Where Did It All Go Wrong?

This has been by far my most popular post in the nine months that I have blogged, and I thought it was time to revisit it and keep the conversation going. There are some incredible comments up for review. Some of my childhood friends even chimed in to challenge me with some of my content in the post. I would love you to take a read and  respond with your honest feelings on the subject. Maybe I will turn this conversation in to a mini e-book or something in the future because it sure captivated my readers. Enjoy!

I recently returned from a trip to my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  Winnipeg is 8 hours north of Minneapolis, Minnesota if you are unaware. This is the first time in my career that I am able to work in my hometown since I moved away 11 years ago, and I was very excited to reconnect in my community.

Although most of the trip was awesome, I had a surprising conversation with somebody from my past that bothered me greatly. For those of you who know me well, I have “facial recognition software” engrained in my brain for remembering people who I grew up with. I was at the 100th anniversary of the suburb that I grew up in last Saturday and approached at least 15 people from my youth that I had not seen in 4EVER! That was so much fun. I digress…

I was at a trade show earlier in the week and ordered supper at a concession stand. I changed my drink order, and the person serving me smiled and gave a double take. They saw that I was wearing a name tag, and asked if I went to school in the suburb that I actually grew up in. I paused for a moment and said yes. Instead of saying that I did not remember them, I asked what their name was. After they replied, I instantly recognized their face.

The difficult part of the dialog is they hesitated to say their name out of embarrassment for the job that they were doing. I took a few moments to speak with them after receiving my drink, and saw them the next day as well.

21 years removed from high school, I was not expecting somebody to be working in that setting, and my “facial recognition software” was not activated at the time. If they were proud of the job that they were doing, and did not care what others  thought, they would have had no issue telling me what their name was.

There is a silver lining for this person. It is never too late to change career paths. The generation of  “go to school, get a job, find somebody, get married, have some kids, work at the same thing for 40+ years and retire” is long gone.

One of my best friends dropped everything in his late 30’s, started working towards a totally different career, and is now very close to completing his studies.

We can’t turn back the clock and hit “reset” to that day that we walked out of high school with that diploma in hand, but we can certainly hit the “reset” button RIGHT NOW and start working towards something more fulfilling.

If there is anything this experience really taught me, is that I have to keep working towards what I really want out of life, no matter how hard it seems sometimes. I would rather fall flat on my face and know that I tried, than think about it, and never do anything. I don’t care if you are in sales, management, general business, or doing whatever keeps you paying the bills, but be sure that you are happy doing it.

I will always keep trying, scratching and clawing towards surpassing my goals, no matter how tough things seem to get. Just ask those who played hockey against me when I was a one man wrecking crew pushing for victory as a kid!

  • How is your job/career going?
  • Are you jumping out of bed excited about what you are doing from the moment your feet hit the floor each morning?
  • If you had an unexpected meeting with somebody from your past, would you be embarrassed to tell them what you are doing?
  • If so, whatcha gonna do about it?

About Tim Mushey

Dynamic and energized sales rep, mentor and leader since 1999. This blog will be about sales, social networking, personal branding, leadership, music and having some laughs! Don’t be surprised if I mix it up on occasion, and talk about something totally different! I thrive on being part of successful, forward thinking teams. I am ready to go from the moment my feet hit the floor each morning, with the expectation that new adventures will be coming my way. It is rare that there isn't a smile on my face, as I take it all in, and have some fun along the way!

Posted on February 24, 2015, in Career, Success and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 65 Comments.

  1. Interesting. I have also experienced bumping into peoplle from my past who were embarrassed with where they were in life and they put a barrier between us because of it. Shame, because I would have liked to reconnect.

    On a related note, I often look at people shuffling around downtrodden and wonder who they were in High School – what were their dreams and ambitions, who did they think they would be in 20 years, and how did they get to where they are now. As you say, it’s not too late to choose a new path. We always have the ability too refine or reinvent ourselves.

