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Every year around Labor Day I ask myself a similar question: am I in the right job? Am I fulfilling my potential?
I’m not gonna lie: after 13 years of continued growth at the same large biotech company, I was finding it harder and harder to even consider anything different. The inertia was strong. While my heart was whispering there was obviously so much more to explore, my head was struggling with the thought of leaving the comfort of a steady pay-check, Southern California weather, the important work my company was doing for patients and the wonderful people and relationships I had formed there. So why did I suddenly decide to leave Los Angeles, take a break and start something completely different in Chicago? Here are my top 5 reasons, all coming from the heart.
As it turns out, love was the only force strong enough to offset the inertia. When I met this amazing woman and realized she was the love of my life, the fact that she lived in Chicago and I in LA transformed from being a show-stopper into a mere detail that needed to be taken care of. In the context of love, the decision to get up and leave became incredibly easy – even in the face of enormous risk. In fact, moving to Chicago to be with Fabiane, without a safe corporate job lined up, is the very move that allowed me to start from a clean slate and explore the possibilities to begin with!
So love was the catalyst for change, and it made me reflect about what else I loved. Then the obvious question came up: “Am I loving what I am doing?”. I worked for a great company doing great things for patients, but I had to admit: after 13 years, there was something missing for me. So I started searching for something I would love doing.
Even as a kid, I always admired and studied great leaders. I saw early on that their most enduring impact was not only their accomplishments, but the lives they touched. I wanted to emulate that. When I became a sales leader, I had a major insight: while I was told over and over that the end game in this role was the sales performance, I quickly realized that it was in fact all about the people. And the good news was that I could focus all my time on people; leading, coaching and developing the team. I loved that. I was more energized than ever. I had found my purpose: helping people unlock their true potential! It wasn’t easy, but oh! so rewarding. When I returned to the home office in a role reporting to the General Manager, we led a culture transformation project together with The Zone which gave me the chance to directly witness how a culture – good or bad – has so much impact on an organization’s performance and spirit, and how great leadership can influence that culture. I not only observed increased team effectiveness and performance, but improved morale and even – dare I say it – fun! People were much happier, and that was amazing. Folks at The Zone all share my passion for people, and made me realize that happiness comes first – so I decided to inspire more people get in the zone.
How many times have I worked on a beautiful Powerpoint deck and gave a passionate presentation, only to be told: “Great job Seb, we’ll take it from there”. While that’s part of the game in any corporate setting, I have been yearning to be more in control of my decisions, to see their impact (good and bad) and to be accountable for them. That’s why I love working with people: it’s not easy, but with the right tools, the impact on others can be profound. As a sales leader I felt a bit like the CEO of my district and could see a direct impact on the people in my team, on our customers, and ultimately on the patients we served. That was the best reward. I needed to expand my impact and shape my own destiny. Building the US business for The Zone will allow me just that.
We’ve all been there: “if only such and such department was more cooperative…” “if only we had the budget…” “if only so and so… then I wouldn’t be so grumpy!” Time and time again I lived it, that urge to blame – that “victim mentality” (lack of personal responsibility) that gave my ego the excuse to save face, yet ultimately was holding me back big time. I have also seen it throughout virtually every company I worked with, either as consultant or employee: the phenomena is not just particular to me, it is widely prevalent. And I am not even talking yet about the ever more polarized political climate (lack of empathy/understanding), nor the devastating conflicts and human tragedies raging throughout the world (lack of compassion). Clearly, the world has an urgent need for more personal responsibility, empathy and compassion. I want to do something about it, and the world of work is a great place to start! Quite fitting, The Zone mission is to change the world of work by making organizations more human.
That being said, I would be hesitant to start from scratch. The good news is that Liam and Corina founded The Zone nearly 20 years ago, and have been helping people and companies around the world get in the zone ever since. They have developed an amazing approach and refined it over time. Not only have I seen the magic in action, I actually witnessed breakthroughs from teams and individuals I didn’t believe were possible in a corporate setting! Their approach leveraging the “whole person” was too good to keep for ourselves, I had to share it with others within the company – and why not share with all companies?
So here I am: I decided to help The Zone bring their good work to the US. I couldn’t be more thrilled about this new adventure. I am embarking on a journey doing something I love, something where I can have a meaningful impact, and something that’s needed – all the while being the master of my own destiny and living with the woman I love!
Now, while I am literally just starting this new journey today, these are my thoughts and reflections at this point. I do expect this endeavor to be formidably challenging and enable me to grow tremendously (which is scary!), so I will try and keep track of my progress here. And of course, if any of this resonated with you, or you feel your team or organization would benefit from a little – or big! – culture re-alignment, give me a call, let’s connect and come join me in the zone!
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