I recently traveled to Ohio for my mom’s 60th birthday. Returning home always prompts thoughts and conversation about my family members’ career aspirations. Everyone’s plans were fair game for on the spot career coaching this time around, including two close friends of mine from college who were part of the journey. When thinking about this topic, I recalled the final scene in the movie Pretty Woman. Check out this clip. If you don’t want to break out the Kleenex, just fast forward to time code 1:40.
Although I was in suburban Cincinnati, not Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, all of my family members seemed to have some sort of dream. My petrol-engineering brother, nicknamed the “Petroleum Prince” by my east coast cousins, expressed a desire to move into a business-focused role. Given that I often work with high potential engineers transitioning into sales, marketing, or business development, I was all ears (maybe more mouth than ears if I am to be entirely honest with myself – but old family habits die hard, even in spite of professional training). My operations-focused brother quickly catapulted himself into a quality director role responsible for numerous manufacturing sites for his organization worldwide, on track for roles of increasing responsibility. He remained confidently casual about it, the consummate fraternity president, as my husband often refers to him.
My sisters-in-law are the smart ones though – already paving the way vocationally to be parents while simultaneously pursuing their passions. One of my sisters-in-law is moving into an account management role with a food distribution company, also focused on menu planning, her true passion and entrée into being an eventual working stay at home mom someday (planning meals for busy families in their area). My other sister-in-law has managed to carve out an ideal niche for herself, pursuing her passion of coaching basketball as the varsity coach at a local high school and managing four other coaches in the district. Between this role and the summer camps she coordinates and coaches for, she still gets to spend quality time with our super cute niece, pursue what she loves, and hone her management skills in the process.
This entry is not meant to be about balancing parenthood with a career. My point in bragging on my inherited family members is to illustrate the concept of “beginning with the end in mind” to quote the recently departed Stephen Covey with regard to his second of seven habits. My sisters-in-law know where they want to be in the long-term, or at least the foreseeable long-term. Perhaps more importantly, they are taking steps to get there.'
Seeing them in person reminded me to continue putting stakes in the ground to help me get closer to my own long-term career goal, becoming a sought after executive coach and adjunct faculty member at a university. I’m making progress with an executive coaching certification under my belt and a day job that involves developing leaders and high potentials. Fortunately, I’ve been recognized as an engaging training facilitator at work and a solid speaker by some of my former professors, with whom I am staying in touch. I am building up an arsenal of pragmatic content and cases that can first be deployed in a 3-hour leadership seminar and at some point a several credit hour course. I feel fortunate that helping others identify and pursue their career aspirations as a part of my job reminds me to focus on my own. What can you do to focus on yours once, once a month, or once a quarter?
To quote the late Covey again, “the best way to predict your future is to create it.” What will you create?