“We must never be afraid to go too far, for success lies just beyond.”
– Marcel Proust, French Novelist
It is only fair that if I tell my clients to take risks that I take them too. What is interesting however, what may seem like a huge career, relationship, or financial risk, may actually be the right, safe, and appropriate path for us to take.
The First Shift
In April 2008 I knew it was not only a risk to leave the security of the Fortune 100 company I had worked for almost a decade, but it would be an enormous challenge to take a Director of Marketing position at a small privately owned company which had never had a marketing department in its 50 years of existence. But I felt with my organizational skills and recent Masters of Integrated Marketing Communications that I would be able to create a clear brand, accessible communications, and help the company grow. What I didn’t know was that there was a reason the company had never had a marketing department.
With the company’s reluctance to accept change, silo-thinking that restricted open participation, a culture of making from-the-hip decisions versus a desire to create successful systems, a lack of managerial empowerment, and difficulty spending the time to create a future vision for the company, my fledgling marketing department was doomed from the start. But as I started this new position, I was also starting a new phase of my life.
Not only had I known that it was the right time to leave corporate America, but I knew it was finally time to begin my pursuit of a coaching practice. So along with a new job I started my training as a coach. Many, many years ago I started college as a psychology major, but never took a class. At the time I talked myself out of the endeavor because I felt I was not smart enough, didn’t have enough money to complete the degree, couldn’t separate my clients’ emotions from my own, and just thought it would take too darn long. So I blindly bumped through my life’s winding journey until my health finally told me I was not on the right path. The stress of living a non-authentic life was attacking my health until I started pursuing what truly makes my heart sing, coaching others to find their authentic lives.
The Second Wave
The transition from being a marketing employee to being my own boss as a personal and business coach would not be easy or smooth. My plan was to create a marketing baseline for my new day job so that I could turn the new department over to someone else once my coaching business was strong enough to go full-time. This was not meant to be. I experienced a lot of pain and anguish at my day job. I went through the five stages of grief starting with denial that things were as bad as they seemed to anger that management didn’t understand and didn’t want to change. I then moved into bargaining; if I could just suck it up long enough to get my coaching business stable, but my body said no. I began to feel ill, to have difficulty getting out of bed for work. I began to have headaches. So on to the next stage, depression that I was stuck in this position, which was thankfully short. Then I came to acceptance.
Acceptance is powerful. It is terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. I remember the moment well. I was shoveling snow outside of my house and stopped. I burst into tears and laughter and a wave of peace. Yes. This was right. I need to take a stand and yes I will be leaving. I felt the wonderful release that I could once again be myself. And I also felt terrified that my husband and I would end up poor and homeless. But then an amazing thing happened, once I truly accepted my right action, things started falling in place. First, although it would change our financial security my husband fully and unconditionally supported my leaving. Then three new blog ideas came to me. The attendance for my very first workshop jumped from one to five. Supporters, validaters, and partners appeared all within 48 hours of acceptance. My acceptance and vision of my future started the universal ball rolling with good things coming my way.
March 2009 began my hero’s saga as Martha Beck would say. The first thing I noticed was how violently my body started reacting every time I felt stuck in the marketing position. My body, my soul, and my spirit wanted, no, needed to be somewhere else. After initially mistreating my body through sugar and caffeine to try to lull my pain, I started taking care of my body again and noted a release in my mind and my attitude. Through self-coaching and the support of fellow coaches, I released my feelings of being stuck and began to picture the future. Then things started falling in place. Potential clients appeared. Opportunities presented themselves. I took a PSYCH-K® class and felt the energetic shift and release I needed. Five days after I started saying in public I was a life coach – not a life coach with a day job but a life coach, the day after the PSYCH-K class, a mere hour after seeing the Proust quote above, and an hour before picking up my It’s My Life, Inc. business cards, I was laid off from my day job.
And I was joyous!! There was some fear to be sure, but it was quickly replaced by confidence. This is what I am meant to do. This is what I will be paid to do. This is what is meant for my life. The Universe agreed. Before noon on my first day of unemployment, I had a potential client seemingly out of no where.
The first part of this newsletter was written on January 11, 2009, approximately 48 hours after acceptance. The rest of the above was written the day I was let go last March. Now to the present.
I would love to write that days after this transition I was a fully employed coach living a comfortable life. But that is not the truth. This past year has been filled with trials and tribulations along with wins, coincidences, growth, and opportunities. It is truly a journey, but I like where the story has taken me. I love my life. I love my practice. And I love the daily challenges and transitions I have been experiencing. And most importantly I am thrilled to report that I am not poor and homeless. This past year I have enjoyed helping many other individuals find their ideal lives. I have helped new entrepreneurs to create the foundations they need for their companies and their lives. I have been a keynote speaker and have spoken at Fortune 50 companies as well as local events. With Sandy Walden, I hosted a retreat that not only changed the lives of the attendees but those of the hosts as well. Supporters and guides appeared at the right time to help me progress. I have tried things that have failed miserably and I have found things that work. I have felt low and discouraged, and I have felt amazed at success falling into my lap.
But most of all, I now feel the joy, peace, and happiness of living my authentic life.
How about you? Have you taken a risk that has made all the difference in your life? Share your story with us now.