When I was turning 30, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next in my life, but I knew one thing for certain: I needed change.
And change is exactly what I did. I left my successful eight-year advertising career in Tokyo, and decided to pursue business school 7,000 miles away from home.
Yes, I did a 180-degree turn. I guess that's just how I roll. When I decide to do something, I dive in, 100 percent.
After I earned an MBA from Yale, I landed an envy-worthy job.
I strategically sought out positions I believed would impress future employers. I chose my positions based on how useful I believed they would be in the future. My main concern was how good a position would look on my resume.
At first, it was exciting. I learned new things, met new people and moved up the ladder.
Then, the company I worked at went through a major merger, and I watched many of my colleagues leave.
I was promoted to a new position and I got a raise. I was happy about that.
But slowly, I began to realize the position wasn't a good match for me. Looking back, it's so obvious to see that my mind and heart were unaligned, and it made me miserable.
The only way I knew to get through it was to work harder, push harder. I would say YES to almost everything that came my way, even when I really wanted to say NO.
Every time I said YES to something I didn't want to do, my stomach actually cringed. My body was trying to tell me something was wrong, but rather than listen, I would put my head down and get back to work.
I basically became the walking, stressed out doormat.
Mornings became exercises in getting out of bed and crying in the shower to wash my misery down the drain.
I wasn't myself, and I felt so lost and alone. I was too exhausted to see my friends, and when I did, all I wanted to talk about was how dismal I felt at work.
But, I couldn't tell my friends the truth. I was too proud to share how low I'd become.
I felt that telling the truth about how bad I felt would be the same as admitting I had failed.
The only thing I looked forward to was the glass of wine when I got home at night. My dinners back then consisted of wine and Pringles.
I didn't like the person I had become. Nozomi had always been the hopeful, engaging, energetic person in a group.
I hardly recognized the unhappy woman staring back at me in the mirror.
What was even more frustrating was that I wasn't performing at the level I knew I could. I wasn't doing my best work and I felt completely disappointed in myself.
I was at the end of my rope, and I couldn't figure out how to climb back up.
Fortunately, that low point was like a wake up call. I slowly began to realize that I was responsible for my own happiness, and the only way to make things right was to take back control of my own life.
That's when I decided to set my pride aside and say NO to the way I was treating myself.
Set your pride aside
I was afraid for others to see me as a failure.
My pride blocked me from talking to other people about the challenges I was facing. I kept it all to myself. In retrospect, I can see I should have opened up and constructively discussed my feelings and overwhelm with my boss, a friend, a colleague or a coach before it became critical.
Too often, those of us whose identities are tied to being a smart, responsible person forget to check our pride at the door when we fall into trouble. Our egos take over and we get stuck in a rut.
The truth is, there will be situations in life where you can't fix them on your own. You need support to get a fresh perspective, to come up with unique solutions, or to give you a soft place to rest while you get your bearings.
Regardless of what ultimately happens, you are never a failure, no matter what you do.
Every situation is an opportunity for learning and growth. You attract challenges to your life so you can grow stronger and become better.
But, if your stubborn pride is in the way, you will never learn the lessons you need so that you can move on.
Does your pride get in the way of your professional (and personal) learning and growth?
Share your story of overcoming pride here.
Nozomi Morgan, MBA, is a certified Executive Coach and the Founder and President of Michiki Morgan Worldwide LLC. Addition to coaching, she speaks and trains on leadership, career, professional development and cross-cultural business communication.