Season 2, Ep. 4: Running From vs. Running To

The way people navigate their careers is evolving. With increased job mobility and more employees spending less time in their roles, it feels easier than ever to make a career change and move from one opportunity to the next. But rather than mindfully running toward opportunities that line up with some clear vision for where they want to be, too many leaders are simply running away from their current situations. And unfortunately, they often end up floating from job to job, experiencing the same dissatisfaction and frustration at every turn.

Join us as we talk with licensed counselor Rhys Pasimio about how the psychology behind addictions can shed some light on why it’s better for leaders to run toward some clear goal when making a career change, as opposed to simply running from wherever they are now—and what you can do to embrace this better mindset.

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Daniel Harkavy (00:00)
The grass is always greener on the other side. It’s an expression we’ve all heard before. And actually the sentiment behind this common saying can be traced all the way back to one BC. When the Roman poet Ovid said the harvest is always richer in another man’s field. So for thousands of years we humans have continually struggled with this impulse to run from where we are to where we believe might be even better. And we often do this without giving much thought to where it is that we’re headed or why. This is something I’ve seen play out all too often in the lives of the leaders and executives we get to work with here at building champions, they get antsy in their current role, maybe because they’re feeling burned out or maybe because of the challengers or just too significant and they’re feeling pressure to quickly climb the corporate ladder.

And so they just jump into the next best opportunity. But once they get there, the frustration and Discontentment they felt in their old role follows them and they’re not sure why. All they know is that they’re unhappy again. So they move on to the next thing. And then the next thing and then the next thing. And after a while, their career trajectory starts to look like an aimless, zigzagging mess with the only consistent themes being frustration, dissatisfaction and confusion. And they miss the beauty of the struggle. They miss the benefit that comes from working through the challenge that they were facing where they were before. So why does so many leaders fall into this trap? It has to do with this idea of running from versus running to these leaders. They’re decisions are fueled by a desire to simply run away from their current situation.

They jump into some shiny new role or company without giving much thought to whether this new opportunity is truly what’s best for them in the long run. They’re just running from their current reality. But the best leaders, they take a different approach rather than jumping into something simply for the sake of running from where they’re at. They have a clear vision for where they ultimately want to be and they’re crystal clear on their purpose and they use these as filters to help them to make decisions about their future. So if a new opportunity comes along that lines up with their vision, they can run to that opportunity because they know it will help them to become the leader they want to be and to live out their purpose. This idea of purposefully running to something new rather than merely running from where we’re at, it’s often rooted in a leader’s thinking and beliefs. So to help us to understand some of the psychology behind what might cause leaders to fall in this particular trap, we’re going to learn from an unlikely source, the world of addiction counseling.

Hi, I’m Daniel Harkavy and this is the building champions podcast. Our goal with this podcast is to share our perspective on leadership and life so that we can equip you to better lead yourself, your team and your organization. This episode is all about running from versus running to and how satisfaction and fulfillment in your career are found when you live out your purpose. And have a clear vision of where you want to be.

Rhys Pasimio (03:36)
No addiction exists in a vacuum or without a context. There’s always a reason for it.

Daniel Harkavy (03:41)
That’s Rhys Pasimio. Rhys is a licensed counselor with a certification in drug and alcohol counseling based here in Portland, Oregon. In his years of private practice, Rhys has had the chance to work with many people wrestling with addiction and in his experience, treatment is only successful when the client is able to address the root causes of his or her addiction.

Rhys Pasimio (04:05)
I started addicting to something for a reason and there was some, some void. There was some wound, there was some deficit. There was some shame, narrative, something that was painful or overwhelming or intolerable in my life. So in this sense, if I am drinking too much, if I’m smoking too much, if I’m meeting in a really abusive compulsive way, if I am compulsively cycling through relationships, I could replace any one of those things with any other thing. But the, at the core of it is me. I am not able to tolerate my own experience. I’m not able to tolerate my own emotions. I’m not able to comfortably be in my own body and not able to face up to my responsibilities and until I’m willing to face reality as it is, which is a hallmark definition of recovery, embracing reality as it is at all costs. Until I’m willing or able to do that or begin to grow into doing that, then I’m effectively still in addiction.

