times that she was frustrated was due to various factors, interpretations, or interactions. One of her biggest gripes with he new-found job was that she felt like she always had to prove herself. She felt like because she was a women that she always had to do more, always had to sell bigger, always had to be louder, always had to ensure that when something was done people knew she did it. I didn’t really understand this too much, well because I am a man. I didn’t have the advantage to see it from her angle so it was hard for me in the beginning to help her. I would give her advice that I would give another man. I started to realize that I am showing her how to do things as a man, this is counter productive because she isn’t a man. You see if we both picked up the phone today and tried to sell the same thing to the same customer the interaction would be incredibly different. Say the customer was a 45 plus year old man, instinctively in many cases the man will immediately reject the female voice for being unintelligent and weak. He may try to outsmart her right out of the gate or in some cases be little her. Same phone call and he hears a mans voice, he most likely will listen for some time and be more passive. This is society, this is something that isn’t going change anytime soon. So how do we work around that, she had to become smarter, quicker, and better on the phone. She began making people feel important, got to know them personally, she began reading and learning new techniques. She was in love, in love with the company and the vision, and the growth.
As time went on she began traveling more, becoming bigger part of the company, yet a hole began to grow. She still felt like she had to prove herself, felt like no matter what she was always going to be a step behind, yet the path was invisible. She couldn’t see where it was going, who was in the lead or how to catch up. This invisible path was distracting, it made her unhappy, and she didn’t know how to put into context what this path was doing to her. As the company began to grow to new heights, more employees, and more money, she began to felt the path getting longer, steeper, and more difficult to climb. The personal conversations with her boss began to diminish, tempers from both sides began to increase, and the excitement dwindled. The women who was excited to go to work everyday found that she didn’t want to go anymore. Found that the invisible path was getting to steep, to hard to climb. Her greatest champion now her hardest competitor. She was constantly under the strain of ” Getting the Whale” but was not getting the guidance of how, but more the question of when. She has customers lined up with major projects going forward yet it was time-consuming and never in her full control. This makes it hard to succeed but the future was bright. She was coming to a conclusion though that it didn’t matter now, the excitement was gone, the emotional investment was becoming to painful, she was unhappy. This was never about the money for her, it was always about the emotional investment.
Just days before she quit her job the company had celebrated 25 years of being in business. This was a major milestone for the company, it had survived some terrible economic times and was at its height, and on that night everyone smiled. Even she smiled. The smile seemed weak, and forced though. Something was gone from inside, the spark had vanished, her time was coming to an end. Just days later her and her boss would have an argument, not uncommon in the business world, but it was at that passionate moment she said those words, ” I QUIT.” She cleaned out her office packed up her car and began to drive home. The pain that she felt was almost the same pain you would feel if you had just split up with a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend, you knew it was going to hurt but it was the right thing to do.
The next day she would attempt to go back to the company, but it was over. Things changed on both ends and the split would become mutual. The pain on both sides will be there for a bit but both will overcome and move on. She felt the initial pains, asking questions like what are we going to do, where am I going to go, what will I do next. So now we plan, we take our time. I consider her time at the previous company he education, she learned what it takes to succeed and fail. Failure is a critical part of becoming succesful and now she has seen it. Her next job has to be something that excites her, makes her passionate, and provides her emotional value. Her biggest hurdle going forward will always be chasing the Invisible Path, chasing the challenges that she can’t see. I know she will be great again, I know she will find her way, I also know that her infectious love for people is what will continue to make her amazing. Her education at the former company didn’t just make her great, but taught me a lot as well. It’s what drove me to write this, that I can see past the physical and gender differences that exist and try to find what is in the whole package not just how it’s wrapped.
Keep Challenging the Invisible Path, Keep Challengin Your Self, Always try to Fail, In the end you will Succeed.