As I listened attentively, he went on: "Expectations are surreal, the margin of error narrower, the pressures to deliver results are immitigable. There is no work-life balance. I want to enjoy my family. I'm content right now."
"Then turn it down," I said.
"I can't, it would send the wrong signal to the leadership that I do not have aspirations to move up. I'm trapped in my own success."
We met again during lunch, and I asked him to think about what would be his ideal scenario.
"It is too late for me," he replied. The paint had dried. He was too concerned about the blow back from turning down this offer and about the reaction of his boss. He reluctantly accepted the VP position, his canvas was painted for him by the leadership team and his imbalanced life is now a reality.
As the painter Vincent Van Gogh noted, "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."
The power to become the artist of your career's canvas lies within. Pick up the brush and paint the picture you wish to become.
Suarez is professor of the practice in systems thinking and design and a fellow of the Center for Leadership Innovation and Change at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. He is also an executive coach.