Career Journeys and Transitions

Chasing Success

How do you define success?

  • Attaining wealth, status, or fame? 
  • Meeting that high bar you’ve set for yourself, or that someone else has set for you?
  • Reaching a specific goal or milestone?

No matter how you define it, consider this:

If you’re pursuing success instead of what makes you feel successful, you’re on your way to burnout. 

Take a moment today to think about what makes you feel successful. 

Chase that. 

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Blind Spots and Strengths Gone Awry

Oops, I did it again. I came off as arrogant. Now, I’ve been called arrogant 4 times during my professional journey.

Each time it hurt my heart. Because I don’t mean to be perceived that way. Ever. Full stop.

Arrogance is the flip side of my self-confidence strength. And when I show up as overly self-confident in the eyes of others, they can see me as arrogant. This used to be (and sometimes still is) a blind spot for me.

The missing piece is that in most cases I am using my self-confidence strength with positive intent — I want to help. I want to cheerlead. I want to make sure someone else sees their own greatness.

But that doesn’t always work. And now that I am more self-aware of the strengths I can overdo (perseverance is another one — boy can I look stubborn sometimes), I can see and feel it happening. And most of the time I can dial it back and save myself.

But not always. Ahh, still a work in progress.

What strengths do you tend to overdo? And are they limiting your effectiveness when you don’t realize how they’re affecting others?

Think about it. And if you need help uncovering your overdone strengths, reach out. I’ve got a terrific assessment that shines the light on them for you — so you can better manage perceptions in the future.

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Some Thoughts on Career Transitions

People call me a career transition expert. It’s not a title that I’ve worn with a badge of honor until recent years. Why? 

Because of what other people thought about my journey.

Silly, I know. But it’s true.

People told me I would never be able to do it. Some said I was crazy to leave the security of XYZ job or industry. Others doubted my ability to pivot from where I was to where I wanted to go.

If people’s expectations are doing the same to you, please try to tune that noise out. If you want to make a change, you owe it to yourself to explore it. 

Today, I’m proud to be called a career transition expert and coach. 

Here are a few things I’ve learned through the years. I hope they are helpful.

  • Career transitions take work — and it starts with assessing your risk tolerance. 
  • The next critical step is doing an inventory of your skills and experience and figuring out how they can apply to your next chapter.
  • And the biggest thing you need to do eventually (and this might not come quickly so you need to be patient) is to get your story straight.

Let me underscore how important that third bullet is.

You need to know where you want to go and why and be clear about it in your head. Only then can other people help you. And if you’re mid to senior level in your career, it’s people who will help make a career transition or change happen. Period.

Think about it. If you say to me, “I think I want to make a career pivot, but I’m not sure if I should stay in a large pharma company or if I would be better off figuring out how to get into a leadership role in an early-stage company doing more innovative work.”

Can I help you? Sure, I can listen, give you advice, and coach you to help you figure it out. I can even introduce you to people I know who have made that type of transition who may be willing to talk to you. 

But I can’t introduce you to anyone else in my network who can help you actually make a move until I am clear on what you really want.

But if you say, “I’ve had a great run in big pharma, and now I’m ready to use my skills and experience to help lead an early-stage company. I’m particularly excited about companies doing innovative work in the diagnostics space.”

Now I’m clear. And what immediately comes to mind is at least 3 people I can introduce you to who can help. Actually, just thought of 2 more.

See the difference?

Bottom line — If you aren’t able to clearly tell someone what you want, they can’t easily help you. This is true for career transitions, and anything else in professional life.

Make it easy for them, and you’ll be amazed how many people are willing to jump in and help.

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Turtle Hiding in Shell

Imposter Syndrome Visited Me Today

I’m a pretty confident guy. In fact, self-confidence is one of the top strengths in my toolbox, according to my favorite assessment, The Strength Deployment Inventory. That strength serves me well in some cases, and gets me in trouble in others. It can make me look arrogant at times (which is not a good look on me).

Self-confidence is not on the menu here today, though. Imposter syndrome has shown up as I get ready to launch registration for a new leadership communication workshop this spring.

I’m confident the program is good — maybe even great. I’ve thought about this workshop for over a year, and have planned it well. I’m also sure that it will be a terrific, two-day event. Actually, experience is a better word.

