A rocky career start, a handful of jobs, and deciding to leave the corporate world after a few decades in it—this wasn't exactly the career path I had planned.
When I was just starting out, I had what seemed like a pretty simple career plan: get the best education I could, land the best job I could get, and then work like crazy. Period. I envisioned my career like a single, long, straight path that I would run as hard as I could. I would put faith first—and family, too, when the time came—but at work I would always be running to win.
Or so I thought.
The first phase of my life went pretty much according to plan. I did well in school, worked a few years, and got into a great business school. But as graduation approached, I had a problem.
My classmates were accepting flashy jobs at big companies in New York and Houston and Los Angeles, but my husband was in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The best job I could find in Tulsa was an entry-level consulting job at Arthur Young. Not flashy, not exciting, not impressive. Definitely not what people at Harvard Business School are expected to answer when asked about their post-graduation plans. But I had made a commitment to my husband to be in Tulsa, so I swallowed my pride and took the job.
I worked hard, but it was obvious the job and the company were not the right fit for me. So when an opportunity presented itself, I moved on. And then shortly thereafter, I did it again. Careers can be messy that way, especially when you are just starting out.1