I wanted to let you know how it went with my boss asking for my leave of absence. I was really nervous all day because it was such a huge step in the process but I wanted to get it done. The main reason I did it sooner then I was planning was that I had to turn in my “Strategic Plan” for the year; what I was going to take ownership of and drive for the next year. I didn’t feel right going into a meeting with my boss and my boss’s boss and lie to them about what I could do for the organization over the next year when I clearly knew I wouldn’t be here. I would be torching every bridge I had built. That’s just not my style.
I started by telling our CEO about my plans, that I was requesting a 5 months leave so I could go hike the CDT. I told him about my struggles over the last year, my passion for the trail and how I felt it would help bring me back or at least help me find my true self after a very long time of being absent. I confessed how much I love my work and how I hoped to come back after this journey. I didn’t know if he would say that’s great but, no you can’t have any kind of time off and how I would have to leave by the end of the week. Instead I got an ” I get it” and ” I did the same thing at about the same age and similar situations”. I was totally shocked. He was fully supporting my decision and very much respected me for giving the organization 6 weeks notice to find a replacement and have me train them. It really was a great moment.
Next I told my immediate boss in a meeting with my brand new upper boss. I was worried about this meeting most but, like the first it was a better then I expected. They were behind me 100%. They understand why I wanted to go and what it was about. They were very encouraging, asked for details about my trip and overall gave me positive feedback. Again, they both appreciated the 6 week advanced notice, my willingness to help with whatever they needed during the transition and my eagerness to come back after my hike.
I had been nervous thinking about this day for months but in the end it was a great experience. I felt truly appreciated and embraced for what I am about to do. It proves to me that if you treat people with respect, don’t try to play games and bullshit them, you will get good things in return.
What I liked the most is once word got out about my trip, everyone in the office started coming up to me and sharing their personal stories of reconnecting and reshaping their lives through a trip to Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Every person has at one point shaken up his or her lives to make a dramatic change whether it was from illness, divorce or feeling lost. I’m convinced its a universal emotion and people will more times then not embrace your bravery and commitment to living out your dreams.
So if you haven’t done it yet, go ahead. Tell your story. Believe in yourself because, only positive can come out of saying your dreams and plans out loud.