Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Asheville

March 2013

I could hear the rising frustration in her voice. “I’m doing everything I can think of to market my business, and nothing seems to be working. If something doesn’t happen soon, I’m going to have to close my business and find a job.”

I didn’t say it, but I know plenty of people who are actively looking for employment with little success—and many of them are seriously considering opening up their own businesses. “The grass may be greener on the other side, but it’s just as difficult to cut,” I once heard itsaid.

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, life doesn’t turn out the way we imagined it. Doors close, and sometimes—if we stay alert and adaptable—others open.

During college, I thought I wanted to be in advertising. When I got my first advertisingjob I knew my hard work had paid off. Six months later I was miserable and quit.

Within a month, I became the National Kidney Foundation of Georgia’s public relations director. I took the job without knowing what a PR person does. I figured it out eventually, and this job was the start of a twenty-plus career in a field I loved.

Now, I’m a communications trainer and coach.A career I never would have predicted. And a published author? Never! I thought I was a lousy writer.

My Dad used to say that you can achieve anything in life as long as you work hard enough for it. I’m not convinced Dad was right. Sometimes, we have to trust that the Universe may have a better plan and we only need to follow it.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but if you’re struggling with career issues, here’s what has worked for me:

One: Set a deadline for how long you can/will pursue a certain career direction. If it’s not working, accept that it’s not working. Change directions before it becomes too late.

Two: Ask yourself each day, “What can I do to move my goal along?” Some days, it may be nothing.

Three: Identify your ideal work environment. What environment allows you to do your best work? In my experience, we can be happy in a lot of different jobs, but we are most happy in an environment that allows us to thrive.

Four: Work hard toward your goal, but keep your options open. Spend time dreaming about other directions. Look for open doors. Evaluate each possibility with your heart and gut as much as your head. Keep exploring until you identify several options that excite you.

Five: Trust that you will get whatever you need. It may not come in your timeframe, but trust thatit will come.