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I recently had the great good fortune to have a guest-post published at www.redhotmomentum.com, a website for small and/or nontraditional (“unhinged”) businesses.
I submitted it there because it is about Marketing, which really isn’t the focus of my website or my blog posts. But two of the people who followed up with me directly got me thinking, and one pointedly suggested a follow-up article. So here is that follow-up. I’m posting it here because it is not about Marketing so much as it is about Questions and Curiosity – two of my favorite subjects. (Go read the original post here. I’ll wait.)
Are you back? Great, here we go.
Those two people who reached out to me are both in full-time jobs. One wrote,
“I am struggling with similar things even though I am employed, switching careers definitely is as unsettling because I don’t have experience in what I want to do.”
The other wrote,
“I am that woman now and have not yet figured out how or where or a comfortable way to market myself. I keep hearing my family members saying ‘you better keep your job with benefits’ every time I even begin to want to market myself and then I back off.”
I thought about their predicaments, and what it was about my story that appealed to them. One thing is my struggle with the internal resistance I kept encountering. Another is the idea of the security that a full-time job offers – security that can be very difficult to leave behind. And yet another is the fear I described that no one would give me a try in my new role because I no longer wore my old cape.
To overcome those fears, I had to get curious about myself and ask myself a lot of questions about why I was getting in my own way.
And I realized that these two people were actually asking questions in addition to the ones in the original post. (What, you haven’t read it yet? Click here.)
• How do I quiet the voices of my family that tell me to choose security over following my dreams?
• How do I pursue my dream when I don’t have Real Experience in that area?
How do those questions go together? Are they, perhaps, the same question?
I didn’t voluntarily leave my last job – I was laid off. I had been thinking of making a change but I hadn’t done it, and circumstances made the decision for me. I didn’t decide to stop job hunting and embrace the uncertainty of hanging out my own shingle until after the severance had run out and I really began to think about the possibilities and, more importantly, to see a completely different set of possibilities.
But the fears are still the same.
That said, let me try to address their questions.
Here is the thing about family members and friends (and their voices that take up residence in our heads): Is it possible that they love us and want the best for us, that they’re not TRYING to discourage or squish us? That they’re just wrong? Well-meaning but wrong?
I learned a very important lesson last year at a workshop led by Marcia Wieder. She talked about listening to the voice of my inner Doubter, and rather than trying to silence it, learning to determine whether the warning it is giving is a legitimate obstacle that needs to be overcome or an obsolete belief that can be released. (Willie Hewes and Alexia Petrakos also do a great job with this at the Monster Journals.)
And so when my Voice of Alarm said, “You’ll never make it on your own! Go get a Corporate Job with benefits!” I practiced asking questions like, “Do I have to find a new corporate job with benefits? Or can I find reasonably priced individual coverage at a risk level I can handle?” Mmm, guess what – I have individual coverage now. And then I was able to get to the bigger issue of my beliefs about whether I could really be a Superhero without someone else’s Cape of Authority.
Regarding making a Career Change, it occurs to me that the idea of threads is very important. As I mentioned in that other post, I have had a fascinating and fun variety of jobs in my life, and I never went from one job to another exactly like it. But there was always a thread that connected them. And even if Job A was very different from Job M, I could demonstrate that there were certain threads (skills, personality traits, work habits) that helped me to not only move from one role to the next but to be successful in all of them. (Such as, I’m a Builder. Not a Maintainer.)
Focus on the threads, the suspension bridge cables that bridge the gaps, not the gap itself. Spend time pouring the concrete footings, and acknowledge the gaps between them. But focus on the threads.
Questions – My Favorite Part!
So, here are some questions to add to those in that other post, especially for Superheroes who want to move from the Fantastic Four to the Justice League – or create a League of Their Own. (Wait, I think someone’s already used that. No worries, you can call it something else.)
• What are the concerns that your Doubter (or Monster) brings up?
• Are they real obstacles, or are they beliefs?
• If they are really potential obstacles, what are your options and resources for overcoming them?
• If they are beliefs, where did they come from? Are they still valid?
• If they’re no longer valid, can you release them?
• Have you done the same exact thing throughout your career?
• If not, what are the threads that connected your various roles?
• How are they applicable to your desired role?
• If your target role is really different from your current/past roles, what are the transferable skills, character traits, talents, etc., that apply to the target role – even if it is not a 1-to-1 fit?
Once upon a time, when I was a recruiter, I sometimes found a candidate that I just knew was going to be successful – even if his or her background wasn’t a direct match with the dreaded Job Description. They might not have been an exact fit, but they had something, some Secret Sauce, some Super Power, that made them worth taking a risk on. Often it was The Stuff You Can’t Teach. Once I identified it, I was able to add that to the experience I presented to the hiring manager. And the hiring managers usually went for the people with The Stuff You Can’t Teach because they could, well, teach them the other stuff. But I had to be curious enough about the candidates to uncover it.
Curiosity is a Super Power
Curiosity is the key to answering to both of the questions at the top of this post.
Curiosity about myself has helped me to look at myself and figure out that I needed to set aside my reliance on my old cape and embrace my new cape.
Curiosity doesn’t only help us to solve problems and be more creative and play well with others. Curiosity also can be used to understand ourselves better.
And that makes it a pretty extraordinary Super Power.
Are you curious?
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