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Sustainability is Dead

sus·tain·able

adjective \sə-ˈstā-nə-bəl\

1: able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed

2: able to last or continue for a long time

*Yawn*

Welcome to the idea of the last century. A critical focus for coffee and environmentalism everywhere – yes. But also yesterday’s news.

Images of steadiness come to mind. Calm waters. Smooth sailing. Maybe even some romantic notions of the word “forever.”

Sustainability, it seems, is about how well you can avoid doing damage to something. Make it last. Leave no trace. Get back to normal.

 On what planet is THAT realistic?!

Does any farmer or agronomist believe that after La Roya, coffee-growing will simply go “back to normal,” and threats to it’s sustainability and viability will be gone? (An overwhelming “NO” would be the correct answer here, people).

So why are we still focused on a goal of sustainability? On perpetuating a false belief, that most of us know better than to buy into anyway?

I think it’s time for a paradigm shift in how we think about our efforts to secure coffee’s future, and improve the lives of our farmers.

It’s time for a new focus for coffee-lovers, environmentalists, and humans everywhere.

re·sil·ience

noun \ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s\

1: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens

2: the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.

Resilience, unlike sustainability, is about how well you can recover from damage that is done to something. It’s about “always be prepared.” Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

Survive, adapt, and grow.

When I first stumbled into this idea of resilience over sustainability, it was on a snowy January day in the offices of local organization, Root Capital.

I was picking the brain of one of their best and brightest young minds about his perspectives on coffee.

“For so many years the coffee community has been focused on sustainability, but I think we need to change our mindset. We need to start thinking about resilience.”***

Ok, so that may not have been an exact quote, but that was the gist of what he was saying.

I was immediately intrigued.

“This is big,” I thought to myself.

I’ve been ruminating on that conversation for the last nine months, and it wasn’t until last week that I realized that others were thinking about this concept, too.

It’s completely genius. And I think they’re onto something.

My hope is to spread the idea as far and wide as possible. To get you, and other people, thinking about it to.

Because I think it applies to more than just coffee crops. I think it applies to you.

Replacing a focus on sustainability with a focus on resilience instead can translate into nearly everything we as humans do on a daily basis.

It’s about setting our sights on our own agility, our own resilience, our own ability to bounce back, in all areas of our lives.

If we focused on building work products that are more resilient instead of sustainable, what would they look like then? What would be different in how we work and what we produce, with resilience as our lens?

If we focused on cultivating resilience in our personal lives, how much more would we experience success, and personal growth? How much easier could we go with the flow and persevere, if we spend time cultivating our own skills in life resilience?

I think they’re interesting questions – ones that we’ve only begun to learn how to answer.

But with intention and focused action come results – and adding resilience to that equation makes for a future that is ever more bright.

Learn more about the movement from sustainability to resilience, and join in the conversation:

Resilience in Coffee:

http://goo.gl/s9E4k2

Resilience in Cities:

http://goo.gl/BGnxWW

Resilience in Global Issues:

http://goo.gl/INtsfL

Happy Growing.

 

***It’s worth reiterating that this blog is only reflective of my own views and opinions, and the above is a generalized excerpt of conversation, not an exact quote. All thoughts, perspectives, musings and ideas shared here are my own, and are not reflective of my employer, or of any organization and/or article referenced herein.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

You’re Not Grateful Enough

You never have been.

You never will be, either.

And neither will I.

I spent an entire year practicing daily gratitude. From May 2012 to May 2013, I wrote out a list of gratitudes to an accountability buddy every. Single. Day. (Thanks Ken, wherever you are, for putting up with my particular brand of weirdness).

Ken heard a lot of crazy stuff from me.

Some gratitudes were coherent and heart-felt, others were desperate and lonely grasps and setting myself back on course. Some were ethereal and spiritual and heady, others probably sounded completely pathetic and empty.

But every day, or every night, largely without fail, I would send them. I would churn out a random list of whatever popped into my head that I was grateful for.

And it had a profound effect on my life.

