To answer the Discovery Question: “What works for you?” I had listed my two passions: photography and writing.
And without getting too maudlin here, as one of my most “satisfying” personal experiences I had described the closeness that developed between my mother and me during the period after her terminal diagnosis was made. Finally, though it was also the saddest time of my life, I had been able to make her feel comfortable with her decision to refuse further treatment when chemotherapy had lost its effect. Her guilt at disappointing her husband and sons calmed, she was able to relax and “walk on” peacefully.
Mother and I
So, to begin our session, Karen gave me something to think about. This suggestion came by way of what she calls an “Energy Hit,” and she would not take any personal credit for having thought of it. Her first such "hit” concerning me was: “With your talents in photography, photo restoration, and writing, and the fact that you are not uncomfortable being around people nearing the end of their lives, have you ever considered a business of chronicling their stories as a service to their families?” Hmm…not something I had ever considered, to be sure! Nor would I EVER have made those connections on my own. The idea/hit may ultimately not lead anywhere, but it definitely deserves more thought, analysis and research. And that was the major highlight of Session One.
Session Two was even more eye-opening!
Well, if you’re anything like me, you’ve prided yourself on the deepness and clarity of your own self-understanding. And I clearly understood that the reason that I have not been able to take appropriate steps to fulfill my passions is that I lack a key component of entrepreneurial success: Belief that I could succeed ALONE!
If I had a partner in an endeavor, I know WE would be a resounding success. For example, last Summer I had an idea to collect poignant and funny stories from fellow photographers along with a few of their best shots, and compile a book about “The Shot that Wasn’t to Be.” All photographers have “fish that got away” stories, and are eager to share them. For example, one of my intrepid friends described his experience of photographing a rushing river scene while standing precariously on a slippery, muddy river bank. Suddenly he lost his footing and his prosthetic leg disengaged. Helplessly he had to crouch there watching his leg floating its way down the river!
An anthology of such stories, with accompanying photos couldn’t lose, right?
I shared the idea with a fellow “shooter,” and we became so excited about it, that we couldn’t wait to get moving. Unfortunately, that enterprise ended up with her starting a new job and me losing mine, so we never got off the ground after the first tactical setback. But the point is that as a team, I was sure we could have made it work. There would have been no stopping us!
But, faced with the prospect of beginning a project like that all on my own, I become utterly paralyzed by fear. An analogous example is that we all enjoy the fun-filled adventure of getting lost on a country back road in a strange unexplored area. But being lost ALONE produces in me a sort of inner terror that is almost indescribable!
So, although I understood WHAT the obstacles were, until and unless I could understand WHY they block my path, they will continue to obscure the way to personal fulfillment. So our next coaching goal is to begin to peel the onion and expose the WHY. Please stay tuned:
In the meantime, here’s a question for Karen and for other transformational coaches who are helping people with mid-career changes:
Most of us are having great trouble getting interviews within our own fields because the resume reviewer is basing his/her screening on the presence or absence of perhaps even a single missing tidbit of experience, or some other perceived issue that we won't have the opportunity to defend. How in the world are we to “cast our nets wider" into another industry and hope to be interviewed for a new position?
~~( to be continued)
All photographs (except "Mother and I") by Michelle Alton