Many people come to me for career coaching because they’re lost, aimless, uncertain about their next moves.
They know what doesn’t work, but they’re not sure where to go next.
They often have people in their lives who know with utter certainty what they’re meant to do with their lives, and they see a huge chasm between where they are and where they think they should be.
What’s extraordinary about those sessions that I have with the clients who come in thinking that they’re completely rudderless is that it doesn’t take long for them to uncover what really matters to them and to match it up with where they’re going.
As the Parker Palmer quote so beautifully states,
Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.
Looking Backward Provides Vital Clues into Your Next Career Move
One question in particular provides strong insight into who you are:
Who has influenced your career, either positively or negatively?
Think about key people in your life, your parents or caregivers, your mentors or heroes, your teachers, your bosses. How did they touch you? What did you learn from them? Perhaps they inspired you, perhaps they taught you what NOT to do. Perhaps they saw something in you that you didn’t see in yourself and opened the door for it emerge. Regardless of the tone, telling your story will uncover a vital connection for you about who you are, where you’ve been, and also where you’re going.
Use the comments to write about one person who has influenced your career path.
My Own Story About An Influential Person
Here’s one of my stories in response to this question: Pamela was my boss when I was probably all of 25 (I’m almost double that age now, so it seems like a very long time ago).
She’s still my friend, and she still offers me guidance, but at the time, she was one of the first people to give me a vision of a strong professional woman.
She was in a senior role where we worked, and she had influence over what happened. She wasn’t afraid to speak up, but she knew how to use grace to convey her message, how to be appropriately feminine and powerful in a male-dominated organization, and how to advocate for her staff and give credit where credit was due.
I actually changed my name because of her. About 6 months after I got married, I was still using my family name. My older sister got married before me and she didn’t change her name, and since we’re a family of girls and a family of strong feminists, I thought I was supposed to keep my name rather than change it when I got married.
Well, here’s what happened: one day, I was in Pamela’s office when she answered her phone, and she picked up the phone and said smoothly and with authority her full name and the name of the organization where we worked. I thought, “I want to talk like that, with confidence.”
I practiced it (really, out loud), and I stumbled over it. But when I tried it using my husband’s name instead of my given name, it flowed out smoothly, and I had the same tone as Pamela.
I was a little embarrassed to change my name because it seemed like such a superficial reason to do so, just because I liked it, but it was one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done for myself, and it was based on Pamela’s influence.
Please tell one of your stories below in the comments.