When I would struggle with something, have a bad day, feel anxiety, and experience anything uncomfortable or unnerving in life, I would reach for my phone and start listing out gratitudes.

While most of America was busy reaching for a bottle or a pill or food to cope with difficulties and anxiety, I had found a healthier outlet.

And like a workout that builds muscles, my strength in gratitude grew and developed.

I’d already considered myself a fairly optimistic, silver-lining type before I started this practice, but I became so good at it, that I think at times I made my friends want to puke.

I learned the hard way, that timing is everything when you’re telling someone something that they don’t want to hear – like why they should be grateful and what the potential unseen benefit of xyz terrible event might be.

But even with some bumps along the way,

Practicing daily gratitudes profoundly changed my outlook on life.

By the time a year went by, the Personal Transformation class I was a part of that started me on this habit, had been over for nearly 10 months (which by the way, if you want to profoundly change your life, spend some time in a personal transformation session with this amazing lady).

At that point, Ken politely told me to quit texting him my gratitudes (ok, not in so many words – I swear, he was super nice about it, and really, it was a miracle he was willing to put up with hearing my lists for that long at all).

But it was a crucial moment. I had a choice to make.

Should I find another outlet for continuing my daily gratitude practice?

Or did I believe that I had this gratitude thing down?

I felt uncomfortable for a while, and unsure what to do.

In large part I decided to wing it, and just continue to be more grateful in my daily life, without a formal practice.

I’d go through phases where I’d work again to incorporate an intentional practice back into my life, this time directing my lists to journals or text messages to myself.

But by and large, I grappled with the question, and the self-inflicted pressure of wanting to continue with a daily practice. “I have enough responsibilities in my life,” I would rationalize, “enough daily practices.”

Eat right, work out, meditate, ride my horses, get work done, write, have a social life.

Did this really need to be on the list, too?

It took me another entire year to realize that it does.

Because no matter how much gratitude you practice, you can never practice gratitude enough.

There’s no such thing as too much. And that in turn means that there’s not a single person on the planet that is doing it enough.

Albert Einstein, genius that he is, once said:

 

I think you know which camp I fall into. And I think you probably fall into that camp, too.

So do it with me, won’t you?

Practice daily gratitudes?

Because with all these miracles around, I’m certainly not grateful enough. And quite frankly, neither are you,

 

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Ever Thought of Publishing?

I have. Or at least I’ve dreamed about it (I’m not sure I can say I’ve really rationally thought about it, at least not yet.)

For many of you that know me, you know I have a deep dark secret. I want to be a published fiction author.

It’s big, it’s hairy, it’s audacious. And don’t worry about me too much – I’ve been inching my way there, pushing past typical artist’s resistance, massive crises of the inner critic, and an all-around classic case of getting-in-my-own-damn-way. But in the last year, I’m playing more with the craft, and dabbling in some short stories, with the idea that they’ll help warm me up into full-blown-masterpiece-novel territory. (Just nod and smile, ok?? And check ’em out over at http://www.jilljillian.com, because I need your feedback!)

While I may not have any great publish-worthy fiction to my name (yet), I’ve been fascinated for years by the ever-changing landscape of the publishing industry.

Thoughts like “is this industry going to be extinct before I can get my work out there into the hands of millions?” and “Self publishing…WHAT? That sounds so…LAME!” circle my head a lot.

In truth, I really don’t know all that much. And I’m not necessarily ready to. But I also started noticing this weird aversion I had to the idea of EVER self publishing (because yeah – it’s TOTALLY rational to be excluding possible means of getting published even if you’ve got nothing to publish yet and have no idea what might serve your work best, once it’s ready to be shown to the world).

Have you ever done that? Shut down a world of possibilities for yourself when you’re not even in the right place to be considering and making such a decision yet?

Well I have some advice for you.

Quit that sh!t.

And get a different perspective.

At least that’s what I did.

When the fabulous Dave Ursillo, the leader of my private writer’s group announced a series of interviews he wanted to do called “Conversations in Purpose,” I jumped on the bandwagon.

