I spent most of #snowmageddon writing my posts for the Reverb10 campaign. I’ve done one post so far, but as a recap, Reverb10 is an online initiative to get people to reflect upon what happened in 2010 as part of their effort to manifest the best in 2011. I am all aboard the Reverb10 train personally, and as a career coach, I think everyone else should participate in it, too! As a coach, one of the best gifts I can give is to bring people toward greater self-awareness. Self-awareness can show you how others may perceive you in your career, but more importantly, show you what you really want in life and how to get it. Taking personal time to reflect and write about your experiences and goals is a great way to jumpstart the process.
Because I am late to the game, I am grouping many of the prompts into themes that make sense to me. I am also posting multiple times a day to publish as many as possible before the new year. Today’s first post is about my decision to start my company, and the realization that was a decision to also let something go. Since my company is relatively new, I still run into people in the city who have no idea that I am now a career coach. Usually they ask me “When did you decide you wanted to be a career coach?” or “Why did you leave your job at the New York City Department of Education?” Most people see them as the same question, but one is about adding and the other is about subtracting. Sometimes you need to do both to move forwards. My greatest lesson learned is that these decisions reflected conscious choices and I had abdicated my power to make choices for a very long time. This post also addresses one more reason behind Why I Do What I Do, another blog post series.
December 10 – Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)
December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?(Author: Alice Bradley)
December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)
The Wisdom in Knowing You Want More
My wisest decision in 2010 was a two-part one: (1) to recognize that I had a dream and the talent to become a successful coach, and (2) to act on my belief and start my practice.
The first part took place in very late 2009 when multiple people in my life asked me for my advice on their job search. When I worked with friends and colleagues to review their resumes and help with interviews, I saw my strengths in a new light and recognized how much I enjoyed working with job-seekers. I am not a huge “the universe is speaking to you” person, but I don’t think it’s random that people were coming to me in a moment where I was wondering what I wanted to accomplish in the next year, especially a milestone year since I’d be turning 35. I also had a lifelong dream to be an entrepreneur that I had put on hold countless times. Going back for my PhD in 2006 was part of my plan to become an independent consultant, but I came to realize that I didn’t need my PhD to own a mission-driven business, especially with ten years of experience in recruitment.
In January 2010, I started talking to coaches and attending business classes and knew that I could do it. In March, I started telling people in my life about my plans and asking opinions from people I trusted. By the end of the month, I told my boss on a Friday evening, feeling liberated… but walking out in tears.
Leaving A Role Behind
In the excitement of launching my new vision, I didn’t quite realize that leaving my role as “The Director of Teacher Recruitment” for the New York City public schools would be a separate hard and painful process. I was leaving something that I had poured all of my emotional labor into for almost a decade and the title had become as much a part of my identity as the color of my eyes. Even though time has passed, there is still a part of me that is in mourning for the team that worked with me, and the good things that came from being a member of an established institution and tribe. But ultimately, the role was not serving me anymore. It was not giving me intellectual and personal freedom, room to grow, or space to honor my own feelings about what it takes to improve our nation’s education problems, K-16. By ignoring those feelings, I was giving away control over my life and I had to let it go to grow, even if it meant leaving behind some good things.
As I fight the day-to-day battles of getting things off the ground, I forget the amount of courage and power both of these decisions took. It was easy to stay where I was rewarded with an excellent paycheck and benefits. But I desired to be an entrepreneur and coach and no one was going to start my business for me. The lesson learned is that if we want something enough, we must recognize our power to do it with conscious and deliberate action, and an understanding that success requires risk and at least a moderate tolerance for failure. No matter what happens, that I pursued it is its own accomplishment.
Are you ready to make a conscious choice today to make a difficult decision and/or let something go?