    • Hey Broc… they embarrassment factor can be a barrier for re-connecting for sure. It is unfortunate. Refining or reinventing ourselves can be time-consuming, and full of other feeling like fear, doubt and anxiety. But if you can make a change, wow the results can be very cool! Thanks as always for taking the time to contribute to this blog! Chat soon…

  2. Nice post, you are right. Be proud not necessarily of where you are today in life but more of where you are headed. Problem is that very few people know or seem to care enough to try and affect it.

    • Hey Rupert… Certainly be proud of where you are headed. Great point! Now trying to affect it, as you state, is an entirely different story. Thanks again…

  3. Tim,

    Interesting post. It’s funny how we can run into people from our past and for whatever reason they are not comfortable with what they do or who they are. Bottom line is that no matter what one does for a living, at the end of it all, what matters is how happy you were and the impact you had on others. Pride is what you make of it!

    • Hey Bruce… great points. Happiness and the impact that you make on others is certainly the key. I agree 100% That is the first time that I have had an experience like that in a long time. And even though I know many people are not happy with what they are doing, that was a real reality check for me. Thanks!

  4. Nice post Tim. We’ve all had moments like that. It’s good to have goals and push hard to achieve them. It’s also important to celebrate your successes and realize that when you do land the job you love. Enjoy every day of it while still seeking to improve. In the end, you only have yourself to answer to.


    • Hi Jamie.. thanks for your comments. Having goals and pushing towards the life that we want can be a challenge. But at the end of the day, that makes everything much more fulfilling. You are soooooo correct in saying that you only have yourself to answer to. Thanks again!

  5. Are you sure it was about the job or location they were nervous or apprehensive about? It could have been many other things that made them uncomfortable or hesitant. (obviously unless they explicitly stated their embarrassment)

    • Hey Cara… Thanks for taking the time to comment. They were embarrassed to reveal their name to me, because I would remember them from school. It was directly related to the job that they were doing in their late 30’s that caused the apprehension. Thanks for clarifying, and thanks for taking the time to read!

    • I just realized that I forgot to put in my response to you the comment from my conversation “I am embarrassed to give my name”. That probably does not change our standstill on this topic, but I had a friend challenge me as well, so I have been thinking about it all day. Thanks Cara..

  6. I agree with Jaime’s comment – nice post.

  7. HI Tim, It was great seeing you at the 100th year celebration… I have to add…I hate when people say…”I’m JUST a……… ” Discrediting what they do because they feel that career is beneath the other person’s. You definitely have to do something you love or you will wind up miserable. I have a bunch of friends that in their 30’s and 40’s decided it was time to take a new career path…So you are right at it is never too late.
    Take care, wish you all the success!

    • Hey Dawn nice to see you too! Funny you mention the “I’m just a….” There was a lengthy discussion about that on the Charles Adler show on the radio a few weeks ago that I listened to. Loving what you do is certainly essential. Great to see that lots of your friends are taking the time to start a new career path. It can be scary for many reasons, but the rewards can be great. Thanks again for taking the time to comment and stay in touch…Tim

  8. I think this is a great post…And I look at it from another perspective. Perhaps until that moment, he wasn’t embarrassed. Perhaps within the context of his reality he was very cool with his choices. And upon seeing you, he became self-conscious about his achievement or lack thereof. At the end of the day, you are right – we can re-career, re-create, re-consider our choices. But first and foremost, we have to be at peace with who we are before we can begin to face the challenges of starting over…

    • Hey thanks for taking the time to comment! I really appreciate it. Great insight in your points here… There are certainly lots of things that we can “re” in our lives! We must be at peace with who we are before even thinking about starting over. Thanks again…

  9. Kim Churchill

    Great post Tim!! It’s never too late…a wise man always told me “be careful what you dream for…it might just come true”. Words that I have always tried to live by because if you have the drive and determination, anything is possible. I’m so thankful everyday that I pushed through the fear and followed my dream. Keep up the great work – you are a true inspiration 🙂

    • Wow thanks for stopping by little sis! I am glad that you pushed through your fear and followed your dream too! Nice quote by the way 🙂 Thanks again.

