The Leap

“I took a leap of faith this morning,” a favorite coaching client told me.

I held my breath.

“I took it,” he said.

I started dancing around the living room.

I’ve been working with this client for the past three months on a career transition. He’d been in corporate marketing for most of his career and wanted to move into nonprofit work.  During his job search, he found a thrilling job at an organization he cares deeply about.

His dream job… except for the salary.

He knew this course correction, if he could swing it, would probably mean a salary hit. In our first meeting, he told me the lowest number he and his household could manage.

The final offer was, oddly, precisely that number.

He emailed me after he got the offer, describing his dismay with the salary, now that it was real. He wondered whether it was fair to drag down his partner by cutting their household income so drastically.

I think I will have to say no,” he wrote me. “It makes me sad to have the closest thing to my ideal job at my fingertips only to have to let it go.  A character-building experience at the least, I hope. … Any advice or insight you can lend here is welcome.”

I stayed up late (something I never do!) to email him:

“I’m not going to offer advice because that’s not really my place,” I wrote, “But maybe I have some insight to share from my own experience. 

Three years ago I left my >$100K marketing job at Amazon to do something I love and excel at. My husband gave me a year to make it as a coach. That first year, I made $11,210. 

Did I drag my husband down that first year? We had to be careful to live within our means, yes. We had to say no to buying stuff. But he got happy Kathryn, not teary, stressed out, desperate Kathryn. So, no, I don’t think I dragged him down. Quite the opposite.

Since then, I have hit the financial goals that my husband and I set out. I have a wait list of clients. I have designed a life where I do work I love and where I am home in the afternoons to meet the kids’ school bus.

I am immensely proud of what I have created.

Could I have gotten here if I had followed that $100K salary? I don’t know, maybe, but I don’t really see how. And every day, I’m grateful that I don’t work in that gray cubicle.

Really. Every day.

Next time, it’s my husband’s turn to take a risk, to try something he dreams about.

My only insight for you, which is maybe perilously close to advice, is that following the money tends not to lead to happiness.

Love, Kathryn”

I waited for my client to call me the next day, after he had accepted or rejected the final offer.

“I took a leap of faith this morning,” he told me when he called. “I took it.”

And I danced around the living room, tears streaming down my face.