My story is proof
Long before I gave a TEDx talk or delivered training to world-class companies, I was a green-as-grass, first-generation college grad with huge dreams.
My first break was being "discovered" in college and being recruited to travel around my home state giving keynote talks to thousands of state employees.
Cool job huh? Here's how I blew it.
Helplessly naive about how to communicate my experience and what I could do, I never once mentioned it.
A few years and mistakes later, I scored my "dream job" working overseas at the headquarters of a blue-chip company.
Flying all over the globe doing this "big time" job, I was flying by the seat of my pants, too. Scared to death of making a misstep.
Life was exciting as it was out of my control.
Working all the time and banking unused vacation...
Flash forward 10 years...
Plagued by a chronic case of "What's taking so long?"
I thought doubling down on my work would make it all come together.
If I'm honest, it became my way of hiding a bigger problem
The secret no one was sharing
Working your brains out isn't the magic ingredient to success. You can work hard and not get very far at all.
What's the deal? Did I miss a memo?
The brutal truth is I saw a lot of smart, hard-working folks doing work and raising the profiles of executives who seemed to be enjoying a chronic case of being in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time. To be honest, I don't know if they were happy or just resigned to it,
The realization: long hours, hard work were bringing a massive case of burnout. I woke up one day and thought...
"I've had enough! This is no life."
I left my job and took a year-long sabbatical.
Friends were skeptical. Family questioned. Eyes rolled.
Over that year, I took courses that had nothing to do with my "career" and let instincts and intuition guide me.
The pressure was intense
A few months into my year off, a close family member called and asked, "When are you going to get a job?!"
"I've got a plan." I said.
They weren't convinced and I was shaken.
At the end of my year-long sabbatical and in the middle of one of the worst economic downturns in history, I put my plan into action.
I landed a job with a mind-blowing salary and benefits.
Waiting. Because you can make more money, but you can't make more time.
In a nutshell, I learned this truth...
There is no justice, only power
Having little experience, it's natural to start your career hoping someone will give you a chance. That will get you started but it won't carry you through.
When you change your approach your career takes off.
You have agency.
No anxiety about losing your job.
You know your options - where to go and what to do to find the best situation for you personally, professionally, and financially.
Not worrying about saying or doing the "wrong" thing because you have more than one source of income and no one owns you.
I'm living proof you can change your strategy and change your trajectory, and be happy doing the work you want to do.
Courtney answers (some of)
The Proust Questionnaire in reverse order
What is your motto? Live free or die. (The a-political version.)
What is your greatest regret? My 'accidental' mullet in the 8th grade. Any time spent in places after acknowledging, "This is not working."
Who are your heroes in real life? Those people on The dodo videos who save animals and Dolly Parton.
What is your most marked characteristic? The pairing of a smart mouth with a tendency to speak truth to power.
What is your favorite occupation? Reader, writer, rebel, cheerleader for justice-seekers. Bullsh*t caller. Wearer of black clothes.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? It's a tie: stuck on a plane circling an airport waiting for storms to pass with a dead phone battery or arriving at a coffee shop to realize I've forgotten my headphones.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A dolphin or a clairvoyant. It's not clear.
What is your most treasured possession? My passport.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Quitting smoking (a long, long, long, time ago) and quitting jobs (that were also killing me but didn't come with a Surgeon General's warning.)
Which talent would you most like to have? The ability to play the bluegrass fiddle, banjo and mandolin well enough to get a guest spot on Hee Haw!
When and where were you happiest? "Out of Office" is on. I just scored a booth to myself in the train café car.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "What did I come in here for?"
On what occasion do you lie? In reply to the question, "How much do you weigh?"
What do you most dislike about your appearance? What it looks like commuting or sitting in a cubicle.
What is your current state of mind? Energized and curious.
What is your greatest extravagance? My troubadour-meets-digital nomad existence.
Which living person do you most admire? Anyone who fights for truth and justice by being honest, taking a raft of sh*t for it, but doing it anyway.
What is your greatest fear? Hey fear...🖕
What is your idea of perfect happiness? No meetings. Sleep in. Black coffee ☕️ Fresh Powder 🎿