  10. Once again great writing, Sir Tim. As to your questions, I’m not ashamed of what I do and am proud to tell people, but I find that not many people know what a career search workshop facilitator is, let alone what an urban career center does for people. To many, we’re the unemployment office. If you got a few minutes, here are my thoughts on what I do: http://tinyurl.com/7koa5a2.

    In answer to your first two questions…not really Big T.

    • Hey Bob! Thanks for taking the time to respond. Well you should be proud of your role, and it is very important work. I started to use an office similar to yours, but it was short lived a few years ago when I was let go from a sales job.

      I appreciate the link you sent over about your role. Great read. Thanks again!

  11. You are Canadian too? Had no idea…Small world….:)

  12. “If they were proud of the job that they were doing, and did not care what others thought, they would have had no issue telling me what their name was.

    There is a silver lining for this person. It is never too late to change career paths.”

    Your assumption that the job was the reason for not enthusiastically telling you their name is quite the sweeping statement.

    You have some great energy but it can be unkind to come to this harsh conclusion without taking the time to talk it out with the person you are judging. Leadership is a lot of things including fairness, humility and openness.
    The person may have had something else on their mind or simply remembered something unpleasant from the past.

    • Cara.. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment again, but I think we will agree to disagree on this one. Because you were not standing beside me when this interaction occurred, it would be difficult for you to infer what I inferred.

      Somebody was 38-39 years old working where they were working, seeing somebody that they had not seen in 20 years (who looked reasonably successful). It was clear at that moment that they were embarrassed by where they were working and did not want to give their name initially.

      Is there a chance that I was dead wrong – absolutely and I appreciate your take on my post. I just feel that it was less than a percent of a percent chance. There was a bigger message to this post, and to protect their identity I kept them anonomys.

      Thanks again…

      • Hey Tim,

        I will have to agree with Cara. It is entirely possible that this person was never embarrassed of their job and quite content with their position in life. You said so yourself, “21 years removed from high school, I was not expecting somebody to be working in that setting” means that you might consider this lesser position to be at this stage of their life.

        Even though your words did say it, your initial reaction and body language might have shown something entirely different. He might have retracted given your reaction. Think about it, why would he have asked what neighborhood you were from if he was not reaching out in some way? He obviously recognized you and if he did not want you to know who he was, he probably would have said nothing at all.

        Thing is, for all you know this person might lead an incredibly fulfilling life. Maybe he volunteers at a seniors home or canvasses for his church or another charity. Maybe he spends all his time taking care of a sick family member and he needs something more flexible. Maybe he is less interested in progressing himself and more interested in the progression of others. Ultimately, you will never know.

        Not everyone defines success as progression, striving for the best or achieving higher status. Some believe success is achieved with personal contentment and there is nothing wrong with that.

        Always here to challenge you, buddy!


        • Hey Stace… Thanks for taking the time to comment! I just wrote you a long response but lost it.. Will respond after work. Thanks for challenging me. This is fun!

        • Hey Stace… Thanks again for your insightful comments. Yeah you bring up some very valid points. Thanks for challenging me!

          I guess it is safe to say that there is a chance that I read the situation wrong. But at the end of the day, I will still stick to my guns on this one. You are very correct in saying that many other factors may have been in play with them having their current role.

          Since it has been a week now, I have had some time to reflect on our brief conversation.

          Once they asked where I grew up, and they realized that they knew me, and then I asked them their name….. it was kind of like it seemed like a good idea to ask about me, but they really took a step back and would have rather not revealed their identity. But soon realized that was the next logical step.

          In a perfect world, I think they would have rather known my identity without revealing theirs.

