Have you ever experienced a time in your life when everything you’ve worked so hard for seems to be falling apart?

What if you found out the very worst time in your life could be the jumping off point for an entirely new direction of something even better than what you had?

Sometimes the best things in life are hidden from us because we settle for mediocrity.

My guest today, Lyn Boyer, shares her story about a painful time in her life that resulted in a much more rewarding career direction.  Her story is a good reminder that the willingness to step out of our comfort zone and take some risk can make all the difference between settling and succeeding.

Making a Difference Allowed Me to Thrive

Lyn Boyer


Lyn Boyer

At the end of my year-end evaluation, my supervisor stood to leave my office. We had enjoyed a pleasant discussion about my positive evaluation, but we also talked about my job situation. He was a friend and was always very supportive, but there was nothing he could do at the time to change where I was and what I was doing.

I saw the pain in his eyes when I said, “I feel so abandoned.” But, I knew he understood and wanted to help.

I had been a high school principal—very busy, involved and connected with students, parents, teachers and members of the community. I also felt that my work was making a difference.

When a few powerful members of the community became enraged that I had fired the head football coach because of repeated violations and complaints, I left a job I enjoyed to become the School Planning Principal in our fast-growing Florida school district of nearly 40,000 students.

At the time, we were adding at least 1000 students and two or three new schools each year, and my new job was to meet with construction teams, give them input about academic issues affecting design, help to hire and support new principals, and ease the opening of each new school. It was an important position, and I enjoyed working with contractors, architects, and district construction services staff, but it was not a job that challenged or excited me. After ten years in administration with daily crises, interaction and energy, my new and very pleasant office was far too quiet, and it gave me little stimulation of the type I had come to enjoy.

I was productive, but I felt like I was wading through a pool of molasses every day. There was little joy in my work.

I knew I had to make some serious changes. Working to overcome my lethargy, I searched for activities that could use my strengths. I enjoy writing, planning new projects and presenting. When the school district began its strategic planning initiative, I was there to participate in the process. I wrote the leadership develop plan for the district and moved into the position of Leadership Development Coordinator, a job that used my talents and made me feel much more alive. I worked with new and experienced leaders to expand their skills.

I knew my greatest joy as an administrator was working with individuals as they tried to solve personal and professional problems. The two strategic planning consultants we hired told me about coaching training they believed was very beneficial for them personally and professionally.

One day, I walked into the same supervisor’s office and told him I wanted to participate in this nine-month program and start a leadership coaching program in the school district. The cost was substantial, but I told him if he was not willing to pay for it, I would pay for it personally. He agreed to pay for my coaching training, which I believe has made a tremendous difference in my skills and my understanding of human interaction. It is the source of my work and led to the idea for my book on Affective Leadershipsm.

I am now in a much better place than I was even when I worked in the principal job I loved. I have more time for myself and my family, and my work focuses on the things I really enjoy: writing, one-on-one and small-group interaction, learning and facilitating.

The experience was painful, but I believe I survived and grew stronger because of the relationships I enjoyed, my ability to laugh and see the humor in sometimes uncomfortable situations, and my willingness to make a bold request. In this situation, however, I believe reflection and understanding my personal skills, knowing and refocusing my mission to lead and support leaders, and my strong desire to make a difference allowed me to thrive.

How about you?  What has allowed you to thrive in an otherwise unhappy situation?


Dr. Lyn Boyer is a leadership coach, author and online learning guide focusing on the emotional side of leadership. Her book, Connect: Affective Leadership℠ for Effective Results, is available online in paperback and eBook. She is president of Leadership Options, LLC, which provides consulting services, facilitation and leadership coaching for individuals and teams.  Lyn is co-founder of Women’s Learning Studio, a safe fun place to expand leadership and learn to use valuable online tools. You can read her blogs or find contact information at www.LynBoyer.net.

Lyn is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. She would be happy to connect with you.