Passion. Every person is born with this instilled in them, it’s up to us to determine where to direct that passionate energy.
I’ve often been very envious of people who have found what it is they’re passionate about in life. For years I’ve tried to be passionate about things. You name it, there was more than likely a day where I thought I found my passion whether it was basketball in grade school, snowboarding, playing guitar, learning how to DJ, or one of the other hundreds of things I was determined to commit myself to.
This week I had an interesting experience that made me rethink my views on people’s passions. I’ve determined that a person cannot go out seeking a passion or necessarily pick one, I believe passions pick their people. I say this because I tried for years to force myself to be passionate about various things but was always unsuccessful. This was due to the lack of effort I possessed to be great at something I didn’t love from the bottom of my heart. That internal drive to be the best at something just didn’t exist within me, no matter how hard I tried to force it.
I should point out that there are things I excel in that I enjoy doing. For example, I’m good at working however I don’t leap out of bed every morning cheering myself on, or spend countless hours studying how to be a better employee.
So here’s the experience that changed my views. I worked for an automotive company for close to 5 years and thoroughly enjoyed it. I started off as an appointment coordinator and became a Service Advisor shortly there after. I did very well within the company, even going as far as to compete in a worldwide competition on technical knowledge of the brand. I placed 9th overall and I am very proud of my accomplishment, afterall the automotive world is still a male dominated industry and I was a fresh faced 22 year old female. When you participate in things like that you begin to get noticed, whether you know it or not.
I’d like to tell you that I was trying to prove a point or show up the boys but that wasn’t the case at all. I decided to compete solely to expand my knowledge of the brand, which would in turn benefit my clients and the level of customer service I could provide. That is exactly what it did for me. Even though my proud moment went unnoticed and was not acknowledged at work it was the self gratification that meant the world to me.
Little did I know it didn’t go unnoticed, the right people knew and when an opportunity arose it presented itself to me because of my achievements within the company. Not only had I made the top 10, I was always very high on the charts with my survey responses from clients which made me more visible on a corporate level. To spare you from the novel I could certainly write, I’ll simplify. I received a phone call one afternoon about a job offer which subsequently lead to one more phone call and ultimately my acceptance of the position.
At 25 years old I packed my life into a u-haul trailer along with my dachshund Lily and we left the city I was born and raised in, to begin our new adventure 3 hours away. I facilitated the grand opening of a brand new dealership which was literally dirt when I arrived. I was now the Service Manager and unbeknownst to me the Shop Foreman (or woman!) I ordered all the tools, hired and trained staff, and watched my dreams come true. I also took it upon myself to enroll in Shop Foreman training as I had only ever been an apprentice prior to gaining this new title.
I was the only person who had come from the brand at this new dealership which meant a lot of people had an abundance of questions and I was the problem solver. It was hectic, crazy, exhausting and my entire life for months but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I had no idea how to be a Service Manager when I accepted the position and sadly I had no one to guide me as the company that bought the dealership had never owned one of this sort. I figured it out on my own, I used contacts from my previous years in the industry and any online resources the brand offered to absorb as much knowledge as I could retain. There were many challenges and long nights trying to educate myself to make this a success, but it paid off as my first month in action resulted in a 76% net gross profit. I was in shock, most dealerships don’t expect to be profitable the first year and I had done it the first month. I felt on top of the world. That world would soon shatter and present me with the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my career thus far.
I don’t need to go into detail but suddenly the inappropriate remarks made by people I reported to and the overall atmosphere was less than ideal. I had done what I was hired to do and other individuals apparently had ulterior motives I was unaware of. In 5 years I had gone from being the appointment coordinator to becoming the Service Manager/Shop Foreman and it would sadly end there.
I’ll never forget the day I had my first interview to be the appointment coordinator. The Service Manager asked me what my ultimate goal was in the industry, I told him I wanted his job. Little did I know back then, in less than 5 years I would make that ultimate goal come true.
I had to leave the dream I had longed and worked so vigorously for against all odds as a woman, because of someone else. That was by far the most gut wrenching feeling I had ever felt.
I don’t know if I’ll ever really be able to let it go. I still feel like I failed at the one thing I wanted the most. The emotions can be destructive and overwhelming at times, so much that I begin to doubt myself and my present capabilities. My mind often wanders into a dark sea of dissapointments. I question myself on a different platform, uncertain of the life I truly want to live. I’m curious as to whether or not the lifestyle I’m leading at this present time, is even the one I desire.
I have since of course relocated back to my hometown and attained employment with another automotive dealership/brand. The struggle still remains, this isn’t what I worked so hard for. The anxiety I feel towards the emptiness and lack of belonging that consumes my mind on a daily basis is torture. It’s as though I’m just going through the motions instead of truly living. This is what I feel purgatory would be like, life in limbo unsure of what’s to come.
A strange thing occurred last week. As I approached the doorway to my superiors office I noticed a guest, so I proceeded to immediately turn back to avoid interruption of their conversation. I was addressed and subsequently introduced to a shop foreman who ironically works in the same city I had just moved back from. As my superior introduced me he mentioned my previous employment and to my surprise the guest stood up to shake my hand and tell me he was flattered to meet me. This guest then proceeded to tell me about how I was known as “the young female service manager that opened the dealership very successfully.” At that moment, I was speechless. I had just received the greatest compliment I could have ever asked for, and yet I could feel the tears welling in my eyes as I tried to keep my composure before politely removing myself from the situation.
It was that day that I realized what my passion is and always will be. It was that brand. My heart bleeds that Castrol oil, my mind is composed of those gears, and my actions are driven by a supercharged engine. I refuse to let my journey through life be part of an assembly line.
I stepped outside to compose myself and contain the Le Mans track of thoughts racing through my mind. It all started to become clear to me, that was the confirmation that I needed. This gentleman not only acknowledged my personal success opening the dealership, but mentioned after I left it had all fallen apart resulting in the loss of his dealerships business. This was due to the disaster my beloved service department had become against the whole hearted intentions I had for it.
Words cannot truly describe the depth in which my heart sank. All my hard work, gone. Not only had my dream been shattered, but a service department that had the capability to practically print money and exceed all brand expectations had crumbled as well. As much as I wanted to be over the moon with bitter and spiteful thoughts of karma, I was the complete opposite. I was destroyed on the inside that everything I built wasn’t maintained and prosperous to the level I had set out for it to be.
Life can change at a very rapid pace, all of a sudden your mind has changed tracks unexpectedly when you hadn’t yet discovered you had boarded the train. I must have boarded a bullet train because there is only one destination I’m heading to. My ultimate goal has changed and I look forward to sharing my story as I embark on my new journey to becoming a Dealer Principle for the brand I will always stand behind.