Ten years ago, to fulfill a goal from my bucket list, I allowed myself to be strapped to a robust young man in a tiny airplane climbing steadily in the sky. We watched as the plane door opened, and together we stepped beneath the wings, pausing only for a moment before flinging ourselves into a loud rush of wind. Although the step out onto a microscopic ledge was a harrowing moment, the contrast of exhilaration and sereneness surrounding the release of the parachute sticks with me the most. I have been thinking about this tandem jump in recent days with a forlorn pensiveness, creating an internal narrative in a quest for inner peace following my resignation from Jim Hudson Lexus.
It is both undesirable and inappropriate to explain the reasons for my departure after an intense 16-year tenure; suffice it to say that they are as complicated as they are depressing. To discuss the reasons would be similar to navigating small talk with well-wishers about the sudden divorce of a seemingly happy couple: way too personal and serving no constructive purpose. I can say this, however: I fought for what I believed was right, and I take ownership of the outcome. In addition to my own departure, the battle culminated in a loss of many valued team members, including two of my dear friends and front-line comrades, as well as my husband. In these situations, where there is a good deal of “agreeing to disagree”, nobody wins, in the end. Although supremely confident that the store and all departing employees will thrive, I reserve the right to spew optimistic PR clichés while mourning something I have long considered to be my life’s purpose and passion. As I write this, two weeks later, I still feel as though I am free-falling in the air, scrambling for the parachute cord.
In the heat of the battle, I did not hesitate at all, despite a kind offer to “take a few days and think about it”. I replied that the only required deliberation was to negotiate the transition details. I then promptly stepped onto the microscopic ledge of the metaphorical skyscraper of my career and jumped, with no parachute beyond the comfort of knowing I was not alone. In the days which followed, despite the ensuing tears and a sinking nausea deep in my belly, I also experienced the calm resolve of knowing I made the right decision for myself and my family. An inevitable peaceful floating into the unknown will be a metaphor made more acute with the phrase “I will let you know where I land”, exchanged with friends constantly throughout each day.
I think back to the person I was when I came to the dealership in 2003. Financially, I was in a sad place, living in an apartment with no heat and possessing such a low credit score that I suspect it might have been a negative number. Mr. Hudson had to guarantee my first car note with Lexus Financial. While my financial transformation over the years is certainly a source of pride, my greatest accomplishment is one of personal growth. In the past 16 years, I fine-tuned skills which lend credibility to another of my oft-used current phrases: I truly am a better person for having the honor of working for this incredible organization. I have mastered the art of the apology, I am a meticulous organizer, and I take immense pride in my efforts to be a blessing to customers and colleagues. I understand the value of processes, am a stickler for personal responsibility for mistakes, and have made strides in stress-management (a tough one in the car business). I may have even developed a small sense of humor, but time will tell if the laughter was just my co-workers being polite.
I am filled with profound gratitude that my team leaders allowed me to engage in so many exciting projects, many of which were my own creations. They empowered me to do what I felt was best for the dealership and the community, and supported me without question. The credit for my personal growth goes to this level of unwavering mutual trust over many years. I can endorse the integrity of this organization and the leaders in the beautiful new facility on Washington Road, and I can also take responsibility for much of that which went awry. In the coming years, I will work on other areas of personal growth still needing attention, not the least of which is a borderline pathological need to help everyone and fix everything. During my tenure, I gradually took on increased responsibilities, so that by the time I left, I was involved in every inch of this 56,000 square foot building, as well as each member of the team within the modern glass walls. Nobody asked me to do this, I just kept adding plates and integrated them into the juggling act which was already tenuous leading up to our move. It was inevitable that some plates would drop, wires would cross and exhaustion would settle in like an unwelcome relative.
One of my PR clichés is calling my next unknown job “a new adventure”. In this adventure, whatever it might be, I will bring my same work ethic, initiative, organization, passion for customer service and ability to work with little supervision. What I will not bring is my proclivity to take on duties outside of my purview because I assume that nobody else can do them with my same level of care. I will share the blessed burden of service with my equally capable team mates, communicating when my juggling act has reached full capacity, and learning to enjoy whatever new terrain awaits me in my safe landing place. In the meantime, I will be floating, more gently, pledging to stay in contact with the many friends I made in the Lexus family and Augusta community, and if I ever find myself in the position again where I need to make such a bold leap of faith from a precarious ledge, I will be wiser for the experience and quicker to find the parachute.