The idea was that we got to interview Dave for 30 minutes on whatever topic we chose, it just had to be anchored in a clear purpose. Conversation would become the creative device we would both use to unlock new insights, discoveries, and connection. As a several time self-published author himself, I saw Dave as the perfect person to learn more from.

I pitched the idea of a conversation about the ever-changing landscape of traditional publishing houses versus the bountiful options for self-publishing. Dave was all in.

This was the result: http://youtu.be/SbGohnyBZJ8 

I have to admit, it was not what I expected to hear. I learned perhaps I had been a little too shut down to the whole idea, a little prematurely. I’m realizing that things I’m feeling an aversion to in life should be a little flag – a little pop-up reminder that says “ooh ooh! look over here! Are you feeling aversion right now? Challenge yourself and look a little deeper before you walk away!”

Because you just might be surprised at what you find.

And in my traditional style, now I’ll turn it over to you.

What possibilities have you been shutting down in your own life? And what are you gonna do to put them in perspective?

Inspirationally yours,

Jill

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

That Dreaded, Six-Letter Word

Change.

It stings. It’s fresh and it’s new and it hurts.

And while it’s a six letter word, I hang up the phone feeling pretty confident it deserves a place along side some other, shorter, four-letter words I can think of.

And these four-letter thoughts I’m having?

They’re an initial reaction to some huge news, a big change.

I’m feeling it. My peers are feeling it. We’re all feeling it.

Nobody wants the good times to go. Yet we know, instinctively and through experience, that the second we get that “Oh my gosh this is the best team EVER, I NEVER want it to change” feeling…it’s inevitable. It’s going to change. And probably soon.

And when it does? When the dam to all that awesome finally breaks and gives way?

#sucks

The feelings at first are a bit like that big wave of water breaking through – they crash and they burn and they’re a little bit sharp.

And that’s ok.

If I’ve learned anything both as a human, and someone who teaches others about the concept of how humans experience change as part of my work, it’s that at first, we react.

And it isn’t always pretty.

Sometimes it’s a four-letter word. Sometimes its a metric crap-ton of tears across a telephone line to your peer. Sometimes it’s a night on the couch binging on OTNB and ice cream.

The best thing you can do?

Let it flow. Let it crash, let it burn, let it break. Keep your professional wits about you, make sure you direct your emotional episode to an appropriate person, and let. Shit. Fly.

There’ll be plenty of time for acting rational later. There’ll be plenty of time for seeing the silver-linings tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the one after that if it takes you that long.

The point is, you don’t need to do anything other than feel your feelings.

Does this kind of thing sound familiar? Maybe the last time you went through a change of your own?

“I want to be disgruntled and swim in the muck for a bit.  And I probably will.  I want to hide in a corner and avoid contact with others.  I want to yell.  Scream.  I want to leave.”

Congratulations. You’re human.

Does it mean you will do any of those things? Maybe some of them. But saying you want to do something and actually doing it is different.

Remember one thing during the time a change is fresh:

You’re allowed to think and feel whatever you want, and you’re not married to a single one of those thoughts and emotions.

In the days and weeks that follow, you don’t have to act on one single bit of the bullshit that parades through your emotions and your mind while you’re processing the change.

Because in the days and weeks that follow, the initial crash of waves will slowly dissipate, an the water will start to calm. Stillness washes into it’s place, and you can finally take a breath, and reflect.

But the water has to calm for in order for true reflection to take place.

So get all your thrashing around and reacting out at the beginning, otherwise…well, have you ever tried to see clear to the bottom of a mud puddle?

You can’t see very far if you keep jumping around in it.

The only way to see clearly, is to stand still…and let the water settle.

So once the reactions are done, once you’ve gotten them all out…how exactly do you get the water to settle?

I’ve found it useful to remove myself from the situation, to get a little distance. I figure I don’t even have to be willing to stand still – as long as I’m not standing in the puddle, the water will have a chance to calm. I can come back to it later, and some clarity might be waiting for me.

And so I walk away for a bit. I “drive my own experience through the change. Highlight the joy in my life outside of work.”

Re-connect to the bigger things in life.

