Over a year ago, a brilliant opportunity to manage additional teams and markets opened in my company. This was an exciting and challenging role to get, and the logical next step for anyone in my position. Why wouldn’t I apply? Best case scenario I got the job; worst case scenario I showed I was motivated. Something didn’t feel quite right, but I couldn’t see clearly what or why. I hesitated, talked to friends and family about it, and in the end chose not to apply to explore what made me doubt.

What happened after that

It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever took for my career and for myself. While others were preparing and going through interviews, with all the stress and pressure it entails, I was taking some time to think. For a driven and ambitious person like me, not seizing an opportunity was very unusual.

I quickly came to the conclusion that timing wasn’t good. I was not prepared. I hadn’t anticipated and developed myself. What did I have to do to avoid another opportunity that wouldn’t feel right? Work on a plan to be ready. I did a 360 degree feedback at work in the following weeks to get as much input as I could. It helped me create a more exhaustive list of all I did well and all I could improve. When I reviewed the feedback, I made a second and much bigger conclusion: bad timing wasn’t the main reason; I simply wasn’t interested enough in the job. I had a to-do list of things to improve to get this opportunity next time, but the sole idea of doing it for that reason wasn’t enough.

Over the following months, I explored my strengths and kept my areas of improvement in mind. I learned, I grew, and it had other consequences I was not expecting.

I realised what I really loved about my job and I did it better

I became more mindful of my daily tasks and responsibilities, and I started noticing how they were making me feel. I became aware of the things I loved the most and the ones I wouldn’t miss if I had a chance to stop doing them. I wasn’t just on auto-pilot anymore, I was able to see myself work, to notice how I was working, and what internal processes and workflows I had put in place that could be improved.

I found a purpose

Knowing what I loved doing the most in my role and being aware of my environment widened the picture I was seeing. I was still doing the same job but my approach had changed. I began to want to share what I had gone through in my personal development with my colleagues so they could experience the same kind of “awakening”.

I built more honest and genuine relationships

I started to realise that I wasn’t doing my job to get to the next step. The fact that I wasn’t competing with anyone and had no interest in doing so gave me a lot of strengths in my day-to-day when I was collaborating with others. I felt more honest, genuine, and unbiased. With this non-partisan approach, I was feeling more at ease telling things like they were rather than saying what people wanted to hear.

I got to think about where I really wanted to go

Since the next logical step for me wasn’t the one I wanted to take at that time, I decided to be proactive and do research in my personal time. How could I use what I do well, that I am passionate about, and that also gives me energy? I talked to people around me to get new perspectives and ideas. I researched all of them and weighted the pros and cons of each. It was important not to rush, so I gave myself a lot of time to reflect before taking any decision.

What I thought was just about learning new skills and improving my communication style became the beginning of a personal journey. I had to swallow my pride and admit I had no clue where I really wanted to go. The “I was born this way” approach wasn’t working anymore. I now see myself on a path, and I know it’s the right one because of the time and dedication it took me to get there. This is the path that led me to coaching.