– By Karen Baker, senior director of branding and marketing
For the first time in my life, I took Leap Day seriously.
I took one heck of a leap.
I had an opportunity for change, following years of caring for others both at home and at work. My high school sweetheart and husband of 20 years had passed away in 2012. My oldest daughter was getting married and my youngest had left for college. I was restless, yearning for travel and new experiences; evening discussions with a friend revolved around the faith necessary to see the truth in, “leap and the net will appear.”
In a stroke of serendipity, I received a call with an opportunity at PGAV. In the world of attractions and destinations, this was the major league. I had experience with PGAV on the client side and they impressed me with their roots in guest experience research, world-class destination design, and mid-western work ethic. It was a huge opportunity, but it was 444 miles away. I stared at my newly unwrapped plaque from a friend, “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.” I took many deep breaths, said many prayers, had heartfelt discussions with my children and extended family, and accepted the offer. My first day was to be… Leap Day!
After nearly a year, here’s what I’ve learned.
- Leaving family and a support system is a huge, scary hurdle. I’m thankful for cell phones, social media and FaceTime that make distances “smaller.”
- A life leap feels sort of like first learning the right technique for a Super Mario jump – mastering the controls for the trajectory to land up a level (and not sink in a black hole).
- My grown children continue to inspire me with their support, even through the challenges. The ability to succeed – together and apart – is an important life lesson.
- In a new city without your family/children, becoming an office mentor or “Office Mom or Dad” to young adults who are also homesick is a unique blessing.
- No matter your age or qualifications, seek a coach or mentor who has successfully navigated a major “jump.”
This new life in St. Louis at PGAV surprises me daily. I’m surrounded by the most incredibly talented teammates. They spend their days designing places that dreams (and memories) are made of, all around the world. I’m traveling, continuing the branding work I love, and working on legacy for the company and myself on the journey.
Leap Year became illustrative for what could be – what I was still hoping to accomplish in life. For me, February 29th became a symbolic beacon for a life change, and I’m so grateful. Even if you don’t get a February 29th, take a leap in 2017. You’ll inspire yourself – and others.