Leaving your comfort zone.
Let’s see, where do I begin. My whole life has been a series of of unexpected, out of nowhere experiences. So much so, I hesitate to look down the barrel of the obvious. The big, life changing opportunity came for me when I was participating in a “career day” type of internal exercise when I was working on the dock for Dupont.
In those days, the most you could expect to grow starting from that position was maybe a lead person or at a stretch, a supervisor. That’s all I expected and that’s all I thought I could achieve anyway, things being what they were, education, business experience. For me, a solid goose egg.
During that meeting, I was asked a series of canned questions which I handled in my usual upbeat manner. My job, to me, was a cakewalk. I actually thought I was back in kindergarten, truth be told. Before that, I was manacled to a hot stove in the restaurant business. I knew the meaning of hard work and this was anything but.
When I was through answering questions, an area director took the floor and said, “I think Bob would make a great supervisor in a couple of years.” Fair enough, I thought.” Right down the pipe.
Then a voice in the back, with some frustration hollered, “Are you guys crazy? This guy belongs in sales. No doubt in my mind.” I’m thinking, “Who’s this disillusioned fellow?” I thought I would hold my breath until they escorted him out of the room. Still, he persisted. Guess this guy had some sway but it was still a bit embarrassing. When through, they thanked me for my time and I left thinking” Who the hell was that guy? I would soon find out.
He had just come in from the field and was slated for a marketing position but got sidetracked into Customer Service. He wasn’t happy. I saw him in the hallway one day and I thanked him for his vote of confidence and told him, “I appreciate what you did the other day but in all honesty, I don’t know anything about sales or have the technical background to sell those products.” He said, “Look, it’s not about the technical stuff, sales is about people. Period.”
Well alrighty then, I thought, but I still had a long way to go. In the next few months I had to run the gauntlet of muckety-mucks who agreed with my first assumption. It was leveling. At one point I gave up and settled back in to my day job. You can only stick your face in the oven so many times.
Six months later, my office phone rang “You ready, Bobby?” I was off and running. Had no idea what I was going to do but damned if I wasn’t going to do it. I took over the Arizona- New Mexico territory with a smile, a joke and a package insert. In that order. It was a good run and needless to say, way out of my comfort zone. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Stay open to the crazy stuff. It’s there for the taking.