Career Courage

Discover Your Passion, Step Out of Your Comfort Zone, and Create the Success You Want

 Career Courage

Author: Katie C. Kelley
Pub Date: March 2016
Print Edition: $16.95
Print ISBN: 9780814436745
Page Count: 240
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814436752

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Motivation: Clarifying What

Really Matters to You

Eric began his career as a junior client coordinator at a premier

Southern California entertainment agency. Over the years,

his natural salesmanship, ease around celebrities, and uncanny

ability to close lucrative deals for his clients had propelled him to

the higher echelons of the talent business. When a rumor about

impending layoffs began drifting through the office, Eric felt

confident that the agency would not only keep him on board but

even promote him to Senior Vice-President. So why was he lying

awake at night, his heart beating with anxiety?

For the first time in his career, Eric had begun thinking long

and hard about his future. The constant travel, fifteen-hour days,

and high-pressure negotiating had won him a certain amount of

fame and fortune, but looking ahead to more of the same made

him feel like a hamster on a treadmill. Despite a hefty bank account,

he felt bankrupt in terms of personal fulfillment. Fifteen

years earlier, he had dreamed of finding a life companion, building

a great home life, and discovering pleasures beyond the

fast-spinning world of work, work, and more work. When and

how had his work and personal life gone off track?

Eric’s situation is not uncommon. At some point, perhaps at

many points, during our careers, we wonder, “Is this all there is?

Am I really happy? How did I get so far away from the future I

had dreamed about when I got out of school?” If you’re like Eric,

you must do some deep and honest soul-searching. This chapter

will help you gain clarity about what motivates you—what really

matters to you in both your work and personal lives. You’ll learn

that one size does not fit all and that real satisfaction comes from

finding your own unique sweet spot, the best possible combination

of deeply satisfying work and a rich personal life. Remember

that, as we stressed in the Introduction, a career and a life are a

journey, not a destination. As time passes and you grow and

change, your “true north” will evolve. The trick is to do so consciously

and wisely.

Understanding Your Basic Motivations

You can begin by thinking of yourself as a leader in charge of

your own destiny. All leaders play many roles both inside and

outside their offices. Like so many of the women I coach, Suzanne

serves in multiple roles as a “Do-It-All Mom and Junior

Executive”: chauffeur, gourmet cook, wife, mother, head fundraiser

at her daughter’s Montessori school, and marketing man-

ager for a sleek start-up firm. She feels as if she’s living in a

whirlwind. And she is one unhappy woman. Eric knows exactly

how she feels, although in his case he wishes he could serve in

more rather than fewer roles. Both of them have achieved some

measure of success, but they have lost sight of the most important

role anyone can play: their true selves. How can they recapture

their unique, innermost desires, drives, and ambitions? If your

race to success has sidelined your true self, you will never find

your true calling and your most fulfilling personal life.

Expectations shape us in many ways, but we need to discover

and heed our own expectations for ourselves and not just struggle

to fulfill those of others: friends, family, teachers, coaches, peers,

and colleagues. When you more clearly understand yourself, you

can begin making decisions that will move you closer to a richer

and more rewarding life. Few people I have met know more

about doing that than one of my most cherished mentors, Cindy

Tortorici.

When I first met Cindy I had recently relocated to Portland,

Oregon, from Manhattan and had just launched my coaching

business. I knew very few people in town and was feeling very

isolated in this far corner of the country. Cindy greeted me with

a huge smile and folded me under her incredibly strong wings.

As I got to know her, I came to appreciate her basic, or core, motivation:

to keep people from feeling alone.

Cindy, CEO and founder of The Link for Women, which

provides events and programs that assist women in reaching their

full potential, has helped countless people, myself included, to

understand and apply our underlying drive in our personal and

professional lives. To help us do that, she uses Simon Sinek’s

Golden Circle, a simple diagram that looks like a target with

three circles inside (Why, How, What) that helps people discover

what really makes them tick. Sinek’s Golden Circle almost always

transcends a mere job description because it goes beyond

what we do and how we do it to why we do it.1 Like Sinek, I believe

it’s important that we start with the Why.

Understanding and naming my Why took more time than I’d

like to admit. As I described in the Introduction, I spent the first

stage of my career gaining credentials as a psychotherapist but as

I practiced my profession I began feeling more and more empty

inside. I came to realize that while I really did want to help people

lead happier, healthier lives, I was not gaining fulfillment

from trying to do that as a psychotherapist. When I stopped and

forced myself to reexamine my life and work, I realized that I

could remain true to my Why even if I radically altered the What

and How of my career.

• My Why: To alleviate pain and inspire action.

• My What: I work to develop the next generation of business

leaders.

• My How: I am a teacher and coach; I make use of broadcast

and social media; and I have written this book to share my

message with a wider audience.

Sinek’s Golden Circle helped me to understand that I was not

getting enough satisfaction from working as a therapist because I

was only fulfilling half of my Why. Yes, I was helping my patients

alleviate their pain, but I felt deeply frustrated with the fact that

traditional psychotherapy felt like such a passive way to help people.

Passivity was not in my nature. I wanted to lead, rather than

follow, my patients to a better future. During talk therapy, the

patient guides the process and direction of the work. This completely

suppressed my drive to move people toward action. Now,

as a business coach, I fulfill my basic Why, I just do it in a much

more action-oriented way.

Eric thought of himself as a talent manager, but that only described

what he did for a living. Never having thought deeply

about why he did that work, he couldn’t put his finger on what

was keeping him awake at night. Deep inside, below his conscious

awareness, he was feeling anxious about the lack of meaning

of his life, not about keeping his job. Nor had Do-It-All

Suzanne stopped to think about why she felt so unhappy as she

struggled to maintain the whirlwind.

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