Larry’s wife saw the frustration in her husband’s demeanor. Gone were his deep-belly laughter, smiling, and ability to get a good night’s rest.
After nearly a decade as his company’s leading salesman Larry was now a joyless Sales Vice-President. Neither Larry nor his wife was happy with the way things had worked out.
His wife pointed out an ad for an Advanced Leadership Certificate program at the local Community College. After a little encouraging they decided that he should take a few classes to see if they could help him.
As instructor of the class I saw Larry sitting in his seat the first night. The burden of his worries was evident in every aspect of his body language. At the end of the first class Larry lagged behind and shared his story with me. Not only was he struggling with the weight of discouragement from being in a position for which he had not been trained he was having difficulty dealing with being the only vice-president not related to the owner.
Larry and I agreed he would benefit from some one-on-one coaching with me. I asked him to take a quick online assessment so I would know his personal weaknesses, strengths, motivational factors, and career interests. When I read the results of his questions there was only one logical conclusion — Larry was in the job of his dreams!
Why dream jobs can be torturous
Now many will wonder how someone can have the perfect job and not find happiness. Life has taught me this is often true. Dream jobs are usually aligned with someone’s interests are not always aligned with motivational factors and exposed talents.
Take for example the person who loves to make sandwiches. They decide to open a sandwich shop. Things generally run well at first but soon they will struggle with the other aspects of running a sandwich shop. Taxes, payroll, procurement, maintenance, and other business requirements for which they were not trained nor had the motivational interest will overcome the joy of making sandwiches. The focus will turn from creating beautiful sandwich masterpieces to total frustration at making challenges for 48 hours a week.
Larry’s main problem was that he loved sales too much. During those times when he should have been coaching the salespeople he was taking over the sales call completely. The salespeople were becoming frustrated because they wanted to sell themselves and saw his intervention as a lack of confidence in their abilities. They dreaded hearing that he would be joining them on one of their sales calls. Instead of learning from the best salesperson the company had ever had they were so filled with negativity they learned nothing but resentment.
Larry began to concentrate his listening skills on the salesperson’s approach to a prospect. He fought the urge to jump down during a sales call preferring to work with the salesperson after the call helping the salesperson to realize what the customer wanted and what the company had available to meet those needs.
Over the course of our coaching experience Larry saw how to make the Transformation from the talents of the salesperson to the talents needed by the sales vice president.
Six months later he completed the coaching program saying the fire is back in his belly and he “looks forward to work every day”. His peers commented that there was a “new” Larry — one that was fun to work with side-by-side.
The following season Larry’s company experienced a double digit sales increase, almost reaching their capacity to deliver product. This was in spite of the beginning stages of an economic downturn.