Seems like it should be an easy question to answer. But often it isn’t.
In our lives and in our work there are many barriers to uncovering a clear picture of what we want.
Tension and anxiety may have us in their grip. Or, we may be so interwoven with another person or a team it can be hard to detangle and separate out our own wants. We may have a tendency to get focused on what we can’t have — or at least not yet — either because our own saboteurs are in control or because we’re struggling to push through the limiting words and attitudes of others.
But, let’s suppose that you can identify what you want. What if this dream means a radical change? What if it doesn’t sit easily with your colleagues and friends, or causes concern in the people you love the most? What if you don’t feel ready for it, or can’t fully imagine the change? These are all reasons why we push down our wants and carry on with the lives we’re living now.
We’re nearing the end of the year, a point in time that is the perfect motivation to connect with your inner ‘wanter’. Is it time to discover your true purpose for this stage of your life or career? Is now the moment to try again at something that’s meaningful to you but which doesn’t come easily? Is it time to look at a past disappointment and take another run at it? Is this the stage in your life for working less, more, differently or elsewhere? Or, is this finally the moment to be free from a job or relationship that no longer serves you?
Take some time over these next few days to create space, connect with your intuition, your passion and wisdom, and ask yourself what you want. Listen. Be curious. Sense it. See it. When the vision of what you want comes, ask yourself what having it will do for you. Finally, ask how you’ll know when you have it. Then park it. If it comes back to you over the days that follow you’re onto something to be explored more fully!
Too often we stumble from one year to the next, hoping for the best but without a vision the future. With a vision we have an end-state goal that has the power to motivate substantial change in our lives, careers and businesses.
Recently we’ve been holding Visioning Sessions with our longer-term clients. Stepping back and connecting with the bigger picture of our lives is a useful exercise at anytime, but particularly as the year ends. One client is considering divesting some parts of her highly successful business, finally ready to take her foot off the accelerator. Another is looking to leave his corporate job to fully embrace his dreams, after inching away slowly for the last few years. Another is on a tear to complete a long to-do list before the end of the year in order to focus on her new vision for 2017.
We’ve also recently launched a ‘Clarity Package’ for new clients. In just three sessions our clients are gaining insights and moving forward from a place of clarity. One client is preparing for a difficult conversation with her boss to redefine her role and negotiate a pay raise. She’ll either stay or go, either way 2017 will be a different. Another client is looking for clarity around staying in her current job or launching her own enterprise. Still another is evaluating volunteer and part-time opportunities. Several others are renewing their job searches, making progress with more optimism having discovered the Saboteurs that have been stubbornly holding them back. In all cases, by discovering their values, purpose and inner strengths these clients are connecting to their bigger visions and they’re moving forward with purpose.Check out this blog post for one in-depth client story.
So, what’s next for your life, career or business? What do you want more of or less of? Where are you feeling stuck or out of balance? What will you carry over from 2016 as a work-in-progress, and what needs to be completed in the remaining days of the year?!
To gain clarity for yourself as you head into 2017, or to offer this package as a gift to a partner, colleague, relative or friend, contact us today!
Today I completed a three session clarity package with a client looking to make changes to her career and life heading into 2017.
The client had quit her career in public policy work nine years ago, early in her career, to take on the family business. It was a decision she felt pressured into making. Recently, she’s been missing the intellectual challenges and the sense of ‘making a difference’ that accompanied her work in human rights. To prepare for an upcoming shift she delegated a number of day-to-day tasks to a management company. But, she’s not looking to leave the family business fully yet, as it will provide her with a good income while she navigates what comes next.
In our initial consultation we did an exercise to provide more context for her desired changes. What surfaced is that her health is a concern and needs to be factored into to her thinking. It’s always useful to get the bigger picture going into any coaching engagement. Sometimes a client may want to make a change in one area but other parts of their life may not be lined up to support them.
In our first full session we uncovered her values. Advocacy, community, learning, connecting, making a difference, and her recent marriage were all important. It turned out that several of her values were being honored in her current work but some scored low in the assessment. Through discovery and scoring we got an honest snapshot of her current situation.
Some of the proposed actions that came out of this session turned out to be premature. At the start of our second session the client indicated that she needed to do more self discovery and research about potential opportunities before moving into action. In short, she needed to slow things down. Her timeframe shifted from being a few months to at least six months, and she now realized that there would be fewer hours in the week to give to a different type of work (5-10 hours rather than 20 hours). Often, our Saboteurs — or inner critic voices — awaken when we’re looking to make changes in our lives, and they can put lead boots on us that slow down progress. However, with this client I sensed a re-frame, that rather than a big shift in her career she was looking to pursue her passions more incrementally.
So, next we shifted to her role and purpose. She came up with the phrase ‘change agent’ in one of the visualizations, and that resonated with her both professionally and personally.
