Chapter 16 of my First book: Finding MY Calling. Just do it, but Just do the Opposite this time around. Pulling a “Costanza”!
CHAPTER 16: Finding MY Calling. Just do it, but Just do the Opposite this time around. Pulling a “Costanza”!
My objective, at the time, was to come up with a Top 5 List.
A ONE Pager of what I was looking for in MY Career.
In the end, it took me six months to come up with that list.
And, I ended up cheating a bit.
I just could not narrow them down to a Top 5, so I settled for a Top 7
Oh, well. Could be worse. I told you that I liked James Bond. Agent 007.
“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing” – Dale Carnegie
Or, as put forward, in a more positive way……
Choose a job you love and you will never have to work another day in your life – Ethan Allen
March 2015. Developing My revised approach to career transitions. Pulling a “Costanza”!
Finding MY CALLING? Searching for my calling would be a more accurate description of what I was up to back then. The timing was perfect though. I was coming up on the 5-year mark in my role at the time. I was coming up on the big 2-0 (a.k.a. 20 years of employment with my employer at the time) and I was coming up on my big 5-0 of living on the planet earth at the time. A triple whammy.
It was time, once again, to explore yet another career change, although one might argue, that I did not do a whole lot of exploring the last time around. My previous falling on my sword approach to making a career change almost 5 years earlier, in hindsight, was probably not up there with best practices, but it was all that I could think of doing at the time, so I will not beat myself up over it. However, this time around, I would like to try something different. I would like to try a different approach this time around. And the different approach that I decided on, was as different as it could get.
I decided to do the exact opposite of what I had done the previous time. I decided to follow the same approach that seemed to have served George Costanza so well in one of my favourite “Seinfeld” Episodes. It was the episode in which George decided to do the opposite of what he usually did. One of those OPPOSITE approaches was being AUTHENTIC. It does not get any more authentic than the way that George introduced himself to the woman that he was interested in who was sitting at the counter of the delicatessen in that “doing the opposite” episode. It went something like this…. “Hello! My name is George, I am unemployed, and I live with my parents”. I will leave it you to google that episode in order to find out how that one turned out for George, but those are the two tricks from George, doing the OPPOSITE, and being AUTHENTIC, that I decided to try out as I started to explore my next career move. And in honour of George, I would name my new, doing the opposite approach, pulling a “Costanza”.
So, what would be the OPPOSITE of what I had done the previous time when I was questioning the direction of my career? If I were to summarize it, in one word, that one word would be, CONNECTING. I had connected with NO ONE the last time around. This time around, I was going to connect with a whole bunch of folks. I was going to connect with them, with one purpose in mind, and that one purpose was to find a fit. A role within the firm that was a fit. And my definition of a fit on that front, was coming up with a win-win proposition.
In the end, I would end up reaching out to more that 20 partners in the firm, many of them in some of the most senior leadership positions in the firm, including almost half of the direct reports to the CEO. Yes, little old me, non-partner me, was going to reach out to all of these senior partners, and ask for 15 minutes of their time. What is the worst thing that they could do? Not answer my email? Say no? It was just an email. Go ahead Dave, my inner coach implored, just give it a try! And so, I did.
I reached out to everyone on my list and they all accepted, and many even commented positively on my approach. My proactive approach. Wow. Cool. I probably should have started being more proactive in the past. Oh well. Better late than never. Wow! This Costanza approach seems to be working. Doing the opposite. In this case, being Proactive versus Reactive. Noted for future reference.
Now, before connecting with all those folks, there was one other person who I also had not connected with previously, and that one person was, little old ME. When discussing win-win scenarios it might just come in handy if I knew a little bit more of what I was looking for. That was not the case the last time around. Not only did I not have a concept of what a WIN was for me back then, when I had decided to just fall on my sword, I had NO clue.
This time around, it was time to pull another “Costanza”. In this case, I would come up with a list of criteria that I could use to help me evaluate the various opportunities. Probably not a bad way to get to know myself a little better at the same time. A double whammy. How cool is that!
October 31, 2015. The big day. The big deadline. Do I Stay? or Do I go?
As I started to develop my career criteria list, I soon realized that the exercise was more difficult than I had originally anticipated. My objective was to come up with a top 5 List, the top 5 criteria for my dream job, and I was somewhere north of 60 of them, and the more I worked the list, the more I ended up with. I also found that the more I connected and discussed opportunities with others, the more questions I would come away with to ponder, which often meant revisiting the list. Hey! this expanding one’s lens concept was making things a little more complicated. Expanding my lens was expanding my list. I had better give myself a deadline or this could drag on forever. Let’s see now? I love Halloween. How about Halloween? That should provide me with enough time. All righty then. Pitter patter, lets get at ‘er. Let’s get at that list and get it down to a top 5 List.
Well guess what happened? I was not able to get my list down to a Top 5, I had to settle on a Top 7 List.
The mid-point between a David Letterman Top 10 List and a David Walker Top 5 blog List. And, it did not take me until October 31 to answer my question of do I stay? or do I go? I came up with my answer a week before my self-imposed deadline, and it was not the answer that I was expecting.
Based on the criteria that I had come me up with, and based on the discussions that I had with the partners, and many others, including a career coach that had been assigned to me by the firm to help me out on this mission, my next career move was going to be one that I had never even considered when I first set out.
My next transition was going to be a transition in, not only a role, and not only an organization, but a transition right out of my CAREER related Life Quadrant completely. After over 30 years of working in my Career Quadrant, I was going to transition into what I am now referring to as my BUSINESS Quadrant, and it was going to be MY Business. I was going to be working for a new boss, ME.
