Let me tell you a story.
It’s a story about bravely facing fear – a big, lifetime kind of fear – and emerging stronger than you ever thought you could be.
Let me tell you a story about quitting a job.
Once upon a time, there was a woman who we’ll call Diane. For a long time, Diane had a dream – she wanted to have her own consulting and coaching business. She studied and learned and grew, but the reality of being a single mom and getting her kids launched weighed heavily on her mind. Money and security worries haunted her every moment.
So, like a lot of people, Diane put aside her dream in service to her family and their needs.
She commited to a corporate job with a big, international powerhouse.
Now, Diane was good at her corporate work and became a Vice President who consistently found herself at the ear of the CEO talking about strategy, vision and big picture issues. In response to one of the Big Vision Items, she developed a ground-breaking program that became widely implemented throughout the organization.
Diane routinely traveled the world from Asia to Europe. She was on so many conference calls that she almost forgot what it was like to meet with people face-to-face. Don’t even think about the quantity of email she managed.
Her pace was frenetic and challenging, but she was contributing, and excelling, and that felt very good.
And her children were becoming purposeful young adults and moving into their own lives, and that also felt very good.
She had a little nest egg, and that felt very good, too.
But then, suddenly, some things began to feel less good.
The CEO left and was replaced by someone who didn’t see Diane in the same light. She found herself shuffled around, and excluded, and reporting to someone she wasn’t so sure about.
It was confusing and unsettling.
Then one day her boss said that Diane would be let go at the end of the next quarter.
So Diane did what many of us in that situation would do – she worked like the devil to make sure no one would ever say that she left the place worse off than she found it.
A little voice began in her head – the little voice so many single moms hear, “What am I going to do about money? How can I ever replace my corporate salary in my own business?” – and Diane began to panic a little.
At the end of that quarter, Diane fully expected to be let go. She was prepared for it. Instead, her supervisor said, “Will you stay through the next quarter just so we can get everything really buttoned up?” And Diane, feeling the worry of pending financial doom, said “Sure!” and again worked like the devil to produce.
One quarter led to another with yet another extension, a flurry of production from Diane, more money into her savings, and a stressful future.
And then one day Diane took a deep breath. She stepped back. She got very still and reflected. She called a friend who asked:
What did she really want?
What was holding her back?
Was it true she didn’t have enough money to start her own business?
Was she going to wait any longer to do what she really wanted to do? Or was she going to allow the company to continue to string her along?
How long was she going to continue to jump to meet the demands of others?
How long was she willing to postpone her dream?
She sat down, right there, and composed her resignation letter. Because she’s who she is, she sent it to an employment lawyer friend who tweaked it and sent it back.
Diane submitted it.
Until the HR head called to say, “We’re not accepting your resignation.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” the HR woman said. “The conversations around this were so interesting.”
Diane felt herself getting mad.
Until the HR head said, “You see, you are so well-regarded and so appreciated around her that we’re not going to accept your resignation – we’re going to fire you and give you a severance package of six months of full pay plus your full bonus plus pay you for all of your unused vacation days.”
(That’s a big bonus and 270 unused vacation days, by the way.)
Diane laughed out loud.
Her future now looked very different. Now, she could take the leap into self-employment without fear.
Now, she could finally live her dream.
It had only taken saying, “No. Enough. No more. Here is where I stop” to get exactly what she needed.
And that, friends, is the moral of the story.