07/16/2014 03:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Doors We Open (and Close) for Ourselves


In the 25+ years of sitting down with my people and doing performance reviews I have had many a case where my employees express a readiness for career advancement but find themselves frustrated at the lack of opportunities.

And inevitably the conversation goes to creating opportunities and the choices we are willing to make.

I remember working in Seattle in 1991; one particular manager was very talented and very frustrated about not having opportunities for advancement. At one point he turned to me and said "Hans, look at you. You have had several promotions since you joined the company in 1984. Why don't I get opportunities like that?"

We started to talk about what kind of opportunities he was open to so I could support him. He told me that he would never leave Seattle. I told him that in those 7 years with the company, Seattle was my third city; that the opportunities that I had were a function of my hard work, but also my willingness to see that the more places and jobs I would open myself up to, the more opportunities I had!

We all make choices. Sometime I think back and realize that my family paid a price for all those moves, and I sometimes envy that employee who decided that stability and roots were the most important thing to him.

But that is not the point. The point is that we make choices. Those choices have consequences. For this employee, the company was a small company with few opportunities because he limited himself to Seattle. The consequence of his choice was that he would have less opportunity than his peers who were willing to relocate.

Neither choice is better than the other. Decide what is important to you and open those doors; but realize that in doing so, you close some doors as well!