Wow. Talk about a change. Talk about an upcoming transition. I was transitioning out of one of my Life Quadrants completely. A transition from a Career Quadrant (which included bi-weekly paychecks, an employer sponsored pension plan, an employer sponsored and maintained business infrastructure and tools etc.) to a Business Quadrant (which would have to eventually include not only a business infrastructure and services, but also clients, clients who were willing to pay money to fund my business and the rest of my life, and that meant, yes, the S word, Selling).
Wow. Talk about a lot change. This from the guy who was fast approaching the age by which time he was hoping to never work another day in his life. This from the guy who was scared s**tless of the word sales, up until about a year previously. Now for some reason, he was no longer scared despite not having ever sold anything in his life. This from the guy who had recently become a single parent who had two young children still under his wing whom he still needed to provide for.
Wow. Talk about courage! What happened to Captain Comfort Zone? This is a pretty radical shift. What gives? Well, there were a lot of what gives back then but there are two that resonate with me the most. One, is something that someone said. More on that one shortly. The other one, is something that I did. What I did, was, I took care of myself.
I took care of myself by taking better care of my self-confidence through my efforts of the past few years on the job front and I took care of myself by taking better care of my health. I had taken care of neither previously, and my energy level during those times reflected that neglect. Now, thanks to my revised approach, my energy levels were right up there. Talk about pulling a Costanza. My approach to my health and to my career over the past few years can only be described as, night and day. I had done the OPPOSITE of what got me to that nasty place the last time around. I had pulled a “Costanza”.
Now, back to what that someone said. That someone, was one of the partners that I connected with as part of my connecting with people strategy. Only in this case, this person insisted that we set up an hour call to chat instead of the 15 minutes I had requested, although, as it turned out, we did not need the hour. I can’t remember the exact timing of when he said it during that call, but I very much remember what he said. “Dave, you make people better off. It is part of YOUR DNA”. You might want to consider ways in which you can do more of that, including exploring coaching. If you end up doing so within the firm, great, if not, then it is the firm’s loss, and the world’s gain”. Wow. Talk about a morale boost. Talk about a boost to my self-esteem. Talk about an eye opener. Although I did not realize the implication at the time and was not really sure that I believed what he was sharing about me, that chat and those comments ended up being a life and career altering moment for me. Wow. Talk about learning more about yourself by talking to others. So much for my isolationist approach of the past. What was I thinking back them?
Forget back then, our focus in this chapter of my life is on my new approach. Long story short. I continued to connect with others and, as I did, as suspected, I started to really shape up my career choice criteria and more importantly I really started to get to know myself better. Well before I knew it, and 1 week before I had committed to doing so, I answered that all important question. Do I stay or do I go? Well, guess what? It was time to go. It was time to go, and help make some more people better off. After all, that was what was supposedly in my DNA. Thanks for that feedback Jeff. And, thanks to all the many others who took the time out of their extremely busy schedules to help me. To help make not only myself better off, but hopefully, many others better off as well i.e. my clients.
Nov 30, 2015. Taking the plunge:
You don’t know what you don’t know. Just try it. Have you heard that one before? Well, that was what I was about to do. I was pretty close to making the plunge but I was still struggling with some of my choices of potential service offerings. Life Coaching? Professional Speaking? Writing stuff that people would pay for? Group coaching? Facilitation? Etc. I had experience facilitating in my previous roles. I had done coaching but not life coaching. And I had certainly never run mine, or anyone else’s business before. What was I thinking? Is this really the right thing to do?
What was I thinking? Well, that is when my career coach made a comment that, well, let’s say, sealed the deal. My career coach reminded me that until I actually tried all that stuff out, how could I possibly know if I would like it? How could I possibly know if it would work? Just give it a try. You don’t know what you don’t know. I had some savings. I could always find something else later if things don’t work out. Just give it a try.
Just give it a try. All righty then. Let’s do it. Let’s give it a try. That is when I decided to pull the trigger. On November 30, 2015 Captain Comfort Zone returned his computer to his employer. It was o.k. because Captain Courageous had already picked up a new one. A new one for a new business, for my business. Oh, and Captain Courageous also picked up the tab for buying a new cell phone, turns out, that was my now ex-employer’s as well.
So, What did I learn?
How did I make change EASYer on myself 😊 (or not ☹)
Getting to know myself (a.k.a. MY WHO) better. I.e. Gaining a better handle on MY values and MY needs and MY wants so that I was better able to align with them! That is how I would summarize this chapter of my midlife transition. I had not spent a whole lot of time on that all-important exercise in the past, so when it came time to catching up, it took me a while. It took me a while to connect with a lot of others and it took me a while to connect with myself. I had ignored that type of information and those connections in the past, and in hindsight, that had not served me well ☹.
But, now that I had decided to pull a “Costanza”, I could not ignore others and, especially not MYself, any longer. Did I completely catch up on getting to know MYself better during this phase of my self-transformation? I thought I had, but the catching up had just started. Getting to know me better (a.k.a. my unique WHO) and what makes me tick, was going to continue, at an even faster pace, as part of my upcoming adventure, but more on that later. My career decision was made. And, I can’t tell you how much having a well vetted decision criteria and time frame in which to make that decision made it EASYer on me to make that decision, especially one of that importance, to me, and my loved ones. Thanks for the inspiration George. 😊
That was all about me. What about YOU?What are you doing to make your journey of change EASYer on YOU? 😊 (or not ☹)
Are you exploring a potential transition in your near future?
If so, perhaps it is time to update and vet your decision criteria?
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