At a career crossroads
With thanks to Jennifer Zaslow (and Robert Frost)
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth .
About a year ago, I felt ready to confront the fact that I was at a critical junction in my career. I was trying to decide if I should aim for a promotion and a new title. I loved my job and was committed to my agency’s mission, but felt that, in my mid-50s, if I didn’t aim for ‘the top’ at that point in time, I’d lose the opportunity to advance, particularly given the ageism that is still (sadly) embedded in the reality of the workplace. Thankfully, however, as I grappled with this decision, a trusted advisor recommended that I turn to Jennifer for help.
Jennifer and I connected by phone and I learned that she could coach me without meeting face to face. Given my daily suburb-to-city train commute, and my routine international travel schedule, working by phone was ideal. During our work together, Jennifer challenged me to drill down to examine my values – not with the usual tropes, but with fresh eyes and a true soul. When we discussed what surfaced for me, she challenged me again to get real with my deep-down goals. With her guidance, I saw beyond the promotion and title, and began to examine what was and is most important to me.
I made a bid for a promotion. The bid was rejected. As it turned out, the rejection was a big bonus to me because it allowed me to see that the ‘new’ work that I wanted was work that I could do meaningfully in my current setting. I would not have been able to see that clearly if I had not been working with Jennifer as these events unfolded. In identifying my interests, strengths and core values, in addition to my need to shift to the next level of being an ‘influencer’, I was able to see how I could carve out – in extremely satisfying ways – the exact work that I wanted to be able to do, right in the setting that I’d loved so much.
My boss, my colleagues, my team and I have all benefited from the clarity that came from my work with Jennifer. At the outset, she challenged to me identify my values and also asked a question that still replays in my mind because it has been so essential to my decision-making: How do you honor your values? This is a powerful question. In using it as a reference point, I have become infinitely more empowered.
. . .
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– Philanthropy Professional: International Grants Manager, based in NYC