If you don’t already know me, one thing you will quickly learn is that I am passionate about sports. Now–I don’t mean I’m the guy who obsessively manages 5 fantasy teams! Rather, I am a person that loves the game, but also recognizes the immense value and skills that sports add beyond the playing field. And while there is certainly an endless amount of skills and traits acquired while competing, I believe the learning continues long after hanging up the jersey. As I learned first hand, learning off the court involves less strength and conditioning, but still can be a difficult process.
It was 20 years ago this February that my boss, my friend, and a man that I consider family, was fired at Texas A&M. I was an assistant coach, and his departure signaled that it was time for me to pack my office and look for the next job. I was an immature, self-centered, 28-year-old who believed that the only thing that mattered in life was college hoops. I had been a college assistant for six years at that point, but had spent the last two years in the Big 12. I was trying my best to help beat the likes of Roy Williams at Kansas, Tim Floyd at Iowa State, Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State, Kelvin Sampson at Oklahoma, Norm Stewart at Missouri, Danny Nee at Nebraska, Tom Penders at Texas…you get the picture. The league was good, and the players were great.
Except for the losing, I was in heaven!
Initially, the only jobs I was getting a sniff at were low D-1’s and D-II schools. This, I thought, would not work for me, so I headed back to Chicago to take a position in the mortgage industry. I was ticked off, delusional, clueless, scared, and ready for a change (or so I thought).
What I did not realize at that time was that I had a ton of limiting beliefs and thoughts to overcome. My biggest mental obstacle was that I had attached who I was as a person to what I did for a living. The transition from Texas A&M to a cubicle on North Ave. & Wells in Chicago was a huge change, and a blow to my ego. But, I soon realized it was my choice, and one that I had to own.
Feeling trapped between who you are, and what you do, is a position many people find themselves in. In my case, the 28-year-old version of myself did not realize how a major career transition would help shape and clarify who I am today. In the ensuing years, I would face real struggles, and in order to overcome those challenges, I had to embrace and grow through change.
Fast-forward 20 years, and I have been successful not only in the coaching industry, but also the mortgage industry, and the recruiting industry. I am not saying that to impress you, but rather impress upon you that I understand the struggles and fears of people making significant changes in their career. In the midst of a major career change, I understand the fears of:
- The unknown
- Loss of “status”
- Having my weaknesses exposed
- Being unhappy and unfulfilled
- Have to learn new skills
Does that resonate?
As more time passed between my last college basketball coaching job, I would receive calls from friends and acquaintances in that business seeking advice, and asking questions about what the “other side” had to offer. To my friends still in the coaching, it was no secret that I struggled; yet I came out ahead. I never truly recognized that the challenges I faced in my transition from coaching to corporate America were similar to what most people deal with in their career at some point.
Changes in your career are inevitable, and they can certainly be hard. Through my profession, I have realized that the difficulty I had transitioning into a new career path was not unique to me, but common across a whole range of professionals. In my work, I have assisted folks who:
- Left their corporate job to fulfill a dream of entrepreneurship
- Lost their job due to acquisition, downsizing, or poor performance
- Changed roles within an organization
- Changed industries (sometimes by choice, and other times by circumstance)
- Are searching for the next career move
- Just joined a company for the first time
I have also worked with a range of athletes facing unique, but similar, challenges when:
- Athletes graduate from college
- Former professional athletes are trying to decide “what is next?”
- College and high school coaches are looking to change careers
Navigating these major career changes is complicated!
But as I have found in my experience working with others, change can also bring you a sense of fulfillment, renewed energy, fresh challenges, and the opportunity to build new and powerful relationships. By recognizing these opportunities, these transitions are full of what I call Positive Change.
I will never forget what I was told years ago by a friend and mentor. He explained that I did not choose to be in the situation I was in, but what I did from that point forward with that situation was my choice.
As I see it, there are five key elements to making Positive Change:
1 – Mindset
- Attitude and approach
- Growth vs. Fixed
- Response to challenges, adversity, and success
2 – Pursuits
- Passion, Vision, and Belief
3 – Work Ethic
- On and off the court (both at work and away from work)
- Resilience and Persistence
4 – Inner Circle
- You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with
- Association becomes assimilation
- Surround yourself with positive people
5 – Communication
- Verbal and non-verbal
- Positive language
- Become a great listener
- Social Media
- Foundation of others getting to know, like, and trust you
For those going through a career change, it is important to view the process as one ripe with Positive Change. As Wayne Dyer said…
“The things you look at change when you change the way you look at them.”
Thank you for reading! If you are interested in working together to grow through your change and want to inquire about my individual coaching services, or are interested in the work I do creating positive change within organization and teams, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.