Why I’d Leave a Perfectly Great Job for the Unknown
I’ve been a little slower on the blog posts lately. Partially, it was an intentional slow down during the summer as my kids had more time to do fun things and I would rather do with them than blog about doing with them. Partially, however, was also because I recently switched jobs. When informing my kids that I was taking a new job in a couple of weeks, my son asked inquisitively, “Why? Did you get fired?”
Not only did I not get fired, but I loved my last job and my last boss – a lot. I was planning on working there for 3, 4, or 5 more years at least. I wasn’t looking for a new job and was able to achieve much of the prioritization I’m currently working towards with family and work. The question of why went through my head constantly when I started talking about the new job and thinking about whether or not I would take the position. This isn’t necessarily a promotion or a step up on a career ladder – it’s not a step down either. I don’t really know what kind of step it is, but as I wrote in my first blog, that’s not something I’m really concerned with. So, why?
In fact, I just had lunch today with a former colleague who asked me the same question. Why?
It came down to several key things (in no particular order).
- Family first. In line with my never-ending search for prioritization of family and work, I had to be assured that I would be able to have at least the same level of flexibility in where i work, when i work, and how I work. In talking with the rest of the potential new team (of 2 – more on that next), it became abundantly clear that they also had their priorities in line with mine. Both team members have young kids and value their role as active and involved parents. I would still be able to work from home when I needed to, have a shorter commute when I went into the office, and travel even less than the little I had been.
- Small team, big impact. My last organization was large – over 200 team members strong across the country doing incredibly impactful work in an area I was passionate about. Within that organization I was fortunate to have a privileged position alongside the CEO and certainly was able to influence and have an impact on the organization as a whole. But – I was one of many. In my new org – I’m one of three in an organization having a huge impact on an area I’m even more passionate about – my primary educational passion. I love the small, lean team and the camaraderie and sense of collective action it stirs in me. I can’t fail to mention that 3 people in an organization makes for very few and very efficient meetings.
- Working with friends. An oft cited HR article touts that one of the best predictors of employee retention is how many people have a good friend at work. Check and check at my new job. We spent much of the back and forth interview process determining the impact a work relationship could have on our personal ones. The big conclusion – be honest with each other, early and often and pull the rip cord on the job before the friendship.
- Green skies and blue fields. This is a bit of a play on the popular consulting terms of green-fielding and blue-skying or creating something where there was nothing. We were talking about this in one of our meetings (hahaha) and jumbled the terms. My job and our focus as an organization is very much in this vain and there is nothing more that I enjoy than trailblazing – I love the new and different and unique and challenging and this job is all of that in spades. It’s how I thrive. As an aside, my wife is quite different in this regard and in our discussion of me changing jobs (again), I reminded her that it is much better that I apply my desire for new and change to my professional life and not towards my personal relationships.
- Continued learning. Part of the never-ending search for something new is that I just love to learn. It’s why i went back to school for two more degrees, why I have taken free, on-line classes on Coursera and Udemy, why my reading for pleasure is 95% non-fiction, and why I like to be challenged in different jobs. This job has me doing roughly half of what I’ve done before and really enjoy and half of what I’ve never done and really want to learn how to do well. A perfect balance – and did I mention, all with few meetings.
I’m starting Week 4 and there’s no looking back. So far – so great. Most importantly, I was able to see my kids off to school this morning and then take my daughter to soccer practice this afternoon – and enjoy working super hard before, after, and in-between.