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A Living Nightmare

A client was commenting on the fact that his career was turning around and that every person he was now meeting and every situation he encountered was interesting and positive. He was surprised because this was coming on the heels of the lowest point in his corporate career where every move he made seemed to create chaos. For a long while, everything at work seemed to conspire against him. He was desperate to wake up from his living nightmare!

During our coaching sessions, my client shared with me that for years he really had no aspirations and had just gone with the flow. He didn’t have a clear vision for his future, drifted along in positions, and took opportunities as they came. This strategy seemed to work for him until he was put in a job he didn’t like. He found himself a prisoner to other people’s visions and plans. The result was a career and a life that felt like a prison.

So what had changed? Where were these new opportunities coming from? Was he experiencing a lucky streak?

Making your own luck

After a long struggle, my client had prepared himself and was making his own luck. Oprah Winfrey likes to quote the Roman philosopher Seneca in saying that “Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.” My client broke his old pattern of drifting along with life’s flow and instead began to prepare himself to meet opportunity by looking inside himself to find what he really wanted for his future. He had figured out his deepest values and also his unique value proposition, i.e. what he wanted to contribute to the world, given his competencies and his passion. Here, I can’t help but toot my own horn a bit—a good coach can help! But it was he who buckled down and did the hard work of following through once he clarified his deepest values. He did his homework, made contacts, sowed seeds, and now these seeds were germinating even though nothing had been blooming for a while.

When he emerged into this new, more positive period of his career, he spoke about finally being himself. He had begun to follow Oscar Wilde’s advice: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” My client had to learn to be himself, despite past conditioning that said that he wasn’t good enough, didn’t quite have the credentials, didn’t have the personality to be a leader. When you do You, you start to attract people that want what You have to offer.

In conversation following my client’s turnaround, we remarked on the fact that opportunities are always there, but you may be unable to see them because you are emulating others and trying to fit their mould. When you do that, you find what you are looking for: opportunities created for others with standards that don’t work for you. The result, almost always, is that you will find yourself in a job, and often a life, that doesn’t fit you. When You become the yardstick for your life, and you prepare with your true Self in mind, opportunities that better fit you become visible.

Recipe for Reclamation

The recipe for turning your career or life around starts with reclaiming You. This reclamation project involves identifying your unique direction and sowing new seeds while staying open to a range of possibilities. You may find yourself in a completely new life but it will feel so much better if you’re living in your own skin, rather than wearing someone else’s mask.

Have you been able to turn around a career that wasn’t working well for you? I would love to hear from you!