Will Rogers once said that even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this quote and what it means, both for me at this stage in my life, and for you as a young professional. The background here is that I’ve taken a big leap and hired a career coach.
It was quite an investment and one that I didn’t enter into lightly.
Why does a self-proclaimed “career expert” need a career coach? The answer is that I still have a lot of the other “l” to do, i.e. learning, and I don’t believe you can learn (all the time at least) in a vacuum.
Yes, you can read the books, the articles, the blogs – and you can follow the right people on Twitter in an effort to absorb what makes them tick in 140 characters or less. That said, you can also recognize your own limitations and – assuming they provide the service – hire the best minds in your industry to teach you.
I was inspired to make this leap myself while watching the recent winter Olympics. Night after night, I would observe athletes and their trainers prepare to compete and it made me wonder, “Who is my trainer?”
In an ideal world, we would all have great mentors who help us craft the vision of our highest possible self –then hold us accountable to achieve it. But we all know that true mentors are endangered species these days so if you don’t have someone in your life right now filling that role, take a leap and seek them out – even if you have to pay for the privilege. This doesn’t have to be one-on-one coaching. It could be attending a conference, a trade show, a workshop, retreat, etc. – anything that gives you access to someone who’s been where you want to go and can show you the ropes.
Note: Don’t pay for services from people who claim they can tell you how to accomplish your goals if they haven’t been there themselves. In other words, if you’re seeking advice on how to become a successful entrepreneur in your field, it’s a bad idea to hire someone you’ve never heard of.
However, if you’re truly stuck and looking for answers to big career questions, maybe it’s time to “find a trainer” too. To get started, simply read your industry’s trade magazines, websites, blogs and Twitter feeds. When you hone in on someone you think you can learn a lot from, sit back and follow them for a while. If you like what you see / read, again take a leap and reach out.
Alternatively, you can stay in one place and get run over. Your choice.
Emily Bennington is the author of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. She hosts a popular blog for career newbies at www.professionalstudio365.com and can be found on Twitter @EmilyBennington or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.