Here I was, a young black man climbing the corporate ladder of success, in the technology field with an opportunity to change not only my life but my families. This was the perfect opportunity, a rarity, something parallel to the American Dream that my family left a war for and my mother came to search for her children. Some might say I was a unicorn, the way I was able to prolong internship after internship into a full time role or my ability to network and grow relationships with not only my peers but top executives of the firm. This was a great opportunity, this was the perfect job, but it wasn’t my dream.
My thoughts after the Difficult Conversation
It was a very drawn out conversation. I already knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t know how to say it. I’ve been told when you leave a job, leave on good terms and don’t burn any bridges. Hearing it is one thing but trying to do it is another, especially if you grew up in the company and they invested so much time and energy into you. I mean how can you be so selfish and put your interest first when all they were trying to do is help? I thought about this a lot and this was one of the reasons that held me back from leaving earlier. It was very difficult to tell coworkers that care about you that it’s not them it’s you. That the job is not the right fit. But I knew I had to today or else I would be doing myself a disservice.
It’s not that I’m forever shutting the door when I decided to leave, I know that’s not the case because I truly enjoyed more aspects of the company then the few things that drove me to leave. Nonetheless I also knew that I wanted to see what else was out there for me. (Remember, I was working for this company for quite some years now..going on 3 years??)
Have you ever searched for a second, third, fourth, and even fifth opinion to help you make the decision you always needed to make?
I knew I was unhappy and this was the biggest factor for why I decided I needed to leave my job. I spent the entire weekend calling everyone I’ve encountered at work over the last 3-4 years and even people outside of work. I was searching for something to make me stay, I was looking to get a second, third, fourth and even fifth opinion. With all the responses I gathered I didn’t feel like I had enough and I knew the final decision would eventually fall back on me
I am afraid because I don’t know what’s next. There is no masterplan nor is there a short term plan. I just wanted to get rid of this feeling- the feeling I would encounter every morning going into work. I just wanted to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Am I making the right decision?
This feeling started long ago..
I never quite felt complete when I was working. I always felt like I was meant for something bigger, something revolutionary. I’m not saying you can’t have that impact working behind a desk but I just had a different vision for who I was supposed to be. All my life I studied the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama and many others and so I would always find myself doing work that would change the course of the world or at least be meaningful and drive value for the greater good. You can say these were just BIG dreams and unrealistic (and in no way am I comparing myself with them, they are my idols and I admire them dearly).
Why was I throwing all of this away?
When I hung up the phone after letting my job know my decision, I still had doubts. I wasn’t quite sure. Nonetheless, I knew that something led me up to this moment. Let me explain…
The battle of the mind vs the heart (Internal vs External)
It’s easy to forget what you want when you care so much about what others think of you, not realizing what they wanted for me wasn’t what I wanted for myself. I was fighting this internal battle of doing what I truly wanted versus what everyone else had planned for me. Because I cared so much about their opinions as a result, it contained me.
Externally, everything was great. I was doing so well on the outside that no one knew or understood the internal battles that were happening deep within me. I mean I was making money, I could buy things to mask my happiness so no one knew that I was going through pain. Even my friends and family would pressure me into staying at work whenever I spoke about leaving. Therefore no amount of money could make me happy. (That’s not to say compensation doesn’t matters, of course it does)
Trust me, when I find something that’s fulfilling I’m up before my alarm clock.
The work I was doing wasn’t fulfilling to me. Yes, I was worked alongside Fortune 100 and 500 companies and executives helping them solve some of their highest revenue generating problems. Yes, It was great working with them, and yes I learned so much from them; however, It just wasn’t fulfilling. It didn’t get me out of my bed in the morning.
Finding the Impact/ Value
I often couldn’t see the value I was providing because I was working for such a large company sometimes. It’s less about feedback and completing a project but more about being able to see the big picture.
I am grateful for the opportunities and all the things I learned at that job. So why was I throwing all of this away? After all allowed me to travel, to meet new people, to endure new experiences, and to gain irreplaceable work experience. I learned how to be a leader, how to be a team player, and how to engage and solve problems happening with billion dollar companies that are leaders in their respective industries. I was in rooms full of top executives and key decision makers. I was there not just as a note taker but as an active decision maker. I was making a difference, climbing the corporate ladder, and having a profound impact.
So What’s Next?
Getting back to what I love
Since leaving corporate I’ve spent everyday doing what it is I truly love: helping entrepreneurs and small businesses develop and become profitable. Taking the step to really commit and build a business around what I love was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Important note: I haven’t ruled out working for someone again or corporate because there were a lot of aspects I really enjoyed. There is a lot for me still to learn. If the right opportunity comes along (or when) to work with some incredible people to solve some difficult challenges, I’d be up for it.
So if you’re wondering what I’ve been up to since the big #leapoffaith:
1. I officially launched AbuFofanah.com and decided it is time to return back to entrepreneurship.
AbuFofanah.com is geared towards using my own expertise in coaching and building profitable brands. As well as to grow my speaking engagements and my personal brand.
2. I’ve been working on the launch of Houseoffofanah.com an education platform
HouseofFofanah.com will be a catalyst for entrepreneurs and independent brands by providing resources they need to execute on their ideas, and offering virtual workplaces so we can help entrepreneurs in every corner of the world.
Update: It’s finally official! Sometime in January I will be launching HouseofFofanah.com a platform that provides resources and online courses to help entrepreneurs transform their brand and become profitable. There are 3 programs that will be part of House of Fofanah:
- Jump Start
- Accelerator Program
- Incubator Program
More to come soon…