• Laura Neuman

The only constant in your career is that it will change

Do you ever feel like someone else has all the power and you have none? I’m here to tell you things can change in an instant. If you’re willing to push yourself, and set bold goals, nothing will be forever.

Just a few short years ago, my path, which seemed certain, took a serious detour. Now, three and a half years later, the people who blocked my advancement are sitting on the sidelines. In your career, the only constant is that things will change.

When I was sworn into public office, I had no idea if I would enjoy the work. After decades in business, mostly as a tech entrepreneur, I was entering a new world. As I became county executive of one of the largest jurisdictions in Maryland, I quickly realized what a pleasure it is to serve my community. What I didn’t count on was a contentious election where my opponent pulled every dirty trick in the political playbook to unseat me. He was successful…he won. Losing didn’t hurt nearly as much as giving up the work I loved.

Perhaps there would be another way to serve my community. The candidate running for Governor, Larry Hogan, had asked me to consider being his running mate, which I politely declined in favor of keeping my county seat. When I lost and he won I thought for sure there would be a role for me. I was wrong. Politics and personal allegiances again stood in the way.

The Governor-elect delegated hiring decisions to his campaign chairman, Jim Brady. This was an unforeseen change that led to me being blocked for any role in the administration. In fact, Jim made it personal when he said I was “aggressive” and after a few moments added “…but in a good way”. If you’re a woman, you know this is never a compliment. It turned out Jim had strong connections to my opponent’s campaign.

There was no choice but to accept I would remain on the outside of the new leadership, at the county and state level. Is there something else you've dreamed of doing? I focused my efforts on writing the book I’ve had in the back of my mind for 10 years..but it still hurt. I missed the daily interaction with the community and I noticed the looks of “what will you do next”. As one person put it “everyone loves a winner” and I had lost.

Fast forward a few years, and everything changed again. Both of the people who wanted me on the outside are now on the sidelines. My political opponent lost the election to keep his seat and the gatekeeper for the Governor took the fall for some bad decisions by him and the board he chaired. It was another reminder that change is inevitable.

There is the temptation to relish in the swift descents of my adversaries. They both lost positions of leadership and now many are asking what they will do next. I will avoid those conversations because that’s not how I feel. It could be me next time. One thing you can count on, things will always change and those who are in the catbird seat might be the next ones on the outside. In the meantime, put your energy into a new goal...maybe one you've been thinking about for 10 years.

Also published on LinkedIn


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