I fail to remember how many times I verbalized that statement. Most of the time I was speaking to my husband, an amazing drummer since age 4, as he insisted I needed to find something. I was passionate about. After giving birth to my son and taking a year off for maternity leave, I began to feel like I did not want to return to the job I’d held for the previous seven years. I worked in the network maintenance department of a telecommunications company and my job was troubleshooting circuits. The job paid me well and the benefits were great but there was a voice inside of me pushing me to leave.
I tried to reason with the inner voice by insisting: “But I like my co-workers, and my boss is great.” However, the voice in my head was persistent and the closer the calendar moved toward my expected return date, the more anxious I became about going back.
In the end I decided to stay. While my husband was a talented drummer by night, during the day he was a sales rep who worked on commission, and his income was inconsistent at best. Our expenses required a steady, solid income and it was my duty as wife and mother to contribute to the household. But that inner guide is crafty. When we try to ignore it, that guide becomes even more persistent almost to the point of forcing its hand. This is exactly what happened when I called my boss to confirm my return date and schedule. Her voice became low and almost apologetic as she informed me that our department was downsizing and because I was amongst the lowest in seniority, my job would be eliminated in less than two months.
My first instinct was to panic but for some strange reason (again that inner guide) I was calm. I agreed to return for the two months and during that time I made complete peace with the end of my very first career. I wish I could tell you that everything miraculously worked out but the truth is my family struggled financially for quite some time after that. Unable to replace my income, I got the idea to return to school and pursue a second degree. This time I planned to take a business program and focus on marketing, a very different path from the engineering degree I earned 10 years earlier.
It was also around this time that a friend introduced me to a small business owner who was in need of executive assistant. The position would allow me to work from home so I sent over my resume and he hired me right away. Having been a technician for most of my working years, I had no actual experience doing secretarial work. My secret was quickly exposed when I botched the simple task of printing mailing labels. I was thankful he did not fire me and instead allowed me to stay on as his assistant. Still after that day it was clear his confidence in my abilities was diminished. I was so embarrassed that when the weekend came I locked myself in my room and studied everything I could about being an administrative assistant.
On Monday morning he emailed me my next assignment and the following day I turned in a presentation so well put together he raved about it for months. When I explained to him that I had spent my entire weekend researching my position he immediately promoted me from administrative assistant to market research associate. He recognized a talent in me that I had not yet recognized in myself and I was committed to spending the rest of my working days with his company thanks to his confidence in me.
Over time my boss trusted me with more and more challenging assignments all of which involved me searching for marketing information to help grow the business. Completing those assignments is what helped me to realize I did have a natural talent and I was good at it. I had always been inquisitive by nature and the type of person who continued to dig until I found the best solution to any problem. I was a relentless researcher whether I was looking for the lowest price on a new television or which vacuum cleaner was the most efficient.
In what can best be described as an “Aha” moment I realized what I was meant to do all along. Research! My entire life there had been an underlying nudge (inner guide) trying to help me discover my purpose and finally I got it. Persistent digging for solutions is why I was good at my job of troubleshooting in telecommunications, why I spent hours searching for how to be an administrative assistant and how I had been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA since the very first semester of school. Unfortunately, the small business I had been working for was hit hard by the economic downturn and I found myself out of work once again.
This time I took action right away. I knew I wanted to continue to work from home and my inner guide who I have now learned to trust implicitly pushed me to start my own marketing research company and thus Summer Alexander, Independent Information Consultant was born. I have never felt so motivated and filled with passion about anything work related in my life. The clients are pouring in and it is quite simply amazing what can take place in your life when you silence the inner critic and turn up the volume on your inner voice.