Greek Gift – Beware of Greeks bearing gifts 9 mins read “I fear the Greeks
12 mins read
“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.”– Robert Kiyosaki
S ometimes we're tested not to show our weakness, but to discover our strength.
The strength within that lay to waste but called upon rarely and saved for days that are probably long gone.
At some point in everyone’s corporate career, especially at our workplaces, we will become unhappy about the inherent culture and values that completely contrast with that which the company/firm openly advocate. At some point also, we get frustrated about work colleagues and their complete lack of tact and their penchant for disloyalty. Many times we will detest the bureaucracy that keeps us in a constant loop of hardwork and poor rewards. But there isn’t much anyone can do about it really.
At some point, we will bemoan the slow pace and dwindling opportunities for career growth and we will even begin to doubt our capability. This is when we would then start reconsidering the available options. A choice driven by frustration and dissatisfaction.
That point is the thin line between taking the right decision which would benefit your career -and aspiration or a lifelong regret.
How that decision plays out can not be determined by the stars, neither can they be determined by the wealth of information at our disposal. Many times, it is guided by our emotional state and the unparalleled determination to succeed despite the grave odds.
Great things never come from your comfort zone
The year was 2010, I was approaching the third year anniversary at my workplace and although it wasn’t the best place to work at the time, it offered the stability that a young aspiring engineer needed to start a family and grow the savings in the bank.
As the months rolled on, the burden of financial responsibility for my burgeoning family grew exponentially and I was beginning to draw down on that savings bank balance without a foreseeable plan to replenish it. The family obligations continued to grow listlessly and I was literally catching my breath to keep pace.
That was when I realized that I was getting too comfortable at my current workplace. The prospect of getting an increase was zilch. In almost three years of passionate and dedicated service at this firm, my annual gross remained as constant as the northern star. Neither increasing nor decreasing. It wasn’t an isolated case though, the entire workforce trudged on month after month in hope for a salary bump that was never going to happen.
Hope is a very strong concept. It would keep you hooked like a druggie, waiting with fingers crossed, that your wish would come to pass.
Without doubt I agreed that it was indeed time to move ahead. There was nothing left to inspire a wait. I was in my prime and I didn’t have much to lose.
I didn’t see myself working at the organization for donkey years and so the slightest discomfort was all it took to get me looking at my options.
The Fruitless Search
Determined to change jobs within a three months, I started out with the internet as my hunting ground.(There was no LinkedIn at the time).
“In my experience, there is only one motivation, and that is desire. No reasons or principle can contain it or stand against it.” Jane Smiley
I started out with a freshly prepared resume, carefully re-formatting the pages to include even more technical information and updates on role transition in the recent months.
I felt like I had accomplished something when I printed a copy just so I could stare at it, looking for positive triggers that could impress a recruiter.
Next up, I trolled the internet.
I used multiple strings of words to search for vacancies. Vacancies for engineers, analyst, business development and sales roles. I had no doubt I could get any job I applied for, I just needed an invite to an interview session.
I registered on all recruitment platforms I could find, so I could have access to job postings on those platform. I wrote personalized and professional emails to recruiters and my sent items assured me that those emails were well and truly delivered.
So every week, I applied for as many as 5 job openings!
Doggedly! It was the first item on my To-do list every week.
My resume was sent out in droves to woo prospecting employers. Every evening, at the close of business, when I checked my inbox, there was nothing but spam emails to welcome me – or perhaps mock me. No regret mails, no acknowledgement emails, no interview invite, not even a failure delivery email. Absolutely nothing!
So I kept at it every week. I would apply for jobs that I was by far more qualified for and the situation remained the same. Utterly dejected I kept at it with my desire, determination and enthusiasm waning with every email sent and nothingness received in return.
I would switch views between my sent item mailbox and my inbox to re-read the messages sent to the prospecting employers. I would re-read the cover notes again and again wondering if the recruiters ever read them.
