Recently I was having coffee with a young man (well, young to me) who I met a few years ago on a project. He sought me out to chat about my career and navigating the corporate ladder. Flattered though I was, I quickly turned the tables on him and, like any good coach, made the conversation about him and his aspirations.
I knew I’d hit a few nerves when we got up to leave, as he was a bit tongue-tied with swirling thoughts and ideas. I was happy to hit those nerves. That is what I do. That is part of the process in helping people become unstuck.
The details of our conversation shall stay between he and I. What I was reminded of as we talked are two concepts that are critical if you have aspirations to move ahead, manage and lead.
Like me, I think most of us grew up being told to “do your best”. We were never told to “make a mistake”. Good reason for that – as humans we strive to succeed and those around us want us to be the best we can be. But what if were given permission to make mistakes? What if that was expected of us?
Sure, no one likes to make a mistake, but there are benefits. When you own up to a bad choice or decision, it opens you up to these opportunities:
Over the past 3 years I have had 3 separate falls resulting in broken bones. Yes I realize I don’t have a great sense of balance (as hard as I work on it). But I also know that these accidents have stopped me dead in my tracks.
Fifteen years ago I had my first major fall resulting in 3 surgeries over several years. This too forced me to make some big decisions, like postponing grad school. It also gave me the opportunity to learn how to accept help from others. After all, I always felt it was my job to help everyone else.
I have noticed a lot of people have a really difficult time living in the gray zone. What I mean is, when they don’t have a clear path, clear goals and can anticipate what is next, they crumble under the pressure of the unknown.
In organizations this has been precipitated by changes in how business is being done, hence the proliferation of change management processes and experts over the last 15+ years. Yes we do live in a time of constant change and we are functioning at a speed never before imagined. And this is the new normal.
In my coaching practice, I work with clients who are most often looking to change. It may be a job, a career path, or a different way of approaching something. Whatever the reason, we work toward establishing a viable plan. Once in place, I always ask the most important question – what will you take with you and what are you going to leave behind?
Most often the client is surprised. Why? Because they don’t realize they have a choice.
I was invited to a special event recently where I was introduced to Scott Mcgillivray, host of Income Properties TV show. This CIBC sponsored event showcased Scott speaking on where financial expertise meets real estate and renovation ingenuity. Not normally my thing.
But, Scott’s message resonated with me and here’s why. If you are going to invest in real estate then be prepared to stay in it for the long haul. The biggest profits come to those willing to look beyond short-term results.
I confess – I lean toward being a big picture kind of person. I get frustrated with details. I dream, I vision and I get going on making them happen. I look to others to sort out the technical and minutiae.
Over the years I have let go of so many little things I thought were important because they caused me a lot of stress. But there are some things that just shouldn’t vanish. They are the small details that make life better.
These are the top 5 little things I pay attention to:
This age-old adage spoken by my granny in my youth still sits loudly inside me. As a shy, anxious young girl I was always looking ahead at what was to come. This caused no end of fretfulness and worry. My tummy was a bundle of nervous butterflies most of the time.
I can only guess now that my granny pulled out this saying in the hopes it would calm me down. It took years for it to sink in. In fact it wasn’t until my mid 40’s that I started to pay attention to it. My daughter was like me (without the shyness) and prone to panic over what was ahead. “Don’t borrow trouble”, I would tell her. Hmmm.
I realized I wasn’t following my own advice. So I looked deeper into what this statement really meant. The answer is control.
This is something I have been wondering about. Now maybe I am slow to pick up on it, but I have been noticing there are a lot of women hitting a mid career chasm. I see it with acquaintances and clients.
It seems to creep up on women in their late 30’s and to mid 40’s. It is insidious when it gets hold. It seems to start with a slow burn inside that manifests in unhappiness, frustration and waning confidence. I wouldn’t call it a mid life crisis – these women have happy marriages and family lives. Rather it is focused on their jobs and careers.
These women all have differing backgrounds and life stories. What they share in common is the mid career chasm. It is as if they have woken up from 15+ years of a career they are now questioning. They seek passion and a way to make a difference in the world. And for some, the realization they are unlikely to make it to the corporate C-suite has them disillusioned.
Up until a few years ago I believed that the faster I moved and the harder I worked, I would reach the Holy Grail of success. In today’s fast-paced world it was so easy to ramp myself up to follow the illusion of ambition. I put in long hours at work and self identified as a “high producer”. I became addicted to the thrill of creating at a fast pace. The endorphins would flow and I would announce unabashedly to my boss “I LOVE my job!” And at times I did love my job. But there was a cost.
Fast forward several years and everything is different – especially my perspective. I have learned that life is a marathon – not a sprint.
So what changed?