Coaching and mentoring isn’t just about giving. I learn as much from those I coach and mentor as they learn from me, regardless of what stage of their career they’re in.
One of my clients recently reflected on a lesson she’d learned from our discussion. I was floored by the clarity of her insight, and though I really did give her this advice wished I had articulated it with the same clarity.
The lesson was about focusing on the verbs instead of the nouns. Really?
“I was so stressed and feeling so much pressure because I thought I knew WHAT I wanted to be and was struggling to envision how to get a job with that title. The more I learned about that industry the less excited I was about doing that job. You helped me focus on what I wanted to DO. Once I shifted my focus to think about what type of work I wanted to do and how I wanted to add value, it opened my mind to a whole new set of possibilities, and freed me to consider jobs I didn’t realize were such a good fit.”
Within just a few weeks, she secured a job with a very well known global company, where she will be doing exactly what she loves to do – serving customers, creative problem solving, and contributing to the design of a rewarding user experience.
Clients often come to me because they’re either in transition, or wish to be. To help them clarify their goals, I ask them to reflect on the following:
- What are their personal and professional values?
- What do they most enjoy doing, that doesn’t even seem like “work”?
- What do they want to accomplish and be remembered for?
- How do they (or do they want to) add value to an organization?
The answers, with the exception of your values, are mostly going to be verbs. These conversations can often be more helpful than a simple discussion of skills and competencies. The latter, especially if you’ve been in the same industry for a long time, can contribute to a feeling that you’re pigeonholed, or stuck doing what you’ve been doing. Additionally, the same title may mean different things in different companies or industries. Separating the work from the title is step toward determining how your skills transfer to the work you really want to do.
So if you’re feeling stuck, spend some time on your verbs. Your high school English teacher will feel value, and you might just find a huge “AHA!” Of course, as a marketer, I can’t resist the temptation to add, “Just DO it.”
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