Zan: I didn’t want to be in charge of the celery.
I was on Day 3 of a brand new job at a food bank in 2012 and I already knew it was a bad fit for me. The culture was introverted (I’m not) and the assumptions I’d made about their professional capabilities in my work field were not panning out. Fast-forward 18 months later and I’d completed two major initiatives at work and was feeling desperate to move to another workplace.
But, working in an environment that didn’t suit or inspire me was taking a real toll on my self-esteem. Every job that I saw posted suddenly re-wrote itself to simply say, “You can’t do this,” even when it fit my skill set perfectly.
I met with Jill, who counseled me through the decision that I had to make: stay at a soul-sapping job with a paycheck or take the plunge and leave without a sure gig in sight. Jill’s wise counsel and insightful questions led me to the latter. It was the only way that I could make a move to a new employer without recreating the situation I was trying to escape.
It was June and little did I know that the Pacific Northwest was about to experience the best summer we’d had in years. On Jill’s advice I took time, more than I’d imagined, to regain my creative energy and feed those parts of me that had been smothered in my workplace. I spent 98% of the summer outside, hiking, taking photos, and camping. As I hiked and wandered, I recalled advice Jill had given me about working from my genius instead of competence. I began to envision a new career, moving from the nonprofit sector to the craft beer industry.
In the fall I applied for job after job, whether they were posted or not, at local breweries. And never before have I faced such rejection. No phone calls or interviews, and certainly no job offers.
I was ready to give up many times – especially around the winter holidays when I couldn’t spoil my family with a ton of presents. My partner remained incredibly supportive of my belief that the right gig was out there, but I was beginning to doubt it. If I hadn’t worked with Jill, who had illuminated a better future for me, I likely would have given up by New Year.
That’s when I had the dream about the celery. I had applied (no phone call or interview) to be a beer buyer for Whole Foods. I then dreamt that I showed up at a Whole Foods career fair and was asked, “What is it you want to do?” Fearful of saying what I really wanted, I deferred to the people in charge. “Oh, whatever you’re looking for.” They put me in charge of stocking and ordering celery – the blandest food in the world. I awoke from that dream and recommitted to boldly asking for what I want.
And then it appeared. A job posting at one of Seattle’s oldest breweries looking for someone with my skill set.
This was the job that I knew was out there for me. I got an interview! Finally. And when I met with the team I fell more in love with the job. They talked about loving their work and how the company was evolving and had recognized each of them by promoting them. Then came a second interview with the owners – who were outgoing and warm. I found that we shared core values and they were completely transparent about the job and culture.
It has taken me accepting the job offer and then working at Pike Brewing Company for two weeks to finally accept that I got what I wanted. That I’m in a creative environment with incredible people who will challenge and reward me. That I get to make the world better and happier and build something truly unique. And yes, I get to do all this and drink beer too.
Making a life change this big took my whole community and family. Throughout it all, I had Jill’s wise counsel whispering in my ear. She has a unique and rare talent to get people to hear that voice inside them that knows what you want and can take the risks to get it.
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