Feeling Boxed In? Try Listening to the Radio!
by Mike Sharp, Former Client, My Next Season
One of the challenges I faced during my job transition was the feeling that people were trying to “put me in a box.” I received a lot of well-intentioned advice on what I should do next. Some colleagues were convinced I should jump right back into the corporate real estate business. Others urged me to start my own executive coaching business. Having cofounded a faith-based, not-for-profit youth sports organization ten years prior, many others tried to convince me to throw myself fulltime into the not-for-profit arena. Me? Honestly, I had no clue!
For five months after leaving my corporate position, I hit the “pause button” and worked closely with a My Next Season Advisor who had been through a similar transition of his own. He guided me through an intentional process to discern what I might do next, and here are a few of the learnings that were reinforced during my time of introspection.
First, be patient. Set aside ample time for personal reflection. Also take time to solicit feedback and advice from family members, trusted friends, and former colleagues—but remember that, in the end, your next season is just that—yours! Don’t feel pressured to jump at the first opportunity that comes along. For me, the My Next Season program issued me the “hall pass” I needed to hold inquiring minds at bay for a while.
Another pressure-relief valve came in the form of a reminder from my Advisor that when I did finally make a decision, I would be making a decision about my next season…not necessarily my last one!
The second lesson was life’s not all about me. And I hate to break it to you, but it’s not all about you either! As I began to put thoughts to paper around plans for my next season, I knew I wanted to use my talents, in some form, to serve others with humility. Of course, I felt compelled to take care of my family. But I also wanted to live out the words of C.S. Lewis, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.”
Third, follow your gifts. Take time to assess your gifts and how you might apply them to similar positions or in completely new ways. Everyone has unique talents for a reason—that reason may vary, depending upon where you’ve focused your energies or perhaps based upon your spiritual beliefs. Your gifts will often not only be your unique set of skills but also the relationships and network you have cultivated over years in your corporate and personal roles. Exploring your gifts fully and finding where you feel drawn to share them will facilitate a next season full of purpose and joy.
After a great deal of reflection, I decided to follow my heart for coaching and mentoring others. But . . . was it going to be in the business world or the not-for-profit arena? I got my answer from one of my all-time favorite movies, Radio.
Radio was an 18-year-old with severe learning disabilities being raised by his single mom. After hearing that Radio was being bullied by some of his players, the head football coach at the high school took Radio under his wing, appointed him as team manager, and began a meaningful mentoring relationship. As is often the case, the mentoring turned out to be a two-way street. In a delightful scene, after Radio and Coach Jones had finished lunch at the local diner, the waitress asked Radio, “What’s it going to be, Radio? Strawberry Pie or Apple Pie?” Radio hesitated for a moment, something all of us should do a lot more of, and with a big smile on his face, blurted out “BOTH!”
Yes, you guessed it. I took Radio’s advice. I’ve since started my own independent consulting firm, Lighthouse Consulting, where I am helping clients navigate the future by assisting them with Vision Casting, Team-Building, Executive Coaching, and Business Consulting. I also started a new not-for-profit organization, LIFT 4:10, where we aim to transform the lives of young, at-risk student-athletes who need a helping hand. We match student athletes with experienced coaches and players who serve as mentors in sharing their passion and expertise through 1:1 sports training, life coaching, and character development.
Getting to exercise my passion for coaching and mentoring in BOTH the business world and the not-for-profit arena is a next season that I am genuinely excited about!
So, if anyone is trying to put you in a box, pin you in a corner, or pressure you into choosing one path or another (especially if that “someone” happens to be yourself), I would encourage you to listen to the “Radio” and consider responding with a loud and passionate . . . “BOTH!”
Mike Sharp was a My Next Season client as he transitioned out of Bank of America as Senior Vice President, Corporate Real Estate after 34 years with the company. Today, he is making a difference in the world through a portfolio of entrepreneurial, coaching, not-for-profit, and leadership consulting roles.