In The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom tells the story of how her sister, Betsie, began to sniff and sneeze. It was November, and the door of the family’s watch shop was near the cashier’s station, where Betsie worked. To keep her illness from developing into something more serious, she was moved from the cashier’s station, and younger sister Corrie took her place.
Corrie discovered business, and ledgers, and accounting. She pored over inventories and statements. She realized she had not only a knack for business, but also a love for it. She and Betsie eventually switched jobs, each doing work that they loved. But for a sniff and a sneeze, they never would have found what each was good at.
I think back 30 years. I had just come off an intense four-year effort at work. The team I was part of had been wildly successful, working on a complex problem that threatened the company’s No. 2 product and (literally) thousands of jobs. We had been successful; the problem had been addressed and resolved.
The work had involved training hundreds of sales people; a year of travel two and three times a month to government hearings in Canada; periods of intense media activity; constantly being on call for any of scores of crises.
The team felt good. We had accomplished what everyone said could not be done.
And the reward was – the person in the cubicle next to mine, on the job for less than four months, suddenly got promoted, capitalizing on a political opportunity to leverage a situation. The individual had not been involved in the massive product effort.
It blew the team apart. Management grossly miscalculated, thinking it could “manage” the fallout. It couldn’t. People were more than shocked at the crassness; they were angry. I was angry.
I ended up applying for an open position in another part of the company, a job that had gone begging for months. No one wanted it because it involved a lot of environmental mess, and was facing a huge challenge with new government requirements. Everyone in my current area told me I would be making a huge career mistake. And that’s what it certainly looked like.
I was in the new job all of a week when I realized my huge career mistake was likely the career opportunity of a lifetime. Within a few weeks, I realized it was more than a job – it was a means to transform the entire company, and have a huge impact on the entire industry.
And that’s what happened. An entire industry was changed because someone rejected “politics as usual,” wouldn’t play the game, and walked away.
Into a new future.
Those small, unexpected things – a sneeze and a sniff, office politics gone awry – can make an enormous impact.
If we’re open to the opportunity.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been discussing The Hiding Place. To see more posts on this chapter, “The Watch Shop,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact.
Photograph by Piotr Seidlecki via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.