For me, it was remembering why I do what I do, my purpose. For me, I have three main purposes here on earth, at least so far as I can tell right now:

  1. To love
  2. To inspire others to see things differently so they can grow
  3. To tell coffee’s untold stories

Through this recent change, I had to re-shape my thinking about #3.

You see, this job? This life at Starbucks? While it’s easy to think of it as huge, it’s actually just once small piece of a way bigger coffee puzzle.

In fact, I never actually chose coffee. Coffee chose me.

And my job is simply to honor that calling. In every way that I can.

So this “big” change? This monumental shake-up to my team?

I had to re-frame it.

It doesn’t mean I’m over it, it just means I started to see it differently.

And after a few days away, I walked back to the now-calmed waters, and saw the whole picture more clearly. With some time to process, I remembered that what is important to me, is so much bigger than who my leader is, so much bigger than who my team is in my day-to-day work.

The significance of this change became far less important in the grander scheme of what I was put here to do. 

And once I remembered that, I started to feel better.

It’s not that I want to lose an incredible leader, and the chance to work on a team that’s so tightly gelled it resembles the 5-part harmonies and addictive tunes of the forever-in-my-heart N*Sync.

Of course I want to keep those things, to hang on tight to them. Of course I love those things. I think it’s only natural that we humans do.

But I had to remember that having those things, and losing those things – is not the most important thing. They help create a sense of belonging, yes. They help create an amazing, day-to-day work environment, yes.

But I had to remember that I belong to something bigger.

I belong to coffee and her untold stories.

For better or worse and whether or not I know why, coffee has chosen me to tell them.

And in those clear waters, a picture emerged. And so I painted a reminder of that picture. A reminder of what I’m part of – bigger than any leader, than any team, than any company:

Coffee Has an Untold Story

Coffee Has an Untold Story

I painted it onto the wall behind my home-office desk, so that through this change, or any other ones to come, I always remember.

Coffee has an untold story – and I am here to tell it.

Join me at http://www.jilljillian.com where I’ve begun the search for coffee’s voice.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

It Doesn’t Always Come Bursting Out

A few weeks ago, I read a super cool piece on Medium.com about creation.

It’s bothered me ever since.

Not the post, so much as the video at the end.

It was called “So You Want to be a Writer” by Charles Bukowski.

I’ll summarize it for you. So you want to be a writer?

1) Don’t do it

2) Don’t do it

3) Especially if it doesn’t come BURSTING out of you, DON’T DO IT

I call bullshit.

Sometimes, that which we are called to do is absolutely, positively, painfully freaking difficult.

Sometimes, when we are young, when we are learning, it doesn’t come bursting out. It can’t yet. We don’t have the skill.

Sometimes, the thing we dream of the most, is so overwhelming it intimidates us. It recoils us. It makes us resist and avoid and hide in fear.

That absolutely, positively, doesn’t for one single second mean that we shouldn’t do it.

The martial arts master teaches us that in his will to be the guy who just keeps marching. That’s how you go from just-a-kid to real-life-ninja (for-realsky. Master Phil is awesome sauce.)

I learned this lesson myself in my journey to become an equestrian.

Has the idea of being a great rider and horse-obsessed woman come BURSTING out of me throughout my whole life? Not really. Only at the very beginning and the very end. That whole journey through the middle? It was a mess. And the whole “horse thing” wasn’t really bursting out of me.

When I look back, this is roughly what that 25-year journey looked like:

Me and dad and our neighbor's horse Princess (my first foe-tee love.)

THE BEGINNING: Me and dad and our neighbor’s horse Princess (my first foe-tee love.)

