I was on a conference call this morning with a group of professionals. Lawyers, investment bankers and strategy advisors who mostly help medium-sized businesses. We had an interesting conversation about ‘the market’, which for their businesses is very driven by specialist transactions, such as selling a family business. It got a bit dour. ‘It’s been a flat market for years.’ ‘A lot of companies just have a miserable outlook’. ‘People just don’t want to do anything.’
Against that backdrop, it’s a tough task for executives to find an interesting new role. It’s even tougher when you want something exciting. Even elite performers are intimidated by a ‘dour’ environment.
So how can you thrive, when the whole market feels flat?
While I was on the call, I was sitting in a cafe where they were playing some big band music. In a moment of pure synchronicity, the song that belted out over my fruit toast was ‘That’s Life’, with the great line: ‘I pick myself up and get back on my feet’. Back when that song was a charts hit, people had been through a war and the economy was still staggering into growth. So things were tough. Today we may not have quite that drama, but it can feel the same.
What will ruin your move into a new role?
- Oozing fear
- Ineffectual effort
- Lack of focus
It sounds simple but we all need help in transitions. Sinatra’s song is brilliant. Indeed ‘That’s Life’ sums it up. But the song is a bit light on details — how exactly do you pick yourself up and get back on your feet?
In the middle of doom & gloom, there is still an exciting way through. You won’t necessarily feel excited all the way through — I’ve seen good friends roll their eyes hearing about my own ‘difficulty’ once too often. But the point is to persevere imperfectly. You don’t need a big booming market, you just need your own career mini-boom and that’s something you can create.
Rule One, Stay Cool.
The stress of transitions can lead to unconsciously transmitting your anxiety, fatigue and self-doubt. Although it’s hard work, your first task is to do what best helps you maintain your emotional and mental energy. It feels like you should be ‘doing something’ about your situation, but you need to ‘do nothing’ in a constructive way, to be as professional at recovering as you are at executing.
Run an efficient strategy.
Adopt a strategic career attitude, rather than ‘get a job’. Transitions, including transitioning out of a role, between roles and into a new role, are processes. They have a beginning, middle and end. They have steps that you must do, even if you’re not good at them. Test your strategy with recruiting and career experts, and find someone who’ll hold you accountable to execute diligently.
Go Big and Narrow.
It’s normal to think, ‘there must be a job, some job, any job out there’. But that mindset backfires and leads to looking desperate, just when you need to take control. You’ll thrive because of your greatest strengths delivered where they add most value. Keep your focus on the biggest role you can take, but only for organisations where you’ll make a difference that matters.
How did you get through your last big move? What was your most challenging transition and how did you cope? Where did you start, where did you end up and what was the one thing that made the biggest difference to your success?
Watch my past webinar on Something Different here. (Register for free to gain access)
In my program Accelerate Your Career, I get the opportunity to work with amazingly talented professionals and hear their struggle up close. We get from dour to excited by doing the right work. We create mini-booms and that’s all you need.
Join us and find the role where you’ll thrive!