Daniel Harkavy (05:07)
For every person who struggles with addiction, there’s always something usually beneath the surface that’s driving their behavior. A person battling alcohol addiction probably doesn’t drink just because they like the cold beer. They do it to alter their mood, to numb some pain or anxiety or a trauma. But until that deeper issue is addressed, it will be extremely difficult for that person to experience healing and freedom. So how does this relate to your life as a leader? I think this notion of addressing core issues is hugely valuable. When we’re in a job or a work environment that has us feeling dissatisfied or overwhelmed, it’s easy to focus on the external factors that might be contributing to our situation, whether that’s leadership or frustrating processes or maybe feeling disconnected from our coworkers. We can brute over these things and let them fester further, pushing us into dissatisfaction until one day we just decide to up and leave, but oftentimes there’s more than just the external stuff that’s feeding into our negative work experiences.

There’s usually some internal stuff as well. Some attitudes, some beliefs that we bring to the table that aren’t helping the situation and if those go unexamined and we pull the plug on our current job and jump into the next opportunity, those unhelpful attitudes and beliefs, they’ll come with us and inevitably they’ll have a negative impact on whatever that next opportunity might be. Before you make a change and run, take a look in the mirror. Is the challenge you, is it a limiting belief about you, your team, or your situation or are you lacking a certain skill? This is where having an outside perspective, a coach or a mentor can really be a value because if you don’t fix the broken beliefs and attitudes on the inside, you’re just going to bring them with you and you’re going to miss the opportunity to grow. So after doing this, you come to the conclusion that you need to move on and you need to take that next step in your career. There’s another concept from addiction counseling that is crucial for us to understand and it’s called replacement.

Rhys Pasimio (07:33)
When you talk about the willpower, you know it, it’s a very short lived, you know, some people have it, some people don’t generating willpower super hard and yeah, it’s, it only lasts as long as it lasts.

Daniel Harkavy (07:44)
When treating someone with addiction, willpower is rarely the most effective tool. Rather than going with a cold turkey approach. Counselors like Rhys find that clients see the best results, not just when they manage to stop their addictive behavior, but when they also replace that behavior with something positive.

Rhys Pasimio (08:04)
And that combination of a removal and an addition is very powerful because nature abhors a vacuum and you take something out, something’s going to fill it, and what you get to do is you get to control what does fill it.

Daniel Harkavy (08:18)
Someone who has used alcohol to numb their social fears and anxieties might look to replace drinking with counseling or meeting with the supportive peer group, positive activities that fill the void left by drinking and addressing the core issues that drove their addiction in the first place. And what’s powerful about this approach is the intentional pursuit of that better, healthier thing. And this kind of intentional pursuit is something us leaders need to be practicing as we navigate our careers. Simply being unhappy with where you’re at now and knowing that you want to leave usually isn’t enough. If you’re making career decisions based solely on this desire to bolt, you’ll most likely end up hopping from one job to another. Never finding the satisfaction you’re looking for and you’re missing out on that growth opportunity. Instead, you need to have a compelling vision. You need to have a a clear goal in mind, the kind of work that you want to be doing that’s going to enable you to live out your purpose and then you use that clarity and that vision as a filter for helping you to find the best career opportunities.

Daniel Harkavy (09:28)
This way, rather than jumping into any old job and repeating patterns, you’ll have a better chance of moving onto a new opportunity that will bring you to a higher level of engagement. It will bring you more satisfaction and more opportunity for you to live out your purpose. Now I want to shift gears and speak to a few segments of our audience individually because I know how we navigate our careers might look different depending upon what stage of our career we’re in and that each stage can provide unique challenges. In our conversation with Rhys, we got talking about this idea of navigating our career in life changes well and he had some great insights for every stage of life.

Rhys Pasimio (10:12)
For younger people who you know, were fed this steady diet of EOL. You can be following your dreams, you know, make your own way, essentially like every to be your own special little God or goddess. That’s pressure that sets a high bar of expectation for everybody to be super spectacular and not everybody can be. But there’s a great freedom in allowing yourself to just be the best ordinary person that you can be. And there’s a lot of peace and serenity that comes with that.

