Feeling Trapped? How Your Wisdom and Experience Can Set You Free

It has been frustrating for so many of us at Sales Xceleration to go from a rapidly expanding career in sales leadership to a corporate career that seemed to limit our growth while no longer valuing what we had to offer. When, or why, did our wisdom and experience become undervalued? Why were we trapped in a role that no longer served who we are and what is important in our lives? Each of us at Sales Xceleration felt the same way, but here is what we learned, and how we overcame our frustrations:

Doors Start to Close

As I noted in a recent article, age discrimination is real. According to a Washington Post article titled “Baby boomers are taking on ageism — and losing”, changes in the modern workplace “have created new types of [widespread] ageism,” as companies begin to favor younger employees. In fact, we’ve heard the same thing from many of our licensed Advisors. They experienced an awareness that they had reached their highest possible level of advancement. An awareness that their input was no longer as eagerly sought. An awareness that experience and expertise and wisdom were no longer as highly valued.

This is unfortunate, of course, but not uncommon. And it is at this point when sales leadership professionals begin to feel trapped as they see no room for advancement in the organization. After advancing rapidly over the last few decades, they start to question if they will feel satisfied staying in the same role for the rest of their business career while others pass them by. But at this age, the common alternative – leaving for a similar role in a new industry – feels impossible. We are now judged by our gray hair: “Can we teach this old dog some new tricks?”  The answer is “yes,” but that doesn’t seem to be the perception of those hiring us, so we begin to doubt it about ourselves, too.

We Aren’t Learning Anymore

It can be gratifying to “have all the answers,” but it is also boring. Many of us have been in the same industry so long we can perform our role “in our sleep.” There isn’t a question we can’t answer, but the problem is, we also feel stagnant. With little left to conquer in our industry, we aren’t learning and growing any more. We aren’t acquiring new skills. Our minds aren’t being stimulated. We don’t feel – inspired!

Sadly, others also believe our value extends only that far – to the borders of our well-known industry. In other words, we feel trapped.

Finding the Right Opportunity

The key to setting yourself free from the trap is to open yourself up to other opportunities. I know it sounds a bit scary, this prospect of stepping outside the boundaries of an industry you’ve served well for years or perhaps even decades. It is natural to believe your skill set is based on industry knowledge, and that your gray hair means you won’t be taken seriously and can’t “start over.” The experiences of our licensed Advisors, however – experiences of stepping beyond their comfort zones and into new zones of opportunity – tell a different story.

They found that while being older and more experienced in a large corporate environment can become a negative, it often turns into a positive when they begin providing outsourced sales leadership consulting services to small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). They found that SMB business owners often crave the kind of wisdom and direction our Advisors possess. And they found their sales management and leadership skills are not only sought after, but also are readily transferrable from industry to industry. In fact, our Advisors tell us that their insights, which might have become undervalued within those familiar industry walls, take on new importance and fresh relevance in other professional areas.

And then there is the matter of learning… Whereas our Advisors – and other senior level consultants like them – once felt stagnant, they now find excitement for learning about new industries and applying their solid sales leadership in these new fields. They find that their deep knowledge, once constrained in a narrow industry vertical, is in fact not only deep but wide, too, with far-reaching influence and relevance. They find a renewed sense of purpose. And they no longer feel trapped.

Bottom Line:

As we get older, there is an invisible (yet ultimately perceptible) tipping point in the corporate world when experience and wisdom become undervalued. But that same experience and wisdom become tremendously valuable in the small- to medium-sized business world, where business owners covet the services of seasoned sales leadership professionals who can serve them in a consulting capacity. It’s something we’ve experienced firsthand as Sales Xceleration’s founders and licensed Advisors. Your solution may be different from ours, but the same basic principles apply, and your new path is out there – waiting for you to take the first steps toward a more inspired future.

To learn more about our experiences, about how we’ve been able to break free of the industry trap, and about how we have found new freedom and purpose serving smaller businesses, contact us today at 1.844.874.7253.