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The Other Side Of Disappointment

Published December 12, 2019

Disappointment is Real

Writing about things that didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped is not an easy task. But the reality is, if I talk about authenticity and transparency, which I do all the time, then I have to represent that in everything I do and in everything I say. While there is hope on the other side of disappointment, you have to go through the  struggle first.

These last 3 years have been super hard. The majority of the time, about two years, has been spent as an entrepreneur and the other year (made up of two separate times) have been spent with small companies that were very new. Both of those opportunities turned out not to be great fits for much the same reasons, mainly rooted in ownership that was not aligned with what I believed in creating a strong culture to get to the results we all wanted.

One of the lessons learned through these two experiences was to make sure that there is a culture fit before I take the next leap and that I fully understand the inner workings of the organization that I am looking to join.

What is their culture?

How are things done around there?

Do they live and breathe their core values?

And maybe going to smaller organizations after spending the previous 13 years with bigger organizations was not the best step for me to take.

But the biggest lesson was that these companies weren’t Chipotle, and even though I knew that going in, I went in guns blazing ready to turn the world upside down and create that strong culture, and that was just too much, too fast. That was totally on me. The heart and spirit of what I was doing was on point. The execution overwhelmed those organizations.

I joke about that scene in Back To The Future where Marty McFly was playing Johnny B. Good and the kids at the Enchantment Under The Sea dance didn’t know what to do. He realized no one was getting what he was playing and he said “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it.” That’s how I feel about these two situations. They’ll get there, but they aren’t there today, and aren’t interested in truly making the investment to take the journey.

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Hope Is Just On The Other Side

With this perspective, I remain convinced that creating a strong culture that supports the organizational goals and objectives as well as contributes to a strong economic model is the right thing to do, and I will continue to champion culture and leadership development.

In the meantime I have learned so much from the aforementioned experiences that didn’t go exactly as planned and some really great things have come out of those experiences.

  1. I joined a mastermind.
  2. I wrote a book.
  3. I started a podcast.
  4. I teach a class for a non-profit in Austin helping young leaders learn how to build something that creates economic value.
  5. I have a client who believes wholeheartedly in what I believe, which is that culture matters. People matter. And doing the right thing matters.

My advice to anyone on their professional journey (including me):

  1. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t rush the process. Take your time. If it is the right opportunity then due diligence won’t change that fact. It will only make it clearer that it is the right place for you to be.
  2. Don’t settle for less than you know is right. Don’t compromise your beliefs and standards.
  3. Don’t get distracted by the bright shiny object and the promise of more.
  4. Don’t apologize for who you are.
  5. Keep learning everyday and be humble enough to admit when you don’t know the answer. And then go find it!

I believe in the power of magical thinking. I believe we become what we believe, what we think about, and the stories we tell ourselves. If we do the work then we have an excellent shot at becoming more of who we are and achieving our dreams.