In yesterday’s post Unstuck and Trying to Stay That Way, I offered some of the tactics I employ when I am feeling stuck. One was seeking help from a coach. It was fresh on my mind because I had a productive session with a professional development coach this week.
Whether you are stuck or you just want keep moving, a coach can be a tremendous resource as you “fortify your surroundings” in support of who you are becoming.
Some background …
Two years ago, I set out on what I’ve called my “mid-life adventure.” I decided to leave a job I loved and had held for 12 years. I leased my house. I took a new position in which I would be working remotely (and thus could live anywhere). I packed up my belongings and moved almost 1,000 miles across the country (from Austin to Chicago). Oh, and I started a master’s program at Northwestern University … at the young plucky age of 44. Why would anyone with steady income, a comfortable lifestyle, a terrific network of family, friends and colleagues do this?
First answer, which is true, but admittedly vague: I am fascinated by almost everything. I thrive in environments where there is always something new to learn. I also get jazzed by new frontiers and challenging thresholds, what Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies authors James Collins and Jerry Porras called “Big Hairy Audacious Goals.” I like the possibility that lies within “almost impossible.”
Second answer: For years, I had watched strategic initiatives succeed or fail based on the support of those implementing them and how much they were willing to change. In my field (i.e., higher education), I could see shifts in both internal and external environments that would soon require new ways of thinking, but I also knew that change could be hard, sometimes paralyzing. So, I set off on my mid-life adventure to increase my knowledge and strengthen my skills so that I might help develop an important capability within mission-driven institutions and people – to effectively manage change.
As I completed my degree at the end of 2014 and recommenced the shaping of my career, I took every opportunity to learn from consultants, mentors, counselors and colleagues. Tactics, terms, strategies. I took it all in. I sought and received lots of advice and incorporated what made sense for me. Most of it was helpful.
Some of it was not.
Some of the advice I listened to (and to which I gave credence because of the credibility of those who gave it) muddled my purpose. I won’t go into why. But I gave their advice (which was intended for a general audience) power to create fear in me. I backed off of what I had been working towards for more than two years. I began to take steps to mitigate my risk and in the process lost focus.
Fortunately, because I now belong to an inspiring community of learners, I connected with Jessica Catz, a professional development coach and change consultant, and a MSLOC alumna. Like any effective coach, Jessica assured me that everything I needed to clarify my purpose was within me. Employing a few deft questions, she got me to re-articulate the reasons why I had sacrificed “comfortable” and invited so many big changes in my life. Honestly, I went into the conversation seeking her advice and guidance. But, with great skill, she managed to get me to guide myself. Within a one-hour conversation, I had recognized what had derailed me and how I could get back on track.
When you get stuck or your purpose is muddled, I highly recommend seeking the services of a professional development coach. You have everything you need within you to realize your goals, but sometimes you need a nudge.