I’m a career coach who has the privilege of working with professionals who are bright, talented and ambitious. My female clients come from all sorts of career backgrounds, but they share a couple of common traits: they’re high in emotional intelligence and low on the self-promotion scale. Another thing my female clients have in common; they often find ways to surprise me or catch me off guard.
Three clients did that just this past week.
So what happened? They all landed new jobs. One was actively looking because she is relocating to a new city, another was approached by a former client and the third one had an opportunity land in her lap.
What was the surprise, you ask? Each felt “like a flake.” Yes, you read that correctly. They felt like they were flakey, for various reasons that I’ll go into in a bit. For the time being, wrap your head around their reaction of “flakiness”. My head almost exploded at first, so don’t worry if you’re having a similar reaction — I’ll wait patiently here while you go get a drink of water or whatever you need to do to process. Just come back when you’re ready. OK, good… let’s continue.
Lisa felt bad because she was leaving a job after only 10 months. Sara felt that the timing of her departure, in the middle of a project, wasn’t ideal. Maribel said she felt she was abandoning the team she had worked so hard to build. And while these reasons might cause you to say, “I understand” or “That’s tough, I totally get why she’s feeling bad about that”, I want to stop you from going any further.
I’m going on the record to say that my first reaction, at hearing why they were feeling guilty, was to get angry. Angry at them for not owning their success and celebrating their hard work (seriously, landing a job is hard work). Then I got angry at anyone who sympathized with their feelings of guilt by saying “I can understand why you’d feel that way” or “Leaving behind a team is hard”. Why? Because when our inner voice colludes with her inner voice, the end result is guilt. The misguided inner voice that tells us we have control over career outcomes – as opposed to what we know to be true – that we only manage our career actions and reactions.
Who’s to say that the team Maribel felt she was abandoning won’t do great without her? Maybe an interesting career door will open for one of them as a result. And sure, leaving in the middle of a project isn’t ideal, or leaving after only 10 months, but there was a change in Lisa’s personal circumstances that she couldn’t control. Her spouse found a job on the other side of the country, in the city where they’ve both wanted to live for a long time. We’re not in control of the timing, just our actions and reactions.
Can I let you in on a little career coach secret?
If you ever turn down a job because of timing, I guarantee that unless it’s because of a deep value or ethical conflict you have with the new job, the decision won’t ever sit well with you.
Next time you find yourself sharing a cool, new opportunity that has come your way, consider doing this instead:
- Don’t discount your success. The truth is, we want to celebrate your accomplishment and it helps us all feel more connected when we do – we’re all in this together.
- Remember that less is more. No explanation (about timing, leaving a team, whatever) needed. Not everything is neat and tidy. Trust that we get it without an explanation.
- Be OK with being an inspiration, even if we never tell you this directly. Chances are your story will be a source of inspiration for weeks to come – and may very well provide the boost we need to overcome an obstacle.
The next time you congratulate a woman, no colluding with the inner voice of guilt, okay?
We owe it to their success to change the conversation and just celebrate and enjoy their success. Here’s to lots and lots of women landing awesome opportunities without one, single explanation or any mention about feeling guilty.
Ajna welcomes our guest blogger, career coach, Stacey Lane.
Stacey Lane is a nationally recognized career coach who helps individuals with unique backgrounds figure out where they fit, how to market themselves and find a career that’s as interesting as they are. She works with smart, talented individuals from around the country on everything from networking to personal branding. Known for her candid career guidance, her advice has appeared in local and national publications. Get your Land That Job! Action Plan at www.staceylane.net/job-action-plan .