Put Your Hypotheses to the Test – In Increments
There is a term at the coaching program I followed*, “Forward the action, deepen the learning.”If you really want to figure out what’s next, try some things out.I don’t mean taking a course, though that can be a part of it.I mean actually do it.So many people dream of opening a B&B, painting, or becoming a life coach.Yet they do nothing to explore the possibility. They think that once they quit their job, their full-time focus will make it happen.Or, some say they have no idea what they want to do instead of their current job.Again, they don’t take time to expore their interests and impulses. Do you dream of becoming a chef?Cater an event or two for a charity you are involved with.See what you learn.Do you dream of being a ski instructor?Do it part-time for a season.Do you want to become an architect?Try designing your own renovation.Or, just volunteer for an industry group or do a part-time internship to see whether you like the job, or even the industry.
For previous tips, see my earlier blog posts: http://www.clearstrategycoaching.com/posts
I love reading Tony Schwartz’s blogs. Not just because his tools and techniques are great, but because he has a very human approach. He advocates that the myth of the 24-hour a day super hero employee is just that, a myth…
Last month I was asked by the Columbia Business School Alumni Office to share my thoughts on career transition. As a coach who has personally transitioned twice, I have learned a few things. This entry is the first of several tips:
At various times in my career I found myself deeply appreciating what I had learned at Columbia (during my brand management days) and then wondering how I’d ended up at B-School in the first place (standing with eight fragrance modifications on my outstretched arms while my client and colleagues smelled me). Many business school graduates, either because of heavy student loan burdens, or for reasons of prestige and achievement, pursue careers in Financial Services or Consulting. For some, these careers offer a very satisfying career path. For others who find their interest waning, the transition can be a challenge. How do you make a change when a) You haven’t had the time to cultivate side interests, or don’t even know what they are and b) You don’t see how you will pay the bills in a post-Finance career? Here are a few of my thoughts:
Take the Long View
Good transitions take thought and time. In my experience, it takes two years to learn a new job in a new discipline. We’ve all heard the stories of the investment banker who quits and starts his own vineyard. Yet ask him about the road to success and you will hear about some real white-knuckle moments. The “98% perspiration” needs time. I experienced this first hand as I developed my own coaching practice. My timeline quickly went from one year to two years, and I had to ask myself if I really wanted it.
If you are looking to start a business, stay in your current job, or shift to part-time or consulting until you have traction in the new area. If you are looking for a new job, extend your timeline. You may need to look longer to find a company willing to take a chance on you. Or you may need to volunteer or intern to prove you are serious. Either way, don’t set yourself up for failure by taking the lottery approach.
For years I’ve been reading and hearing about happiness and positive psychology. But there was always something that didn’t make sense. I mean, where are these people jumping up and down like Tom Cruise on Oprah right after he met Katie Holmes? And, how can so many studies say that people with children are less happy, when in their older years they all seem to say that their greatest happiness was having children?
This weekend I wasn’t quite glued to the TV, but I did find myself spending a couple of languid hours enjoying the re-runs of the royal wedding.
A friend shared this speech by Elizabeth Coleman, president of Bennington College, which to me carries the game changing perspective shift of the sort that John F. Kennedy presented in his 1961 inauguration speech.
A friend sent me this article on Obliquity, a new book by John Kay of the Oxford Business School. The article suggests that having a focus other than happiness actually gives us much more access to happiness. It also suggests that taking good care of your customers, rather than focusing on profits, is a much more effective path to success. What a novel idea for the salespeople who have been taught to set goals and focus, focus, focus on reaching them. Imagine, actually doing the right thing as a path to success!
Yesterday a client (who agreed to my writing this) came to me with a lot of emotion around work. In fact, the communication was so urgent, so emphatic, that I might have thought the client was in danger of being fired.
I love this Fast Company article titled, “Eight Things You Can Learn About Success From Lady Gaga.” Specifically I am drawn to things #3 and #4 which I take to mean be yourself and connect with people.
On February 28th, the New York Times had a great article on self-compassion: “Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges.” I loved the article because it is such a good example of what coaching, specifically life coaching, is about. I work with high-achieving women. And when I see someone who is stuck, or feeling unproductive, it is almost always because she is being too hard on herself. The reality is that we are all doing so much, and at very high levels of complexity. A little support and acknowledgement can do wonders for taking away the paralyzing judgement, and liberating our productive, creative energy.