I am at the edge of what could be the biggest career decision I have ever made in my entire life.
I have been coddled by the money of corporate America to sink into a comfortable, cozy lifestyle that has everything security can bring. I’ve got great benefits, a healthy retirement plan, money in the bank, healthy children at home and a happy wife.
A happy wife is a happy life, right?
Well, she’s definitely happy. We have a new home that’s bigger than we really need in the perfect neighborhood. It's a safe little community with our own swimming pools, parks, trails, streams, basketball courts, and even fishing ponds where you can teach your kids how to fish. Plus, it’s closer to family than ever before. We used to be seven hours away and now we’re 10 minutes. The house has everything my wife wanted plus a four-car garage, a huge outdoor patio with a built in granite island kitchen outside for grilling and dining, children’s playground and they even threw in the Jacuzzi.
How could life get any better?
Well it can!!! How about we add to that my COO at the corporation calling me up and telling me they were giving me a huge amount of restricted stock if I stayed with the company for another 5 years. This was a “life-changing” amount of money. I mean I could pay off my house and then buy three more homes and own them free and clear!!! Sounds amazing right? Well, the money and “security” was, but the fact of the matter is that….
I was miserable at work. I just didn’t know it.
I was in a sales team that was struggling with over zealous corporate goals. Sound familiar? We were breaking our backs and still not coming close to meeting the goals. I had gained 30 pounds, was drinking way too much and developed some serious intestinal issues. This was in the midst of the Well’s Fargo scandal where we learned their company had created over 1.5 million fake accounts to meet their sales targets. I wondered to myself “How long will we hold out before caving in like that?”
This company would never do anything like that because they had values. Honesty and Integrity, Faith, Perseverance, Positive Attitude, Commitment to Excellence, Fairness and Respect were the values my company held near and dear. They preached them almost religiously. But when organizations get as big as the ones in the Fortune 150, it’s hard for those values to be lived by all departments and silos the company has. I soon learned that the one thing they valued most was meeting those sales targets. That’s what mattered most.
That became evident to me when they fired my boss who had given 29 years of her life to this company and then they fired her boss as well. Out with the old and in with the new. All the new that they brought in was from outside the company. It was as if our leadership felt they couldn’t trust the people that had dedicated their lives to making this company great. They were no longer assets in their view-point, they were part of the problem. If they were part of the problem, did that mean that I was part of the problem? Maybe they just hadn’t told me yet…. Hello anxiety, fear, uncertainty and all those feelings you don’t want in your life.
They thought they needed new ideas
To make things work and get back on track to their unrealistic goals. So they brought in outsiders, who brought in outsiders, who brought in outsiders…. Ideas from the current teams in place were dismissed and condemned nearly immediately. Even though those ideas came from decades of experience and solid results. The outsiders were making huge decisions right away without even learning how the business worked. They didn’t seem to even care about how things worked currently. All they cared about was
Establishing their control
While they continued to bring in outsiders, they told no one on the inside what the plan was going to be. They started calling certain people like me and saying things like “Hey this is your new boss, but DO NOT TELL ANYONE!”. Secrets abounded and uncertainty and distrust spread like wildfire. I found myself wondering if these people had even read the company values of the organization they were taking control over.
All the while they acted like this, they kept preaching “We believe and operate in transparency.” That literally dumb founded me. One of my team members had saw the outsiders laughing and high-fiving each other saying “The Dream Team is coming back together!” I don’t think they realized they were being listened to. It seemed quite apparent that they definitely had their buddy-buddy interests in mind during this entire transition. This change in leadership had moved from an organizational change into what felt like
A hostile takeover
Then they dropped the bombshell on me via a text message like a bad high school break up you never talk about after graduation. We had all the travel plans set to meet with the new team and create our new organizational structure. Flights were booked, hotels reserved and next Monday we’d finally know what the outsiders wanted to do. FINALLY! Then I get this text the Friday before the meeting week:
Outsider: “Hey Ebin. Please cancel your trip next week. Cutting back on travel expenses for the remainder of the year.”
Ebin: “So is the meeting cancelled or just me going to it?”
Outsider: “Meeting is still on, just a smaller group. A few cancellations.”
I found out fairly quickly that was a lie. I was the only one “uninvited”. At this point…
I’m bracing for impact
And it finally came. The outsiders were replacing me with new outsiders. I was given two choices. Leave the company with a small severance that amounted to little more than a “Sorry, not sorry” consolation prize, or try to find another job in this corporate giant, but NO WHERE in their new organization within the company. Basically, I was told that 50% of the company was no longer an option and that I’d need to apply for positions that I wasn’t well qualified for or hope one that I was qualified for opened up in departments that didn’t know anything about me. Or so I thought.
