I don’t know for sure how it is for you, but, for me, changing is no easy matter. I feel like every “I” must be dotted and ”t” crossed at least a dozen times before me to think it was even possible to consider taking a leap.
Years ago, when I decided to get my Masters while pursuing my existing career as a headhunter, I remember having to overcome my fear of returning to class after 25 years, making time out of my already busy schedule to attend class PLUS make more time for fieldwork, my fear of feeling foolish, failing at both my current career and getting mediocre grades in school, subjecting myself to mocking by co-workers (recruiters are not particularly a sympathetic breed of animal by and large), my parents’ questioning (You have a good job. Why do you need to spend so much money), how I was going to do all the reading (it was common in one class to read a 400-page book weekly) and more.
I remember saying to myself, “I will eat and sleep work and school for a few weeks until I sort out how to do this,” and push aside anything else for a few months. The challenge of grad school and work was hard and has served me well for the past 18 months when I started coaching AND headhunting with an eye toward transitioning to full-time coaching at the end of 2016.
The later in the year I got, the greater my fear and anxiety grew (I am not going to differentiate between the two in this article) until reaching its zenith during my final course for the year, amusingly enough called, “Inner Freedom.”
When I started to examine some of my physical reactions when my fear was heightened, I discovered some old triggers resurfacing. I remembered a time in first grade where a teacher slammed me against the back of my chair when I didn’t know the answer to 3+2 after being out of school for a week and very ill. I remembered times I failed in my mind, even though to others I had done extremely well and was very effective however my interpretation of the events as they unfolded minimized my help and emphasized my self-evaluated inadequacies.
I started to construct a logical plan to move forward with my coaching practice and constructed a simple blueprint: List what I was afraid of in excruciating detail. No item was too small or trivial to make the list. All that needed to happen was that it pop into my mind. Pretty easy, so far except I kept telling myself, “That isn’t important enough,” until I made the rule that required me to list it no matter what.
From there, next to each item, I started to list what I could do to minimize that item from occurring. For example, if I were afraid I might have no coaching clients, what could I do to minimize the likelihood of that occurring (to be clear, I am currently working with quite a few men and women around the United States regarding one professional or personal challenge or another. Reality has no basis for my fears).
My final step in addressing my logical mind was to ask myself, “If all else fails, what could I do if I failed at this? What could I do to return to my previous circumstances?” That was a very easy way to address . . . all I needed to do was return to my current career.
And admit failure.
That was a painful one for me. I HATE to fail (You, too, huh). I like to present myself as an expert and am in most situations I step into. But if this one didn’t work out, I would have to confess that I was unsuccessful marketing myself effectively. “It wasn’t that I was a bad coach,” I reminded myself. I just didn’t market myself well.
All of this didn’t address the emotional side of my struggle. I know that in our current world, people are being asked to think mathematically in terms of risk when making decisions. For me, logic was an incomplete measure. For me, the emotional component standing in my way, as illogical as it seemed, was that no one would want to hear what I had to say.
I found that along the way, I accepted the industrial age programming that my parents, the schools I attended, even my employers instilled in me to, “Shut up. Do what I am told. Regurgitate a bunch of stuff on command . . . or else.”
Or else I wouldn’t get into a college.
Or else I wouldn’t get a good job.
Or else I would be fired.
This was all the nonsense of voices in my mind that I heard from others, took on as my own, and that had inhibited me in so many ways. Any of you have voices in your head that aren’t really your own and inhibit you?
I have always been a strong performer but all the programming said, “Don’t take the risk! You could fail!!”
So back to the list I went to look up, “You could fail,” and saw, “Anything is possible but if you do, you can always go back to recruiting. It might take a few months to become productive again but you can always go back.”
What holds you back? What is the story you have been telling yourself to keep yourself small and avoid the career, business or life you want?
Working with a coach provides you with different eyes and ears on problems and can give you a missing perspective on what you are wrestling with.
Great athletes and entertainers all have coaches. Many business leaders do, too. All of them develop relationships with their coaches that give them perspective on their leadership and their lives.
Make the new year your best ever.
© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2016
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2200 episodes. He also hosts Job Search TV on YouTube, Amazon and Roku, as well as on BingeNetworks.tv for Apple TV and 90+ smartsets.
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