It is said that we are the product of our environment. Who we grew up with and what we were exposed to, has shaped us into the people we are today. The influence of the company we keep doesn’t stop once we reach adulthood, who we choose to spend our time with is just as important to the success of our lives now, as it was in our formative years.
People and their traits (good or bad) will always rub off on us.
When you’re looking to move up or transition in your career, the people around you can either help or hinder your advancement. If we wish to better ourselves, it’s important to be able to identify those relationships which help us to grow as a person and learn to nurture them.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
A few years ago, I found myself at a career crossroads; I was contemplating leaving the comfort of the corporate world behind and becoming an Executive Coach or Consultant.
It was a daunting prospect. Not only would I be losing the financial safety and stability my corporate career had provided me for many years - for the first time in forever, I’d be going it alone.
Well, not entirely alone…
When you’re transitioning in your career, family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances can all play an important part. These people not only impact upon who you are as a person, but can offer advice, connections, support, and motivation.
“Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.”
Family and Close Friends – The Inner Circle
The first people I spoke to about my anticipated move from corporate to coach, were those who were closest to me.
When you have a family, any big career decisions you make impact them too, so it’s important to have them on board. On top of that, given the challenges and complexities around career transition, emotional support is key, and they know you better than anybody.
Friendships can provide a fun escape and a shoulder to cry on. They are incredibly important to our mental health and wellbeing, so it’s imperative you fill your inner circle with people who are positive and supportive. We all need friends around us who elevate and inspire, not criticise and complain.
“When you surround yourself with positivity, you’re more likely to adopt empowering beliefs and see life as happening ‘for’ you instead of ‘to’ you.”
That isn’t to say you should seek advice from people who just tell you what you want to hear. Family and trusted (and informed) friends or colleagues who ‘tell it like it is’, are exactly who you should confide in about your career goals.
My wife is and has always been my biggest supporter and she is also ruthlessly direct; these are both invaluable qualities in a person from whom you require advice.
Well Informed Connections
“While it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experience of others.”
The next port of call on my quest to understand if coaching was a good fit for me, was to receive an objective view from the people I knew who had already made that leap.
Whether you are looking to move on upwards or out of your current organisation, there will be those who have made the move (or one similar) before you. Seek them out, speak with them, absorb their experience, and learn from it.
I reached out to my old corporate colleague, Matt Radley (Matt Radley and associates) and good friends and former bosses, Andy Chandler (Director of Coaching at Barefoot Coaching), and Debbie Smith (Director of DKS Consulting).
Their collective words of wisdom provided me with a good, rounded understanding of my own skill and suitability to become an Executive Coach or Consultant. Ultimately, they gave me the confidence boost I needed to go for it and start putting together a plan.
Once my decision to move into coaching had been made, I knew I needed to ready my arsenal for the transition.
The first thing I did was complete the CMI Diploma in Professional Consulting and the ILM Level 7 Diploma in Executive Coaching and Mentoring. Gaining these accreditations was about putting skills I had amassed in my years as a leader, into formal qualifications.
There was, however, one area in which I knew I needed further training.
Often, when corporate leaders make the transition from employed to self-employed, they rely heavily upon the professional expertise learnt in their field to support that move. What they often fail to do, however, is bolster their business skills and knowledge.
“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”
John C. Crosby
This was the point in my career transition when I reached out for professional support in the form of coaching. I looked for professionals to support my thinking and guide me through the creation of my business plan. I used several coaches, drawing on their knowledge of business development strategies, marketing and sales.
They helped me to plot a future position and then build a set of goals to get me there. They supported me, challenged me and held me accountable; there is no way I would be as far forward in my plans as I am now, were it not for my investment in coaching.
It doesn’t stop there!
I had finally done it: I had made the move into coaching and consulting and already had my first clients under my belt.
“Those who keep learning, will keep rising in life.”
Having already experienced first-hand the impact of key relationships on my career, my next move was to start to make connections with other business owners and fellow coaches.
Those individuals like me, who appreciated the true value of collaboration were lovely and supportive – however, there were those who saw me as a competitor and didn’t wish to engage.
It was their loss.
The people I met and networked with were fantastic and I learnt so much from them all; in fact, we continue to share leads within the community to this day.
Thinking of making a move?
Having read this, you may now find yourself considering a change; you may be on the cusp of a career-defining decision, but unsure as to whether it’s the right move.
My advice to you is to put the feelers out; speak to people in your personal and professional networks. Use their knowledge and expertise to help you decide if the move you are contemplating, is the right fit for you.
And once you are finally ready to make that leap, I am here as a coach to guide you through the process.
If this article has resonated with you, please get in touch; I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Let me help you to be all you can be, in 2022.