  1. Be obsessed with the idea of horses. At 3 years old, shout “foe-tee” at every horse you see because you can’t pronounce the word “pony.”
  2. Start with pony rides. Basic lessons. Part by will, part by not having a choice, because if your parents think you are into horses and then stick you in pony camp or on a horse’s back, you go.
  3. Get the idea at 10 years old that you want to be a “serious” rider because it looks cool and sounds like a good idea. Convince your parents to sign you up for dressage lessons. Show up at every lesson terrified, because you are way outside your comfort zone every time you do it, and the stuff you’re learning is really hard. (Come to think of it, so is the ground, which is a long way down from the top of a horse.)
  4. Take the logical next step and beg for a horse of your own. Thank your lucky stars your grandma gave you savings bonds as a kid and cash them all in for a horse all your own at 12 years old.
  5. Stay relatively devoted, do some cool stuff, attend some fun shows, learn to jump.
  6. Start rejecting and resisting this thing you know you have skill at. Realize you’ll never go to the Olympics because you don’t have the money. Decide that focusing on your super-important social circles and new boyfriend as a 17 year old High School senior is way more awesome. Start riding less. Look at going to the barn as a chore.
  7. Continue rejecting this part of yourself through college. Lease your horse out to someone else. Completely take him for granted. Completely disown your skills.
  8. Take advantage of an opportunity to have your horse back in your life at 22. Start riding again…slowly…one day a week.
  9. Realize that you’re actually super skilled in this area, remember how much hard work it took you to get that skilled, and that you were insane for ever rejecting it. Take your horse back full-time at 23.
  10. Have a small crisis as to how you’ll ever afford your horse on your own, but do it anyway. Move him with you across the country at 28. Live and breathe this creative outlet in your life. Add a second horse to your collection. Seriously consider having your head examined. Create new art with your new horse. Train him to do stuff. Fully identify as a horse-person, not as a fake, not as an impostor, not as a less-than. Realize that you are completely mental when you don’t ride often enough. Ride a lot. Like 6 days a week a lot. Finally settle in to this part of your self, this part of your life, this part of your creative musings, and let it come bursting out of you.

Me and Harry, my first horse (my forever foe-tee love). We’re still together 17-years strong.

My writing has taken a similar path, but I’m not as far along it yet. I’m somewhere in the realm of Phases 6-8, and also not sure I spent enough time in Phases 3 and 5. It’s a work in progress.

And right now? It doesn’t come bursting out of me. I think it wants to, but I don’t quite possess the skill nor the confidence nor the surrender yet to allow it.

And hearing a message like “If it doesn’t come bursting out of you, don’t do it!” pisses me off. It pays no respect whatsoever to where someone is in this process. To the idea that it doesn’t ALWAYS come bursting out…just maybe sometimes.

And that absolutely, positively, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it.

It just means you might not yet be at the point in your calling or your craft where it does come pouring out.

It just means you have to keep marching a little bit longer. Or maybe take a break for a while. Or maybe get some more training. Or maybe get lost in life so you can realize what really matters to you, and appreciate it and attack it with a new vigor.

Because lord knows my fiction writing does not come pouring out of me. And lord knows that even though it’s painful, and totally scary right now (like riding once was), I sure as hell am going to keep working at it.

And maybe, one day, if I keep marching and I’m really lucky, it will come bursting out of me.

I hope the same is true for you.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Trust: A Leader’s Responsibility

This month I asked an esteemed friend and colleague, Heather Russell, to make a guest appearance on my blog. While she doesn’t profess to be a writer by trade, she is a self-proclaimed rock star (@rockstar_fac) and one of the smartest cookies I’ve had the privilege of working with. Her sweet spots include telling it like it is, sparking new ideas, and pioneering genius approaches to solving problems. I think you’ll find all three of these things reflected in her thoughts on the responsibilities and challenges that come with learning to trust yourself, as a leader and a human.

***

In all aspects of our life, we as humans deal with getting input. Sometimes we seek it, sometimes it is unsolicited, but input is rarely in short supply.

In my experience, asking people for their input gets you two things:

  1. A whole lot of opinions (that often go sideways on you and have nothing at ALL to do with what you asked for feedback on in the first place) and
  2. An expectation that you will take each and every person’s input as the gospel truth.  Ok, so maybe not that extreme.  But close.

Input is a wonderful and glorious thing; it gives you perspective you might not have had prior to asking and allows you to see all angles of the situation.

