• shane@countryexec.com
  • Seguin, Texas
The Simple Life Versus Career Aspirations In Rural Texas

The Simple Life Versus Career Aspirations In Rural Texas

In 2018 Mrs. Country Exec and I were fortunate to have been chosen to relocate to Seguin, TX so I could become the city’s first technology executive. Five years later with an opportunity looming to promote into a similar role for a much larger city, we chose to stay in our community. As someone that has been aspirational for the entirety of my career, I struggled with the decision. I came to the realization that something has changed. Maybe it’s my age, maybe the economy. It’s true I love my organization. My team is amazing, and relationships have been fostered across the org to an exceptional degree. Seguin, TX is unquestionably my home. Something incredible has been built here, professionally and personally. With that in mind, I’m going to discuss why I chose the simple life versus career aspirations in rural Texas.

The Country Executive - Simple Life 1
Beautiful photo of Central Park in Seguin, TX – credit seguintexas.gov

Not Always A Simple Life

My natural tendency as an adult has been to be receptive to professional growth and opportunity. That’s how I built the experience that catapulted my career, and ultimately how my salary grew. It’s a fact that’s what it took to break out of the cycle of poverty, and how the opportunities transpired to grow within my career field. As the experience was increasing, so was my value as a professional.

Through being receptive to what life was throwing my way I figured out I thrive on change. The challenge of taking on new opportunities, learning a new environment. New processes, living in a new city. Finding new places to enjoy, trying new things. Gaining exposure into what made others successful. I enjoyed it!

It was such a different way of existing than what I experienced growing up. I grew up with a simple life, sought out experience, and wound up coming full circle to the simple life I enjoy thoroughly today. I don’t believe I would be as appreciative of everything today to the degree I am had I not ventured out to better understand how things can be different. There’s real value in understanding through exposure.

Struggling With A Decision

Having been in the same role for over five years now, I’ve struggled with the next step. I’m extremely happy with everything professionally and personally today. I have an incredible life and I am truly grateful for everything, but despite all that was it time to move on to the next chapter? My professional history says that’s how you continue to grow and evolve as a leader. Maybe it was time, or was it? I truly struggled with the decision.

I wound up doing what I always do, and that was to lean on the experience of others. My wife and I discussed everything of course as she is my partner in everything. After that I talked to a few trusted friends/mentors. Nobody was ever going to be able to make the decision for me obviously, but I was consuming a lot of input to help guide my train of thought.

Mrs. Country Exec and I made a pro/con list, and she even found this neat process online that helps provide weighted factors into a big decision. We were stuck though. Despite being perfectly content where we were, life had taught us that the benefit of being receptive to opportunity can be substantial. I was hoping I would have an epiphany of sorts, but it didn’t happen for months….until it finally did.

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What Changed

A couple of days before the epiphany happened I talked to my boss about the decision I was struggling with. I’m an open book as I like to say, and thankfully I work for someone that I believe has my best interests in mind. I am no different with my employees, I don’t necessarily want them to leave our org but I support someone doing so if it helps them achieve their goals in life. As leaders we should be supportive of those we are responsible for.

My boss said he’d hate to lose me, but I should see the process through for this opportunity that may not come around again so there would be no regrets. As this specific hiring process had played out over a few months that’s pretty much where my head was at as well. It helped to hear it from someone else though. Soon after that was when the epiphany happened finalizing the decision and choosing to stay with our wonderfully simple life.

Choosing A Simple Life

A couple of days after speaking with my boss it came to me. It was a beautiful Saturday morning in August (2023). My wife and I were at the Austin airport on our way to LA to receive the CIO100 award on behalf of the city, attend the adjoining conference, and see some friends. We met in LA and hadn’t been back in over a decade, so we made a trip out of it.

As we were lounging around the airport that morning waiting for our flight, we were talking about potentially moving on and the decision came to me like a brick. What was I doing? We fought and clawed our way through life to achieve the wonderful simplicity we have today. A beautiful home on acreage in an awesome neighborhood. A great job surrounded by incredible people. Short commute. Little stress. I’m just happy. At the end of the day all I was going to do was try to replicate what I already had.

My employer supports our technology vision to an unbelievable degree. Our success with innovation in small town Texas has been recognized around the country, and even globally. Something special has been built here with tech. Most don’t know it, but it’s true. The accolades are testament to the incredible things happening. We accomplished everything as a team, no need to throw a monkey wrench into such a wonderful investment.

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The Epiphany

Before I got on the plane that morning I texted my boss. I thanked him for the advice, but told him I wasn’t going to take it. Jokingly I said he’d have to run me out of town because it was home as far as I’m concerned. It felt good to be at a definitive conclusion. That was several weeks ago and I am still happy and content we chose to stay.

I removed myself from the final stage of that big opportunity. I decided I didn’t need more, didn’t want it. Everything I needed was right here. Oddly enough, the delayed hiring process contributed to the final decision. Early on I was excited about possibly being the CIO for a very well known city in Texas. One that was close to my heart in many ways. Since I was afforded the time to really think it through, when it got to the final stage of that hiring process I had done a complete reversal.

Life Lessons

Life has taught me the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else. Money, a more prestigious employer or bigger title may not ultimately be everything you want it to be. Happiness is derived from within. If you’re seeking major change I encourage you to ensure it is for the right reason.

This website is all about growth, so it’s contradictory to say it somewhat, but with time being our most precious resource it is imperative we do what is right to the best of our ability for our families and ourselves. There can be fundamental value in choosing personal over professional gain. Perhaps that is true growth.

The truth is it was never going to be easy to leave my adopted hometown. We love it here, I believe this is the best part of Texas. The city embraced us, and so much good has happened as a result. The innovation of course, and the media coverage that followed singing the praises of our historically rural, yet rapidly growing community. It still blows my mind how we garner so much attention, but we thank everyone for the opportunity and we will always help to put a positive spin on how wonderful this community truly is.

Conclusion For A Simple Life

Who knows what the future holds. I of course know to never say never, but for the first time I am not so aspirational to continue to advance my career. Maybe I am at my last stop, maybe not. It’s nice to have a home, I know that. It’s also nice to work for an organization that cares about its employees. A lot of places say they do, but actions often say otherwise.

Not a concern here. We got a pirate ship in Seguin, TX. We do things our way, and we do it with serious, old school Texas swagger. Seguin swagger! You couldn’t put me in a more ideal situation tailor made for who I am as a person. A good ole boy from small town Texas that has somehow carved out a nearly thirty year career in IT. I obviously love it, so much so I said no to a special opportunity after a lifetime of climbing the career ladder.

Fact is I’ve said no to many opportunities the last few years, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I’m home, happy, and where I’m supposed to be. I would like everyone to enjoy that level of contentment. You may or may not desire simplicity, but there is comfort in dictating the circumstances of your life. Until next time thank you for reading, and please take care of yourself and the ones you love.

The Country Executive

1 thought on “The Simple Life Versus Career Aspirations In Rural Texas

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      It sounds like you came to the right decision for you after much deliberation. It’s difficult to turn down an advancement opportunity, because our society conditions us to believe that success is defined by climbing the next rung on the ladder. About 12 years ago, I stepped out of people leadership into an individual contributor role. I knew that by doing that I was limiting my future earning potential. It’s a decision that was right for me and one that I have never regretted.

      Here’s to the simple life!

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