Daniel Harkavy (10:45)
For those of you who are part of this younger generation, either fresh out of school and just entering the workforce, or you’re in your 20s and 30s and you’re in this early stage of your career, beware of the pressure to have everything. Now we see it all the time with younger clients. We coach. There’s this great sense of job mobility now more so than ever before. And when that pressure builds up to get that promotion that maybe your classmate got or to keep up with your peers, it becomes tempting to constantly jump from one job to the next, trying to look for that validation or that contentment, but it will never come unless you’re able to shut out the noise and to get clear on your purpose and about the vision you have for your career. A vision that isn’t shaped by others, but that comes from the core of who you are and realize that navigating a career takes time, hard, hard work and patience, so don’t worry.

Good things will come. You just have to keep that vision and that purpose in mind and be aware of competing. You have to understand that there are always people running a different race. There’s always going to be somebody that’s better, smarter, faster, just as there is somebody who’s maybe worse or less intelligent or slower. We needed to be running our own race.

Now, for those of you at the other end of the spectrum, I’m talking about you in your fifties sixties or maybe seventies you’re looking at retirement and transitioning into that next stage of life. This season can raise a lot of tough questions about identity. For many leaders who get to the end of their careers and know that they have to retire, they don’t have a clear plan for where they want to go or what they want to do after retiring and they’re afraid of losing that work identity because often it’s been their predominant identity source for decades. And so when it comes time to transition out of the working world, many people become fearful and cling onto their jobs longer than they should or they retire and entered this next stage of life feeling rudderless and lost because their main identity source is now gone.

Rhys Pasimio (13:06)
I think it helps too to have kind of an identity cluster. For me, I, you know, I identify very strongly with my faith. I identify very strongly with me and my family structure. I identify very strongly with the work that I do as a counselor, but also the fun thing I do as a writer, you know, a identify with my ethnic heritage, identify with my gender, identify with you know, the, you know, the plant based lifestyle that we and then and there’s all of these components and there’s even more besides that. And I think that’s, that’s helpful because you know, all of those are in, in some flux and all of those are developing some way and some of them have been long standing, some of them are newer or some other ones have expired by now. So there, there has to be a sense of allowing identity to be stable enough to be recognizable but also a room for, you know, some things are going to flex, some things are going to change, some parts are going to go away. Right.

Daniel Harkavy (13:59)
Having an identity cluster is key and I think this is a message that everyone needs to hear, not just those of us who are nearing retirement age. If you’re placing all of your identity in who you are at work, you’re missing out on the opportunity to find purpose and add net worth and the other important areas of your life for those entering retirement. There’s so much more opportunity to do good, meaningful work. In this stage, you can invest in family, mentor, young leaders, a dive into a creative passion. If you have other areas of your life outside your work where you can invest yourself, you can continue to build an identity, follow a vision, and do good, meaningful work in the world. Long after your professional days are over, there will be all sorts of opportunity for you to live your purpose out everywhere. I can’t help but to think of Jerry Baker who after retiring for three weeks, joined us here at building champions as CEO mentor and is now coach emeritus Jerry in his mid seventies always looking for new opportunities to live out as purpose and make a difference in the lives of others. And what I love about Jerry is he ends every conversation with this. The best is yet to come.

So whether you’re at the beginning of your career right in the middle of it or nearing the end. I really do think that it all comes back to vision and purpose. The great Yogi Berra once said, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up somewhere else. Do you know where you’re headed? Do you know why you’re here and what it is that you’re uniquely gifted at doing? Do you know where you want to be in the future? Do you have that compass point to help you to navigate all the opportunities and decisions that will come to you as you navigate through your career? If not, I’d encourage you in the coming weeks to take the time to really think about your purpose. Why are you here and what is it that you bring to your career and to those that you serve and what’s your vision for your career? Where is it that you can be truly your best self, where you can add the most value to the business and to those around you? Without that, your career journey will be a frustrating and confusing one coming up. Todd Mosetter, our vice president of content development, will sit down with one of our Building Champions executive coaches to discuss how you can gain more clarity around where you’re headed with your career as well as your purpose in your career so that you don’t run from, you run to.

Todd Mosetter (16:43)
Hi, my name is Todd Mosetter, and I work in the content department here at Building Champions and today I’m excited to be joined by my friend and colleague Michael Regan. Michael, thanks for taking time out.. So I love this concept because there is a huge, huge difference between running from something and running to something in your experience both in your own personal life and leadership and working with clients. How have you seen those two different dynamics work out?

