There were obvious reasons for considering a move. I missed the excitement of the good old start-up days. I wanted to be my own boss, and have more flexibility in my life. My skills, experience, networks, and reputation were at a point where I felt like I could “make it” as an independent consultant. And of course, the grass is always greener…
Yet, this is not why I left. It took me a while to understand what was going on with me – why I often felt like I wasn’t fully engaged even though I was working with the brightest and most innovative minds. Why I felt like whatever I was doing and how highly I was recognized, it wasn’t enough to satisfy my need for impact and meaning. Why there were days that were so full on the outside yet left me feeling empty on the inside.
I was longing for a deeper connection to myself
And no matter how much I was trying to become more present to myself and explore this emptiness, the constant busyness of my role drew me outward when I needed to go inward. Life at Google is full of distractions – especially if you crave achievement, recognition, and collaboration with others. There is always more to do, someone else to connect with, and more of yourself to give. And while this can be really exciting (I happily did it for 12 years), I now needed a way out of the constant doing. I was craving stillness and solitude. The chronic time starvation that comes with everyone’s job description just wouldn’t give me the room that I needed. Despite all the noise around me, I heard the call loud and clear. The call to step into the unknown. I had to honor it.
I needed to disrupt my comfort zoneOn my 11 year “Googleversary” I realized that I had been working in Tech for nearly half of my life. And I started to wonder if I wanted to spend the next half the same way. I felt somewhat trapped in the Silicon Valley bubble, where I was comfortable, safe and appreciated, yet part of me felt out of place. Not because I don’t have a computer science degree or the impressive ivy league pedigree most Googlers have. More because I didn’t feel good about the narrative of constant busyness, achievement, and competitiveness for the sake of launching great products fast. Don’t get me wrong – I am fascinated by technology and I do see how it has changed the lives of many users for the better. I just question the how. When all that matters is output, who are we in the process, and how do we want to be with each other? How can we create a world where everyone can thrive, starting where we are and how we show up, not just during successful product launches, but on a daily basis, in the office, in meetings, when things heat up, projects get delayed, or even worse, fail? How can we make the workplace more inclusive, sustainable and joyful? What do we do about our communities when the income divide is steadily increasing? I had a million questions running through my head, and they turned into a message that I could no longer ignore.
I wanted to bring my being and doing into alignment
It has became clear to me that I want to work with leaders and explore these questions more deeply. In my role as executive coach and consultant, I feel like I’m well positioned to do this. In fact, they come up in most coaching conversations anyway but tend get brushed aside quickly in order to focus on the task at hand.
I’m thinking about my calling as an invitation to:
- Wake up to the fact that we are not just walking brains, and that it may be useful not to believe everything we think.
- Understand that we need to go back to “basics” rather than creating another fancy leadership model. Basics like
- Paying attention
- Listening deeply
- Speaking truthfully
- Acting with integrity
- Cultivate an ability to be less reactive under stress so we act in alignment with our intentions, rather than being taken over by our triggers.
- Learn to work with the larger system around us and find the sweet spot between what wants to happen and what we want to create. Recognize that we are all in this together, and that our way of being in the world is as important as the next breakthrough product or multi-million dollar deal.
So here you go – as much as I love Google and as hard as it was to say goodbye, the call to jump off the cliff was stronger. I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned and experienced, and in many ways, my leadership philosophy and Google’s aren’t far apart. I just couldn’t find a way of connecting the two. I took it as a sign that it was time to go.
Now I’m enjoying the newfound freedom. I’m embracing the unknown. And surprisingly, I don’t miss the free food!