Walking into my boss’ office to tell him I was quitting was one of the hardest moments in my career. I was in tears. I loved my job. My boss was wonderful. My team was fun. The company was a great company to work for. But it was time to leave. At university I took the Myers Briggs test. I remember sitting in class, reading about the best careers for an ENTJ. There was one that stood out to me: CEO. That’s what I wanted. Over time I forgot though, distracted by different career options. In my MBA I took a project management course and discovered an entire career field just for me. I poured everything into project management. I began volunteering at the Project Management Institute, worked on finding a project management job, and in general lived and breathed project management. Life as a project manager was great, but there was still something missing.
I walked into my boss’s office and said “I Quit”. I reached my “search is over” moment. I was ready to say “I Do” to a lifelong career in Project Leadership.
I said I do to risk. Risk is a funny thing. While it can be quantified, most people look at risk from a subjective point of view. Staying with a company seems less risky than being an entrepreneur. There is actually a lot of risk to being an employee at a company. Your future is in the hands of its leaders who could decide at any point that you are disposable. Being an entrepreneur has risk as well. Your success is 100% reliant on your hustle. When faced with the option of leaving a company and being an entrepreneur, I asked myself what the worst thing was that could happen if I chose the entrepreneur path. After assessing what the worst future could look like, I asked myself if I was comfortable accepting that risk. I was.
I said I do to giving up the good for the great. I loved my job as a project manager. But something in me was saying I needed to do more. While things were going well, I knew that I wouldn’t reach my potential and my desire to lead a company. As Jim Collins says, “Good is the enemy of great.” So I quit the good (you can read about the Five Reasons to Quit a Job You Love) and I said I do to the great.
I said I do to talent and passion. I have had so many jobs across many different industries. I remember my uncle teasing me that I never stayed at a job much more than a year. With each new job in a new industry, that I took, I found it didn’t keep my attention very long. I learned what I needed to do the job, but not what I needed to be the best at my job. Project management, combined with leadership and employee engagement, were the attributes I needed to stay engaged because those disciplines leveraged my talent. Talent + passion + discipline = success.
I said I do to agility and resilience. When I started my company, I wanted to grow to 100 consultants in 5 years. 5 years after starting, the most I had was 10. When I started, I had a very precise business plan to get to 100 consultants. But that business plan didn’t account for the entire landscape I was facing. As time went on, I had to pivot. Same strategic goal, different tactics to get there. I had to be agile enough to try new things and have the tenacity to keep trying when I saw I was still far from the goal. The important thing was, I was still making forward progress. I could see how we were becoming a better company, even if the numbers weren’t where I expected them to be.
I said I do to saying yes and no. Many times I have been asked, “Can you (or your team) help with this?” And the answer is always “yes.” And there have been times that has happened and I have suddenly gotten a panic attack wondering how in the world I was going to be able to accomplish it. But the reason I would always say yes is that I was confident in my skills to figure it out. No problem that my clients were facing was out of my ability to solve. And every time I have said yes, I have been able to deliver. I have also said “no” to opportunities that are really just distractions from the big picture. Entrepreneurs often chase many ideas and that can lead to dilution of effectiveness. I have learned to say no to ideas that don’t align to the overall strategy and purpose of my company.
Saying “I DO” meant accepting that the search stopped here and doing everything it takes to build on the commitment. I said “I do” to hustling, humility, getting out of my comfort zone and so much more. But it was all worth it. Best of all, I met husband at a project management conference in Singapore and had the same feeling of “search stops here”. I said “I do”. I have realized that saying“I do” unlocks the path to reach your full potential.
Are you ready reach your full potential?
Do you know what you are searching for? Will you realize when you reach your “Search stops here“ moment? At that instant, will you say “I Quit” to everything and say “I DO” from all your heart? Are you willing to doing everything it takes build on the commitment after you say “I do”? Are you ready reach your full potential?
Jana Axline is Chief Project Officer at Project Genetics and author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Project Genetics.