Michael Regan (17:10)
So it was really fun to listen to the setup with Daniel and Rhys and to think about how that differentiation is really important. And I came up with three things that seem to be consistent both in my personal life and in the experience I’ve had coaching other great people. And the three I see are when convictions are really clearly defined and were really clear, not just on words and definitions, but the meaning behind those words. And then we combine those with mindset, a real growth mindset instead of perhaps a more fixed mindset. And then third would be purpose. When we’re, when we’re really clear on the reason why we do things beyond just what we’re doing, I feel like the combination of those three really define the difference between running from and running to. So let me play that out in a, in a personal story real quickly.

Back when I was a client of building champions and I attended our building champions experience in 2009, I went through an exercise for a business vision that we were all working on that day toward all of our own unique outcomes. And in that process, as I authored those three things, I really got clear on my convictions. I got clear on the growth mindset that I saw and the purpose of why it became really clear to me that my passion at that moment in time was in the coaching experience. And, and it led me to conclude that I need to pursue this further. I need to take the coaching leadership concept and dig deeper. And, and that decision led me to move toward a future that looked far different than the one I was currently in. But there was never a moment in which I was, you know, running from my prior career. In fact, if anything, that decision to, to accelerate toward a coaching future actually allowed me to go much deeper with the, with my peers because they’ve become my clients. And so in my personal case, that distinction of, of understanding my clear values and my vision of the future and my purpose behind that change allowed me to be clear on running toward something. And I never once viewed it as running away or running from anything at all. And, and that shift for me led to an exciting future that I’m still loving today.

Todd Mosetter (19:35)
When you think about that ability to run to something, right? In your example, it was this desire to really want to coach and develop and pour into others emotionally. What did that feel like for you when you finally found that purpose in that drive?

Michael Regan (19:50)
It actually was very relieving because prior to that point, all of those same desires already existed within me. They weren’t manufactured, but I didn’t have an outlet for them. I didn’t have a, a model in which those things made sense. Once I embraced the idea that that coaching was the model and that that created the outlet that I needed in order to exercise those desires appropriately, suddenly it wasn’t about, well, how much money can I make or how much, you know, influence can I have or popularity can I gain? It wasn’t even about me. It became about letting go and releasing that sense of, of chasing something and rather the running to became really clear. I didn’t have anything to chase anymore. It was, it was really clear where I was going and I suppose as reset it, it allowed me to fill that void.

Todd Mosetter (20:43)
So great. And I know that we’re better for having you on the team as well as clients with that ability. When you talk about the three ingredients, I want to back up just a second cause I know how passionate you are about this and I don’t want our listeners to miss on this. When you talk about one of the ingredients being a growth mindset, can you unpack that a little bit so they can really understand what you mean by that?

Michael Regan (21:05)
Well, prior to being influenced as a client of Building Champions, I think I looked through most of the opportunities that were placed in front of me through a lens that a lot of my clients today look there, which is well, which is right, which is wrong, which is good, which is bad. I, I saw things through a very black and white lens because the world conditioned you to see things that way. So you tend to see a fork in the road and it’s stressful, you know, which way do I go? A growth mindset, which was a concept that I had to really absorb over a long period of time, really allowed me to embrace every opportunity that was put in front of me as an opportunity to be curious about new things rather than to win or lose or it became an opportunity to learn new things rather than the pass or fail. And so that shift in my mindset alone, it probably, if I look back, didn’t change any of the fundamental variables that already existed. It just allowed me to accelerate more freely because now there was no losing. It was all upside from there. And so yeah, a growth mindset for me was such a key ingredient to that whole decision making process. What did I have to lose at that point? All I could do was learn new things and I continue to enjoy that mindset to this day.

Todd Mosetter (22:26)
I think that’s a great example to use and pull from. If I were to say it slightly differently, it’s not to dismiss things too quickly, right? Like when there’s an opportunity, you don’t say yes too fast and don’t say no too fast because in that you miss the goodness of the exploration.

