Six Thoughts On Career Transition
What Being In Transition Can Teach You, If You're Willing To Learn
This past week I “celebrated” a year of career transition. It seems like a strange thing to celebrate as I didn’t find career transition, it found me. But unless you’re one of those rare creatures in life where everything goes according to plan—a career transition is just like one of any other’s life curveballs like the end of a relationship, or an accident, or maybe getting some news from the doctor that impacts your health and lifestyle. During this time, I have kept busy with contract work and conversations—lots of them. Not just career-focused conversations, but relationship reinforcing ones. I realized that this is not a topic people discuss openly, even though so many people go through it in some shape or another. There’s something not right about that—it’s like not talking about any other significant life milestone or even death for that matter. The fact is, some version of career transition, reinvention, reframing, or transformation comes for all of us—or we come for it. Either way, it’s a learning experience.
So, I took to Twitter to share a few things that I have learned during my career transition experience. Here are six things you’ll learn if you keep an open mind and heart:
You'll find out who's really in your corner:
And it will be surprising. Some of the surprises will be pleasantly unexpected and truly wonderful. Others will be a surprise that you didn't see coming. The good news is, knowing who is truly in your corner is AWESOME.
You'll experience loss, gains, and personal growth:
Life without the security of full-time employment (if this has been your career path) is transformational. Some days you wake up feeling like you lost something—other days, you take in the gifts. Either way, you grow.
You'll learn to lean:
On others for support. That's something I've traditionally been not great at and have taken pride in my self-sufficiency to an extent. But career transition underscores the importance of connections, relationships, and even being vulnerable.
A ton, if you're really smart. I've been much more observant of how others are navigating careers and life and challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone. Since a career transition naturally removes comfort, it's a no-brainer.
A forced career transition + a global pandemic + a summer of social unrest + a year of "new normal” = adapt or die trying. Having had Covid induced pneumonia on top of it all tends to underscore the old adage "that which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger".
You'll get perspective:
And that's the most important thing. A career is a huge deal because we spend so much time doing it. But I have other identities... father, partner, brother, friend. Your perspective on life broadens and if you allow it, becomes enriched.
I hesitated greatly when I hit the publish button on the first tweet of that thread. But then I thought about all of the people and leaders that I admire. They aren’t the ones with iron-clad armor who are always ready for professional battle and climb up the corporate ladder, stepping on others to climb higher—they are the ones who embody strength through relatability, who lean into their humanity and genuinely care about others. They aren’t afraid to share their experiences and help others along the way.
And the thing about transition is that it’s temporary. Like that butterfly about to emerge from the chrysalis. It’s a period of incubation between here and there. We’d all be better off openly discussing the in-between moments as much as the milestones because there’s a lot we learn during the transition.
Thank you for this. This has happened to me twice and this describes it so amazingly well. The way you have handled this transition with grace and focus have been incredible. I don’t think I could’ve admired you more before this happened but I do!
David - both Rob and I have admired you work and contributions from across the room. We invented The Narrative Playbook last year out of similar reasons that combined into a new intersection of taking corporate focused work and applying it to individuals. We are now 26 executives and four product offerings later. We would be honored to have a chat with you about this piece and our creation. I sense a new intersection in the making.