Monday, December 8, 2008

Are you in the wrong story? Time to begin a rewrite.

In Act 2 of Steven Sondheim's musical, Into the Woods, the Baker's Wife finds herself kissing Cinderella's Prince Charming- and she turns to the audience and sings:
This is ridiculous, what am I doing here? I'm in the wrong story.
For the past two years, I've been working with someone who was stuck in the wrong story. No Prince Charming involved, but there is a happy ending. I've been sitting on this post because the story seems too perfect- but in fact, I am blown away by the perfection of it. I offer it to those of you who might need a boost of possibility. Once again, it's true. Name changed to protect the lawyer, but, hey- if you want to talk to her, get in touch with me!


When Kim came to me she wanted to work on marketing and build skills around closing new business. She was a shareholder in a large firm; she'd just gone through a year-end review and she was feeling the "numbers" pressure. Kim created an ideal client profile, researched and found likely prospects, and began to work a marketing plan with specific activities and a timeline.

When Kim executed her marketing plan, she got results. Prospects liked her; she created relationships; she was trustworthy. Her confidence and skills grew, however, even when she felt successful, her interest in marketing did not.

Kim loved litigation and research; she loved her specialty; she didn't love origination. She loathed the politics that came up related to claiming credit for new business. She resented the games she felt she had to play. As time passed, Kim remained unhappy, even though she'd solved what she thought was her "problem".

We started working more broadly, talking about values, what she wanted and didn't want. Kim cleaned up issues in her personal life. As everything else improved, her dissatisfaction with her work life grew in contrast. Kim was in the wrong story. She made the decision to explore alternative careers and spent time to get clear on what she was willing to trade for her new life; income, security, prestige, the comfort of the familiar. Money was a valid and serious concern, but finally, Kim allowed herself to consider the possibility of a radically different life.

Things moved quickly. She created a plan and leveraged her existing network to meet the key people recognized as leaders in the emerging field that she loves. Within about 5 months, she established a reputation as an expert. She attended conferences, published papers, held seminars and spent time in the community. The energy of our coaching calls changed completely. Despite being out of her comfort zone, Kim was trying new things and having a great time.

Finally, she was ready to apply for a new job.  Kim searched the web and relevant publications. She put herself in the right places to hear about positions opening. She let a few people know she was interested in new opportunities. Kim approached her job search with the same consistency as she did her marketing plan, but with a lot more excitement!

Kim was turned down for one position and never got interviews for a couple others. One exciting job seemed perfect on paper- but was also a very long shot. While that's not a great situation to be in, the angst re applying was low because there just wasn't much to lose. Kim saw how her experience could be leveraged to fit the position and figured out how to present herself in that way. With preparation and intent, she got the interview.

You know the ending. Kim got the job and she's thrilled. The firm agreed to her proposal to retain her as a fixed income partner, which made the new position feasible from a "pay your bills" point of view. She eventually found people to rent her house so she could afford to relocate closer to the job. Her sister agreed to take her dog, because Kim will be traveling much more. Every obstacle was cleared.

Whether it's your whole story or just a chapter that you'd like to rewrite, allow for the possibility and start the process. You may struggle to get clear on what you want. The journey may be a long one, but if you don't allow yourself to consider the life you want, you'll never get it.

I began with a quote from a play, seems right to end with a quote from a playwright.
The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.  - George Bernard Shaw
What about you? What possibility would you like to look for in 2009?