Infinite Blog

Career/Life Tips

Don’t fall into THIS trap when designing your career path…

Image Source: Leah Kelley

While my coaching practice focuses primarily on leaders, I’ve helped a number of seasoned leaders figure out “what’s next” with regard to their careers. In doing this, I’ve observed one common trap that I think most people tend to fall into when planning their futures: they approach it from the wrong direction.

Almost to a person, people tend to think about their next career move based on where they are now and what they’ve done up until now. I understand it; there’s something to be said for leveraging our experience, and we usually think about jobs in terms of what we’re qualified to do.

My biggest tip to these clients: try planning in reverse. Instead of basing your next step on where you are now, dream about where you’d like to be in 10 years – then start building that bridge in reverse, figuring out what skills you’ll need to acquire between now and then to arrive at that destination.

Not with me yet? Imagine you’re on a trip. You don’t have a clear end destination and you’re driving somewhere in Ohio. When asked where you’re going next, you’ll probably look at your gas tank, figure out how tired you are, and then use that radius to determine a few destinations that are feasible. You can continue on traveling this way, but you’ll always have limits imposed on you – and you’ll end up somewhere defined by its proximity to Ohio.

If, conversely, someone asked you to dream big about where you’d like to end up someday, without thinking about the fact that you’re currently in Ohio, you might pick Italy. If you decide that Italy is your end destination, you stop thinking about your current radius and start thinking about other variables – like how you’ll get enough money for a flight, which airport you might want to fly out of, how you’ll learn to speak Italian, etc. It’s an entirely different approach and – let’s be honest – one that is probably a bit more energizing to undertake.

The same is true for your career – or life. If you’re not satisfied with the trajectory you’re currently on, why are you allowing it to define your options? Life is too short to limit your future to the path you chanced upon when you were in your early 20s. Why not dream big and let that guide you?

 

 

 

Book Group, leadership, What I'm Reading

Is TIME the biggest barrier to your development?

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Since I moved into coaching full-time, I’ve found that leaders often get a bit sheepish around me. “I know my development is important,” one recently confessed, “but I just can’t seem to find the time to focus on myself.” I assured him that he wasn’t alone – I actually hear that a lot.

In fact, just this week I was talking with a friend whose organization has been participating in a peer group for start-ups. “I don’t think we’re going to renew,” she said. “We’re just finding the time commitment to be a bit intense – it takes around 8-10 hours each month and we’re already going a mile-a-minute.”

I get it. Like going to the gym, leadership development is one of those things we know we should be doing – but it’s tough to find time for it. And also like going to the gym: if we CAN find the time, we see tangible results and become more likely to make it a habit.

I’ve been wrestling with this idea, trying to figure out how to break the cycle and make personal development an easier habit for leaders to embrace. After many conversations to test the idea, I’m excited to launch the “Bullet-Point Book Group” this fall.

Here’s the idea in a nutshell: 

  • It’s a group that meets VIRTUALLY (via laptop video) for 90 minutes each month
  • We’ll discuss one book over the course of three sessions
  • You’re encouraged to read the book, but I’ll provide a “bullet-point” summary of key ideas in case the clock gets away from you
  • Our discussion will tie the book to REAL-LIFE challenges, so each session is more about application than the book itself
  • You’ll have a chance to connect with other leaders from outside your organization through the monthly discussion
  • You’ll walk away from each session committed to trying something new on the job

In addition to keeping it “bite-sized” so it’s no a huge time commitment, I like that this format will allow people to test some ideas and report back on them. From a learning perspective, this tends to be a more effective approach than simply plowing through a book and moving on to the next thing – or even attending a two-day seminar and returning to work without a chance to apply the learnings.

Pilot Information

To test the concept and get feedback, I’m running a pilot this fall. It will just focus on a single book (as opposed to a year-long membership) and pilot memberships will be discounted to $150, which includes the book, a summary of key points, three virtual sessions, and related assignments. (Not to mention the camaraderie!)

The book I’ve selected for this is Kim Scott’s “Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity.” The ideal participant for this book is a seasoned leader (or manager-of-managers) because we’ll look at not only our own personal practices, but also ways we can help our team leads become more effective in their roles.

If this sounds fun to you, please complete this form to express your interest! And if you have any feedback or thoughts on the concept, I welcome those too – just email me at alison@exploreyouredge.com.

Reflections & Questions

Wait – What? 10 Signs Your Listening Game Needs Work

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Listening is one skill that everyone – regardless of rank or role – would generally benefit from improving. I say this because it frequently surfaces in my work with clients AND because I experience it in my personal interactions. Since raising my own awareness of how I listen, it’s embarrassing how frequently I catch myself tuning out, splitting my attention, or making the conversation about me when I’m chatting with friends.

Is your interest piqued? Here’s a quick quiz to evaluate your listening prowess. Pay attention to the questions you answer “yes” to – those represent some opportunities for improvement.

Continue reading “Wait – What? 10 Signs Your Listening Game Needs Work”