The War Room
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Your career is not a yellow brick road.

It's early, around 6 AM and I'm up. I am not working out, not preparing breakfast or showering. I'm just up. In just a few hours from now, it starts again. Shower, clothes, breakfast, commute, parking and boom, Manager. 9 hours after that, it's manager, parking, commute, home and Husband.


That was my routine a few years ago when I was still a sales manager. That routine was something like 12 years old by then. Names changed as people joined and left my team. The product changed as I changed companies, and the money changed of course as I became a more experienced manager. What didn't change though was my routine.


I spent my entire career so far (most of it anyway) working for big corporations and most of that time, I spent in sales roles. In that context of large enterprise sales teams, the way of things as I learned it was simple: there's a point in time when you either grow out of your role, or you move to the next sales role, potentially with another company. In other words, you have to move on, and moving on when you're ambitious (and naive) enough usually means you become a manager.


I never questioned that and I was equally ambitious and naive to yearn for such a role even though I didn't know if I was prepared for it. Of course, I wasn't. I didn't doubt that was my path though, even when my first manager job was bad and I did an awful job at it. I didn't doubt it when I did better at later management roles. That was the way of things. And not only for sales, only in sales things happened faster.


"If you're good enough you'll move up kid, no way around that."


That's what one of my mentors told me back then. "No way around that". It made sense in the corporate absolutism I was used to. I didn't question it, I didn't doubt it, and I felt I was great at my job.


I don't know that I was really. Not sure anyone knows if they are any good at managing others, but in any case, I made a career out of it like many others and a profitable one actually.

And then came a time in my life I had not thought would come: I stopped being a manager and instead became an independent consultant. Circumstances do not matter, all that needs to be said is I decided I wanted a break and the opportunity showed up to do just that.

That's when I realized that I had been walking a path that had been laid in front of me. I wasn't pushed to follow it but I was strongly directed that way, very much like Dorothy and the famed yellow brick road.


Unlike Dorothy though, I never reached Emerald City though I realized it didn't matter. I was walking down a path that no longer felt right for me, and so I pivoted and created not a path but instead the possibility of one. Instead of managing a team I moved to the side and helped other managers do their job better. I specialized in facilitating and designing programs that would allow managers to create something with their teams, not for them.


That path has no bricks of any color at all. It's raw, full of turns and there's even a few dangerous drops ahead, so in a way, it is more uncertain than Dorothy's. Even so, I realized something: I walk it with a passion that was not there when I led people. This wasn't imposed on me, it didn't happen because it is the way things are, but instead, I made it happen, and the how was very simple.


I just stopped walking.


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Note: I wrote this in 2020, it's on my LinkedIn profile. I'm sharing it because I just finished a 8 session coaching with my last coachee. She came to me with the feeling she was stagnant, and we worked through that. In any case, I remember I felt like that and one day wrote about it as advice and thought I'd share it here as well!

🚀 Career Goals
🎯 Career Development
5
NoSuperhero
Politicker
+7
BDR
That's amazing, I sometimes feel that way about life that I'm, as you put it, pushed into the next decision laid in front of me, sometimes out of necessity, or curiosity, but so far it's been like that for my career. However, there are certain things that I have set to meet that I keep pulling myself toward. Some may lie in my hobbies, some others in culture interest, but I know that I'll be doing something with that in the next few years, regardless of my professional path as far as the day job goes, I'll always have something on the side, until that something in the side becomes the fulltime thing and maybe the cycle starts again.
alecabral
Arsonist
+8
Director - Digital Sales Transformation
You're smarter than I was for sure then! If one of those hobbies is something that really calls out to you, I'd recommend spending more time on it. I'm having the time of my life now, and it's something like 60-65% day job, and the rest my own thing. Already making a solid profit out of it but most importantly, I'm loving it more every day!
NoSuperhero
Politicker
+7
BDR
That's what's up!! Thank you for the ante up Alecabral!
User1234567
Politicker
+5
User1234567
I love this story thanks for sharing!
alecabral
Arsonist
+8
Director - Digital Sales Transformation
Thanks 🙏🏽!!
DungeonsNDemos
Politicker
+7
AE of B2B
I've definitely been feeling stagnant for the last couple months. I'm not sure what to do about it. Thanks for sharing this!
alecabral
Arsonist
+8
Director - Digital Sales Transformation
Maybe its time to try one of your passions?
DungeonsNDemos
Politicker
+7
AE of B2B
I'm trying to go about things differently. If I still feel this way and don't get the raise I'm looking for by the end of the year, then I will be making a change.
Show 1 more replies
uncorpse
Politicker
+5
Sales Development
Great Story man!
alecabral
Arsonist
+8
Director - Digital Sales Transformation
Thanks dude!
GDO
Politicker
+7
BDM
This is amazing. Lots of people go through their career without thinking about the absurdity of it all. I try to be less naive, but still fall in the trap as well. 
alecabral
Arsonist
+8
Director - Digital Sales Transformation
We all do I think’
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