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It’s almost September?! Summer in the northern hemisphere is winding down, and anticipation of the nine months ahead is building: Opening Nights in arts organizations are being planned, new jobs are starting, new initiatives are getting ready to launch.
Before you leap into the next nine months, these next two weeks offer a perfect opportunity to reflect, take stock and envision how YOU want your upcoming year to look like.
I find myself thinking about this in my own life, and in fact have now made the end of August a part of my intention-setting practice as I envision the months to come. Interestingly, this is also a time of year when there is a wonderful surge in leaders reaching out to me for coaching around common themes of transition and being in a crossroads moment.
Do any of the following resonate with questions you may be asking yourself?
• How do I shift my leadership style? I have a client who had spent the past three years successfully leading a turnaround as CEO. She had exceeded her goals, was acknowledged and honored by all, but she knew that the way in which she achieved organizational success was not sustainable – for her. She wanted to continue to have big impact, but not at the expense of personal relationships, health, sanity, sleep, etc.. Leaving the organization she loved was definitely on the table. After taking time to reflect, she created a new framework for being a successful leader. She identified the “causes and conditions” she needed in both her personal and professional life to have the most impact and thus the most joy. She stayed, and is providing the strong leadership her organization and community need.
• How do I position myself and prioritize my time in the first 90-days of a new job? A couple of months ago I was coaching two very different leaders, both about to begin a new job – one was a first-time Executive Director and one was a veteran Executive Director. In both cases, for them to have the organizational impact they were seeking, they needed a way to quickly (like, by week one!) and effectively engage and empower their board and staff. Instead of jumping into a To Do list, they invested in looking inward first to create clarity in their authentic voice and purpose. The resulting actions, internal and external communications, prioritization, and plans flowed effortless from this foundational knowledge – ultimately helping their teams move forward on the same page.
• I’ve had it. How can I find a better job, without all this disfunction so I can be more effective, be valued, be happy, have more balance, be paid better, etc., etc.? By the time many leaders reach out to me, they’re often ready to resign. They’re done. I get it. I’ve been there! I’ve learned that when you’re at that point, it’s a great opportunity to think about how you will be different in a new job. And then, make that shift now. “Even if…” you believe there are external forces outside of your control (a challenging board, boss, etc.) that are making it impossible for you to be your best. The results can be powerful when you shift your limiting beliefs and leadership strategies.
I was working with a Development Director who came to realize that in every job he held, he reached a point where he believed people were holding him back, and thus he resigned and moved to the next job. That pattern kept repeating itself. He was successful but was tired of moving. Through a process, he identified ways he was contributing to this dynamic, learned two new strategies and “magically” people around him began to react differently. He felt valued, empowered, and with a voice at the table. In his case, he still ended up leaving, but it was no longer out of frustration – it was so that he could have greater impact.
• How do I get my current organization to see me as a viable candidate for an elevated role? Repositioning yourself within your organization can be one of the most challenging (and most rewarding) opportunities. A couple years back, I was coaching an extraordinary artistic director through a search process, with the intention for him to move from an assistant role into the top leadership position. We used a process both to develop and then communicate his “elevated” impact messaging, and then created strategies to overcome the Search Committee’s assumptions that they already knew everything about him. He got the job.
• How do I know when it’s time to make a change? Your situation is not terrible, you may even believe that it’s “just how it is” in the field you’re in. You may have limiting beliefs substantiated by industry best practices and traditions. I have a lot to say about this subject, and if this question is resonating with you, I invite you to scroll through some of my past Blog Posts.
The bottom line: trust how you feel. If you don’t have a spring in your step, if you keep feeling a pulling… take some time to imagine what it would be like to feel your “peak moment” feeling, every day. Dig in to why you may not be feeling that right now. Dig in to what’s holding you back. I am proud and honored to now have over 200 leaders who were in this place, and who are now in their dream career/life after taking a big breath and taking a leap into themselves. We need you BEing your best. People are counting on you!
• How do I find/get offered the job I want? Well, that’s a longer discussion! I’ll share something that I know for sure (and this is where I start waving my arms around): if you don’t yet have foundational “intel” and clarity on yourself (your true value, your impact, what brings you joy, and the unique causes and conditions you need to consistently BE that) – it’s all a crap shoot! If you DO have clarity, but don’t have the elevated impact language to effectively communicate it to others – the outcomes can be confusing and frustrating. I’ve seen candidates that were PERFECT for a role, not get the offer and then carry that rejection forward. I’ve seen Search candidates get the job they want and six months later, not be happy.
Have you been asking yourself questions like these?
As a rule, my initial answers to these questions often begin with: “It depends. What do you (really) want, and why? What is the impact you are meant to have (no matter what your role)? And, therefore what do you need to create the possibility for achieving that?”
If we don’t go deep and identify what’s at your core, you might as well just “google” these “How do I…” questions.
Go on, try it! You’ll get lots of great information about how to define your leadership style, how to write a great cover letter, learn about interview strategies, time management tools, self-help ways to bolster your confidence, and more.
And, if you are at a crossroads moment, NONE of those will create the breakthrough awareness and results that you are (really) seeking.
Now, this is usually the part of the article where I offer something like “3 Steps to Getting What You Want.” In fact, I do have some past Blogs that offer specific Guiding Questions to help you begin. And of course, my Career (Life!) Breakthrough Academy guides leaders through this entire process.
But today, my invitation is to simply carve out the time to think about yourself.
Take some time before September is upon us to reflect on the remaining months of 2019, your life, your career. Take stock of what is bringing you joy, and how you are making a difference in the lives of others in those moments. You are. See what percolates up, and where those thoughts take you.
Join me in putting your feet up – by a lake, river, beach, on a couch or desk – and envision how YOU will create the impact you are meant to have, and the dream career/life you (really) want!
To your success,
P.S. – did you see my goofy video on FB and LinkedIn as I opened the boxes with my book with Oprah, Melinda Gates and 47 other women leaders?! I’m so honored to be a part of this inspirational project – and am excited to be signing and personalizing copies for the first 40 people that CLICK HERE and place an order.