As some of you may know, I had the great opportunity to work for a leading Canadian telecom for more than twenty-five years. There I had the opportunity to be mentored by some of the best in the industry, including on how to create customer loyalty and the connection between employee engagement and customer following and financial performance of a company. It was a Canadian “Top 100” Employer with great people and it afforded me many opportunities for which I am grateful.
During my last ten+ years there, I was responsible for the Customer Loyalty team, standing for focus on the customer and driving action for more customer focus within the organization. Focus on Customer was my way of bringing more "love in the world." My theory was that if a customer had a good experience with their service provider, that would be one more positive interaction in their day. At the same time, employees who experienced enjoyment serving those customers would have more love/peace in their world and within their family as they would be coming home at night more happy and contented with their work.
I felt that my career path was going to become a catalyst of more peace in the world... more love in the world. And through a large organization who served many customers, it was a way to make an impact on a good sized scale.
Also during that time, I was introduced to the coaching industry and had the opportunity to get schooling through Corporate Coach University (CCU). I also had the opportunity to be mentored by the father of the coaching industry, Thomas Leonard. I got involved in the industry before his untimely passing in 2003 and when this industry was at its infancy across the globe but particularly in the region where I live.
Through my exposures with CCU and Thomas, a dream inside me was awoken; I wanted to make a bigger impact on the planet one day. That dream strengthened throughout the years, until early in 2015. I knew it was time to leave the securities of working for a large firm, with people I had known for years.
I remember telling a friend of mine when I left the corporate world that I felt like I had jumped off a beautiful mountain, being mid-air, but totally knowing that I would land safely onto the nearby, parallel mountain. It was uncomfortable, but also felt right. I appreciate from personal experience that leaving any relationship of a significant time is challenging to do. I am grateful I had the gumption to take that step.
I had thought at the time that I would focus on coaching heart-centered entrepreneurs and complementary medicine practitioners to grow their practices and their reach. With my Internet marketing background (that I developed along side my outside coaching interests) I already had these types of leaders coming to me asking for help with their marketing plans and so launching a boutique marketing firm made sense.
I had the picture in my head of a water sprinkler. If I could help these practitioners grow their reach (i.e. more water going through that waterfall type water sprinkler head), and I helped out several of them, I would be exponentially helping create more good in this world, with my unique combination of sought-after skills.
I originally thought, upon leaving my job, I would be up and running at full-tilt within six months. It was totally understandable considering I had already done it all on a smaller scale on the side. I already had a client, more awaiting in the wings and now plenty of time to work on my business.
But what actually happened when I stepped out of that role, was a surprise... I began a year-long journey of personal discovery. And while this year was full of more learnings and discoveries (sometimes feeling like hurdles to get over), a few stand out more prominent...
First, I originally thought I would grow my boutique marketing firm and help those heart-centered entrepreneurs with growing their reach/impact. I started working with a fabulous business coach I had met and done some group coaching work with a year prior. Early on in my work with him it became clear that if I was to do what I had planned, I would do very well at it... but there was a but. I can still remember his words to me one day, "If everything happens for a reason, Donna, then why did you spend twenty-five years in the corporate setting rather than being an entrepreneur or working with entrepreneurs?"
He was absolutely right. It was working through this that I discovered how our vision is limited by the environment we are in. Change the environment and clarity, potential and truth suddenly open up.
It’s kind of like hiking in the mountains. At one point you think you must be at the top in light of the incredible view and the degree you have walked. But, go a little farther and you discover that you couldn't see the full picture before.
The first lesson I discovered was that...Our vision is limited by current situation and environment and if we step out of our current surroundings, we can see more potential.
The second big lesson came through the website development...
I thought this was going to be so simple. I had created websites before for my coaching business and I was using newer/easier tools than existed back then. I even had great people to support me in my website’s creation. Even though others questioned if I really needed a website to get started, I knew it was something that would be part of the solid foundation I needed to have. So I furiously started putting content together and worked with an agency who was driven by time schedules. In the end, I wasn't happy with the product. It didn't resonate with who I was or my message sufficiently. It was disappointing...
In perfect timing, I discovered someone I had met on several occasions who recently had stepped out on her own as a website and brand designer in the nearby city of Saskatoon. We clicked. She understood the experience I wanted to create and stand for. And as a result the website development work became a catalyst I needed to further define who I am and what I stand for. And the content I created for website "Version 1" was leveraged, refined, massaged and much augmented to get to where it is today.
The second lesson I discovered was two-fold...
Authentic marketing communications development truly is an inside job
The right people really do arrive along our paths at the right time
I thought, when I left the corporate world, if I had a few months to slow down and do some travel, that would be sufficient to rejuvenate and energize me enough to embark on a new endeavour. But my body was more tired and depleted than I realized. And through it, it discovered what I REALLY need to truly take care of myself.
Throughout this past year, I learned so much about things like food sensitivities, hormones, sleep, heavy metals, and bacteria. All of this discovery provided further understanding to me about how our society has it not-so-right about running our vehicles (our bodies) without full knowledge of what they REALLY need to run it well...
When we buy a new vehicle we get a manual that tells us what type of gas and oil we need to put in it so the engine doesn’t blow up. Each vehicle is unique with a unique manual. But when we are born, we don't get a manual on what our specific body needs in order to be optimally maintained. So we and our parents do our very best through trial and error.
As a result, the third big lesson I learned was that for self care to REALLY work, we each need to know and honour what our unique vehicle (our body) needs. And like the adage, "You Can't Build a Castle on a Shaky Foundation," you can't provide others "your best", if your body isn't taken care of.
As I step out into this next phase of my life, I know much more clearly who I am and what I need to deliver my best. I am aware that this journey of learning about myself will continue through my days on this planet, and I am excited to see what else I will discover as I grow.
I know I am launching a foundation for me to serve leaders across the globe, for the next twenty-five+ years if I choose, in a way that is supportive of me. In a way that provides me the opportunity to live that dream, that was calling me way back when.
Stepping out is my way of honouring my ancestors and their strong work ethic. They wanted better lives for themselves, their children, and their children’s children and decided to immigrant to Canada, with the promise of opportunity. And so this is partially for them, so their work, their courage and sacrifice was not for naught.
I am stepping out with gratitude for my mentors and colleagues for the experiences I have gained.
I am stepping out for a better future for myself and for those who I will serve.
Today I feel like I did when I was a child taking swimming lessons, standing on the diving board about to dive into the pool for the first time into the deep end. I can see people cheering me on, on both on the sides of the pool, inside the pool and those in line behind me. The space is clear. Its time... Let’s Go.
Interested in listening to an audio on this topic where Donna delves into this a bit more? Then click here to listen to her podcast episode.