The Wayward Manager – The beginning of a long journey

I had never planned to be the type of employee that would relocate. I grew up in a small town in Idaho. I was one of the few in my group of friends that did not have dreams of city life. I also did not put a lot of thought into what my career would be. I remember thinking if I could find something in time that pays around $55,000 a year, that would not be a bad living.  Who would have thought years later I would have lived in 5 new states, on each side of the country?

            My move to Washington came at an interesting time in my life. I was only a year out from a significant medical event where I had spent 30 days in the hospital.  My wife, Alycia, was four months pregnant with our first child. I had been promoted to a supervisor level less than 12 months prior. To add to the complication, I  lived in a house that I had flipped with my father and brother. I would be accepting a role that put my back into an analyst role, intending to get back into the organization I wanted to be a manager in.

            At this point in my career, I had certainly had to endure a young professional’s ups and downs. I relied on my ability to learn quickly and that no job was ever too tough. I had no problem doing what others would not or putting in more hours. I had not completed college like so many others, which would drive many of my decisions early in my career. One of my successes had been taking on new projects and or created positions. This move was for a new role that balanced leadership along with being an analyst. The exposure would be great as I would be in meetings with VP’s several times a week.

            I nailed the interview. I had put in the prep and was able to take control of the interview. My interview was a show of selling yourself and an idea of performance management. I wish I could say a great interview that I parlayed into future interviews, but win some, lose some. The interview was my first business trip ever. I had never rented a car or had to have the responsibility of finding an office in a new town. I came home on a high, mainly at the significant jump in my income that I would be receiving. I knew not having the education to lean back into that progression was necessary, and I needed to take advantage of every opportunity in front of me.

            I left Idaho with a Uhaul and my pregnant wife in a car behind me. We drove right through a snowstorm and over the blues mountain pass with no experience under our belts. I want to say I was accepted right away with welcoming arms. Instead, several of my new teammates thought an internal peer should have the new title I held. It was my first lesson on how to come in as the new guy and build relationships. More importantly, I had to learn how to be the new guy and quickly build credibility. 

            The worst task in the department was manually allocating call volume. I jumped at the opportunity to take this on from the people that worked with me. It was not fun, but I learned to make it enjoyable but always trying to improve my efficiency score. I also learned the importance of crisis management and mitigation. When things went down, we were the hub of communication and needed to engage all partners required for resolution. It was essential always to be prepared to answer a VP’s call on what was happening and an ETA for resolution.

            So many changes happened through the 11 months of my first relocation. I had endured my first typhoon and days without power, all while my wife was five month’s pregnant. Snowstorms that shut down roads, where I spent 6 hours driving two miles. My last grandmother passed away, and months later, the birth of my daughter. Many of the leaders that had hired me already had been promoted and moved on. It’s where I learned to rely on myself and start to be more observant of what was happening around me. The skill of observation has helped with much of the success that I had.

            Deep down, I think I believed that the move to Washington would help in my next promotion and would likely lead me back to Idaho reasonably quickly. The work that I did in Washington was so beneficial in my experience, and many of the relationships are still present today. As a whole, it built up my confidence that I could take a risk and see it through, that my wife and I could take on the world. We could support each other, and we were all we needed, even in the most challenging of situations.

            It might have been youthful ignorance or just chasing money, but there were several things I learned from the first move—the long-term sustainability of a high cost of living even with a significant wage increase. How much it cost for child care, and what kind of wage it takes to offset this new bill. It seemed like the connection to family and friends back home slipped away quickly, and people will not come to visit as often as you like. Perhaps the most challenging was in the worst of times, having to look at my wife and say we are home.

The move worked out, and within 12 months, I achieved my next promotion to manager. It was the most validating thing that had happened in my adult life. It built up my confidence in myself, and I was so excited that I had achieved this level in my career. Two years earlier, I was not sure if I would make it through the night. Now I’m making good money, and my wife can stay home. We are new parents with so much opportunity in front of us. Oh, I should mention we also now have move two in front of us, this new promotion requires a move to Oregon.

Check out the next stage of the journey:

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