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  • Jill Helmer

The Back Story

Updated: Jun 27, 2020

I had a big week last week.  On Monday, it was announced that I have been chosen as a National Coach Ambassador for Girls on the Run.  I am honored to be one of 16 women chosen for this role in the United States. And then on Friday, very unexpectedly, a beautiful post from a friend celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Week took me by surprise.  She was incredibly complimentary of me in the start of my business.  Her introductory line said, “I am always impressed when someone “gives up their day job” to strike out on their own.”  My heart swelled reading her words (thank you again Carol Burns:).  


But I wanted to make sure I pointed out the back story behind “giving up my day job.”

Some of you know the story behind my business start, but I am mindful that many of you do not.  Four years ago, life changed at the company where I worked.  Those changes impacted me one crisp fall afternoon when my boss put a meeting on my calendar.  She came to my office, which she rarely did, and when she sat down I noticed that she seemed nervous.  In spite of these signs, I was still surprised when she told me that my job would no longer exist in the company.  She would combine my responsibilities into an existing role, and she told me that the incumbent would be staying in that position.  She quickly followed it by sharing with me that another part of the company had already snapped me up, and I could go work for them or I could take the severance package and go.   


Those of you who know the story, know that I stayed to go work in another part of that company.  Partly out of loyalty to the people who “snapped me up” and partly because I was shocked and not ready to move forward.  I spent 18 months in that other part of the company, repaying my loyalty and getting un-shocked.  In the final months of that position, I would definitely classify myself as depressed at work and struggling to make sure I wasn’t depressed in life.


And that is where the story gets good and motivating and all the things that I would like to portray.  I love that someone recognizes me as brave for “giving up my day job.”  But I feel the need to point out to anyone who might be reading this and needs to hear it…remember that my first step was for soul survival.  My first step was to take an action that was good for me after something that wasn’t good for me happened.  Please also remember that my first step took me 18 months to take.  Brave, to me, would have been hearing the news from my boss, reflecting on it for 24 hours and then telling the company “thanks but no thanks” on the new role.  But I wasn’t ready and that is the truth.


So over time, I got ready.  I got organized.  I started to really dream about what it would be like to hang my own shingle (a dream that I had since my grad school).  And over time, I got restless and I started to do things that would help repair my soul.  One of those things was joining my local Girls on the Run Steering Committee.  On the spring before I finally departed my company, GOTR had a need for a coach at an elementary school downtown.  Dedicating myself to coaching could not have happened in my former role and former life, but in my present position, I could make it work.  So I did.  And I met my girls and I met my fellow coaches, and it all fit very well and that piece of my soul that is dedicated to doing good work and doing good things in the world…it started to come back to life.


So, folks, that is my story.  I am typing to you four years after the fateful meeting with my boss; I am typing to you approximately two and a half years after walking out of a set of doors that I had walked into for 15 years.  I am typing to you three years after becoming a GOTR coach. I am typing to you two years after starting my own consulting firm. And as I type to you, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for every step between here and there.  If my boss had not walked in with the news four years ago, I have a very strong suspicion that I would still be walking in that same set of doors.  I would not be a GOTR coach.  I would not have met my girls and my fellow coaches who have made a permanent imprint on my soul.  And I would be watching other people I know go out on their own, with respect for them but jealousy in me.


It’s Sunday night.  I know there are a few of you who are going to walk through a set of doors on Monday morning that you wish would not open.  I just wanted to remind you that when the time is right, you, too, can walk back out. 


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