Sometimes, under my breath I would even say a subtle prayer asking God to forgive my little sins, whatever they may be hindering my progress!
Weeks turned into months and incredibly, not one thing changed. It was so frustrating and only then did I appreciate what those without a paid employment had to bear while no other stream of income came their way. Complete despair, utter helplessness!
Six months later, I examined my efforts and I mentally joked about how I had set a three-month target for myself to change jobs as though it was entirely in my hands. All I had left was my day job and my fast disappearing savings and rising expenses.
One interesting quote (that a childhood friend of mine shared with me years ago)kept me strong,
“The point of greatest tiredness is just before the goal is reached” unknown
Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” Vaibhav Shah
You will not always be strong, but you can always be brave
Like they say old ways won’t open new doors!
I had to find another approach to getting this job switch done and quickly too. Although my eyes were set outside for new openings I still enjoyed my job. After all it was all I had. So,I put in good energy with positive vibes despite my frustration I had to get good results. I found solace in solving problems and making a difference. This kept me going.
Sometimes I would go a whole week without applying for job openings or vacancies until that blanket feeling of despair and frustration set in again. Only then would I aggressively besiege the internet in search of options.
At some point in the year, we were informed at the office that the new Managing Director (MD)was visiting the Abuja Branch and he was going to be critical of our inputs and year-to-date results which was determined to be below target.
The new Managing Director was an Indian national. Good looking, eloquent and elegant gentleman in his mid-forties. He had been with the group for many years working directly with the Group Chairman. And his diligence and astute business management skills earned him the coveted role of the Managing director at this downstream oil and energy organization.
He had assumed the role for about two months prior to his visit and information from the Head Office suggested at the time that he had a reputation for being ruthless,thorough and unforgiving. He held no prisoner and his decisions were quick and swift.
As the day of his visit approached, everyone tidied up and minded their own end of the business. No one could afford to slack. Last minute calls to retail sites were made directing the station managers to clean up the forecourt and to wear a fresh coat of paint on curbs and station facade all in anticipation of his visit.
And so he arrived, unassuming, and he was ushered into the office of the Head of Business straight from the airport. At this office he held the first few meetings with various teams and units to get a brief of the true situation of the regional business.
A few hours after his arrival, I was nestled behind my desktop computer when I was summoned into the office of the Head of Business where the MD was just finishing a cup of coffee.
This was certainly unusual and my mind raced helter skelter wondering what could be amiss. Did they find out about my several emails and application for new jobs? Did one of the competitors I had applied to traded me off for good measure? I couldn’t find answers to these rhetorical questions.
I simply couldn’t fathom or find a good reason to panic and so I walked into the office helplessly.
The office was empty save for the two of them as I had expected- the Head of Business and the Managing director.
When I closed the door behind me, the MD looked me distastefully from head to toe. I was taken aback at first. There was nothing on his face to suggest that this was a friendly meeting.
I was dressed in my best formal outfit. The dark grey chinos was well pressed with razor sharp edges and the shirt was one of my prized assets. And my shoe? You could pass me off for a successful business man already! I was dressed to impress.
When his stare lingered I could sense I was in some sort of trouble.
The Head of Business asked me some quick fire questions about some internal information I had unwittingly passed on to him while we were having a casual drink a couple of days earlier. I felt confident he wouldn’t put me on the spot badly and so I repeated the information as much as I could. Nothing illegal, just information I was privy to because I was friends with some colleagues at the Head office.
The MD fired back fiercely and with sustained venom. He asked that I disclosed the source of my information. I was no snitch and so I told him I couldn’t exactly remember who it was. He lost his cool and then started off with my dressing.
He went on about engineers not dressing fancy and that I had wrist chains on and looked like a contractor. He claimed that back in India, engineers dressed in jeans and wore t-shirts with boots. He went on saying I was no engineer and he didn’t believe I was doing much work at the region.
I was wondering if someone else hadn’t upset him already. This was going horribly wrong.