Michael Regan (22:41)
Yeah. When you, when you embrace a growth mindset, Todd, you, you decide my entire life from this point forward is about learning new things. And so I never want to turn down an opportunity to learn and, and that just keeps me growing and going.

Todd Mosetter (22:54)
When you think through this framing of running from versus writing to, you know, one thought that comes to mind is maybe there’s even a third category that we really didn’t touch on but would be worth kind of diving into a little bit, which is maybe this idea of running in place or running in circles or height, running from versus running to kind of means you’re making a change either to get away from where you’re at or to be drawn to something new. But many of us probably end up just staying where we’re at. And it may not be the best place to stay, but we’re not. We’re not making that change. So we’re kind of ended up running in place. If you think about our conversation and what we talked about, any advice or insight to those that may not even be thinking about running, but maybe they should.

Michael Regan (23:37)
So this is a really interesting way to, to take a look at this and the visual I got as you described it as one that I’ve with clients and many of them relate to it. When you start to feel like the image of this routine is you’re getting up every day to run on a treadmill and all you do is run as hard and as fast as you can, only to find out that you burned a lot of calories but you didn’t really get anywhere because the treadmill’s not moving. It’s a stationary object. I think once we’ve recognized that that were in some sort of cul-de-sac where we’re just repeating these routines over and over and we don’t experience the satisfaction of that growth or the experience of, of new things, I suppose what’s my greatest opportunity to coaches to call that out and help them identify some key performance indicators that might give them the ability to see that clearly.

Todd Mosetter (24:31)
I love that process. It. It makes me think of the need to really take time to self-reflect and assess from time to time. Right? Crucial. I mean, not every, not every leverage point is going to be do I stay or do I go? Because there’s a catalytic event that causes that from time to time. It’s probably good advice to pull back and say, to your point, am I running in place or am I making progress? Is does this opportunity that I’m in, is it still allowing me to live my purpose out? Is it bringing me some sense of joy or fulfillment? If you’re just going through the motions, it’s probably a good time to think about it.

Michael Regan (25:06)
I like that approach and, and can’t disagree with the way that you framed that Todd. I think most people, they have that sense deep down inside them when they’re stuck and they’re super grateful when someone that they believe and trust can help them identify that and get them unstuck and at the end of the day, that’s, that’s what we’re called to do with our clients. We’re, we’re not here to make it about us. We’re here to remember that it’s about their thoughts, their dreams, their goals, and if we can identify with the things that matter most to them and help them find new pathways to move past those areas of thinking and belief that they’re stuck in, that’s when we get the joy of, of knowing that we’ve done our job well because we see them get off that treadmill and really start moving forward.

Todd Mosetter (25:53)
I think that’s a powerful point to make sure we really touch on there is that it doesn’t have to be a coach necessarily. Coaches are great at it and we’ve seen that firsthand, but that perspective of an outsider, right, and Daniel touched on that someone in your life, whether it’s a mentor, a peer, a coach, somebody that can help you see beyond your current beliefs and your current thoughts, I think is crucial in this process. All right, so let’s assume for a second that you are finding yourself unstuck, right? There’s, there’s two most common scenarios that I think apply to this, right? So let’s look at each of them quickly and see if you have any additional practical advice or tips for each of them. The first scenario I’ll throw out there is maybe the running from right, you’re in your current situation, you don’t like what’s going on, so you just realize you gotta be somewhere else, right? You, you’ve made that decision. Or at least you think you’ve made that decision. What advice, insight, tips would you give that person before they just jump ship without really thinking it through?

Michael Regan (26:51)
My encouragement to them is then whatever it is that leads you forward from that experience, make sure you are clear on how to take every bit of that transition and focus on making everything better than it was before. Choose the mindset of saying, I don’t really know exactly where I’m going cause the scenario is we’re running from, but at least embrace the idea that if I can take everything that comes at me in this transitional process and create an opportunity to learn from it and grow from it and make it better, then you position yourself when the running two gets a little clearer to be in a place where you already have momentum. And most people aren’t thinking about as they’re running from a trying to get better. They’re just trying to get safe. Cause I remember it was the fear filter that drove that initiative in the first place. So if I can get them to think about where will the better you and the better version of what you do come from during this transition, they’re technically already starting to move towards something even if they don’t know what it is.

