wizardofozI was thinking about my experience during my current search for my  next challenge and it dawned on my that this journey has some interesting parallels to Dorothy’s experience in The Wizard of Oz. We both were surprised by a tornado that took us into an unfamiliar place, had to get our bearings and find a path that would hopefully lead us to success, met some interesting characters along the way who were helpful on the journey, and faced some unique challenges while travelling the road. Let’s start from the beginning…

Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

For those that haven’t seen or read The Wizard of Oz this one likely won’t make any sense (but really… if you’ve made it this far in life without watching the movie shame on you).

In the movie Dorothy finds herself picked up by a tornado and transported to Munchkin County in Oz where she meets a happy group of folks who welcome her, help her to get her bearings, provide her some foundation for how she can find her way back home, and set her on the path to success down the Yellow Brick Road. In my own experience I found myself somewhat surprised by a corporate reorganization given my consistent history of exceptional performance reviews both from management and through employee engagement surveys which placed me in the land of the “unemployed”, looking for meaning in a new and uncomfortable land. As part of my severance from my role the organization provided me with access to employment counselling and placement services who very quickly swooped in to “welcome” me to unemployment, help me get my bearings, and set me on the path to getting hired with resume counselling, webinars, and coaching. They laid out a path to getting rehired that looked very much like the “Yellow Brick Road”.

Once Dorothy sets out on her trip she comes across three helpful characters in the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Man who all have their own challenges but who also bring their own strengths and values to her journey as she travels along the road. In my own experience through my relentless networking and coffee chats I have met many many helpful characters who all brought their own challenges and opportunities, but also their advice, introductions, networks, and support as I traveled the road to re-employment. Every person I have met along the way so far has been helpful in their own way – coaching me on my resume and positioning, introducing me to other interesting people, sending me ideas and job postings, or giving me an opportunity to gain exposure to new industries. Like the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man who all had their own reasons for traveling the Yellow Brick Road each of the people I have met have had their own benefits from joining me on my journey whether it was an introduction I could make, a future opportunity to do business with me once I land, or simply the “karma bank” that we all should be conscious of paying into.

Much like Dorothy my journey started off feeling very positive – a beautiful Yellow Brick Road would lead me to my goal of reemployment and all I had to do was follow along. But also much like Dorothy it quickly became apparent that the path wasn’t as easily traversed as it looked at the outset and that there would be challenges, bumps, potholes, and long periods of monotonous countryside to traverse before I am able to find my own Emerald City.

Now I don’t believe that there is a “Wicked Witch of the West” who is watching out and trying to stop me from achieving my goal, but there are many obstacles which do stand along the path including the fact that many of Canada’s big banks made significant restructuring moves around the same time resulting in less available opportunities in my most recent industry, the general lack of business and leadership opportunities in my home in the Niagara Region, and my unique background and experience which gives me significant benefit when I am in a role but which looks very non-traditional to recruiters and hiring managers.

Even when Dorothy reached the Emerald City she had additional challenges in identifying the “man behind the curtain” and achieving her ultimate goal of travelling home. As I get more interviews and meet with more recruiters I find the same types of challenges in getting face time with the “man (or woman) behind the curtain” who ultimately makes the hiring decision on the roles I am going out for. Getting through the automated resume systems to speak with a recruiter, dazzling the recruiter and addressing their concerns and questions, and then ultimately finding a way to speak with the “wizard” require motivation to keep going.

But ultimately like Dorothy I will keep going. I will keep pushing forward. I will keep my motivation.

Somewhere down my “Yellow Brick Road” is my own “Emerald City” and a position that will allow me to create incredible new value for an organization that recognizes my broad skills and experience, unique ability to innovate and execute, and my human approach to team and leadership development that has brought me so much success so far in my career.

Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh my!

Oh my indeed…

About Tim Empringham, MBA
Tim Empringham is a passionate advocate for Innovation in organizations of all sizes as a mechanism to drive growth, create uncontested market space, create new customer value, and drive efficiency into the internal organization. His focus is on disruption of thinking and markets through integrative thinking, structured Innovation frameworks, and leadership development of Innovation and Change leaders within the organization.

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