It was Tuesday, March 4, and 25 of the 60 days had passed. My boss, Frank Hoag, the Detroit Regional Manger, went along with me to meet with Hank Savoy, the Central Area Field Manger for Chrysler. Lee Iacocca had come over from Ford, replacing John Riccardo to run Chrysler. Iacocca replaced a number of Chrysler management people with people from Ford. He recognized there was unrest among the Chrysler people in the field and wanted to show there was also opportunity for Chrysler managers. Hank Savoy offered me the job of Mr. Iacocca’s assistant.
I was filled with an overwhelming sensation that this was not what I was supposed to do or where I was supposed to be. I turned down the job. Stunned, they tried to reason with me. We talked for almost an hour. It became clear to me they were not going to take no for an answer.
I was again filled with an overwhelming sense that this is not where I was to be. After going around and around and getting nowhere I blurted out, “I have three priorities in my life: Jesus Christ, my family, and Chrysler. It has been a very hard year for my family. This would be a seven-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day job. I would be gone all the time. I could not accept this job without violating my first two priorities.”
Hank Savoy clapped his hands together and said, “Well, that’s it. This meeting is over.”
I staggered out of his office. I had just committed career suicide.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
Late afternoon on Friday, April 6, 1980, I stared out my office window confused and uncertain. I could not go back to Hank after a month and say I had reconsidered and now wanted the job with Mr. Iacocca—nor could I see a way forward. My career at Chrysler was over, and I had received no job offers. The lease on our house would be up in seven weeks. I was frozen in time.
(To be continued next Monday in “Home at Last!”)