Going Through Changes

Face it: Change is unavoidable. Take control of yourself so that the changes don't control you.

to face transformation with courage and resolve comes from within,” says Winters, who has been in the organizational development and diversity consulting business for the past 19 years. “[It comes] from knowing and believing in your authentic self.”

In fact, it was a long period of soul-searching that finally made Alexander, 40, quit his job. “A lot of my peers from college and business school thought it was crazy. But sometimes you have to throw your ego on the sidewalk, step over it, and keep going. The more demanding my job became, the more I couldn’t stand it. It was almost as if God was saying, ‘You have no choice but to leave.’ So I did.”

It’s one thing for the man above to say it. It’s another thing for your employer to say it. That’s what happened to Hugo T. Mullins in 1994. Married, with two daughters, Mullins had built up a substantial business working for a Virginia-based social services company from his Atlanta home. He contracted with state and county agencies to counsel members of troubled families. “I built the business on my own, with very little support from the company,” says Mullins. “All they were giving me was a paycheck. Everything else was on me.”

But once the business was a success, the company began imposing more rules, restrictions, and demands on Mullins. At one point, he was asked to apologize to a supervisor who felt he was not giving her enough credit in the development of the Atlanta region. Mullins refused. Several weeks later, he was fired.

Mullins, 46, says it was the first time he felt like a failure. “You immediately start to doubt yourself,” he says. “You wonder, ‘What’s wrong with me? Did I destroy my career? Was I too stubborn?’ But after awhile, my [social worker] training came into play and I took an inventory of myself. That’s when I said, ‘Wait a minute! I built a business for them.’ If I did it for them, I can do it for myself.”

Although his wife, Lisa, had some reservations, Mullins launched his firm, Family Ties Inc., that same week with one employee, one service, and one agency in one county. Today, the firm boasts 21 full-time employees, 15 contractors, five programs in six counties, and Lena’s House, its first group home, which expects to open this year. Meanwhile, the company that fired him is out of business in his area. Three years ago, Lisa, 42, left her executive position at Coca-Cola to become his administrative director.

“When we moved to Atlanta from New York in 1988, Lisa was pregnant and neither one of us had a job,” Mullins recalls. “I got confidence from realizing that I’d done unconventional things before and it’s always worked out. We’ve all overcome challenges in life. If you’ve done it before, you can do it again. It’s not easy to do, but it feels great once you’ve done it.”

Or, as Alexander says, “You find happiness by opening yourself up to whatever comes your

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