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A demotion, or a brighter future?

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

What do you see in that picture below? A demotion? Proof of failure? I've wondered, too. But one thing I knew through this process: I was driving the conversations.

My team and I had been layered after just having been put through a big reorganization. I was losing their confidence.




And, I was facing down a performance improvement plan (PIP). I fought. I was mostly able to sink the PIP because I believe in myself, know myself, and keep meticulous notes. But, the next day, Friday, I had to fly home to see my dad who's battling cancer.


The weekend hit. I had some time to think, breathe... I had my parents at my side, listening, supporting... One big question took up my focus: What am I fighting for?



I had been asked to put aside my passion, writing, and to focus on teaching my team my magic. I tried to find joy in acquiring new skills, growing my management toolkit, but ... I wasn't fooling myself. I was miserable. Stressed, burned out...


I'm a "lead from within the pack" kind of person. I model. I coach. I celebrate and call out others' wins. Monitoring others' commitments? Hounding them about the minutia of working life. No sir. No thank you.

So, I did what I always do. I hunted for positives ... and points from which to make a case that was forming in my mind:

  • I'm a born writer. It's all I've ever wanted to do, and there's no end of copywriting needed at my company now.

  • My copy is some of the best-performing and drives real, significant business results.

  • My copy clears important editorial hurdles, like SEO and strategy checks, which means those team members could spend less time on my work and more on other projects.

  • My second is a great editor and has aspirations to lead. By promoting him, we signal growth opportunities are available.

  • The points kept rolling in...

I gathered myself. I mustered some vulnerability, and I sent an email that described honestly how little passion I had for my current role. I flowed in the bullet points. I hit send, and I waited.


The response I received? It was full of surprise. Excitement. I could hear my leaders' wheels turning. They knew they had a win on their hands. We all knew it. So, my request for a new title went through.


In our culture, most advancement is through management. You're good at something? Okay, now, go show a team how to do it. I used to say this to my writing students, especially my poets:


I can't teach you to be a writer. I can teach you the skills you need to master to start your own journey. The rest is up to you.


I'm a "lead from within the pack" kind of person. I model. I coach. I celebrate and call out others' wins. Monitoring others' commitments? Hounding them about the minutia of working life. No sir. No thank you.


I took a pay cut, but it's livable. And, I've gained my joy. A longer, brighter future at my current company.


Here's to the wins. You have more control than you might ever realize. Take stock. Make your own way.


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