I can pinpoint the precise moment when I made the decision to pivot my career significantly, and leave my business to accept a full-time role at Actionable. It was a decision that typically would have been a struggle for me to make, but it was made easy in an instant.
Here’s the backstory.
I have done project work with Actionable for years, in addition to providing their solutions to my clients, and have been fortunate to work with Chris and the amazing, ever-growing Actionable crew.
I consider them family, and have never encountered a group of smarter, more passionate people. The projects we have worked on together have always been great experiences.
Chris approached me in March last year to let me know that the project work I had been doing would be scaling into a full-time role in early 2017, and hoped I’d consider joining the team on a full-time basis. Joining a group that I loved, doing work that I was passionate about. It should have been a no-brainer.
And yet, I hesitated. I’ve been self-employed for almost 12 years, managing a mix of project work with an incredible group of clients. Much of my identity was connected to being a business owner, and it was hard to imagine not continuing down that path. I was open to the idea, but knew I needed more time to think it through.
Fast forward to late May. In our regular Monday project meetings, Chris opened our call as he always does, by asking if anyone had any exciting news from their weekend that they wanted to share. It happened to be a significant date for me, so I blurted out that it was the 15th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, made more significant by the fact that I had outlived my original prognosis by 50%. We were certainly celebrating at my house, and I knew my colleagues would want to hear the news.
What happened next was an overwhelming flood of emotional messages and congratulations. People called, emailed, and Slacked me with genuine, heart-felt messages, telling me that they had tears in their eyes as I shared the news.
They wanted me to know that I mattered to them, and they were so excited to see me reach this milestone. It took my breath away.
This was my tribe. I went from considering the pros and cons of making a significant change to being certain that this move would be the right one for me.
Imagine though if Actionable had been like so many of the other places where I’ve worked or read about. Where work is something you do from 9-to-5, but your personal life is checked at the door. Too many times, we are focused on the data, the processes, and the myriad of different elements that we need to manage in order to meet deadlines and milestones. Many leaders have told me there just isn’t time to focus on the personal stuff. That they save it for social events and other “one off” opportunities.
Work is usually where we put on our mask, and try to hide as much emotion as we can. It’s unfortunate, and organizations suffer from lower engagement as a result. This needs to change.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a call-to-action to start creating “meaningful moments” initiatives, where the word from the top is leaders need to be more personal, or where HR tracks “connection point KPIs.” Blech.
Just start where you are. Learn about the essential conversations you should be having at work, and start one of them. Chris doesn’t open our calls with questions about our weekend because he read somewhere about implementing a “get personal” strategy. He does it because he’s genuinely interested, and knows that having a team committed to delivering great work is directly connected to the commitment we have to each other.
We need to be having more of these conversations at work. We can’t keep leaving our personal lives at the door, and expecting people to have a deep connection that keeps us engaged and passionate about our work.
As I wrap up the final projects in my business, and move into my Actionable role full-time, I am excited to be continuing to work with a team who understands how to work hard and not take ourselves too seriously. To take time out of regular calls to celebrate the small stuff that matters too. I look forward to the day when this becomes the norm in the rest of the corporate world. We’ll all benefit when that happens.