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Life Coach at Large: A new chapter

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Emma Ranson Bellamy helps a down-trodden worker lift himself out of his career rut and realise his dreams; find out how she did it.


The dilemma:
Rory is in his late thirties and has worked in a large out of town law practice since leaving University in the 1980’s. Starting out from the bottom of the career ladder, he did have some big ideas to begin with. Seventeen years on however, he is not much further up the tree. Several graduates have overtaken him and while his appraisals show some positive feedback he is beginning to feel under-utilised and over-looked.

Frustration and resentement are starting to spill over into his private life, which, to be honest, is not much better.

The overall feeling is that life is passing him by, other people seem to be getting on, getting married and getting it together. He on the other hand is an ageing Peter Pan with only more of the same to look forward to.

Rory’s goal is to take control of his life, the first step being his job. He comes to coaching to help him to formulate a strategy. He decides that the first priority will be his career.

I ask Rory what he sees his options are in his career at this time. Without much hesitation he lists them as being:

  • A. Talk to his bosses at his present firm

  • B. Look for another job

  • C. Start his own company

He talks through each of the options and what each one would mean for him in terms of commitment and opportunity. Talking to his bosses is relatively easy and straightforward. Looking for another company would mean he would have to justify his time for the last 17 years and risk an ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ situation. Starting his own business, though an exciting proposition and one he is particularly animated about is not an option as he feels it is too risky.

Breaking the barriers:
I challenge him about the ‘too risky’ third option and ask what the worst possible scenario is. He talked about losing his home, letting his family down and losing his friends and security. I asked him to describe what he would do if he lost his home and he talked of how he would crash with friends or back with his parents.

I fed back to him what he had told me about his fear of losing his friends and letting his family down. He paused and a smile came across his face as he realised that his true friends would never turn his back on him and his father would be proud of him for making a leap, as his father did when he came to England back in the 1950’s. I then asked what was the best possible scenario. He said being his own boss, long term security and living a life that he was in control of. By this time I couldn’t stop him, he had a dog, a great lifestyle and I believe he could also see himself in a long-term relationship.

I felt reluctant to change the energy of the conversation but wanted to move forward and breathe some life into Rory’s dream with some goal setting. We discussed how his own business would look, how much money it would take, how he would find investors, how long it would take to earn the sort of money he was earning now. I began to feel the energy leaving Rory’s dreams. Something had shifted and I shared this with him. He replied: “I would like to look at the first option again, the one where I stay where I am. I love the dream but I feel I have ‘unfinished business’ where I am, if I leave with very little to show for 17 years I will have failed that young man that walked in with dreams and aspirations. I love the starting my own business idea but that is for later, I want to show my current company what I can do.”

The outcome:
Rory then planned exactly what he was going to say, how he was going to say it and realised that he was in a brilliant position as he knew the characters he was dealing with. He realised that he had got into a groove with his direct and senior management, a movie which kept replaying over and over again. He recounted that the same thing happened in every appraisal.

They asked how it was all going, he said fine, they shook hands and told him he was doing a fine job and that was really it. He realised that the only person who was stopping Rory was himself. He had never actually wanted to be promoted up until now and he suggested that maybe he was communicating that to his organisation, and they were colluding with him as this was a mutually beneficial arrangement.

So now he wanted to move forward in his career he felt he only had to ask, show his determination, remind them of his loyalty and share his strategies. And if they didn’t, he had a fall back plan which was pretty exciting.

Rory transformed his outlook by looking at the opportunities available to him. By looking at each one systematically he came up with strategies for the short and long term and is more positive about the relationships in his life, from his bosses to his friends and parents.

These were Rory’s strategies for Rory’s problems which only he could solve in his way. As his coach I asked the questions which made him stop and think about them one at a time. I’ll continue to ask them, feedback his own words and wait for the moment when he is empowered to make the steps toward his new reality.

Coaching Question: Who are you being today and how is it affecting life tomorrow?

Coaching Quote: In the absence of clearly defined goals we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it. (Robert Heinlein 1907-1988)

Emma can be contacted at [email protected]

Other articles in this series:

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