In my early twenties, I worked at a civil engineering firm.

I produced drawings and calculations related to highway and water treatment plant design. My tasks didn’t require me to interact much with others outside my cubicle.

As the months went by, I noticed something happening to me. Day by day, I was becoming withdrawn and less confident.

Stage Fright at the Bank

When my wife and I went to a bank to open a new account, I realized that my backwardness had become a problem.  As we walked up to the account manager’s desk, I discovered that I didn’t feel comfortable talking. When he asked what he could do for us, I nodded to my wife, hoping she would answer the questions. I had trouble even saying my name and social security number.

Before this job, I had worked hard from high school on to at least act confident. I had managed a retail store for a couple of years and loved talking with people. Now I couldn’t even pretend to feel comfortable.

I knew I had to make a change in my day to day activities, or I was going to become a hermit.

That Looks Like a Great Job

Back at the office, even though I was hunkered down between green metal walls, it was easy to be aware of what was going on around me.

The firm had a business development guy who usually was in the office in the morning an hour or two and then gone the rest of the day. He seemed to be either on the phone or in the conference room or packing up his briefcase to go out, get in his beautiful car, and drive off to a meeting. I was envious. I thought that job was way over my head, but it looked appealing.

I also would notice company representatives coming in to call on our project managers. Some would be carrying large product catalogs about equipment for waste water treatment plants or other types of civil engineering projects. Sometimes, while on break, I would walk outside, and see them getting out of their company cars, always wearing suits and ties,  looking snappy and happy.

I began to wonder what it took to transition from the cubicle to a company car.

A True Leader

I had somehow come to the attention of the owner of the company, Mr. Ely.

One day he called me into his office and said that he had something he wanted to loan me. He said and that he knew that if I studied it, it would make a difference in my life.

It was a cassette tape program written and recorded by Earl Nightingale called Lead the Field.  Mr. Ely also loaned me a cassette tape player.

I did listen to that six-tape program, about ten times, and it did change my life.

It helped me begin the process of learning to be more confident and proactive. It set me on the path to finding a career more in line with what I wanted to grow into being able to do.

I don’t know why Mr. Ely loaned me that cassette tape set.

I like to think that he recognized I was discontent and had the potential for something else.  He was a leader to the point that he was okay with me moving on when I was ready to do that.

Within only six months of listening to Lead the Field, I was representing a company, driving a company car, and calling on architects and engineers. I had transformed into the guy I was envious of, and I loved it. And the money.

Mr. Ely is the hero in this story. He had something in his personality that allowed him to think outside his big corner office, and to care about even the newest and youngest employee’s happiness.

Give Someone a Hand

As I’m writing this, I’m wondering how many opportunities I have missed doing for someone what Mr. Ely did for me. I’m committing now to make a better effort to help others rise to their potential. We all have the ability to help someone by shining a light, making a connection, and caring enough to reach out.

Thank you, Mr. Ely, and Mr. Nightingale.

Lead the Field

What about you? Are you content with where you are and what you are doing?

Have you listened to Lead the Field?

I recommend that you do a Google and Amazon search for it and see what it can do for you.

Now would be a good time.

Please post a comment on The Break Out Session Facebook page. Maybe tell us if you have listened to Lead the Field, and about your struggle with confidence.

Let’s continue exploring ways to increase our confidence, connection, and professional presence so that we can achieve more, faster, with less stress.