Sometimes it is difficult to remain on the sideline when you witness a client running through a rough-patch. Life can be particularly filled with sensitive moments when this person is working through a career transition. The numerous changes and shifts involved can leave your client feeling hyper vulnerable.
And so it was when Victoria and I reconnected this past week. She had taken three fairly tough punches while in the line of duty. The result was a cumulative effect that we needed to work through in her session.
The first hit came when her fear of flying was tested in a terribly turbulent, white-knuckle flight from California to the East Coast. If your fear of flying is pitted against an almost non-stop bronco ride in the air, you need a recovery period after touch-down. No such luxury for the road warrior Victoria.
The second knock came as she immediately moved into a difficult client encounter. It took everything Victoria had to finesse her way and her client’s progress through to a successful engagement. Cranking things out in this manner, after a rough flight left Victoria completely drained.
So when blow number three hit, Victoria felt extremely weakened and small. You see, upon returning home a seasoned colleague, who had left the consulting world where Victoria plays, published a blast in her newsletter to all consultants who are servicing the non-profit sector and the foundations who often support them. Her argument is that foundations should be spending more of their money on nonprofit organizations themselves rather than on consultants.
And while there may be some merit in the writer’s concerns, you’d think a veteran consultant would know better than to pour poison on the very ground that sprouted her own career path. Not to mention not irritating the foundation world which helps pay her organization’s bills. However, I guess not. This was the most difficult part to watch Victoria encounter. When you are re-creating your work like Victoria is, you fling yourself back into those early stages of entrepreneurial -identification.
This is a place where you don’t yet have a track record established and you feel like a fraud. And yet, you have to trudge through these stages of gaining new experiences and making a new name for yourself. You have to learn to apply healthy helpings of good, old persistence onto your plate and you have to eat every last bite.
Even without punches one and two, this blow hit such an underbelly-tender spot for Victoria that it was about to temporarily knock her off her feet. Thank goodness for check-in calls with your clients.
I listened intently as Victoria explained all this to me over the phone. The more her story unraveled the more intuition kept whispering in my ear: “time to take her power back.”
And that is exactly where our session concluded. Victoria felt a strong call to arm wrestle the positive energy flow back into her corner.
If you’d like to read how she worded her “take the power back” move, click here.
Lyn was tremendously helpful by letting me share my privately held anxieties in a safe setting. Her coaching helped me realize that I didn’t have to sit silent for fear someone would just discount my response as a self-serving consultant. It’s an ongoing theme (feeling the need to defend my work as a consultant in a field that feels we are all opportunists) as I try to become better at “putting myself out there”. Thicker skin would help but until I grow that, I’ll just have to keep putting my best foot forward in spite of the insecurities.
Interestingly my post to the editor led to a comment from the editor which you can read when you read my comment – scroll all the way to the end of the comments. She assumes I missed her point. I did not. She also assumes that consultants make career choices because of incentives that lead them away from working in nonprofit organizations. My incentive was doing what I love – planning and strategy – in the field I am passionate about – the arts. There are no jobs for planners and strategies in nonprofit arts organizations, so I had to make my own career. Now I could reply to her reply. But I’m thinking about just picking up the phone and have a real honest conversation between two colleagues about the state of our field in developing strong organizations with a healthy workforce. That’s really the bigger issue. I think if that were achieved, people wouldn’t care as much about how “the other half” lives. What do you think?