As I looked across the table at the man I'd spent nearly a dozen years with, I was riddled with anxiety and guilt. I held my breath and adopted an internal chant of encouragement: 'you can do this.' I waited for a natural moment in the conversation to break it to him, desiring to do so as gently as I could - but the subject matter at hand wasn't making it easy. In fact, he was going on an on about the difficulty in replacing good people. Just my luck, really - before I marched into his office, fully prepared to deliver my news, I hadn't been aware that he had lost two other sales people in the course of three days. I was about to become his third.
Well, damn. I liked my boss. I respected him. He reminded me very much of my father, especially in his mannerisms as he candidly shared his plans for covering his losses and what a pain in his ass it was to interview new people. Every word was unraveling my nerve. I felt selfish. I felt I was about to betray him. Every fiber in my being wanted to jump up, and commit myself, sacrificially and stupidly, to staying right where I was.
But no. Something primal drove me forward - I knew better than to stay on a ship I knew had been sinking under me for a very long time and offered nothing but a watered-down grave for the person I wanted to become. My decision was sound and my motivations were true. I thought of my boys and my ability to provide more effectively for them. I thought of my own potential. I thought of shrugging off the chains of business philosophies I no longer agreed with.
And then, I took a deep breath, and I made the words happen. "I'm here today to resign." I saw the flash of shock in his eyes, but I bit back on the apology before it had a chance to escape me. I had a bad habit of apologizing for things that weren't mine to be sorry for. Part of my new plans involved breaking myself of that. I would move forward - I would be strong - I would be confident!
The conversation following was short and a bit terse. There wasn't much left to say. We worked out the details of my last day and the transfers of clients. Then, I thanked him and stood to leave. He said it had been great to work with me - a pleasure and an honor. My heart finally broke. I burst into tears as I started for his office door. I was completely embarrassed - so much for that strong and confident crap - what the hell was I doing?! As I paused in that brief moment to collect myself before walking out into the main area, my heart beating like the hooves of mustangs, my then ex-boss showed a rare moment of compassion: a half-hug and the words, "You'll be okay."
I crossed the threshold. He was right.