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Ordinary People Taking Action
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This is a blog series following my executive coaching client, Christine, as we navigate her personal and career struggles. If you haven’t read Part 1, click here to start from the beginning. If you missed Part 2, click here.
After Christine received her undergraduate degree, she continued immediately to grad school, followed by her PhD. She is incredibly smart and very focused on her career. She has the ability to take in data, process it, and decide on a course of action. This ability, mixed with her talent for knowing exactly what is needed now to ensure her future vision becomes a reality, is what makes her truly exceptional.
Christine would share with me her love for books and education. She reads multiple books at the same time, a habit Bill Gates is known to have as well. When Christine isn’t absorbing information through reading, she’s listening to podcasts or NPR in her car. Christine is an engineer with a level of business savvy I have never seen before. To say she is a “high performer” is truly an understatement. And despite her already extensive knowledge and experience, she is consistently focused on how she can learn more and expand her viewpoints.
Christine spent her 20’s in school. She spent her 30’s abroad, traveling for almost 10 years learning about engineering in third world countries. She helped build schools, fix and build computers, and install medical equipment in run down hospitals. So, to find this extremely accomplished, yet not really emotional woman sitting front of me now sobbing (over something to do with her kids), filled me with an overwhelming heartbreak. And, to be honest, I was a bit confused as to what to say. For the first time in my own career, I was speechless. I finally asked, “What do you need?”
She gave me some background on her work history. Right before Christine’s 40th birthday, she was offered a job with her current employer, which at the time, was just a start-up. She accepted a “senior manager” role. Her engineering background and business savvy would serve Christine well and in just 10 short years, she would become a VP and next in line for the CIO or COO position, whichever role she wanted.
The catch was that Christine needed to be able to show the team that she was human – that she cared – and that she wasn’t a robot. Around this time, the company went public and was one of those places ranked a “hot company to work for”. It was a magnet for young professionals who sought positive, collaborative work environments. They wanted to work for a company with a purpose – with a leadership team that cared.
While Christine was a valued member of the leadership team, she often came across to others as though she didn’t care about people. For the younger hires, this was a problem and their feedback reflected Christine’s perceived lack of human connection. Along with these work challenges, in Christine’s late 40’s she would give birth to her children and celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary.
Christine’s answer, to my question, “I need to quit. Amber, I quit my job today.” She continued to explain that she was leaving with no notice and that it was probably career suicide because she was walking away from everything – just leaving. The CEO was trying to talk her into a transition and offering a retention bonus. That morning was my last meeting with Christine. She stayed on for 90 days and then transitioned out of the company. After that, it was almost as if she vanished.
This blog series is part of my goal this month to provide 31 days straight of tips, advice, and inspiration to my readers via LinkedIn. Watch for the final segment of this story later in the month to find out more about Christine’s journey.
In the meantime, here are a few thought-provoking questions for you to reflect on:
This is the third of a four part series, as we wait for the forth and final post, what have you noticed, learned or thought about from Christine's journey?
Author's note: Christine's name is not the clients' name. The name has been changed to protect the client identity and maintain confidentiality. Pieces of this story have been changed slightly while still keeping the majority of the story truthful to remove any elements that would identify or expose the client.