As You Go
But You Don't Know Anything About
We were seated next to each other at a dinner party for mutual
friends who were about to move cross-country. Val, an executive
for a large non-profit organization, asked me a question I'm
often asked: How did you make the change? She was
familiar with coaching since she and several of her colleagues
had worked with an executive coach over the course of their
careers. Val wanted to know more about the kind of coaching
I do and how I transitioned to the field from my prior work.
She stated that for a while now, she has been entertaining
the idea of becoming a coach and then she added what stops
her: But I don't know anything about it.
Val was referring to all the questions that arise
with any idea: how do you make the change, what
would it really be like, how much money can you make,
and the list goes on -- appropriately so, because the questions
are important to ask.
Research, Risk, & Windows of Opportunity
point of my sharing Val's story isn't to say that you should
drop everything and go start your own business or to imply
that all mid-career professionals secretly want out. The issue
I'm raising is: What do you do with those ideas that
pique your interest, the ones that keep coming up for you?
I believe the answer is twofold. First, pay attention to
your ideas. There's valuable information there, even if the
idea simply leads you to another idea. The second part is
to figure out a way to deal with risk. Every idea
involving change carries risk. And actually, you
manage risk all the time. Think about it. There is risk in
staying with the status quo and risk in making a change. There
is risk in accepting a promotion or additional responsibility,
and there is risk in passing on an opportunity. You might
view it as a risk to go back to school, work at a smaller
company, or move into a bigger venue. There are risks you
take in relationships and in stepping into new social circles.
Investing your time and effort into a deeply held
interest likely involves risk. Recently a former
pharmaceutical executive talked to me about timing. After
his company merged with another, Peter accepted a generous
severance package that allowed him to pursue an entrepreneurial
business venture while also developing a long-held creative
interest. Family obligations delayed his initial plans, and
he is starting to feel some financial pressure. His way of
managing the risk is to give himself another year and see
where he is before deciding to take a j-o-b. He feels compelled
to give a genuine effort to the business opportunity that's
in front of him. To Peter, it's now or never.
So, yes, research before you risk, and then recognize
the windows of opportunity.
You'll Learn As You Go
Whether you're just testing the waters or ready to commit
and turn your idea into a plan, you can find a way to manage
the risk and the fear that comes with venturing into the unknown.
Next time you have the thought, "But I don't
know anything about..." say these words: I'll learn
as I go. Just as they have so many times before,
the exact right resources and supports will show up to help
you. You'll figure it out and see the way forward.
This Week's Call To Action:
- Whether having to do with your current role at
work or a potential future direction, what is an idea you
want to explore? Is it a proposal to develop? An
assignment to volunteer for? An outside interest to research?
A group to join?
- Decide whether you're curious enough to invest
some effort. If so, what is the first step to investigating
"I am always doing what I can't
in order to learn how to do it."
--Vincent Van Gogh
See you in the current,
Names above changed for privacy.