One of the great things about LinkedIn is that recruiters find you and whisper a special invitation to apply for your dream job. But this isn’t a post about LinkedIn, it’s a post about heartbreak – the kind of heartbreak that creeps up on you right when you thought you were over it. The tug and pinch associated with remembering something that is no more.
I received a message from a recruiter encouraging me to apply for a director-level position at an esteemed Silicon Valley company. As an employee communications professional, I quickly spotted all the keywords in the listing that aligned with my experience. It was the kind of role I could immerse myself in, the kind of role that would throw me into a delightful whirlwind of activity and leave me breathless and wanting more. It was everything my 20+ years of experience had molded me for, and I knew that I could compete for that job, and had the confidence to believe that I could, in fact, get it.
Within seconds, I remembered that it wouldn’t, rather, couldn’t happen, because of my own choices.
My own choices for my own good, my health, my well-being. This is what I told myself as I slowly clicked away from the tempting invitation to apply. As a person with a chronic lung condition and a visual disability, I knew this wasn’t a path I should pursue. In fact, I made a conscious decision to walk away from a demanding yet successful full-time job two years ago in order to manage my health the way I need to at this time in my life. It was the right decision, but not one without sacrifice.
What’s the sacrifice? Ask anyone with a disability or chronic health condition and they’ll tell you: it is the steps we don’t take, the ladders we don’t climb, the speed at which we don’t race. It is not defeat, it is a desire to maintain dignity, while taking care of ourselves the best way we can. So many people with disabilities and chronic health conditions have a burning fire inside and the passion, talent and intelligence to push the boundaries of their limitations and soar to the same heights they would if their circumstances were different.
Nobody should have to dive into a non-stop frenzy or work 45+ hour weeks in order to reap success. That is a serious flaw and myth of today’s business world. And nobody should jeopardize their health in order to fulfill one small aspect of their life. This is why I coach people through health transitions so that they can make the best decisions for their well-being while still find satisfying ways to channel their creative energy and ambition.
However, I hope for a day when companies – and the people who hold leadership and management positions within these organizations – find new and innovative ways to create career paths and a competitive landscape in which everyone isn’t racing against each other, but rather, finding ways to surpass themselves.
Till then, we’ll continue to work through those moments of heartbreak, and we’ll survive.