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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Courage and Career Transitions


During a career transition has anyone ever said this phrase to you: "One door closes and the next door opens"? Well, if you're about to lose your job, change industries, reluctantly move to another state, or interview for the first time in ten years, that goodwill statement probably doesn't make you feel better. Do you know why? The real issue is not about whether the door is opening or closing, but how you deal with hell in the hallway!
Don't get me wrong; sometimes the door that closes is a good one, such as when you receive a six month severance package, transfer your skills to a new department, or complete a certificate that will add a new "star" to your resume. Many times the closed door represents a pink slip, being passed over for a promotion, or coming to grips with a new leader that hires his/her "people." During these times, unawareness takes over (versus consciousness) and you find yourself heaving the next door open by jamming your foot in the doorway. You are determined (until hell freezes over) to put a square peg into a round hole (even if it kills you!). You might even be vaguely aware that if you are using force, it's probably not the right opportunity or choice for you.
Hell in the hallway flushes out your courageous intentions. Women, in particular, seem to hold themselves to a high benchmark thus creating undo pressure. If they don't make it, they don't think of themselves as capable or courageous. What's important is to recognize that there is a direct correlation between your success quotient and your courage quotient. People who dissect the professional steps in their lives can underscore if they are stepping up or staying fixed on one step. An ancient Chinese proverb says, "He who hesitates before each step spends his life on one leg."
Be Accountable for Your Choices
Stepping up to your next career advancement is similar to climbing a standard six-foot ladder. The first step on the ladder is low and wide. Each consecutive step becomes higher and narrower. Near the top of the ladder, the ascent can get a little shaky as the steps taper. This is where blame takes over or complacency settles in. A courageous person observant, reevaluates what is true and vital, then summons their courage... and steps up. By courage, I mean integrating, claiming and relying on the original definition: "heart and spirit." One of the behaviors of courage is to hold yourself 100% accountable for your choices. Every choice you make has great consequence and these choices reverberate throughout your life-to the very end!
Recall and list some of the times you found yourself in the hallway? Are you in the hallway now? If so, what's going on? Many times if force is being used it's not the right option and you're not coming from a place of Courage Centering. There are times when the door opens right away, such as being recruited out of college or having an advocate employed in the company where you hope to work. In my experience, most advancement in consciousness came while I was in the hallway. Many of my clients say they discovered their "calling" during those lonely screams or sleepless nights in the hallway.
Depressed and scared, they were truly not in the mood to reinvent themselves one more time (one of the 12 behaviors of courage). My calling came to me while I was pacing in the hallway: I was supposed to conduct research on the behaviors of courage and author books and present on the subject. Yikes! I was neither a writer nor a journalist.
Courage Makes Your "Calling" Come Alive
Most people don't have a clue about their calling or what makes their heart sing. Think about a time and an issue around which you found yourself animated. Animation is an energy that makes you feel alive in your core-in your heart. There's a good chance that encounter, perhaps nearly forgotten, was your calling. It will now require the virtue (from Latin, meaning "energy") of courage to make it come alive!
Do you choose to stay on the same rung of the ladder during a career transition because you're in the hallway? Will you choose the courage killer-complacency? Giving yourself permission to claim and apply your courage halts self-righteousness and prepares you to activate your authenticity. It's a perfect starting place if you want to multiply your talents and effectiveness, define with clarity what is vital in your life and what is not, and escalate your work.
Your career transition or advancement is not outside your control. Courage is a joyful essence that supports you to be "real" during times of uncertainty. It allows you to embrace new dilemmas, overcome reluctance and rise above ambivalence. This is the time to embrace your reservoir of courage and step up.
After all, courage isn't something you stumble upon as you round the corner of the cubicle at the office. It is a practical tool, consciously chosen by authentic people in defining moments. Get out of the hallway: alter your professional destiny with courage.
Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She is an internationally recognized speaker, learning consultant, author and entrepreneur for almost twenty years who helps organizations, teams and individuals tap into their courage. She found that there is a direct correlation between your success quotient and your courage quotient. She helped organizations from Agrium, Inc., Procter & Gamble, Hitchai Consulting, and Wide Open West to integrate her "Courageous Leadership Development Model." She also instructs at the University of Denver. Featured on the speaker circuit as witty, provocative, concrete and insightful, she has changed the lives of thousands of leaders each year. Sandra's the internationally published author of three books: COURAGE (2001), STUCK (2010) and FACE IT! (2011). She has also been published in numerous magazines including Chief Learning Officer, Strategic Finance and HR Matters, Malaysia. All her books are available on and internationally on Kindle.
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