13 Feb Never Say Never – A Personal Journey
The words I’d said a hundred times, “I will NEVER move back to Houston” ring in my ears as I sit across the table having lunch with my boss. It’s one of those moments in life where I remember everything with vivid clarity. I had on my gray suit. We were at the Epicure Café on West Gray Street. And interestingly enough, it was a cloudy, gray day. Now it’s happening. Donna is telling me that I either need to move to Houston, or I need to find a new job. I stare at her across the table. I know this isn’t news she wanted to deliver, and it certainly wasn’t news I wanted to hear. I loved Denver. I did not love Houston. And I had said never.
For the last year prior to this meeting, I’d been commuting between Denver, a city I loved, and Houston, a city I didn’t, for my job. I had previously lived in Houston for two years and frankly, I couldn’t leave fast enough. I was good with not ever messing with Texas again. Now I was listening to this woman, whom I loved and admired, hoping she was kidding. She wasn’t. I felt like I owed her a lot. I had grown more as a leader working for her over those last few years than in the rest of my career. But did I owe her enough to move back to Houston? I was very clear on that never.
She sweetened the deal, “And if you move here, I want you to take the Director’s job, and I will give you a raise.” I was already doing the job on an interim basis, but I wasn’t sure I wanted it permanently. I also couldn’t see how what was being asked of that job was even possible for someone to do. It wasn’t really much of a bargaining chip, and remember, I had said never. “SH*T!”, was all I kept thinking. I didn’t want to move.
I left that lunch feeling as gray as the day. Donna timed our lunch so I would head directly to the airport from there to catch my flight home for the weekend. That was probably smart because me going back to the office wouldn’t have benefited anyone. It was a REALLY long plane ride home. All I could think about was what the hell we were going to do.
Now I’m not sure if it was pure brilliance on Donna’s part or divine timing, but the only thing that had me even considering a move back to Houston happened the week before when I attended a weekend leadership retreat. At 40,000 feet in the air, the dots connected, and I felt instant relief.
I could CHOOSE to be happy in Houston if I wanted to be! What I learned that past weekend at the leadership retreat was that it wasn’t the circumstances of the two years I lived in Houston that had me saying never again. It was my stories about those two years, and I had a whole lot of stories. I wasn’t required to bring those stories with me though. I could, in this moment, write a brand new story, and make the choice to be happy.
Knowledge is only powerful when it’s applied. Following that epiphany, I called Houston home for the next 11 years, and I did choose to be happy. I can’t imagine what my life would look like today if I had clung to my never. I certainly wouldn’t be running my own leadership company and giving others the opportunity to have their 40,000-feet moment of clarity.
Figuring out that I could CHOOSE to let old stories go and write new ones has been one of the most freeing experiences of my life. I practice doing it daily because old stories, just like my never, continue to show up for me. Each time they do, I get the opportunity to choose a positive story. If you know me at all, then you’ve likely heard me say “I Choose Joy!” It’s not an affirmation. It is my practice.
I will forever be grateful for that moment of clarity when I realized that I am always at choice. Just like you, I am the only one with the exclusive rights to change my story any time. Now that is powerful!