I have a confession to make. Although my title says VP of Culture Strategy and is attached to the creation of this beautiful offering we call Compass, my confession is this: I am not supposed to be here.
An incredible man in energy and spirit, my Dad didn’t graduate from college and spent his adult life struggling to run a construction business.
They said he would never be “successful.”
Between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I was sitting on a bucket, weeding flower beds in front of the corporate headquarters of Domino’s Pizza in Ann Arbor, Michigan and remember watching my classmates walk into the building to begin fancy internship programs.
They said I could never get the internships they were getting.
As college went on there were long stretches of time where I was completely disengaged academically, and I got bad grades. Like, really bad.
My professors said I should pursue an easier major.
When I started work as a recruiter at Insight Global it took me three times the amount of time it takes the average person who starts at IG to get promoted. I remember watching people who started one full year after me get to the next level before I did.
After I failed an attempt to get promoted in a sales role play with a former executive in the company, he said: “some planes just don’t take off.”
They said I would never be good enough to become an Account Manager at Insight Global.
And I guess they were half right because when I did get promoted, 15 long months went by and I was generating almost zero revenue for the company. I was 28 months into my career and hadn’t seen a lick of success. I was placed on a “growth plan” and faced the pressure of “put up or go home.”
They said I would never make it.
As I slowly improved in my role, and well enough to make my way into leadership in the company, I took over our New Jersey office and from the time I arrived in Morristown we didn’t grow the team for almost a year and a half.
They said we could never build a successful team in New Jersey.
What I have learned is this. Each downturn, every difficulty and each setback we experience provide us with an opportunity to face valuable friction that can be used to make us better and to build us to grow stronger.
Throughout my career it has never mattered that I entered into a challenging time. What has mattered is the active decision to lean into the challenge and keep going.
Looking back, I didn’t just make it through college, I went out with an absolute bang and thrived.
After beating that growth plan early in my career, I developed the confidence that I could take on anything.
And in New Jersey? We didn’t just build a successful team. We built a family that was both the highest performing and best culture group I have ever been a part of.
So now, as I strive to take on the biggest challenge of my career – launching Compass in the middle of a pandemic — I will admit, in my weaker moments, the fears of previous lives lived creep in and erode the belief of what I know I am capable of.
But wait right there, imposter syndrome! I also have the benefit of remembering that every major challenge I have been through hasn’t just been good for me. Those moments made me. In every previous situation when they said I couldn’t, I did. So why should this situation be any different?
Whoever you are and whatever you are going through, it’s probably really hard right now. There are probably times where you feel like you just can’t do it. There may even be people in your life telling you that you can’t. And worst of all, you might be listening to them.
Coming from someone who shouldn’t be here, I am here to tell you that you can. In this moment, let us be on your side. Let Compass help you carry the load.
We are all in this together and if we take on the right mindset, and let that drive us to the right behavior, we will see that we are all just experiencing a collective friction that in the end, will make us stronger.
I wonder what they will say we can’t do next?
Written by Steve Wasik