But (and this is a big one here), too much input or input that’s too loud or coming from someone who has authority over you can erode YOUR voice.  Your opinion.  Your instincts.  

Ok, so maybe your boss won’t whack you over the head but they certainly can influence your performance rating, yes? This is the kind of authority I’m talking about.

I’ve seen it often in my career and personal life.  Especially when someone is trying to grow their career and is working on a highly visible project or temporary job.

Has this happened to you? Have you ever wanted to be successful so badly that you think you have to take all of the opinions of anyone who has ever lived?  Ever?

What winds up happening is possibly the worst outcome of all. You lose trust in the one person you should trust more than anyone else on the planet:

Yourself.

I just saw this happen.  A wonderfully smart person in a temporary job was trying to prove that she’d had an impact, and was faced with a championship game moment…the last meeting.  The last big opportunity to show what she had learned in this temporary job.

I watched her ask person after person what she should do.

I heard her say things like “maybe I should just do what x said” or “y keeps saying that I should do this, I think I should listen to y.”

She was circling the decision-making drain and couldn’t see how to get out of it.

As an outside observer, I could see clearly that she just needed to trust herself.

She had answers and input and observations that NO ONE else had.  She had the exact insights the leaders she would be meeting with wanted to hear.

But in her panic, in her well-intentioned decision to solicit input, she lost sight of that.

She forgot to trust herself and follow the guidance of her inner voice.

But she’s not alone. We all do this.

We get so wrapped up in the input, feedback, and perspective that we spend countless hours trying to make all the Jenga ™ pieces fit and make everyone happy.

But guess what?

If you always make everyone happy you aren’t being innovative.  You aren’t being creative.

You’re simply taking the dregs of someone else’s ideas (that incidentally they never acted on, ever wonder why that is?) and trying to marry them to another person’s recycled ideas.  Dregs and recycling.  Is that what you want?

Probably not. So why do we do this?

Because trusting yourself enough to hear what’s being shared, to examine it for what it is (one person’s perspective), and to consider if it has a place in your work is harder than it sounds. 

When you care a lot, when you are working with people in positions senior to yours, when you are going through a change yourself, it is challenging to have this kind of perspective.

And yet, when you trust our own ideas and lean forward on them, shouting out to the world, “HERE IS MY IDEA AND ITS AWESOME!” that is when you have the chance to succeed in ways you’ve never seen before.

Or fail.  (Yes, that’s always a looming possibility, isn’t it?  But it’ll still be YOUR failure and isn’t it pretty?!)

The point is to go be a unicorn, and follow your own sparkle-covered ideas straight into awesomeness.

Maybe we can’t all be unicorns all the time. Maybe we can’t all be awesome all the time.  And maybe we can’t all be awesome.

But we can believe in ourselves.

We can investigate the input we receive, examine it objectively and determine IF it has a place for our work.

When it does, we can take it and run with it. When it doesn’t, we can practice the art of politely thanking the person who provided it, and letting it go.

But only if we stay true to our sparkle-tastic unicorn selves.

Staying true requires vigilance. It requires awareness.

How do you know if you’re staying true?

1. Recognize the symptoms of eroded self-reliance. You’ll know you’re in it when you feel like you can’t decide. You can’t make a move.  You have the hardest time making the easiest decisions (like what to wear to a meeting or what to eat for dinner.)

You are in a really bad place and need to ask for help when you find yourself driving around in circles, hungry and confused about what to pick up for dinner.

Call a friend, they’ll tell you you’re ridiculous (if they are a good friend) and tell you to stop at the first place you see.  Ever had gas station burritos for dinner?  Mmmm…. (I’m not at all speaking from experience here.  Shush.)

2. Define and stick to your personal values. It’s hard to trust yourself without a touchstone, a “true north” that resonates for you.

Identify your personal values.  Keep em close.  Use them to make decisions.  Reflect at least annually if they have changed.  If you live by your values, you will always trust yourself.

3. Keep yourself in check. When it comes to effective leadership, self-reliance and self-trust are a fine line, my friends.  Too much trust in your own instincts can make you seem arrogant.  Can make you arrogant.  So trust.  Trust a lot.  But keep yourself in check.

