“If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.” ~Jim Rohn
When you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere else to go but up! Consider Trudy’s story, a woman I had the honour of working with some time ago. (Name changed to protect her identity).
Her voicemail message said she was looking for career coaching, but her ominous tone left me thinking she needed counselling (therapy). When I returned the call she confirmed she wanted career coaching.
A few years prior, Trudy had given up her corporate job with a major Canadian company due to family obligations. She did a variety of odd jobs that allowed her the flexibility she needed at the time, finally settling as a house cleaner with one of the more popular home cleaning franchises. She received a lot of push back from family and friends when she made this decision, and according to her, “My Italian mother saw it as a step down, and was not happy.” Yes, it was a step down, but she thought it would’ve been a great segue into entrepreneurship and owning her own cleaning business.
A little over a year doing this job, she gave it up, concluding it was not for her. By then, things had changed on the home-front, and she decided she wanted to return to a corporate environment. Not only was she now looking for a new job, but her already low self-esteem had reached rock bottom. Is she going to fit in? How will she position herself after a four-year hiatus from the corporate world?
At the end of our first meeting we agreed to work together, but there was one drawback: she couldn’t afford my fees. I asked her what option would work for her, other than having to reduce my fees, and she said she would schedule sessions whenever she had the money. Not only did I see the pain and frustration she was going through, but also the determination to get back up, and that was compelling.
We made arrangements to have face-to-face sessions twice per month. I would offer her as much support as I could, including short spurts of coaching if absolutely necessary. I also explained that for coaching to effective, she had to commit to doing whatever work and assignments that were necessary. Before we tackled the job search, we had to work on the self-esteem issue. After our third meeting and a couple of assessments, I noticed a significant difference in her behaviour. She had started to regain her confidence, her inner dialogues and negative self-talks had subsided, her head was no longer held down, and “people were beginning to take notice”, she said. At one point, she beamed as she told me how she was asked to “take up the collection at Church.” “No big deal”, one might say, but to her, it was!
Before we tackled the job search, we had to work on the self-esteem issue. After our third meeting and a couple of assessments, I noticed a significant difference in her behaviour. She had started to regain her confidence, her inner dialogues and negative self-talks had subsided, her head was no longer held down, and “people were beginning to take notice”, she said. At one point, she beamed as she told me how she was asked to “take up the collection at Church.” “No big deal”, one might say, but to her, it was!
As our work continued, I introduced her to individuals in my network so she could arrange informational meetings. We figured that after a four-year absence from the workforce, she needed to gain insights into current workplace practices and business culture. I developed her resume and cover letter, and coached her on interviews, services that were not included in the coaching agreement.
Two months into the coaching relationship, she said, “I am ready to start my job search, and want to find a job by the middle of next month.”
On her way to her first interview, she stopped by my office to show me her new outfit and to let me know she was wearing lipstick. Trivial, it might seem, but that was an example of increased confidence and transformation.
She didn’t get the job, and was quite disappointed. A week later, on her way back from another interview, she phoned to say she had been offered an administrative position with a leading clothing company, and was hired because of her background in customs and logistics. When we checked the date, it was March 14, exactly one month from the day she set her intention to find a job by the middle of the next month.
Trudy demonstrated discipline, motivation, and perseverance, which helped her move from rock bottom to a new job. These are equal opportunity characteristics that do not require a degree; everyone has access to them.
Some people enter coaching looking for quick fixes, but it takes time to untangle the web of past experiences to get to where one wants to go. And to get results, it’s important to plan purposefully – set goals or milestones – and work diligently to achieve them.
It starts with one small step. If you don’t take that small step and start doing the things that seem frightening, difficult or uncomfortable, you will realize that one year from now, you will be at the same place in your life or career.
Take a chance!