Change is coming
Don, plant superintendent for a fruit processing company in Yakima, Washington, told Session 3B of the Leadership Development Lab:
"In the fall of 1998, I took a big risk that had lifechanging implications. This was a career decision. While the decision was mine to make, the choice would have a direct impact on my wife and children.
"At the time, I was working for a family-owned company that had been in operation a little over 100 years. The company was stable, my job was enjoyable, I got along with everyone extremely well, and I had a considerable amount of flexibility in my position. My job allowed me to spend much more time with my family and friends.
"During this time period, our industry was changing, and though the changes were not happening fast, it was evident to me that the changes were predictable and pervasive, changing the very nature of our business. Nothing could hold them back; they were inevitable. After several discussions with the owners of the company, it was apparent that they did not see the changes that were on the horizon and did not agree with my prediction of the future of our business and industry.
"I was also thinking about my family, reviewing the increasing cost of medical expenses, the need to plan for college, and the fact that we did not have any retirement plan. I asked myself if it was time to look for other employment. "As I said, I enjoyed where I was working, who I was working with, and what I was doing. My concern was would the job I enjoyed and was comfortable in still be there five years from now? What would happen to my family if we had any major medical costs?
Would I have the room and opportunity to grow both financially and within the industry?
"After considerable contemplation and a fairly thorough search, I accepted a position with the company I currently work for. Eight months after taking the position, to my dismay, I was diagnosed with cancer. Five years after making the change, my previous employer who had been in business for over 100 years, as I had feared, went out of business. Now after 12 years of making that change, my career is continuing to grow and I have taken the necessary steps to lay out a comfortable retirement plan.
"In conclusion, this risk was not the most dramatic risk of my life, but I believe it has been one of the most beneficial career steps I have ever taken.
"The lesson I learned from this experience is that my future is determined by the decisions and risks I take today.
"The action I call you to take is to look out on your horizon and honestly ask yourself if you continue to head in this direction, 'Will I end up where I want to be?' If you're not happy with the answer, make some changes today.
"The benefit you will gain is a life and future you will be happy with."
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