I've been involved in a lot of mentoring events recently, and a question that keeps coming up is 'Why did you move into coaching?"
So I'm going to talk openly and honestly -- as people who know me will tell you I'm prone to do -- about my "why."
As I moved through my career three things became very clear to me...
Working in advertising is hard. Well, first world hard, you know what I mean. There are long hours, pressure from teams, clients, bosses, suppliers, finance...
You have to be creative, strategic, tactical, loud, quiet, a presenter, and a listener...
But the people are usually great fun. Really creative and, when they're not stressed to breaking point, fun to be around.
Being a woman in agency-land can be hard. Depending on where you are, often the men you work with are tough (pressure-tough), and the women are tougher. Somehow the guys who lose the most money get the most pay. And (BY THE WAY!) why can't anyone see how hard I'm working over here??? There are often a lot of A-types around. Awesome for management in terms of self-imposed drive and performance, not so awesome in terms of overachievers setting expectations for other overachievers.
Coming back to work after having kids is hard. Actually, just the second half of that sentence is hard.
So picture this.
How does it feel to be a type A extrovert, returning to advertising, after having a baby, with an all male leadership team...
Oh, you've been there?
Welcome to The Club.
I fell into my career. I was good at it, it paid well and we went to all the best parties. But as the (ahem... 15-ish) years rolled on, I noticed a pattern.
I worked myself into a ball of stress at each agency, burnt out, and moved onto the next one.
I'm not bagging the industry, I love it. I think it needs some help, but much like everything else in life, it's about how you perceive and respond to it - whether 'it' is good, bad or a client shouting "Just make the logo bigger!"
I want to share two things which, if really taken on board, can make a huge difference to this for everyone.
#1. Everything is a choice
You choose what you do and don't do. Whether to schmooze. How to schmooze. Whether to say what you think or hold your tongue for a better outcome. How late to work. How long to stay in a situation you're unhappy with.
The moment you realise that -- that's it's a choice -- it's so liberating.
Before you say "...but there's too much work and I have to do it!" remember this...even if you choose to do something stressful like pulling an all nighter before a pitch, at least if you've chosen to do it, you've taken control. You can choose not to. There'll be consequences, but ultimately it's your choice. You can choose to do something, not do it, try, stay or leave.
I had a moment. I had a choice. I took it and went after it. Forget what I didn't like and didn't want. I love the industry. I love the people. I love creating fun. I love the energy. I love helping people.
Which leads me to #2: You have to run towards the things you want
I realised if I was working independently, I could help more people develop their careers and work with the people I wanted to work with.
I could Coach! Career Coaching. High Performance Career Coaching (more about HP next time.)
It allows me to do the type of work I'm passionate about, leverages my experience (good and bad!) and if I do it right will also help pay the mortage.
During my Coaching and NLP training it became so obvious that running away from things/people/clients/agencies is a short term solution. You have to run towards the thing (role, career, life) you want. REALLY WANT.
Then you need a plan. You need to take control, not coast through, or run around like a headless chicken hoping a promotion will magically appear in December.
After 15 years, I've tried it all. Loud, Quiet, Off The Cuff, Planned, Work The Room, To Schmooze or not To Schmooze...
I've done employee and employer well and badly.
I've done working Mum well and badly.
If you're a 30-something (whatever, 30 + 11 counts!) in the creative industry, I've walked in your shoes. I've done the tears and burn outs. I've done the disengaged version. I've done unsung hero to workaholic. And I've also done some really good shit. I've started teams. Hell, I started a whole new Activations team at BMF, the agency of the decade! I've judged awards; I've won them (not the same ones, that would be cheating). I've worked my way up the ladder. I've earned good money. I've travelled. I've got a little boy, a husband, a mutt and a motorbike.
But if you really want to break it down into a real 'Simon Sinek TED-talk' WHY , it's this:
I don't want anyone to feel how I felt when I was Frustrated. Exhausted. Uninspired.
If I can make a difference to one person's life (and let's face it, your career can take over your life) by a quick chat, a connection, a heart to heart or a kick up the arse. I'm happy. That's My Why.
Don't leave for the wrong reason.
Don't stay for the wrong reason.
Figure out what you WANT.
Make some choices.
Take some action.
Make some more choices.
Don't tread water, give up, or spend your life swimming away from sharks. You'll get to the end and be knackered.
Find a speedboat, fill it with the right people, and get going!