Vince Molinaro, managing director of the leadership practice at Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions, Canada’s largest HR advisory, tells clients he knows exactly when his career direction snapped into focus. It was at his first job out of college, with an organization that helped needy individuals get back on their feet. Vince loved the mission but found the work atmosphere uninspiring. “Everyone just went through the motions,” he says. “I remember thinking, ‘Is this it? Is this what working in the real world is like?’”
A senior manager named Zinta sensed that Vince wanted to have a bigger impact, and asked him to join several like-minded colleagues on a committee to make their workplace a more positive environment. They began to make subtle changes, and coworkers’ attitudes started to improve. He says, “I saw firsthand how a single manager can change the culture of a place.”
Then something unexpected happened. Zinta was diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer. In her absence, the office culture began to revert back. On a visit to see Zinta in the hospital, Vince told her about the disappointing turn of events. She surprised him with a confession: Since she had never smoked and had no history of cancer in her family, she was convinced that her disease was a direct function of putting up with a toxic work environment for so long.
Soon after, Zinta sent Vince a letter telling him he would be faced with an important choice throughout his life. He could allow the negative attitudes of others to influence his behavior, or pursue professional goals because of the sense of personal accomplishment they offered. “In her time of need she reached out to me,” he says. “She was a mentor to me even though she didn’t need to be.”
Two weeks later, Zinta passed away. But the letter changed Vince’s mindset and consequently his life, inspiring him to leave his job and start his own consulting business devoted to helping people be better leaders. “I’ve seen the kind of climate and culture that a great leader can create,” he says. “For the last 25 years, I’ve tried to emulate that.” He still has Zinta’s letter.
So, let me ask you something: Are you happy with where you are right now in your life? Are you living the life that you envisioned for yourself and doing the work that you absolutely love? Or do you still feel you can have a better and more aligned life, a more nurturing work environment, and experience greater success, abundance, love, and joy? If your answer is not a positive one, then it means it’s time to change your direction.
Whenever we feel stuck and stagnant in life, moving forward seems challenging but it needs to be done. And the sooner we do that, the better.
The harsh truth is that most of us are afraid — of failing, of being judged by others, and of choosing the dark and uncertain path — and so we stick to our chosen lane and our comfort zone, even if it doesn’t suit us well and gel with what we truly want out of the limited moments that we’ve got on this spinning orb. But we must stop this insanity if we want to design a better, more aligned, more meaningful, and more impactful life for ourselves.
It’s sad that we prefer living ‘insane’ lives, instead of mustering the courage and resolve to change our direction. As I have discussed in my previous essays, one of the most important skills that we all must develop is course-correction. It’s all about assessing what direction serves us best and making the necessary adjustments to move forward that way.
As a human, you are the most advanced being on this planet, and if you choose you can hit the “reset” button on your life at any time. If you don’t like the story of your life thus far, you can rip up the script and write a completely new one.
If you are someone who feels trapped in a toxic work environment, I would urge you to stop putting up with it and change your direction before it’s too late. Let this moment be all about creating a positive and lasting change in yourself and your life. It’s time to let go of your anchors, and start living the life that you are really meant to live.
If you want things to be different, you need to take the initiative. An inspiring insight that we can all internalize for a better life is: Our past does not equal our future. As Darren Hardy shares, “No matter your past, your future is absolutely spotless.” Tomorrow is a new day. As you wake up and open your eyes, you have a blank canvas in front of you. You can choose to paint a different picture tomorrow with whatever colors you want than what you have painted so far.
Muster the courage to change things once and for all and make an unwavering commitment to start living your personal legend moving forward. As the philosopher, Oprah Winfrey once said, “The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams.”