I am a recovering ‘hard charging’ workaholic executive. I almost said “reformed,” but that wouldn’t be true. There are still days when I want to work 24/7 to finish a project, and have to relearn this lesson over and over.
I have spent my career in a variety of places: government/military, small business, corporations, and entrepreneurial. I spent many years building my resume. Most of my career was in leader positions working with the military. I learned leadership working with some of the best-trained leaders in the world. I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity for great leadership experiences from which to grow, as well as additional formal leadership training (such as being selected as one of the few civilians to attend Army War College).
On the other hand, I almost lost my ‘self’: Normal days were 12-14 hours and it included the weekends. I had a lot of sleepless nights when I solved problems in my head. My husband remarked many times that I never did ‘unwind’ during vacations. I was always looking for the next big thing: promotion, resume building job, additional training. I think I realized I was out of control one Saturday morning as I found myself in the office at 5:00 a.m., and this was at an organization that didn’t even value me!
I made all the mistakes you could possibly make—or have seen them made. And I learned from every one of them.
I was fortunate to get lots of “wake-up” calls. I survived the Pentagon on 9/11, 25 feet from point of impact where the plane went under my butt. You’d have thought that would have gotten my attention, and it did—for a time. A dear friend had a stroke not long afterwards, and got my attention for a little while too. I then took a job for more money, found that the culture was all wrong for me, and all the leadership lessons I’d learned just didn’t apply. I went from working extremely well with generals to not being able to please enough in a culture with lots of leadership talk and not much walk. I was like a well-trained racehorse trying to win a race by swimming with dolphins. Not knowing better, I believed that I simply had to work harder to prove that I was worthy.
Had I not been provided a wonderful executive coach, it may have been years before I realized I wasn’t in my right life. I had learned great leadership lessons–I just needed to live them. After all, I had learned from those who were great—and from those who were not so great!
I’ve had a lot of successes in helping people navigate careers without fear and helping organizations make changes and grow leaders.
If you want to be a better leader, or if you want to create a better leadership team in your organization, I look forward to working with you.
Send me a note and schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see if we are a good fit.
— Susan Foster