Todd Mosetter (28:04)
That’s such good practical advice, right? Because if you don’t really know what you want, where you want to be next, chances are all of the issues that cause you to want to leave. You’re where you’re at. You’re probably gonna find them where you end up.

Michael Regan (28:15)
Funny how that works. Yeah. Our our situations are often heavily influenced by ourselves and we get to go with us. So if you’re going to go make sure you’re, you’re focused on being better and, and you know, keep it really practical. I mean, Todd, anybody can think of a great example, but you know, if, if the, if the role transition that you’re moving from causes you to just go take a job where it’s safer than where you were, then look into that opportunity to say, well, how can I take this new job and just be the very best I can be in it? And look at all the new doors that open up simply because I chose to accelerate rather than just run from. That’s so good.

Todd Mosetter (28:56)
So the second scenario, we’ll flip it a little bit, right? You may be happy where you’re at but another opportunity comes along and you think it’s gonna align with where you want to be. Any practical advice? Again tips before you just jump into it to make sure that it’s the right opportunity to run to.

Michael Regan (29:14)
Well, this one I would run through the other filter. I’d run it through the vision filter and I’d really make sure that while it may line up with where I want to be, do the, the values of this new opportunity aligned with mine at such a deeply rooted conviction level that I’m competent, that that the organization I’m going toward is going to be in complete harmony with who I am as a person and as professional. And I want to make sure that as I see that potential future that I, that I never sacrificed the reason why I’m doing the hard things that I’m doing today. If this new opportunity is going to cause me to sacrifice my purpose in order to achieve the mission, then the fact that I may like the future of where they’re going it doesn’t mean I’m going to be happy when I get there. So I really use that vision filter to make sure that I’m not getting emotionally excited about some big lofty goal that I want to be a part of. But that I’ve really run it through those values and the, and the purpose that me as an individual or any client I’m advising. And then when those are clear, when the vision filters clear my answers, then if you’re going to go, you know, embrace it, you know, grab the plow with both hands and never look back.

Todd Mosetter (30:31)
I think it’s great that you bring it back to vision again. I, because it’s where we start with most of our clients, right? Whether it be a, a vision for their life, a vision for their business, a vision for their team. If you don’t really have a clear destination in mind, if you don’t know your purpose, why you do what you do, who you want to do it with, why it’s important. My gut feeling is you’re either going to find yourself running in place or running from things a whole lot more often than running two things. Can’t say it any better than that. Todd. So as we think about wrapping this up, Michael thank you. Any final words of advice for folks? They’re sitting in a situation right now. We’ve talked about the fear filter. We talked about the vision filter, which I think are really practical for folks to use. Any final words of advice?

Michael Regan (31:17)
I suppose the one that keeps coming to mind is the spirit of being curious. When I remain curious as a, as just a daily practice of who I am, all kinds of things are possible. I learn about new people, I learn about new cultures, I learned about new business opportunities, I learn about new relationships, I learn about all kinds of things because I remain curious. And so that might be the one piece I would add to the mix is a person who embraces that spirit of curiosity by nature is already shifting toward that growth mindset. And, and I think they naturally are perceived by those around them as someone who is always living forward and leading forward and, and running to opportunities more often than they are running from.

Todd Mosetter (32:05)
I think that’s a great final piece of advice to give. Michael, thanks for taking time out. I appreciate it. As always listeners, if you head over to the building champions.com/podcast you can subscribe so you don’t miss an episode and get any resources or tools that you may find helpful. Michael, thanks for joining us today.

Michael Regan (32:19)
Happy to be here. Todd. Thank you.

Daniel Harkavy (32:24)
Thanks so much to our guest, Rhys Pasimio for his wisdom and insight on everything from addiction to identity. As a reminder, you can listen to other episodes and access relevant tools by visiting building champions.com/podcast and we’d love it if you would share the podcast and leave us a rating and a review in your Apple podcast app. Doing so helps people find us and it helps us learn where we’re doing well and how we can continue to grow and provide our listeners with content that truly transforms their lives and their leadership. And a big thanks to Lucian Green who helps us with the research and the writing for the podcasts and in my longtime friend, Scott Higby, who does the audio and production, and he has Studio C Creative Sound down in San Diego. Thanks again.