AS I EMPTIED the contents of my desk into a cardboard box to carry down to the parking garage, the sense of personal failure was palpable. Only 12 months earlier I'd joined the company, hopeful that I could make a real contribution to this small investment advisor.
My background seemed a perfect fit. I'd been a portfolio manager for most of my professional life—plus the portfolio I'd managed for my previous employer was larger than the combined assets of this entire firm. Yet here I was, one brief year later, packing my belongings (and my pride) and heading for the exit. I slipped out the door without even saying goodbye.
As a life-long Christian Scientist, I'd overcome many difficult situations in my experience, but this one felt more real, more threatening to my self-esteem. In the following months, I found myself ruminating about the circumstances leading up to my departure. It was a time when the stock market was in turmoil, and I was frequently at odds with my boss as we differed over the best course of action to take. As the market rolled over and the dotcom stocks began to implode, I felt vindicated by my cautious exhortations, but that only underscored our differences. Finally, it became apparent to both of us that it would be better if I left the firm.