“The waiting is the hardest part” – Tom Petty
Note: Longer post.
I’ve written about the “in between” part of manifesting a goal and while it’s all good and well to understand it’s part of the process, it doesn’t help with the to-do part which can include a lot of nothing but wait.
This can be of particular challenge if like me you’re more than happy and willing to do what it takes.
At this point in my journey – and specific to a current goal – there really is nothing “to do” but wait and allow next steps to appear when they need to.
Trust that the universe is working behind the scenes to bring what I’m going for.
Rather than go into detail about the specific goal I’m going to share a story of how I handled a time when I was working toward a career goal but had a lot of hurry up and wait to do.
And several roadblocks were put in my path by folks threatened by what I was trying to do.
There was a time when I wanted to be a technical consultant but was in a totally different job classification. Knowing I needed to close the skills, education, and experience gap I asked a number of the more successful consultants where I needed to start.
Though a handful were more than happy to help, a few reacted with hostility.
In the end it was agreed the best next step was for me to start with the basics.
Little did I know.
I was handed a bunch of manuals but given no access to the computer system I needed. Determined, I asked a trusted colleague what he suggested.
He told me of a storage closet filled with old computer parts and – yep – more manuals – and suggested I go foraging and use the manuals to build a computer.
He did help me pick out what I needed which basically amounted to an 8O86 that didn’t have enough anything (memory, CPU power) to run the software I needed to learn.
Trusting this colleague I set up the guts and wires of what would hopefully be a computer I could work with on my desk and went to work.
The Universe Steps In.
I’ll admit this next part is truly one of my favorite stories.
It was a Friday afternoon – about 4pm – and I was busy trying to get an old game program to work on the little 8O86 I’d succeeded in getting to accept an old OS.
Ironically, one I’d used at WMU in a basic computer course.
A gentleman came to stand on the opposite side of the fabric wall of my cube.
They’d begrudgingly given me my own cube but it was so close to the stairwell and away from everyone else I may as well have been IN the stairwell.
He asked a simple question.
Where is Everybody?
I smiled and explained that on Fridays it was typical for people not working on a deadline to book out early.
I had no idea who this guy was.
His follow-up question was to ask what I was up to. I explained I was building a computer because I wanted to become a senior consultant.
Still hovering over the cube wall he pointed out the model I was working on was ancient and wouldn’t be of any real help. I explained that while that was the case, my job classification meant I was not given a computer better suited.
I told him I was having fun trying to get the gaming software to work on the “ancient” beast that really should have been in a museum somewhere.
Note: Though I was given the equipment I was given zero time.
Any efforts to get closer to my career aspirations had to be on my own time – not work time. My manager was very explicit about that.
We chatted a bit longer – mostly me explaining what I planned to try next – and he went on his merry way.
Do You Know Who That Was?!
One of the senior consultants – who’d been pretty helpful to my aspirations – showed up in my cube minutes later and hissed, “Do you know who you were talking to just now?”
I shrugged and said, “Doesn’t matter. He was a nice guy.”
Regional headquarters, we got visitors from out of town all the time.
Turns out it was the CEO of the company.
I’ll admit, I was pretty shocked. Then I wondered what I might have said that would land me in hot water.
Keep Doing What You’re Doing.
I went back to my project and tried to think of everything we’d talked about. In the end what I remembered was his perplexed expression even as he wished me luck.
He told me he admired my tenacity and my passion for what I wanted to accomplish.
Now you’ve done it.
The following Monday I was called into the District Manager’s office. Apparently, our illustrious leader went to the Regional Manager’s office immediately after speaking to me and asked what gives?
Why was I being stonewalled.
“The man” on the 3rd floor went to “the man” on the 2nd floor and instructed him to give me what I needed.
I was told I’d impressed the CEO with my positive attitude in the face of adversity in the workplace.
After a lengthy and thorough discussion of my career goals I was given the green-light to take a non-traditional path to my dream of being a senior technical consultant.
Oooh, was my manager mad! They thought I’d gone behind their back.
The Universe’s Message? Stay the Course.
And keep the good attitude while you’re at it.
I was given a piece of equipment that didn’t support the current OS direction our company was taking.
They technically gave me a decent workstation to use but it would be obsolete in less than a year.
Joke’s on Someone Else.
The colleague I trusted was pretty irritated on my behalf. An amazing software guru, he came up with a clever next step for me. Turns out our software division wanted to test the new OS direction on older hardware because of the need to support legacy customers. My colleague, who became a wonderful mentor in that moment, gave me the name of a guy in the software division and proposed I offer to help them with their testing in exchange for access to early releases of the software.
Who Are You?
And why are you talking to me?
The guy was a bit on the frosty side – especially when I told him what my current job classification was – and was about to hang up when I told him who advised I call. He immediately warmed up and we hashed out a wonderful plan wherein I would test not only the new OS but apps to make sure we could support legacy customers for at least five years.
I agreed to be the point contact for all the app program managers.
A Wonderful Partnership.
A tech writer, I volunteered to proof their papers before giving them to the higher-ups.
Often one long sentence with zero punctuation faxed to me at the last minute before they were due.
This was in addition to the testing and necessitated working a lot of nights and weekends.
I loved every moment of what I was doing.
I felt respected for the first time in quite awhile.
The Universe Tests.
It came around that one of the less supportive colleague needed early access to the future OS for one of our biggest global customers. When he called the division to get a copy they told him he had to talk to me.
Bet that hurt.
I can’t say I wasn’t just a wee bit hostile toward this colleague but I was no fool. We struck a bargain and set up an ecosystem that served everyone.
As the manager of the project I got to learn while my colleagues got access that not only made customer sense it helped them keep their skills current.
I’ve long since lost contact with the colleague who played such a critical role in helping me achieve my dream. I know this much. When – years later – I was selected to be involved in a major global supply-chain initiative – in a role of authority as a liason to corporate resources – I knew I’d done my mentor proud.
Fulfilled all the goals he and I talked about and then some.
I hope this story inspires others along the liminal path.
Note: As to my current efforts. I’ve seen evidence my energy is getting through the “between” to the universe.
That I’m using my liminal time wisely.
I had an opportunity that could theoretically get me closer to the goal show up out of the blue.
Knowing it wasn’t the right opportunity nor the right time I passed on it.
The next day I came across an article with valuable information that will definitely help.
Message? Stay the path.