FOR A YEAR, I was tucked away in a quiet corner of corporate headquarters, working on tasks that few people in the company knew about and no one understood.
The Internet had come to the world of business, and it was apparent it wasn’t going to go away. My assignment was simple–make sure that any time anyone searched for one of our primary keywords, every spot on the first three pages of the search engine results page (SERP) was supportive of our company. That’s a pretty tall order.
Don’t laugh. It’s true.
So I wrote articles, built solid links, improved website copy, vitalized a Blog, began guest-posting on appropriate sites and worked to optimize our sites–fundamental things every one of the SEO folks reading this would do. Moreover, I sought to get questionable incoming links removed and began pushing for permission to engage in a social media presence.
It was a tough year. My work was seen as inconsequential and my constant harping on “It’s not a question of whether or not we will be talked about online, but whether we will join the conversation,” began to irritate others.
I was an unwelcome voice of dissonance in a company bent on controlling things. Couldn’t I just make the Internet go away–or at least bend it to only say those things we wanted to hear?
Then came the time for annual reviews. I was hopeful the company would recognize my hard work and reward it with a generous increase in salary. When the year’s first check arrived, though, my take-home pay was about the same.
I was incredulous. How could that be?
I spoke with my boss (Creative Director), then his boss (CMO). I discovered that the annual scoring of who is adding most to the department had me last on the list.
I hadn’t BEEN in the department all year. My move upstairs to the IT area, meant I was taking few “creative” briefs. My focus was on SEO… but there was no department for SEO.
While the other writers had been busy trying to think of new adjectives to describe products in the quarterly catalog, I was out of sight and out of mind in a different part of the building, pumping out much more content than them–but my work didn’t flow through the normal routing procedure.
The creative head barely had a clue about my work. Of course I was the writer of least value to him. I wasn’t even writing for him.
Unbelievable. But true.
I didn’t get the raise I knew I deserved… but I did learn an invaluable lesson.
I had been basing my hopes for success on the idea that my dedication to the company’s mission and my ability to pump out an impressive volume of work would impress the CMO and cause him to reward me accordingly.
I was wrong.
So I found myself in an untenable position. I had hired on with the company because I believed they needed what I brought to the table, and I believed the potential of my contributions would be obvious to management. But I was wrong.
What could I do, then?
Feel rejected? (And I did.)
Get angry? (And I did.)
Start looking for another job?
The first 12 hours were tough. I’ll admit it. If I were a drinking man, I may have bellied up to a bar and tried to drown my sorrow in scotch. I didn’t want to go home and tell my wife we were going to need to tighten the belt even further–that my work was all but unnecessary in the eyes of the company. I didn’t want to tell my children the trip I promised them (as soon as my promotion came through) was no longer in the budget.
I didn’t say a word to my family.
How could I?
The next morning was a Saturday, thank God. The clock stared at me when I opened my eyes: 4:44. Time to roll out of bed and do something other than alternate between anger and fear. Those are two twins I don’t enjoy hanging out with.
I began my usual routine; I fired up my computer, put the coffee on, then sat down at my desk and began reviewing my daily DEEP.
And that is when I read the words that told me exactly what I needed to hear–the words that would move me from despair to hope and make me realize yesterday’s discussion with the boss could be leveraged to give me a powerful boost forward, if I would only allow it.
Here’s what I read–a note I had made to myself back when The DEEP was still being developed for a rural business incubator, and I was taking the concepts into the local county jail every Friday evening to work with inmates on how to get somewhere other than prison.
To achieve your dream quickly, make it necessary.
And that is when I realized that my Dream–to earn my living by writing and to serve a greater Purpose in the process–was now more necessary than ever. My aspirations were in danger of being snuffed out by those who didn’t share my vision–those who were caught up in doing the same old things the same old way with the same old tired copy and manipulative marketing that weren’t working like they did in the pre-Internet age. Consumers were no longer content to believe the hype, and there was a growing distrust of companies that continued to try and force them to “Drink the Kool-Aid.”
If I would only keep plugging, if I would only keep believing in my Dream and my gifts, if I would only turn it around and use the incident to propel me to write more, write better and stay focused–then the door would surely open at some point and my next steps would become apparent.
You see, the biggest thing I needed to recall is this: I’m not only a writer … I’m a believer.
And my Dream was now more necessary than ever before.
Are you at the end of your rope and wondering how things are ever going to work out for you? Do you feel weak, incompetent and afraid? I’ve been there too. But there is a way out, and to get started all it requires is a change … a change of mind, a change of perspective.
Move your Dream from the category of “Wouldn’t it be great,” to “There is no other option. I am going to succeed.”