On Leaving my Dream Job

I fought to get here and now I’m leaving.

During my years as a director of a healthcare foundation, I was a tiny customer of Summa, a Gold Consulting Partner.  I had a good relationship with my account executive and she provided me with an invite to a customer appreciation event at a local MLB game with customers 50x bigger than our tiny account (Thanks, Amanda!!!!!!!).

I was frustrated, stuck in a position with no growth potential (I was the head of the organization) with a boss that would be kind to describe as ‘demanding’, daily migraines because of stress & frustration, and losing hope that I could accomplish transitioning to a new career.  As I was walking in, I told my super pregnant wife (a day before our son arrived), ‘I really want to work here, this would be my dream job.  I’m just going to tell them I want a job.’

That snowy April night, my stagnant, 6-month job search was ignited by Adam & Steve, two practice leaders at Summa, saying, ‘yeah, you belong here.’

It took 6 more months, getting rejected by Summa once, having meetings, networking, nurturing other leads, getting/accepting/ canceling another offer, but I was finally a consultant at Summa. In a moment, my career went from being stuck in neutral to being and alive & limitless.

I love it too…I love the work, my coworkers, our leaders, our culture…it has been a dream come true. Yet I’m leaving.

Yeah. I’m leaving my dream job.

I remember watching Matthew McConaughey’s Best Actor Oscar speech for Dallas Buyers Club. He said he was chasing his hero, who was ‘me in 10 years.’ Knowing he would never reach that ideal, it gave him something to chase. I thought at the time it was a weird statement, assuredness bordering on arrogance. I get it now.

Summa was the dream; I work with people I look up to, genuine people who teach me so much about the art & science of what we do and even more about life, priorities, living well and being a good person. It is exactly what I dreamt it would be.

As I’m living this dream, a new one has started to take shape. Like waking up in the middle of the night, I’ve spent the last few months trying to force myself to pick up where my dream left off, but my brain keeps pushing me into a new one.

The new dream has so much potential, yet so much risk…can’t I just go back to the old dream and be happy forever? No, sorry you 3 years ago, it doesn’t work that way. You were chasing a dream, failing to understand it was not a destination but a living thing that only stops growing when you lose the heart to keep chasing.

What amazes me more, as I write to get right with my ‘why,’ is the people I look up to the most at Summa knew before I did. It really surprised me how to a person, my group of leaders and mentors all shared the same thoughts.

‘Tom, this seems like an amazing opportunity. You would be great in that role; you are entrepreneurial, energetic, run in so many directions. We REALLY REALLY want you to stay and are going to put up our best fight. But, we know you though, this is the direction you want, and we want that for you too.’

It’s like they saw the energy I poured into my dream, into making it everything I wanted it to be, and knew before I did that it had changed. That may be why, in talking to them and struggling, my decision became so clear.

I’m sure that’s not the impact they were hoping to have, but I’m willing to bet, knowing the people they are, that they would be happy to hear they once again made it possible for me to be chasing my dreams.

I wrote this 5 months ago – in a slightly different form – to share with a fantastic leader and mentor at CGI/Summa, Chris Wardlow.  We would talk about ‘finding our why’ as individuals, a practice, and the importance of helping others finding their ‘why’ as well.  Leaving CGI/Summa was a really painful and difficult decision, I very much appreciate, value, and respect the leadership group of Adam, Steve, Doug, Chris, Audrey and my coach, Cindy.  I’ll forever be grateful to all of them.  

My reason for leaving was to emulate them, my role models in this industry.  I want to help create the next great Salesforce consultancy to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Summa/CGI as peers and I’m happy to say I have that chance with Spark.Orange.  We are small today, but growing quickly, with big things to come in the very near future.  It’s the scary and risky path to take vs the certainty of a future & career at Summa/CGI, but I’m approaching it with the same boldness as I did that night in April years ago…I’m simply going to speak it into existence, turn the dream into reality, and then keep chasing the next one – TH. 

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