A few years ago I found myself in a career rut while working in digital marketing. I had done all I could do to follow my own instructions from my post, Love The Job You're With. I was learning new skills and achieving improved results for the business, but something was still missing. I was hungry to do something completely new, after a long career with very similar roles. But what could it be? I was truly stumped.
I decided to take a couple of career assessments to get me thinking in a new way. One of the assessments provided a roadmap of all the possible career paths best suited to my interests. Number one on the list—Career Coach! While I read my results with a healthy dose of skepticism, given my long career in Marketing (which was also on the list by the way), the idea resonated enough with me that I felt compelled to dive into a fervor of research in a short time. Within 24 hours I'd assembled a matrix of all the Coach Certification programs available in my area, my contacts that had gone through the various programs and the times of my calls to speak with them. The more research I did, the greater my conviction became. I quickly learned that my top choice program had a cohort beginning the following week. I wasn't expecting to be forced to make a decision this quickly about a size-able investment of time and money—and yet every cell in my body was saying, "You must do this!" I listened.
I talked to my very supportive husband, my biggest advocate and cheerleader. "I know it sounds insane, but I feel like I need to do this. While I know it will be a lot of hard work, I know I'm up to it and I can't remember the last time I was this excited about my career and where it's going." This was a no-brainer for him. He agreed that not only did I need to do this, but in actuality, I'd been coaching my entire career—and this would make it official.
My intuition was critical in moving me toward my current path of coaching and it continues to be my strongest driver in building my business. While I had some opportunities to hone my intuition in my corporate career, I found that it was not something that was often admired or respected, and in turn, I frequently kept my hunches to myself until they were validated with reams of data. It has taken time to unlearn this behavior and not only begin to reconnect with that intuitive voice, but also take risks in trusting it.
I see this as one of the biggest challenges for my clients when they walk through my door. They come to me for advice, wanting me to make a slew of decisions for them and they quickly learn…I don't do that! My advice would come from my perspective and in coaching, I help clients tap into their own inner wisdom so they can find the solutions that are right for them. I find that when we are disconnected from our intuition, we're rudderless and stuck—looking to others to make decisions for us and following the paths of friends and family who have done the self-reflection that we have not done. In my practice, I help clients reconnect to their intuition so they can begin to experiment with trusting it and monitoring the results.
In order to get a taste of how it works, you can try this exercise:
- Close your eyes when you have five minutes of private, quiet time (even if you have to schedule it!). Say hello to your intuition. Acknowledge that you've neglected it lately. Take a deep breath and let your intuition know that you're open to listening now.
- Every time you feel that strong gut instinct in your body, keep a journal (or note on your phone) of what it is, where you feel it and if you're going to follow it.
- Try following it once a day for a week. Note the results in your journal. How did you feel when you followed your intuition?
All of this said, I think it's important to validate your intuition with data—and I continue to do this within my business. As an entrepreneur, I don't have time to do this for every decision. I have learned to go with my gut much of the time so that I'm constantly moving forward. While this may not be possible in many corporate cultures, there can be a balance where we practice leveraging this critical tool as a way to develop in our leadership and to grow in our expertise within an organization. As I develop my own intuition, I'm comforted to know I have an internal compass on which to rely—even in the most complex terrain.