Loyalty vs Happiness?

LoyaltyI have recently made a career move, and it wasn’t as easy as one might think. I had been the National Engagement Manager and IT Division Head at Stark Talent for more than 2 years. I was a senior manager who managed a global team of recruiters, but I also developed an Operations Manual, implemented an Applicant Tracking System, and offered many new ideas that shaped the direction of the company. I reported to the President of Stark, someone that I held in high regard professionally and personally. It would be fair to say that I was deeply invested into the success of Stark.

What made it difficult to leave was the portion of my life that I experienced while with Stark. After only being there a few short months, I went in to have a routine surgery done that was supposed to be quick and easy, and it turned into a cancer diagnosis – 3 surgeries – 16 tumors being removed – potential death after the 2nd surgery – and months of recovery. Not only was this a challenge emotionally and physically, but it reshaped the values and priorities that I had established. This was a complete transformation, in every way possible. My employer told me to take as much time as I needed to recover – I know others say that, but they were incredible in their response to me. They paid my full salary the entire time I was out. They paid all of my commissions on top of that. I never once got an email or a text asking when I thought I might return – no pressure on me at all. It was the best way that I could imagine an employer responding.

But when I returned to work full time, I just wasn’t the same person that I was prior to the medical issues that I had faced. Before, my focus was on success, money, recognition, titles, and being respected by those around me. My priorities had shifted to things like: family, faith, friends, deep conversations, making the most of my time, etc. I even had a conversation with my boss one day and told him, “I’m not the same person that you hired. Are you good with me staying in the same role, or should I move into something else for the good of the team?” Now don’t get me wrong, I still wanted to be very good at what I did, and I still wanted to be rewarded for it, but it just didn’t drive me the way it used to.  I worked (from home) the entire time that I was recovering from my surgeries and still wanted to work hard and do what was right regarding my employer.

Within a few months, I was declared “cancer free.” It wasn’t the end of my health issues, but it relieved the most critical aspect of it.  I was traveling again, working in the office each day, and putting in long hours…but I just wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I enjoy recruiting and the industry that I am a part of, but as with any organization – there were certain aspects of my job, personalities to deal with, and frustrations that would arise, and I just couldn’t get past them. It was trying to balance the new me that wanted to make the most of every day given to me fighting against the part of me that felt like it might a losing proposition and a waste of time. I was driving 3 hours a day round trip just to commute for work. I didn’t see the doors open at all times for me to run my line of business the way that I felt like it should be done. As a result, I was weary, tired, resentful, and ready for a change.

But how could I make a move? How could I leave this company that treated me so well in my toughest time? What would they think? What would others think of me? What would I think of myself? This was such a struggle in weighing the loyalty that I felt to my employer vs the happiness that I was lacking! What should win out? I mean, I had been unhappy for many months and had many opportunities presented to me where I could have left, but I kept telling myself that I just couldn’t leave. It came down to this: How much loyalty was enough?

Late one afternoon, I was presented with the opportunity to make a move to a new company as their Managing Director and to become a Partner. It was an outstanding offer! Good salary…ownership…be my own boss…do things that I felt like they should be done. It was all of the things that I was looking for. As always, my mind immediately starting asking if there was any way that I could seriously leave where I was in order to take this opportunity. For me, I had to go with my gut and move quickly or I would second guess myself to no end. I told them that I was interested but that I needed an offer in my hands in just a few hours if they really wanted me. The offer came and I made my move.

Working out the loyalty vs happiness issue has not been easy. I finally had to come to a place where I could say that I gave my previous employer everything that I had. While there, I worked as hard for them as I possibly could. I also believe that I left that company better than I found it. I shook hands with everyone on my way out the door, held my head high, and just believed that I couldn’t have done anything more for them than I had done. I’ve had moments of guilt hit me since then, but in my heart – I believe I made the right move.

It matters greatly to me that I be a man of integrity and of solid character. This single decision made me wrestle with those things and how you can come out on both sides with your integrity and character in place from both points of view. I don’t know if I succeeded or not, I guess that is up to others to decide. I feel confident in my decision and hopeful that others can understand the reasoning and thought that went into it.

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4 responses to “Loyalty vs Happiness?

  1. Congratulations! I have pondered this idea many times – as loyalty has been ingrained in me from my parents – but only you know what is right for you. Leaving the company so respectfully and full of pride is awesome. Good luck with the new endeavor! 🙂

  2. Doug Douglas, I work with MANY recruiters here at TownSquare Media. Few make a lasting impression on me personally. I remember watching as you interviewed candidates at our Career Fair here in Midland and the difference in how you approached each prospect. You took great pains in truly ensuring that each candidate consider the circumstance of making a move and understanding what the position entailed (not just having them fill-out application and hoping you would remember who was who).
    After reading this article I now see it is because of the circumstance that drove you at that time.
    Glad you are following your bliss. Good luck!

    • Thanks Laura. I appreciate your kind words and for noticing how I approach people that I come into contact with.

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