They say when one door closes another one opens, and for me the reality of that is more than just a catchy phrase. When I moved to London I had nothing with me but my ambition for an exciting career and the desire to live out the dream of 19-year-old me, who hoped one day to become an international, successful businesswoman.
Arriving in London, having left the security and comfort of my home in Dublin, on that cold October evening in 2016, the reality could not have been further from my dream. Stranded outside Tower Bridge, my phone had been unexpectedly cut off and my card was maxed out with a bunch of hotel pre-charges. I wandered in the dark past the rushing crowds, hoping to find a friendly face I could ask for directions. As if my luck hadn’t fully run out just yet, the skies above me opened and I was welcomed to my new home with a spectacular show of thunder and lightning. As I stood there drenched, lost, and completely alone, I realized I had just one of two choices. Laugh or cry. So, like a slightly crazy person, I roamed around in search of my hotel laughing to myself at the ludicrous situation I had found myself in. That mentality served me well in many future situations I would unknowingly encounter.
For the next three months I slept on a friend’s couch as I tried my best to juggle weekly travel with apartment hunting in a new city. I didn’t know a single other professional there, and despite a previously successful career in Dublin, it truly felt like I was starting all over again from scratch.
The evolution that occurred over the next three years was beyond what I could have ever dreamed of. I did get my dream of an international career, having the pleasure of working on some of the most exciting high-profile deals across all corners of the world. I had the privilege of advising some of the most impressive leaders I know, sat on the board of an international shipping company, progressed our internal D&I agenda, was awarded by the Financial Times and Yahoo Finance as a future leader and global champion of women in business, stood up on international stages like Forbes’ to discuss the world of female entrepreneurship, and have been rewarded in many other ways that I would once have only dreamed of.
Then, when the time came for me to part ways and I handed in my laptop and swiped my pass for the final time after an exciting, and sometimes incredibly challenging career. Do you know what happened? Absolutely nothing.
Ensure that you can open that next door and walk through it with your head held high, knowing you are ready to embrace the next chapter.
The reality is, I was a cog in a corporate wheel of a global machine that would move on with or without me. As much as I would naively like to think that I am irreplaceable, being pegged as one of the firm’s high-performers and future leaders, the reality is, I was not. Just as I watched on as our previous CEO stepped aside to make way for the next, the global machine kept on moving, without a single bump to notice the change.
To be clear, this is not something that came as a surprise. I have witnessed this happen time and time again, even with the most senior of leaders within organizations. It is how these structures are set up to survive over the long term. Nevertheless, when the reality hits you, it can be unexpectedly thought provoking.
There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. – Nelson Mandela
I wanted to share this as a reminder that wherever you are in your career, whatever it is you are doing, make sure you are enjoying the journey, and not just focused on the destination. Ensure you are working tirelessly to climb the right ladder for you. Be mindful of embracing all the opportunities available to you, even those you think you’re not quite ready for yet. Be serious about your work, but don’t take your work too seriously.
Whether you decide to break out of corporate and pursue a business idea that you are passionate about, as I help my clients do, or are excited to continue climbing that corporate ladder, just be sure you are doing what is right for you, and that you are climbing the right ladder for you.
I wanted to share this as a reminder that wherever you are in your career, whatever it is you are doing, make sure you are enjoying the journey, and not just focused on the destination.
At the end of the day, when you walk out the doors of your job for the final time, be sure that you do so with a treasure chest of great memories, an incredible network, some lifelong friends, and a feeling that you gave it your all, left nothing on table, and didn’t play it safe — that you felt the fear and did it anyway. Ensure that you can open that next door and walk through it with your head held high, knowing you are ready to embrace the next chapter. And be sure that you are walking in the direction of something that truly sets your soul on fire, that you are passionate about, that lights you up, and that you are excited to pursue regardless of what challenges may come.
Here’s to your continued success and growth, and always remaining true to yourself.