I was talking to a professional career coach the other day. I asked her the question, what kind of person comes to see you? Her response was a shock to me. She says it is usually people with problems with their day-to-day work, assignment or project. Some have problems with their company and others have issues with their manager. I thought, why do professionals not seek out a coach before they have problems?
We visit a doctor for a health checkup or screening for a potential problem, we meet a financial advisor for financial check-up and advice about our retirement planning and long-term financial goals. We seek advice from family and friends about marriage and bringing up our children. Why then do we wait until we have problems with our jobs and career before we seek advice?
We should take a lesson from the traditional tradesmen such as joiners, electricians and welders. They all start their careers as apprentices and after many years of instruction and learning become fully qualified tradesmen. These individuals recognize that they need to continually improve their skills throughout their working life. They have clear standards of attainment and formal accreditation to remain in suitable employment. If they fail an annual check or accreditation then they can no longer work in their chosen field or they are no longer qualified to perform a certain service or job function.
The professional office worker, team lead or manager should also take their career seriously. The number of high school and college graduates who never read another book after graduating is frightening. Many do not see the requirement to improve after they graduate. There is only so much we can learn from friends, family and the internet. If we are serious about our career and ongoing development then we need to seek out others to help us.
Parents & Teachers – They can provide you with some basic advice and direction. A good start for the young Generation Y in their first job. Later you will need more specialist assistance in your chosen field, profession or strength. Parents and family can only take you so far on your career journey.
Accountability Partner – Ask someone to hold you accountable who demonstrates the personal traits that you require. This could be a friend or colleague. You can discuss your goals and aspirations and they can keep you accountable to meet your own objectives.
Trusted Colleague – Identify someone at work, who is further on his or her career journey than you are. Someone who is achieving and progressing in an area where you would like to be. Ask them to provide you with feedback of your actions and behaviors during discussions, meetings and other activities. They can provide you rapid feedback that you can action to improve yourself.
Professional Coach – This person will challenge you with probing questions as you look within yourself for the answers. They will ask ‘Why?’ and other interrogative questions. Search online for coaches or visit the ‘International Coaching Federation’ for a local coach. You will need to pay for their services however; they will take you much farther and quicker than you would go on your own.
Mentor – The mentor, sometimes older, is on the same journey, albeit many steps ahead, they will encourage and motivate you to reach your goals. You can ask for advice and direction from this person and they will have the time, knowledge and availability to help you to succeed. Keep your eyes open at work and in your social circles for a suitable mentor. Some companies also have corporate websites to connect mentees with appropriate mentors.
One of my friends is an ex professional tri-athlete. She was training for the 2016 Rio Olympics until forced to stop her Olympic dream due to injury. She said, “For the Olympic athlete, the Olympics are not every four years, they are every day!” We can learn a great deal from the professional athlete, they have a complete team of coaches and other professionals to support their Olympic dream. I asked her to list the team of professional that it takes to achieve Olympic success, they include;
Head coach, Sport psychologist, Swimming coach, Cycling coach, Running coach, USA Triathlon liaison, Massage therapist, Two Nutritionists, Physical therapist, Trainer, Two Kinesiology therapists, Orthopedic doctor and Medical professional – A support team of 15 professionals and of course many family and friends. This is a remarkable number of professionals required to support one individual.
You may not be dreaming of Olympic success, but do you still think you can achieve your hopes and dreams alone?
Making Steps and Leaving Footprints…
(The thoughts expressed in this blog are my own and do not represent the views of my employer. If you wish to find out more about my tri-athlete friend then visit her blog www.nataliekirchhoff.com)