These three things have worked for me. But don’t take my advice – there are a million books out there on building trust and building relationships with those people you lead.

Go out and find what works for you – what keeps you connected to your ability to trust yourself, and enables you to be the best leader you can be.

Then tell me all about it at www.twitter.com/rockstar_fac.

 

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I just turned down my dream job

You’re probably thinking “what the hell is wrong with me?” and “am I f-ing crazy?”

And actually, I’m not.

Bear with me, here. There’s actually a huge lesson in all of this.

But first, the story.

When I say I turned down my dream job, I’m being a little dramatic. I wasn’t officially offered the job, but I was recruited for it. And based on my credentials and years of networking, there was a very good possibility that I would have ultimately received an offer.

But I turned it down. I turned down the option to even pursue it.

And for probably the first time in my life, I chose to honor timing over desire.

Like many people, I have a clear vision and some big life goals and plans I’m working towards. These are not dreams far off in some distant land, these are dreams that I am actively working towards, each and every day.

Writing a novel (and in general embracing my destiny as a writer) is something I work on every single day, by sitting down at my computer or notebook and putting pen to paper – words on the page.

Create a sense of inner peace and unwavering self-awareness is also hugely in focus for me. And I work on this every single day, by cultivating my meditation practice, spending quality time with my horse, and and creating time alone…even when it’s hard.

Career goals are also a part of this. There are specific things I want to have a chance to learn and explore, departments I want to be a part of at Starbucks, and far-away countries I want to work in. I network actively, develop myself personally and professionally, and make my intentions known every single day, so that I can slowly make my dreams a reality.

All three of those things are clear, active dreams. They’re in progress. They’re happening right now. And they’re all important. Each one is huge priority for me. And each one is sacred.

That’s why when my colleague called a few weeks ago to tell me about a job that’s opening up – one that would fulfill everything on my wish list – I felt that sense of excitement bubbling up in me, followed almost immediately by a sense of dread.

“Basically, you’re telling me you desperately need me, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

My heart leaps, and then sinks. Despite how perfectly it fits the picture of what I want in my career, I know the timing isn’t right for me.

It makes me think of an old quote. “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

My preparation had clearly met my opportunity, but this phone call didn’t feel like luck. It actually felt like a slight bit of torture.

While the career compass pointed to “yes,” every other compass in my life pointed to “no.”

That’s when I realized that there is something missing from that favorite quote of mine. What’s missing is a piece about honoring timing. And gut feeling.

Sure, my preparation had met and opportunity. But was it THE opportunity? Though it sure looked shiny and awesome, the timing was off. Jumping up and grabbing at this seeming stroke of luck and the fulfilling the requirements of the job would have choked out everything else in my life, and wouldn’t have felt lucky at all.

It would have torn me away from my senior-citizen horse, who has devoted 16 years to me and shows me every day how his final wish in life is to enjoy his time on the trails with me as much as possible. To dishonor that would feel anything but peaceful.

It would have torn me away from my carefully-cultivated writing practice, and my fledgling novel, both of which are still in a fragile, infantile place. To jeopardize that would feel anything but satisfying.

It would have thrown me back into learner mode, stressed to the gills with learning the ins and outs of a new job, a new set of coworkers, clients, and politics. To give up the incredible client and coworker relationships I finally have after a year and a half in my current role feels completely counterproductive.

As I looked at this shiny copper penny of an opportunity, I saw very quickly the tarnish that was waiting to form, at least for me, and at least for right now. I saw how this job would have left no time for peace. It would have left no time for writing. It would have left no time for me.

Worst of all, it would have left no chance for an even better opportunity to come along one day, at the right time.

And so I thanked my lucky stars for the opportunity – not for the job opportunity, but for the growth opportunity – for the chance to grow by saying “no.”

And then I sent opportunity sailing back again on the winds of preparation, because next time she makes port and calls on me…I’ll be ready.

And until then, I bid her a fond farewell, and say “better luck next time.”

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2013 in Reflection, To Be A Partner