Our final session started with some positive updates. After connecting with friends and relatives she had signed up for an orientation class around learning a new technical skill, specifically a computer programming language. She’d also connected with an online nonprofit matching service where she could offer her professional services for a few hours at a time. These were two ways she could honor her values more fully. She saw potential obstacles around prioritizing her new goals versus family, but she also felt a high level of commitment to fulfilling them.
The focus of the third session was to create a vision for 2017. I asked my client to provide a headline for the year ahead: “Restructuring and reinvention – in that order!” she replied. By putting structures and systems in place within her existing business she would be creating more freedom and space for reinvention. And, by digging into personal finances, estate planning and home improvements she would be honoring her relationship with her new spouse.
Ultimately, she completed the Clarity Package with specific goals for 2017:
“I am clear that I want to get my house in order in 2017. I’m clear that I want to learn something in technology. I’m clear that I want to give back, and that I want to learn more about myself.”
The next step is to follow up with some assessment tools to help her with discovery around her personal strengths and blind spots.
In April and May, we were on retainer to prepare a CEO for an important milestone — giving his first commencement speech. It’s an honor for anyone to be asked to speak on such an important occasion and it’s out of the ordinary for a technology executive who more typically speaks about company products and strategies.
As we reviewed the executive’s on-camera performances at the start of the project — we could see that he was a passable speaker but he had some habits that kept him from being truly entertaining or inspiring. We set out to achieve three goals: a) to identify with the audience of graduates; b) to feel ‘within himself’ as he communicated from the heart; c) to create a vision about the world in front of them and the opportunities and challenges they face.
Up first was to develop a script that would connect with his audience of several thousand graduates. As expected, this took several iterations over many weeks. It needed to be personal, which meant we needed to keep digging and prodding. Finally we landed on the themes of embracing change, taking risks and learning from failure. It’s not easy for a successful executive to speak about their failures, especially when they’ve gone from being a self-made millionaire to being broke, all within 5 years, but as journalists we knew this would connect with his audience, and give him credibility.
Once the script was in good shape we started rehearsals. We first mirrored back what we were hearing — his speech was slow and fairly monotonous. This is always profound work, getting our clients to hear themselves the way we hear them. Once they can hear it, they’re motivated to find a better version of themselves. We also used a technique where we marked up his script, providing direction for emphasizing words, pauses, breaths. He found this very useful and became skilled at hitting his marks.
Finally, as we reached the last week, with graduation day in sight and with the core messaging in place, we took the script to some lighter places. Marilyn is a stand up comedian and she’s worked in Silicon Valley for decades, so that was a useful combination. Not all the jokes made it into the final draft but it helped the executive find his own path to some lighter moments.
As the executive spent time with the script in the final days before delivering the speech, he made it his own. This really helped him gear up for the big day. He had the words, he had the techniques, and he now he’d found the heart of what he wanted to communicate: that success and failure go together, that failure shouldn’t stop you from trying, that taking risks will lead to both success and failure and that we all learn from both.
The audience loved him and he soared in his presentation. We were thrilled to have helped shape it.
Recently we worked with a client, Ronda, who was interested in an updated headshot. I’d met Ronda during professional coach training during which I’d personally coached her on re-awakening her creativity. She’d previously been an actress and a singer but has for many years been working very long hours in Learning and Development at a Fortune 500 company. It’s a job she’s great at, but she was ready to re-capture her inner creativity and project her more theatrical side back out into the world.
In the pre-shoot call with our photographer Stefanie Atkinson and hair & makeup pro Sarah E. Hyde we discussed the feel for the image. Ronda’s keywords for the shoot were “inviting”, “magnetic”, and “twinkle”.
Here’s Ronda, before and now:
So, what’s the real difference here? Ronda looks great in both the before and after images!
Sarah says that in the ‘Before’ image Ronda doesn’t look professional, “it looks more like she’s just had a cocktail with friends!” Ronda’s hair is flat, her lips are shiny. In the ‘Now’ image we’ve smoothed out her hair and gone with a modern looking blowout. In terms of makeup, Ronda looks clean, fresh and dewy. Sarah enhanced Ronda’s best feature, her eyes, framing and defining them but not overpowering them and she went with a matte lipstick. With her mouth closed Ronda is more serious, and she looks friendly, warm and approachable. “There’s more depth and self confidence in the new image,” Sarah says.
Stefanie notes that the lighting in the ‘Before’ image is flat and the image has been taken with a flash: “There’s glare on her lip, nose and face and there are bars behind her head. It’s not a professional image,” Stefanie says. “There’s dimensionality, depth and warmth in the ‘Now’ image. The eye goes directly to her, and it feels like she’s really looking at me.” The cleaner background, softer lighting and hair & makeup also accentuate Ronda’s beauty.
So, how did we do? “I feel like you captured the real me…it is so reflective of me, both inside and outside,” says Ronda.
It’s easy to lose oneself in the business world, so go further with your next image and re-capture the essence of you. For a headshot consultation with the Screen Presence team contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, here’s another image from the shoot that Ronda (and her posse) just adore:
This post was created by Screen Presence president and executive coach Marianne Wilman.