A taxi went whizzing past me as I hopped across the street and pushed my way into the revolving doors at 26 Broadway. Sweat crept down my brow and my back as I walked over to the elevators. Summer in New York would not let up and the heat seemed to stick with me as I rode up to my office on the 8th floor.
I was the first one in and took a seat by the window. Opening my MacBook, I checked my calendar to see what I had scheduled today, but deep down I already knew. This day had been marked on my calendar for weeks. Today was my six-month review.
I blinked again as a bead of sweat trickled down my nose. Taking a deep breath, I stood up and peered out the window as the blistering August sun rose over the Hudson.
What I thought would be my first big year in tech sales, so far had been a complete failure. I had sold one tiny deal since 2018 began and had seen all of my other deals fall apart. Today I’d have to come face to face with my results and explain it to my manager. An all-too-familiar wrench started to form in my stomach.
Just sixteen months ago I had been a top performer at a big financial corporation in Boston, but now this seemed like a lifetime ago. Since joining the startup world there had been some bright spots for me but they were few and far between. What’s worse is that I never truly “felt right” in this new world. I knew I didn’t want to go back to finance and had no regrets of leaving, but I hadn’t found what I had been looking for here either.
I rubbed my eyes as I felt the knot in my stomach grow tighter. Why was I putting myself through this? If sales didn’t feel right to me anymore in finance then why would it in tech? I had realized two years ago that the rat race wasn’t for me, yet here I was trying to climb up a different ladder.
When I decided to take this job, my mind found a lot of ways to rationalize it. I told myself that I had always been a salesperson and therefore would always be a salesperson. I told myself that all I needed was a fresh start somewhere new… somewhere that I could have impact. I even told myself that I wasn’t ready to follow my true dream of starting my own coaching business.
But while my mind played these thoughts on repeat in my head, the rest of my body resisted them. I would get this dark feeling in the pit of my stomach before a big meeting. My energy would drop whenever I entered the office. It was like I was holding onto this job against every fiber in my body.
I turned away from the window and walked down the hall to get some coffee. I’d need it today. As I turned the corner into the cafe I bumped into my friend Nathan who I had met two months ago. He had his own executive coaching business and worked just down the hall from me. He smiled and we exchanged brief “Hello’s.”
It was an interaction that he probably doesn’t remember, but one that I wouldn’t soon forget. As we crossed paths that day I remember feeling a sudden flash of hope fill my body. His story of getting into coaching and finding his life’s work came rushing back to me. I remembered that maybe there was a world out there for me after all. And maybe it wasn’t as far away as I thought.
That day would be my last manager review, as both of us would lose our job a week later due to a complete sales overhaul. I would finally be freed. I’m not sure how much longer I would’ve held onto that job if the layoffs didn’t happen, but I’m happy they let me go.
Their decision to end my employment provided me with a window to start my coaching business and five months later, I couldn’t be happier.
My only regret, in hindsight, is that I didn’t listen to my body. I let my mind create a narrative that trapped me in a sales role for far too long. If I had been aware of what that constant wrench in my stomach really meant, then perhaps I would’ve set myself free long before.