Do you love your job? Are you passionate about what you do? I am fortunate enough to be able to answer "yes" to both of these questions.
Here's a fun fact, however, about my passion and the job I love: It was never in my plan. Working in the nonprofit world -- and with women in particular -- was never on my radar. I was working in the power transformer industry when I stumbled into volunteering for the Women's Resource Center.
My first "real job" out of college was with Westinghouse, and I built a solid foundation of experience in the power transformer remanufacturing business. I moved to Manatee County when I was recruited by Ohio Transformer in Palmetto to be their planning manager.
I had a challenging job and I spent the first two years in Manatee County working -- a lot. The plant was open seven days a week and we worked three shifts, so there always seemed to be something that needed attention.
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Without hesitation, I can tell you that my answer to "Do you love your job?" and "Are you passionate about what you do?" was a resounding NO! But I was well-compensated and had excellent benefits; why should I be complaining?
It was about two years after I moved to Bradenton that it dawned on me that everything in my world revolved around my work. I decided I needed to make some changes in my life and broaden my horizons.
I drove by the Women's Resource Center every day on my way to and from work, and one day I made the call to inquire about volunteering. I had no idea what services they provided, but I liked the idea of working with women. Did I mention that, of the 150 people I worked with at Ohio Transformer, 140 of them were men?
Through volunteering, I found my connection to this community and a passion for working with women who were gaining new skills and attitudes about life.
While I was thriving in my volunteer work, I was pretty miserable at work. At this point, I was the production manager of the facility and responsible for 115 employees and a $21 million budget.
What I didn't realize was, when you are working in the wrong job, everything is harder. It wasn't until I gained the perspective of time that I was able to look back and see I was in the wrong job
and trying to make it fit. I do recall thinking about different jobs, but it is hard to leave a position that is safe and well-compensated.
Then everything changed. Our company was sold and we had a new parent company. There was the stress of due diligence and new systems and processes, but we all made it through.
Then, the day after the sale was complete, I got a call from my boss. I remember it was a Saturday, it's funny the things you remember. They wanted to replace me as production manager.
There it was, the decision was made for me. For the first time in my life, I was fired. I will be honest, I was a little scared and my pride was hurt. But the main emotion I felt? Relief.
Of course I would have preferred to come to the decision and leave the company on my timetable, but did it really matter? I was free to pursue other opportunities. What it ultimately led to was me going to work for the Women's Resource Center.
Would I have considered interviewing for a job that made half the salary I was making in manufacturing? Maybe, but we will never know. What I do know is that sometimes the things that scare us the most, or the times in life that we are thrown a curve ball, turn out to be the best things that have ever happened to us.
I know this sounds like a cliché, and I can honestly see my nieces rolling their eyes, but things work out the way they are supposed to. We may not embrace that during the time that change is occurring or the job, relationship, school choice, fill in the blank didn't work out, but it is true.
Every once in a while. I run into one of the guys I used to work with Ohio Transformer and I always love seeing them and catching up. But it honestly seems like a different lifetime. Sometimes I think I should write the guy who fired me a thank-you note, because who knows how long it would have taken me to be brave enough to quit a stable job and embrace a job where I would make a lot less money but have way more fun.
Don't get me wrong, I still have moments when I want to pull my hair out and scream, but I am so lucky. I have a wonderful support system in my family and friends, a job that I am passionate about, and live in a community that I love. It just doesn't get any better than that.
Ashley Brown, executive director of the Women's Resource Center of Manatee, advocates programs that offer support and guidance. She lives in Manatee with her husband, Jim. And, she urges, "If you are looking to make a change -- personal or professional -- give WTC a call at 941-747-6797, if you think we can help!"
Coming next Sunday: Maria V. Zavala, motivational speaker and author, writes on turning 60.