          Take this as you may, but that was just my assessment of the brief in counter. Different time, different place, your theories could have been the more likely scenario.

          Thanks again and hope to see you back here again soon…

  13. Hi Tim, great post, I love your “hit the reset button”. I hit mine about 5 years ago and am continually moving forward. It maybe small steps but it is in the right direction.

  14. I don’t know Tim. I agree with Cara on this one. You may have judged them based on their occupation and may have jumped to the conclusion that they too felt ashamed of what they did. I mean would someone who didn’t want to be recognized ask you about your past and where you grew up? Maybe they reacted to your reaction? Or maybe you got the batch of fries that fell on the floor?

    Good blog otherwise. Be proud of what you do no matter where or what you do.

    Just so you know Tim, Im proud of you. You are doing some cool stuff and writing some quality articles. You can serve me fries anytime.

    • Hey there thanks for taking the time to comment. Wow this post sure got everyone talking which is a good thing. I have debated my point about making the assessment that I did, so I won’t go in to it again.

      But with that being said, as with Cara, I certainly value your opinion.

      The only point I will make is they seemed excited to find out if I was who they thought I was, then suddenly realized that I would be digging to see if I knew them.

      At that moment, they realized that now they would have to reveal their identity and suddenly did not want to.. The whole interaction took less than 30 seconds.

      Have a great day, and thanks again for stopping by.

  15. Very true, I decided to change my path a year ago and have never looked back since. My new path was opened up for a dramatic reason in life so I can’t say I woke up one day and thought lets do something different but nevertheless it has been worth while making the change

    • Hey Stephen! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I am so glad to hear that the change has been worthwhile for you! Good luck in the future and all the best…

  16. Small world Tim, Transcona born and bred also.

  17. Never stop reaching for your dreams! When I’m training I occasionally meet people who have been sent by their employers with the idea that maybe a training course might put the pep back into their performance. The actual reality is that they’ve realized they are in the wrong role and don’t know what to do about it. They often have a dream of what they would be doing if only things “were different”.

    I loved your article Tim. As you say, it’s never too late to retrain and life is too short to spend our days doing something we no longer enjoy.

    Here’s to always being rebellious, always pushing our boundaries, and always reaching for our dreams!

    • Hey thanks for taking the time to comment Peter! I just love what you said. Being rebellious, always pushing boundaries and reaching for dreams is a fantastic idea! You gotta love what you do, or you are not going to be happy! Have a great weekend and thanks again for stopping by!

  18. Its interesting isn’t it. In fact none of us should be ashamed of what we’re doing. Its all about life choices and the reasons for which we make them – your old friend may have done something very meaningful with their life which has resulted in them working that food concession. Its all about whats holding them back now. What is stopping them making that change and whether thats important to them.

    I too made a career change after working 20+ years in financial services and work now with people helping them figure it out so I agree – never too late.

    thanks for popping by my blog – hope you come back soon.

    • Hi Carolyn. Thanks for your comments. Yes they certainly may have done something very meaningful with their life, unfortunately I am unable to fill in the blanks now to know for sure.
      What is holding them back now is certainly they key to this issue for them going forward.
      Thanks again for taking the time to comment. I loved your post. Take care…

  19. I get a kick out of receiving a notice that someone is following my blog and see that he/she has a blog I’d like to follow (which I’ve now done). I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts, but wanted to say how much I appreciated the insights in this particular post. We can overcome a lot of external challenges with determination and enthusiasm, and it would be a shame to let internal reluctance or embarrassment get in the way of our progress.

    • Hi thanks for following my blog, and thanks for taking the time to read this post! This is one of my favourite’s to date, and it appears that many people have really enjoyed it – I am deeply flattered.

      This post really hit home for a lot of people, and you are very correct in discussing the ability of people to overcome external challenges. Determination and enthusiasm are critical to getting where you want to be. Things like internal reluctance or embarrassment can certainly get in the way of where you want to be.

