Progression requires Opportunity.

A friend of mine, Charlie LaTurno, recently said this during an interview,

“Progression requires opportunity.”

What an amazing statement.

It reminds me of a story that I hope can illustrate the importance of that powerful statement. My prayer is that, after you read this, you identify the person or people in your life that you need to give an opportunity to progress. If you’re the one waiting for that opportunity… there’s probably already one, you just need to acknowledge it, take a hold of it, and GO!

In 2002, I quit a good full time job, and applied at a nationally known clothing retail organization. I applied for whatever they had available. I really didn’t care. The person reading my very small resume saw my previous job title — “Corporate Fraud Investigator”. I know what you’re thinking… “Nice! An investigator? I bet you could carry a gun, huh?” Uh… no. I carried a mug of coffee with hot chocolate flavoring to my old and dirty cubicle where I sat there for 9 hours a day deleting cell phone accounts because they were opened with someone else’s information. Riveting.

Anyway, back to the retail job. The day I applied for the job, I was called in for an interview. The manager asked me, “Have you every thought of a position in Loss Prevention? We have one open.”. I honestly, had no clue what that was. So I asked, “What’s that?” The manager answered, “You get to catch the bad guys!” My instant answer was, “I’ll do it.” So I accepted a part time job, with part time pay. I saw something in that role, that I wanted. I knew the Lord wanted me to move in to that field. That was the start to a 7 year career that I absolutely loved. It wasn’t always easy, but I had the ability to progress. In the 7 years I worked there… I was promoted 6 times.

I don’t feel it was because I was the best compared to my peers. In my opinion there were many that were better than me. I credit my progress to the Lord using my direct supervisors. The progress was primarily due to their investment in me.

I started as an inexperienced part time employee and left the company as a District Loss Prevention Executive overseeing 9 stores in two states.

Here’s why. There were people who believed in me. They knew I did not have a degree. They knew I did not have the typical experience that was valued in this industry. They knew I was young and had a lot to learn. What they also knew was that I was someone who needed an opportunity to progress.

They put me in front of many panel interviews (we all knew I was not going to get the job) just so I can experience those conversations and learn what it takes to interact with upper-level management. I was given the opportunity to lead training sessions of large groups. I was given the opportunity to create company wide initiatives that would eventually be made in to a permanent process. I was given the opportunity to deep dive into individual store’s operational efficiencies and shape their culture and team. Oh, I and I also got to catch the bad guys!

They knew that in order for me to progress, I needed an opportunity. They created those opportunities for me. I am forever grateful for those few people that helped me become the leader I am today. With God’s guidance and help, they were used to shape me. They were instrumental in my leadership development. When I’m in a weird place or being challenged, I look back to those times. Those managers, became my friends and my mentors.

Am I perfect? Nope. I’ll never be. Neither will you. That the thing… It’s about progress not perfection.

Who are you giving opportunities to progress? What opportunities do you need to take in order to progress? Email me and let me know.

Over the next 3 weeks, we will deep dive in to what it means to progress in your leadership. We will look at some practical ways you can continue your leadership growth journey.

Before then, if today’s story encouraged you, let me know. If you have a similar “Progress requires opportunity” story we’d love to hear it! You can either email me or comment below.

Remember, we are Godʼs handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)