“Go for it,” Jason said. “It’s been a long time since you interviewed.” He said it as we drove down the Interstate, infant daughter in the car. We were driving from our parents’ homes just two hours away to our brand new house where a pool was under construction in the backyard.
Just go interview for a big job five states away? Go interview in a city that’s not on our list of 20 cities worldwide we said we would live in? Just go interview far from the family we adore, the friends we love, the church that makes us feel alive? Just go interview?
This was not supposed to be MY interview. We had talked for some time about “our” next role. It would be my husband’s role, and it would likely be in another country. THAT, I was prepared for in my mind.
I knew change was coming. That small, quiet voice was stirring again. Thankfully, I learned once how to hear it. It was whispering again. And again, I was doing my best to direct the voice where I wanted it to go. Funny how THAT voice works. You know, THE voice. The big dude. You think I would have also remembered that THE voice thinks it’s funny when I try to call the shots.
So, I went and interviewed. I saw it as a practice round. A time to polish my long dormant interview skills. But, within the first hour, the CEO came right out and said he wanted to hire me. Gulp.
My heart was already overflowing about what I had seen on my tour of the hospital. More power and determination and joy and sheer will than you have ever experienced in one place. I was scared. It was too fast.
Wouldn’t you know it, but my flight home got cancelled that night. Not a cloud in the sky in Dallas and not a cloud in the sky in Memphis. They called it a “St. Jude moment” and rushed to take me to dinner and continue to sell me on the job and the great city. The voice was making sure I heard it loud and clear.
More than three years ago, we started over and moved to Memphis, TN for my role as CMO at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We moved, in one part because my incredible husband was the first to say “let’s do this,” (he gets credit for being the brave one in this duo), and in one part because I told myself that it would be a 3-year assignment and in one-part because the still, small voice was starting to SHOUT: “THIS IS WHERE I AM SENDING YOU! YOU HAVE BUILDING TO DO THERE – IN THE JOB AND IN THE CITY. AND, WHILE YOU SERVE AND BUILD, I WILL MOLD YOU INTO WHO I WANT YOU TO BE.”
I wish I could tell you every step of the journey following that voice was easy. It wasn’t. It is never easy to start over. To leave family and friends. To leave your brand new house (selling it was another 2-year challenge) and live in a temporary apartment for five months. To find a new church. New friends. New neighborhood and local favorites. To feel like everything around you needs (re)building: your job, your home, your church, your city, your life.
But, oh what I have LEARNED! About real challenges. Just walk with a family fighting for the life of a child and I promise you will learn to shut your complaining mouth (another blog post I feel brewing inside). About Memphis – man what an incredible city on the cusp of something great. About myself – I can be brave and start over and be better for it. About my faith – that simple truth that following the still, small voice is always the right path.
How many of us hear the still, small voice and ignore it? Stuff it down, turn away or march on with our existing lives in the hopes we will snuff it out? I talk to so many people who “feel” like something in their life needs to change, but they are stuck. Some are stuck for real and hard reasons as life is not always kind and the road can be long. But, many are just stuck. Stuck in a job they hate with means to a better one. Stuck in a cycle of fear that they cannot change (boyfriend/girlfriend/friendship/bad habit/career/lifestyle). Stuck when the still, small voice is starting to shout.
I beg of you, don’t stay stuck! Take a step forward. Heed that call. Want to become a runner? Get going even if you have to walk first. Want to work part-time or stay home full-time or go back to work entirely? Start taking note of people who have the lifestyle you want and learn from what they are doing. Want to take a life-changing trip? Start saving a little a week, and when ready, don’t hesitate. Book it! Want a whole new career, but don’t have the skills? Take an exploratory class. Go on an informational interview to learn more.
Need motivation to take that first step? Talk to people who have changed their lives. Read about brave women and men and take courage from their journeys. Don’t let people tell you that you “can’t,” or “shouldn’t.” We heard plenty of that along the way in our journey from some well-respected people. No one’s path is the same. Rarely will a person tell you, when pursuing a change for good in their lives, that it was a bad move. Even when it doesn’t work out, you learn a ton. Even if you learn what “not to do,” which is some of the most invaluable learning there is. The very creator of this site, just recently packed it all up and moved to NYC. Why? She heard that voice calling.
I heard a great saying recently: “be the nemesis of bland.” Who ever aspires to be bland? Why lead a life that at best is bland and at worst is terrible? I truly believe that when you search out the still, small voice (be patient as it may take many years to hear it, and be ready, as it may come shouting), you have the pathway to a bold life. The ride may not always be pretty, or easy, or sure, but it will NEVER be bland.
P.S. I am writing this with love from Cape Town, South Africa. A bland life it is not! Take a good page from here – life is not always about a mad rush. Sometimes we need to still ourselves to hear our callings. And, for a true inspiration about the power of a calling, even in the harshest of circumstances, study Nelson Mandela. My tour this morning of Robben Island by a former inmate was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
(Photo: Emily and husband, Jason, about to repel down Table Mountain and hike up.)
Jen Jensen says
Love this post, Emily! Reminds me of our decision to move to Colorado – Drew interviewed for and was offered the first job he applied for and 5 weeks later we were here. Felt a bit too fast at the time, but almost 3 years later, we are so glad we took the leap. We live in a town more suited to us and in an environment that allows us to share the magnificence of the Rocky Mountains with our son. Certainly it can be scary to just go for it, but if you don’t, you’ll always wonder what might have been. Not being willing to live with that potential regret was certainly strong motivation for us.
Great words and perspective, Emily!
Emily Callahan says
Jen, so proud of you and so very happy for you guys. Love your (snowy) pics on FB! Tonya, you guys inspire me beyond words! Love your big hearts.
Love this! Thank you for the inspiration!!! And the reminder to listen to THAT little voice.
Connie K. says
Emily reading this hit home for me.. I am so honored to know and be inspired by the amazing mother, wife and business woman you are. This is beautifully written.
Crystal King says
Emily, you’ve done it again! I needed to hear this to move on some things that I’ve been contemplating. The timing couldn’t have been better! Enjoy Cape Town!
christi Rains says
Emily, I love this post. After hearing that voice for months and much encouragement from my husband, i decided to take the leap! I just opened an accounting firm and am so glad i did. It is scary and exciting at the same time. I guess, if something’s not scary it’s probably not not very exciting either. Best of luck!