      I have worked in a mail room, cut grass at a golf course, washed dishes at a buffet restuarant, set up meetings to sell encyclopedias and worked at a local hockey rink. All of these jobs provided me with a variety of experiences that shaped who I am today, and who I will become tomorrow.

      My “mystery person” in this post had some hesitation revealing their identity 21 years removed from high school for their reasons. Life can change for people with a moment’s notice. It is how you respond that is the key.

      Thanks again, and looking forward to following your blog!

  20. Tim,

    This is a lovely sentiment but i think you are jumping to some big conclusions. Unless they told you they were embaressed then you are projecting your thoughts about the situation on them. We all do this but I find that when it comes to “sucess” this happens all the time. Perhaps they feel or perceive that others are embaressed for them. Maybe they are perfectly happy but don’t feel comfortable when they see someone because of others seeing them as a failure. Ultimately you post tries to be encouraging which I can respect but your underlying judgement is still there. You may not be judging their job but you are judging their percieved inability to overcome it.

    I agree that we can allchange and make different choices. But I also know from my work as a social worker that there are many realities out there that make it hard, or not worth it for people. We all have to prioritize our lives. For many work is a means to anend and not on the top of their list. Mental health, addictions, or just plain bad luck can contribute. Or perhaps just pure choice. You made different choices. That is great but be cautious not to judge a person’s success or failure on a couple conversations. Perhaps their embarressment was a reaction to yours.

    I love how you try to encourage others here. That is a worthwhile endevour.

    We need people of all types. Capitalism by defiition means not all will succeed.

    • Hey Krista! Thanks for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate you stopping by. One of the big issues that came out in the previous comments on this post was did I jump to conclusions.

      When I corresponded with several people, I noted that I wish they had been there with me for that brief interaction when person in question said, “I am almost too embarrassed to say my name”.

      That did happen, which lead me to direct my writing on that premise. I will add to my response to you a little later today. Thanks for the fantastic response!

  21. The heading of your blog topic is appropriate. “Where did it all go wrong?” In your context you are referring to this persons lack of success by North American standards based on your perceptions of him. I think the question should be asked in the context of why do we in North America define success the way we do? Why don’t we put more emphasis on being compassionate and kind or living a life of integrity and less on career, the car you drive or the home you live in to define success? This gentleman that you met could be living a very fulfilling life and could be contributing to make the world a better place in some way that was not obvious to you or he could be going through a difficult period in his life because of health, family crises or other external reasons. Whatever the case he probably felt uncomfortable because he knew from past experience that he would be judged based on the narrow definition that most of us have of success. Success by North American standards is very fleeting. There are lots of people driving their BMW’s to see their Therapist. Where did it all go wrong?

    “In a competitive world choosing not to compete is a revolutionary act” Epicurus

    • Bruce my friend! So nice of you to stop by! I owe you a full response later, and to be clear, I agree with you 100% on many of the points.

      As I have repeated throughout this thread, the person in question did say to me, “I am almost too embarrassed to say my name.” That comment alone inspired this post, on several levels.

      But if I took things out of context, that is on me. I am the biggest supporter of doing what you love. And if that was the best situation at that stage in their life, I am very happy for them.

      The tone of the conversation did not lead me to believe that to be true though.

      Will swing back later and address a few of your other comments directly.

      Thanks again!

  22. Maybe I spend too much time in restaurants and bars but I often find myself asking waiters and waitresses (with great personalities) if they are on LinkedIn. They meet 100’s of people who might be worth connecting with, and could also hold the key or provide guidance to their next career move.

    • Hey thanks for stopping by to comment! That sounds like a great way to increase your network and possibly help others connect too. Thanks again…

  23. Great observation, Tim. I think a lot of us still hold on to the image we had in younger days of where we thought we would be at this point in life before we hit a few bumps along the way. But we should never be embarrassed about where we are and you are absolutely right, it’s never too late to make a change.

