Do you keep your richness hidden? I know what you’re saying, What could she possibly mean by that? The thought struck me the other day as I interviewed a woman for my book. We spoke at length. I got the public, high level view right at the outset. Achiever. CPA. Job seeker. It wasn’t until well into the conversation that I finally learned about her.
Maybe it was me. Perhaps she didn’t like me or wasn’t comfortable exposing her hopes and dreams. Maybe she just wasn’t wired that way. An introvert? Or maybe she didn’t dare voice them, even to herself.
Are any of these categories familiar?
I’ve become very attuned to the self we project thanks to my transition. Pre- transition I never thought about this. But transition has showed me that over the course of many years I receded into the background as demands on me at work and at home expanded exponentially.
As I approached transition I feared things – like isolation. I never imagined that the real isolation occurred pre-transition as I worked 60+ hours a week and devoted all other energies to simply staying afloat.
The brainy CPA interviewee was incredibly generous with her time. On the surface she’d had a tough year….but by no means a unique one. Her company had gone through a merger. A new CEO and senior leadership team had been brought in. She didn’t work directly for the new CEO but she was senior enough to interact with him often.
Things didn’t go well.
The company hired her an executive coach. Several months later she and several peers were given pink slips.
Was the writing on the wall? “The CEO never liked me,” she concluded. She didn’t believe her firing was about the quality of her work. It was personal. Lacking objectivity. Hurtful.
She shared that this wasn’t her first transition. Earlier in life her spouse developed a rare form of cancer at a young age. He passed away leaving her with a nine-year old daughter. She never remarried. “I think it’s made me more resilient. I think it has made me not sweat the small stuff.”
I asked her to compare the two transitions – one triggered by an enormous tragedy another by an unsettling, disarming event.
She said of the earlier one, “it was way more scary.” Also, there was no “second guessing.”
Her 1st transition forced her to rethink her identity. Radically. All she’d ever envisioned for herself and her child changed. She’d no longer be a spouse, part of a dual responsibility team. There was no optionality. No turning back. It was finite and desperately sad.
Her 2nd transition presented her with options, or did it? From our conversation I concluded that she wasn’t ready to dignify her dreams. Instead she was in ‘prove mode,’ intent on replicating the job she’d just lost and showing her prior employer a thing or two. Did I mention that her dream was to open a gym? Sadly her prove mode ruled against any real query into that future reality.
Sandy Anderson, author of Summer Book Review #12 Women in Career and Life Transitions, said, “Success is not static. It is a continuing process of discovering more and more of your potential. It breeds momentum and enthusiasm to keep you going.” (Women in Career & Life Transitions pg 92)
I hope my CPA friend doesn’t let her dream recede. While I don’t have untold hours to commit to advancing my dreams I won’t let them be extinguished again.
Are you ready to step with me into this grateful realm?
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