Earlier this year, I asked people across the country to answer this question, “The one thing that is preventing me from creating more depth in my life professionally/personally right now is ______ .”

Of all the responses I received, this one stuck out to me. “I work at Walmart.”

Here’s why this hit me…

It’s an honest answer. I asked for transparency and authentic responses. I wanted to know how people felt, and that’s what I got. Here’s the reality. In the middle of our struggles, it can be easy to focus on what’s holding us back and how there are no opportunities for us right now. It can be easy to see closed doors. For this individual right now, working at Walmart feels like a dead-end.

It made me wonder how current Walmart CEO Doug McMillon would feel about that response. 

You see, Doug McMillon began his career with Walmart in 1984 as a summer associate at a distribution center. As a high school kid, this future CEO unloaded trucks for $6.50 an hour to get his start with the retailer. 

At that point, he could have said, “I work at Walmart.”

Later on in life, McMillon returned and landed a job as a buyer and merchandiser for Walmart, learning many of the store’s categories, from fishing and diapers. From there, he worked for a time as a chief merchandiser for Sam’s Club, and eventually became the Sam’s Club CEO. Most recently, Doug McMillon became the company’s fifth CEO in 2014.

Today, with a range of possibilities in front of him, he can say, “I work at Walmart.”

To be fair, this isn’t the story of someone who started from the bottom and worked his way up from the warehouse to the boardroom. McMillon left Walmart for a time to go to college, got a solid education, and probably caught a few breaks. If you asked him, though, I bet he’d be able to share some challenges as well – things that could have prevented him from ever doing more than unloading trucks at that first Walmart distribution center.

My point is this. Perception is reality. If you’re looking at where you’re at right now and all you see is dead-ends, you’re right. If you see opportunities ahead of you, you’re right. Whether you think you CAN, or believe you CAN’T, you’re right. I believe that with my entire being. 

So, let’s revisit that initial question I asked, “The one thing that is preventing me from creating more depth in my life professionally/personally right now is ______ .”

Here are some of the other responses to that question that hit home for me:


“The unknown”



“What’s the point?”

“The boundaries are so blurred these days.”

“There’s no more me.”

“Lack of self-confidence, self-doubt, self-sabotage”

“I am finding it near impossible to manage my children and work 30 hours a week from home.”

Those replies capture the reality of where we’re at today – amid a pandemic, the 2020 elections, a fragile economy, virtual learning, and racial unrest in America. Life right now is messy. 2020 has created fear, distractions, blurred boundaries, and rocked our confidence.

2020 has done some things to try and keep us from creating depth in our lives. 

With that in mind, it’s more important than ever to reset our mindset and recharge our energy. 2021 is quickly approaching, and our ability to transition out of this year and into the new one is tied closely to our perceptions. These challenges we’re facing may continue for a while – and new ones may still be around the corner. It’s on each of us to look for the opportunities that exist even during all this chaos. 

Remember, perception is reality.

The Takeaway

Whether you work at Walmart or not, whether you are living through a pandemic or not, the world is still filled with possibilities. Each of us needs to look for those opportunities – to seek them out and to create them – and then make the most of them. The unknowns and distractions will try to hijack us, but with the right perspective and focus anything is possible!

Ready to take hold of 2021? It starts with finishing strong in 2020. Subscribe here for more insights from Depth Not Width and we’ll journey into 2021 together!

– John