I was entering my fourth decade and was at the point of professional burn-out. In the year prior I had traveled from the States to Southeast Asia six times to design and build out a regional office in Thailand for a large non-profit development agency. On top of this heavy travel schedule, I was serving in an operational role that was completely draining me, requiring compliance-based knowledge, detailed planning precision and constant responsiveness and short reaction times to operational issues continually flaring up. That could have been manageable except I was also trying to raise our three year old daughter while busily planning our second adoption with my wife. By the end of 2012, I had spent 95 nights away from home and traveled over 100,000 miles. I was on the edge and needed a change. FAST!
In the midst of this stressful time I was extremely thankful to have a supportive and understanding manager. He and I agreed that I needed a change so we set out to plan a six-month transition plan for me to find a role in the organization better suited to my leadership style and passions. Part of our plan included me finding a personal coach who could provide some perspective and help me assess the situation. A dear friend referred me to Dave Jewitt and the One Degree program.
With Dave’s help I reflected on my past and uncovered themes and patterns. I considered how critical decision points had impacted the course of my life. I saw new aspects of God’s help in my story. After taking several rounds of assessments I drafted four “personal drivers” that simply explain how I’m designed and how I can bring my best to my family, church, community and career. My drivers include: strategic creativity, cross-cultural communication, collaborative problem solving, and conceptual design. The One Degree methods help me better understand where I will spend my energy in the years ahead.
That was three years ago. Today, I’m faced with a new transition challenge as my role was recently eliminated. I didn’t go looking for change but change found me. So once again I am stepping forward as an outgoing introvert to engage with organizations around the globe in finding the right fit for my drivers and organizational cultural preferences. This time I’m prepared.
This led me last week to an interview with a top international development non-profit headquartered in London. I submitted my application for a challenging role leading global influencers to advocate for children in poverty and representing the organization to the United Nations, European Union and World Bank. The role reported directly to the CEO who was the former UN Assistant Secretary General, reporting directly Ban Ki-moon. In short, this role was a big stretch for me. However, I saw it as an opportunity to learn and engage with this non-profit in a productive way. During the interview call it became apparent to me that I wasn’t the right person for this role, lacking the necessary relational networks inside the UN. I proceeded to share with the interviewer my four personal drivers: strategic creativity, cross-cultural communication, collaborative problem solving, and conceptual design. I spoke very directly about my strengths and that I wouldn’t be the right fit for the organization in this case. Interestingly, we both agreed that once this director role is hired I would be a good team member to lead strategic development. The interviewer appreciated my frankness and began considering how my skills could be used in other ways. I also agreed to contact a friend whom I felt could bring the needed connections with the UN to fulfill the director position.
I finished the call confident and glad to have had a conversation that was clear and productive. An hour after the call the interviewer sent me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn and I plan to stay in contact about future roles. The search for my next assignment and organizational fit continues. I don’t know where this will lead or how long it will take. I’m thankful to have a supportive wife and an incredible network of friends around me. But what gives me the greatest confidence is knowing that God has made me to do specific work in specific ways. I have focus. And with that focus I’m ready to face the future and trust God with the rest.