And as he spoke he got even more enraged.
I kept mum.
His closing salvo was clear and firm. Till date, I remember the echo of those words as he spat them out dispassionately;
“I am going to relieve you of your job by the end of the month”
When I checked the date, the month was barely two weeks gone. He had just served me a two-week notice informally.
I managed to remain calm and composed as I fiddled with the door handle and made my way back to my desk.
I left the office more confused than I had gone in. I was barely 30 and I had been applying for jobs for months on end and there I was at the end of the road with not even a regret email! Sad!
The MD had literally sworn that he was going to relieve all the regional engineers of their jobs by the end of the month. Whether it was an empty threat or a frustrated rant, I wasn’t taking it lightly.
I was literally shaking like a jelly and barely made it to my desk. I remember turning on my desktop computer and navigating straight to google.
The first string of words I typed in were;
“Job vacancies for engineers in Nigeria”
Same string of words I had been typing in different variants over the last 6 months.
But today, it didn’t come back with the same results!
I saw one clear job vacancy I hadn’t noticed for many weeks. It had been on for weeks yet I never saw it. It felt as though the scales suddenly fell from my eyes. I could see clearly all of a sudden.
My fingers fidgeted with the keyboard with the urgency and panic from the meeting, I headed straight to the application page. By this time some of my colleagues, concerned with the way the meeting went – from the loud voice of the MD, came to enquire about what transpired and how the conversation got so fiesty.
I barely spoke. My eyes were fixated on the application I had just initiated. The process appeared long and tedious, but I certainly wasn’t backing down.
Do Stars Align?
With renewed energy, I completed the application. Worried and perplexed, I approached one of my senior colleagues and informed him of the application I just submitted online. I confided in him my intentions to pursue this application as much as I could and asked for his help. I wanted him to give me any contact he had at the prospecting organization- which happened to be an industry competitor.
He made a few phone calls and pronto, I was connected to one of our ex-colleagues who advised that I send a copy of my resume to his personal email. He assured me that in spite of my online application, he was going to hand a hard-copy over to the HR manager.
Wow! This was moving pretty fast and exciting.
With time, I got a call for interview 2 weeks later and the whole job switching process was completed within 4 weeks.
I was offered a role with great perks and a tad more than twice the annual gross I had earned for the three years I worked my fingers to the bone at this firm.
It turned out that the role had been on almost all platforms for many months with series and series of interviews not yielding a suitable candidate. At the time my application came through, the HR unit had just been mandated to poach from a competitor.
When I had my first interview with the engineering team, it was as though I fit exactly the profile they had been looking for.
By the time I finally received the offer of employment, it was exactly 8 weeks from the day the MD poured his vituperations right at my face.
It felt good handing in my resignation letter and then commencing an annual vacation – which I didn’t have the pleasure of enjoying for three years.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I wondered why for six long months I drew blanks in my job hunt. It was so empty and hopeless that it looked like nothing was ever going to give.
What if the MD never triggered the panic? In my opinion, I was too comfortable at my job at the time, dressing fancy and overly confident with my deliverables.
I made the tough decision and then drove harder, searched better, looked keenly, acted faster and took the chances I had.
I still wonder that if he didn’t promise to relieve me of my job by the month end, whether I would simply continue the same way for the next six months.
The key to getting an inside contact to pursue my application was simply to reach out to a senior colleague who had always been there at the office. He always had that same contact. But i never asked. Nothing pushed me hard enough to ask.
And the job opening itself, was simply floating, unrestrained, waiting for the right candidate.
But all these conditions, factors, stars simply aligned in one instant!
Is this the prerequisite to changing jobs?
How do we make the stars align? Or will the stars align only when it wills?
One thing is clear from this story, It may not answer all your questions, in fact it may leave you with more questions than answers, but certainly, all the factors that can make everything work just fine must come together for your good to initiate the spark that would guarantee a change. A change so desperately needed and desired.
This conversation is not over yet!
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