    • Thanks for stopping by Mark! Yes if you would like to make a change, it is never too later. Appreciate you taking the time to comment..

  24. Hi Tim,

    Nice of you to repost this on FB. I missed it the first time ’round.

    You’re probably right about what caused the embarrassment, but I’ll chime in with another potential scenario just for fun. What if this person had a major crush on you in high school, ran into you unexpectedly on a day they felt they didn’t look their best, and wished for a few minutes of primping before the conversation started?

    Good post.

    • You are welcome Susan! Hopefully your Sunday is off to a great start. Yeah that is a great comment. I did not think of that. I mean, the girls were lined up all the way down the hall at school to date me, so that was a lucky possibility! In all seriousness, there are several different reasons why the encounter happened the way it did, but it has been interesting to speculate to say the least. Thanks for taking the time to stop by 🙂

  25. Hi there. I found you through Susie Lindau’s party. I’ve found it very interesting, the reasons why people sometimes hesitate before revealing who they are… There are plenty of superficial people out there who judge you by the job you have or who you marry or what you look like, so I get the pause.

    The last time someone paused when I recognized her, I found it was because she’d hated me in elementary/middle school (her words, not mine). Apparently because I was a tomboy who “had” all the boys (most of the popular ones were my best friends), she was a bit put out. It wasn’t until we were older that she realized they were only friends of mine. She’d never said anything when we were younger because she knew if the boys found out she hated me, they’d stop speaking to her (again, her words).

    Personally, as long as they’re good people, I could care less what they do for a living….or any of the other superficial stuff.

    • Hey Kitt! Thanks for taking the time to comment, and sharing your story. Interesting perspective from back in the good old school days!

      It is funny the assumptions that some people make which could not be further from the truth. These things are so silly sometimes.

      Well I guess the positive is she found out that she was wrong after all.

      Thanks for the blog follow! I am looking forward to checking out your blog and have followed back as well.

      Have a fantastic weekend and thanks again…


  26. I went through this when my daughter was a junior in high school. I don’t know what it was, but all of sudden everyone I met asked me what I did. I was a mom almost out of a job. At that time I had no inclination to write, but a year later after a friend listened to one of my long-winded stories, she suggested I write a book. Here I am after being a professional artist, blogging and I just finished my first novel. I finally discovered my passion!
    Great post! I am glad you brought it to the party!

    • Susie…. What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing that. I am so glad that everything aligned for you and you are now living your passion. Most people don’t, and settled for the “regular life”.

      It means a lot that you would take the time to stop by. I certainly enjoyed stopping by “your party” and will do so again. Have a fantastic weekend.

  27. Tim I came via Susie’s party. Late but I’m here! This post certainly produced some strong reactions. I’d basically like to do just what Susie did. I’ve just lost my job after being there 12 years. It was a very unpleasant place to be towards the end. I’d love to take the chance to change tack- just haven’t worked out quite how yet…

    • Hey thanks for stopping by! Never too late. Well good luck with everything. I lost my job a few years ago too. Although it sucked at the time, as I reflect now it was the best thing that ever happened to me in my career. It gave me the perspective that bigger things are in store for me, I just have to start working towards them.

      Thanks again and stay in touch.

      All the best,


      • A lot of people seem to say that. There’s an opportunity out there that I’m thinking about but it would mean halving my salary (gulp) and it would be a huge step into the unknown. I might still be able to fit in some writing too though which would be a bonus. Thanks for the follow and good luck with working towards those bigger things yourself!

        • Well thank you! The unknown and uncertainty causes a lot of people to stay with the safety of the regular path in life, with the job that they have had for many years?

          I have a post that you may like to read if you want to shoot me an email at TimMushey@gmail.com

          We are single income family right now, so my goal with a new business is to supplement my income for now. From there, we will see how it goes.

          Good luck, you are welcome for the follow and we will be in touch!

          Have a fantastic day.


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