How Clients Graduate

A favorite coaching client “graduated” this month: she achieved the goals we set at the beginning of the coaching engagement.

Her primary goal was to leave a job she hated. In a couple of weeks, she starts in a new role that she had said was “impossible” (and I quote) when we started five months ago.

Along the way to that goal, she re-found her confidence and made a course correction in her career to meaningful, well-compensated work.

This client is a superstar: highly educated, highly capable, articulate, funny, smart smart smart. But getting stuck in a backwater job can make you small, and she had been stuck far too long.

A lot of what we did was practice bragging. She was uncomfortable with her impressive East Coast credentials – she didn’t want to “rub people’s faces in it,” she said. She practiced being comfortable being impressive. We talked a lot about what she’s really, really good at.

A couple of weeks later, she said, “I found my spine, dusted it off, and put it back in.”

We worked on networking. When I held her accountable to homework she didn’t do – contacting five “nexus” people (those folks in your network who seem to connect people) – she said, “I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to make a fuss.”

She practiced making a fuss.

She sat across the table from me and told me that there was no way anyone would hire her for the work she wanted to do because of gaps in her skill set. It was impossible, she said. No one would take the risk.

Impossible is a mostly bullshit word. Unlikely, hard, a stretch – sure. But impossible? I know nothing about her field, but I doubt it.

She contacted two of those people “who would never hire her,” met for coffee, and within weeks had two job offers doing work she’s thrilled by. She settled on one firm – making more money than she ever has – and has a warm agreement to stay in touch with the other.

As the dust settled, she wrote me in an email: “I’d be more than happy to eventually retire from (this firm). No more massive uncertainty. What a concept.”

I asked her later what had worked with this job search. After all, she had been stuck and looking for a new job for years.

“You told me to focus on networking. And I got a lot braver. I never would have asked (a former manager) to network on my behalf without your urging,” she said. “It was really helpful to hear your take on it – it was a confidence booster.”

I’m thrilled for her, of course. I swear, the final negotiations were as exciting for me as for her.

But I miss this favorite client already.

Note: This post was written and published with the express permission of this client.