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Do You Even Like Apples? 

This week I am sharing a blog post from nine years ago when I made a big career move. What the Right Management rep did in the "green apple versus red apple, you have to figure out if you even like apples" discussion I recount in the middle of this post was very much like a coach. That question still resonates with me. If you have a big career decision ahead or feel stuck, perhaps a coaching conversation would help.

Career TPOV #1: It Probably Won't Come From Where You Think It Will

(Originally published in September 2011)

Last August, after a number of years with the same company, I decided to take an incentive package to leave the company. I was blessed to not only have a generous payout but also to have 2-1/2 months before my last day with the company. In the job search journey that started last August and ended just weeks after my last day with that company in mid-November, I learned some things and was reminded of some others about making a change in your career, whether that change is to another company or within the same company. This post is the first in a Teachable Point of View (TPOV) series on those things.

Within a few weeks of making the decision to take the program and leave the place I had worked for 15+ years, I reached out to a co-worker -- a Product Manager who had worked for me a couple years before -- to see what his plans were for the new fiscal year and to see if/how I could help him, only to find out he was leaving. We agreed to have lunch the following Monday.

It was at that lunch, within the first five minutes of our conversation that I got the information that led to my current job as Senior IT Product Manager in the global IT organization of a Big 4 firm. I could simply wrap up this post by pointing out how I got the lead and the help that led to my new job when I thought I would be helping a co-worker. But there is more to this "It Probably Won't Come from Where You Think It Will" point.

A year ago as I considered what to pursue in the job search, I focused a lot of attention on opportunities with much smaller organizations that would have me in roles very different than what I had been doing. The newness and the unknown intrigued me. I was thinking that if I was going to make a change, it was going to be a big change. However, this journey wouldn't play out that way.

Move ahead a month or so. I remember an October 2010 phone conversation with a consultant at Right Management (http://www.right.com/) -- an organization that was very helpful to me in this career transition. As we discussed three opportunities that were in front of me, she made the analogy of of my current company at the time being a green apple and the Senior IT Product Manager opportunity at a Big 4 firm being a red apple then suggested I needed to figure out whether I even liked apples. There was no point in just trading green for red. I was going to have to really think about what I liked to do, what was a good opportunity and fit for me.

Even though I spent a lot of time thinking about, asking about, discussing, praying through and trying to get ready for a role that would be very different and would be with an organization of a different size and shape, I was drawn to the Senior IT Product Manager opportunity. If you know me, you know that is what I chose and that I started that job with a Big 4 firm at the beginning of 2011.

Fast forward to now, early September 2011, just over a year after I made the decision to take the package and leave the company I had worked at for several years. I enjoy the new role which has forced me to learn a lot -- about the firm, the global IT organization, Global Tax (i.e., my client), the member firms around the globe, etc. -- and has taken me out of my comfort zone. This new role has also given me the opportunity to have more autonomy and to make a larger impact, aspects that had been missing for a while.

Had you asked me a year ago what I would be doing now, my answer wouldn't have matched this. The lead, the help and this opportunity all came from people and places I wouldn't have expected. It doesn't look like I thought it would then. But I am grateful for the opportunity and how it came to me even though it definitely did not come from where I thought it would.

So be open in career moves. Don't think you have it figured out. Look to other places. Listen to people. And watch for something different than what you have pictured now.

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