Let’s start with a question: do you do your own taxes?
Many, perhaps even most people living in America do. You fire up some software (or even do it by hand if you’re old-school) and take the standard deduction, click “File” and you’re all set. Most Americans do their own taxes because their taxes aren’t more complicated than that.
Now let’s ask a few more questions: Do you perform the maintenance on your own vehicle? Do you (or would you) represent yourself in court? Do you treat yourself medically? Just like the tax question, the answer to these questions usually depends on the complexity of the task. Lots of people can change their own oil or wiper fluid, head down to traffic court on their own to pay a parking ticket, or buy themselves some cold medicine when they have the sniffles.
If people can do these things, why do accountants, mechanics, lawyers, and doctors even exist? The answer is clear: some tasks are simply at a higher level of complexity and have more at stake. In those cases, you want the professional in your corner.
Anyone operating at a high level in a particular field definitely has professional support. Gerard Butler had a personal trainer to get him into the shape he was in for the movie 300, and if that’s the level you want to approach to optimize your career. You need to consider that doing it entirely on your own is costing you time, effort, and success.
Optimize Your Career
Having a career coach on your professional team isn’t about fixing a short-term problem, like a job loss or transition. It’s about managing your career that exists on an entirely new level. It’s about maintaining growth, advancement, and control over your own circumstances. Some people get a job when they finish school and stay in it until something pushes them out of it. Then they scramble and look for a new one, finding one that’s maybe marginally better but is more or less in the same category. They then repeat this process, hoping for a lucky break someday – the kind of thing that propels them into that higher category. But lucky breaks aren’t something you can count on.
Those same people look at others and wonder “why not me?” Others that seem to have control over their whole career path, and not just one job. People who climb ladders, build brands, are sought-after by companies (and don’t ever seem to scramble on job boards). And who, most importantly, genuinely love what they do. People stuck in career ruts look at those people and wonder what the difference is.
Is it a level of education? Connections? The right name on a resume or referral letter? Any of those things can help, but they’re drops in the bucket. The real difference is intention.
The people with careers at that higher level aren’t coasting wherever life takes them. Just like Gerard Butler wasn’t just coasting and hoping he’d end up with abs that would look great on the silver screen. At every stage, from the big picture of “what do I want to do?” all the way down to tactical decisions to get them there, people with intentional careers are not leaving things to chance.
Once the decision has been made to optimize your career driven by intention instead of coasting, the next natural step is to seek out a professional. Someone who has the expertise to help you make those very choices in the way that best drives that career.
A Full Toolbox
Managing a your career is fundamentally different than whatever skills you actually practice during your career. Professional athletes might be great at their sport, but virtually none of them navigate their careers without the help from an agent (or maybe more than one!). That’s because professional athletes want to have experts on their side when making decisions about contracts, endorsements, media appearances, and a variety of other things that may be outside of their direct skill set but are still necessary to their success.
That’s you as well! You might be great at lots of things, but that doesn’t mean you’re specifically great at negotiating a raise, or navigating the culture of a new office, or advocating for yourself in meetings, or leading a team (even if it’s a team of people who do what you do). I’ve seen brilliant people with lousy resumes or who couldn’t interview to save their lives. I’ve even seen brilliant people that never even realized what strengths they had that were going unused, because they didn’t have the right questions to ask themselves.
These are the tools in a coach’s toolbox that will help you optimize your career. The tools that can help you build the amazing support structure that your career deserves so you can focus on being amazing at whatever you’re amazing at.
Cost Versus Gain
The stakes are very high. In the case of a tax bill that could vary by tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, it makes sense to pay a fraction of that to a finance professional to make sure you’re making the best choices. If you’re involved in a lawsuit with a quarter of a million dollars on the line, paying a few thousand to a lawyer to represent you is a far better choice than representing yourself. And if you might get paid millions to play a role in an action movie, you’d better believe it’s a smart choice to hire a pro to get you in shape!
Are the stakes in your career any different? You’ll spend a third of your life at work – do you want that to be spent always uncertain, doing mediocre things you aren’t passionate about, and never achieving success on your own terms? Or do you want to live an intentional life with an intentional, optimal career?
You and I both know the answer.
Want to learn more about our career coaching program? Feel free to read more about our career coaching program here. When ready, schedule time with one of our relationship specialists to discuss which of our career coaches is the best fit for you!
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