So why do I feel like a fraud today, and that nobody is going to register? What’s going on here? Is it a fear of success or failure? Is it the fact that I don’t like promoting myself that’s making me want to close my laptop and go back to bed?

According to Psychology Today, “People who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think—and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them. Those with imposter syndrome are often well accomplished; they may hold high office or have numerous academic degrees.”

Okay, it’s pep talk time. I’ve got 3 degrees, a proven track record, people who believe in me and my work, and a roster of clients who all count on me to help them be better communicators and leaders. I’ve also founded 3 different companies, and have made several career transitions and reinventions that most people would think were impossible (and many did at the time). I’ve heard more people tell me, “you can’t” and then I’ve shown them that, in fact, I can. 

That feels better…. 

Don’t worry about me. This is temporary. I’ve dealt with it before. Today I’m sharing this feeling with you, because I want you to know that you can overcome imposter syndrome. I’m going to work on it right now.

  1. I’ll start by not comparing myself to others who I admire and who I think do what I do quite well. Nobody else delivers programs like my co-facilitators and I do — we’re one of a kind.
  2. Then I’ll remind myself that perfection doesn’t exist. My programs don’t have to be perfect. They just need to be expert level and make people get tons of value for their time spent (and feel inspired to tell others about the great experience they had).
  3. Finally, I’ll recall that while promoting myself and this new offering is uncomfortable for me, it’s necessary. If I constantly create and never promote, nobody will benefit.

Imposter syndrome be gone! For the rest of today, anyway….

Photo by Josh Eckstein on Unsplash

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Career Journeys, Changes and Transitions

Making a career transition, or any significant type of career change, is hard work. It’s also fraught with risk and uncertainty — yet the payoff can be literally life-changing. 

I know. I’ve done it 4 times. And that’s why I enjoy helping others along their career journeys. Whether it’s figuring out if it’s best to stay or go, plotting the plan to make a transition from a steady path with a large company to a more volatile (and more exciting) start-up or early-stage venture, or designing a complete change that means starting from scratch, I’ve helped people through it all.

Here are a few things I’ve learned that may help you if you’re feeling stuck, or if you’re thinking about what it would be like to make a big (or small) career transition.

Connect Your Purpose with Your Career Path

I know, a sense of purpose can be elusive. But I argue that it’s critically important. If you do the work to find and clarify it, you’ll be more confident heading down the right path. Purpose is often easier to see once you’ve looked at your passions and the value you bring to others. And remember, your purpose can evolve. Mine sure has, but the common thread for me has always been two things: teaching and communication.

Connecting your purpose to your work will help you discover what you really want, and then you can target the position or path that leverages your strengths and passions.

Think Transition, Not Change

Chances are you’re not throwing all your skills and experiences out the window and starting with absolutely nothing you can carry with you. That’s why I’ve never liked the term “career change.” In my experience, I’ve made several career “transitions” — each one building off my knowledge, skills, and experiences to date (but now more aligned with my purpose and current goals). Inventory your skills and experiences and consider how you’ll apply them to the future career you want.

Get Good at Networking

You can apply to positions all you want — but that means molding yourself to fit a position that’s been predefined. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re simply looking for your next “job.” But most of the people I help are looking for more than that. They want a new chapter where they can feel more fulfilled — and feel like they’re making a difference. Those opportunities are often created through networking with people who need what you have to offer — even if no job description exists.

To get good at networking, you must define the right avenues for making the connections you need. This means leveraging people you know — and meeting new people — who can help you connect with the right humans who can get you there.

Get Outside Help to Keep You Accountable

Hoping that the next chapter of your career will magically reveal itself is a sure way to ensure it never comes. You have the power to make it happen if you really want it. However, it’s not easy to do and you need to create short- and long-term action plans to keep yourself accountable. 

Figuring out how to make real change happen, or even if making a transition is right for you at the current time, is rarely done well alone. Seek help from a coach, trusted advisors, and other people who have done the work and you’ll be much more likely to stay the course and make it happen.

I’m Here for You

I help leaders transition to more fulfilling next chapters in their careers

Want to learn more about how I can help? Let’s talk.

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