It amazes me that in times of tumultuous life storms there always seem to be an emergency escape that opens up or a shelter from the storm that nearly magically appears. Sometimes, there’s even multiples. That’s what happened to me. I had built a great reputation in the company for nearly a decade. Everyone knew I was a heavy hitter that could get large projects done. Everyone except the outsiders that is. One of my old bosses was made aware of my situation. He immediately did some work and got the approval to create a new position for me in the new location I had moved to with my wife. It was a role I had previously, but it would save me from unemployment and I would still be able to cash in 5 years later to the MEGA payday! However, my boss did have this to say to me:
“Ebin, I have a personal/professional conflict here. Personally, I’ll always take care of you and make sure you have a place to land here at the company. But professionally, I want to tell you ‘No’… SO YOU’RE FORCED TO GROW.”
That hit me pretty hard. What was he trying to tell me? It sounded like he thought I was more capable than I even realized myself. It almost sounded like fatherly advice at the time. And then…
Opportunity knocked again
My brother Matthew called me up right at the time of this whole fiasco. He had just sold a business he started with a buddy and was moving on to the next opportunities in his life with new partners. They were starting some new businesses and platforms and wanted me to get involved. However, there were only concepts with some decent funding, but not enough to pay me a salary. They propositioned me to essentially create my own business with their guidance and funding in an area I had absolutely zero experience in and had full faith that I could create something that not only provided for me and my family, but actually made a difference in the lives of people around the globe.They were inspired and intentional
Their inspiration and passion with how they spoke about their future business plans captivated my attention. These were two individuals living an inspired life. They were living each day how THEY wanted to live it. They marched to the tune of their own souls and spirits and NOT by the demands of business or a corporate drum beat. They pursued many side passion projects and had TIME for them in the lifestyle they had created with their business because they MADE time… they didn’t find it. It was…
One where money didn’t rule, it only facilitated true intentions
A life where WHY you were doing what you were doing trumped HOW and WHAT you were doing. It was a life driven towards purpose and ultimately personal fulfillment. I had started out working at my corporation with that attitude, but it was quickly burned away in the fires of corporate demands.
Clutching onto the identity of family provider ultimately became the only fuel to keep me going into the dungeon of work. But that is worth it… right? It’s a selfless act to put your family first even if it means doing something that you don’t particularly care for or love as long as it’s providing them a home and a future. Isn’t that a worthy cause? To lay down your own self in order to create and preserve the greater good of those around you sounds like something Jesus might do. You can’t condemn an act like that right?
Sometimes, you need to hit the pause button and ask yourself some questions. “Why?” just like the 7-year-old child that you used to be. Why are you really doing this? Why does this matter to me? “What?” What is this accomplishing? What do you want it to accomplish? “How?” How is this affecting those around me? How could we do this better? When you ask yourself these simple questions and give yourself honest answers you can tap into your true self. It is only then that you have the opportunity to be true to yourself.
So I asked myself those questions. I realized that the only reason I was really working for the corporate machine was to collect money. It began and ended there. I also realized that I was demonstrating unconsciously to my wife and two baby girls that it is ok to settle for money and ignore your other desires. I was basically saying “It’s ok to ignore your soul” without even using words. Can you imagine how that would affect them throughout their lifetime? A lifetime of compromising short, a lifetime of taking the short safe path because they feared a little risk and seeing what they were truly capable of. I realized that by confining my own destiny to the dollar, that I may confine their tiny malleable brains to do the same. Could I live with that? Am I ok with that? Are you?
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is NOT taking risks.”
– Mark Zuckerberg
So here I sit with a decision to make. If money and the security it brings outweighed my soul, my influence on my family and the limitless future I truly want for my daughters then the choice would be easy. Stay in the corporate machine. Take the money and run. But this experience has shaken me to the core and woken up my spirit and revived my soul. It has taught me to be more objective and see all aspects of the decisions I make and not just the positive outcomes (Yes positivity can actually hurt you in some instances… sorry to break it to you.) It has made me realize that purpose means more than a plush six-figure income. It’s a legacy that you leave behind. And you don’t just leave it behind in your life story. It proliferates throughout the legacy of your progeny, your friends and all those that you touch through your short walk on this planet. It’s a drop in the pond of life that ripples to far reaches of the galaxy influencing everything along its path.
Each decision you make is forever
It cannot be undone… no pressure! But we can learn and grow from those decisions if we take the time to hit that pause button, have a mindful moment and ultimately steer future decisions towards the men and women we want to be. The men and women we know we can be. The men and women that make a difference.
It’s time to make a decision. I have made mine. I have no idea what is to come, but I know that how I approach it and the way it fosters the relationships around me will be better than ever. I’m going to take that risk… I’m going to jump into the abyss of the unknown.
“If you’re not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
I am not ordinary and my guess is- neither are you. I want to help you become even more extraordinary. My commitment to you is simple. I will share my story and talk to you weekly. We can all find inspiration and nuggets of life wisdom from those that we choose to listen to. If I have the honor of you listening in… THANK YOU!
I hope the words that flow from my being take root in your life. That they bring forth new ways of thinking, new sparks of creativity or courage. I hope they make you brave and they ignite something in you that never dies. I want you to live a life that is full, that is rich, that is worthy of remembering. I want you to leave a legacy behind you as you walk towards the bright, bright future ahead! I look forward to being changed by the ripples YOU made in our cosmos. Cheers to that!