06 May, 2010
How Rebecca found her inner diva and landed her dream job
Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Success Stories
Rebecca had a few areas of her life she wanted to work on and identified ‘career’ and ‘confidence’ as the focal points. Career-wise she wanted a new role, but doing what? That was the question. She’d been aimlessly applying for jobs here and there with no real sense of what this new position should bring her. Confidence-wise Rebecca felt like she was missing out on things that she would have jumped at doing in the past because she kept over-analysing what might go wrong in a situation and thus talking herself out of doing it. She believed that unless her involvement in an activity could be seen as perfect in every way she should avoid taking part, and this, she felt, was damaging her social life and her possibility of personal growth.
I know what I don’t want
The first thing we did, on Rebecca’s request, was to explore in what direction she could take her career. Rebecca was very clear on what she didn’t want in a new role (namely the things she disliked in her current role); the key was to figure out what this meant about what she did want. As Ralph Marston, author and publisher of The Daily Motivator, said, ‘If you focus on the obstacles, then you give them more power. Instead, focus on your purpose, on your most authentic and fundamental intentions’, and so she created a list of positive statements about what she wanted in her next role, irrespective of what may lie in her path. Every time she thought, for example, “I don’t want to be stuck in a lab the whole day” she would turn that around to say “I do want to spend at least a third of my time outside of the lab or office environment, meeting with clients, suppliers, colleagues”, and so on. Once she felt the list was filled with positive statements of what she wanted, she could start to consider the sorts of roles that might offer her these things – in essence she had her career criteria.
This was a great starting point, but it was also important to better understand why these things were so key. So the following session we worked through a ‘values elicitation’ exercise to get to the core of what was truly important to Rebecca in a new career. And we used her career criteria developed in the previous session. By asking questions like “What makes daily interaction with people from a wide variety of backgrounds important to you in a career?” followed by “And what does that give you a sense of?” we honed in on the driving forces in Rebecca’s life, which she then prioritised in her own time by asking “If I could have a career with only one of these values I would choose xxx” and “If I could have one more it would be xxx” and so on until she had her top five. These core values were stimulation, variety, adding value, commitment and respect, and the realisation of them had a profound impact on Rebecca’s understanding of herself. They provided another level of understanding upon which to base possible next career steps, focusing more on who she is and wants to be, rather than what she wants to do.
This was all proving insightful and productive and Rebecca was beginning to let her values guide her decisions, but then we hit a block. All this newly channelled energy was great in helping her decide what next job would be good for her but she still had to actually take action and go for it, and what if she wasn’t good enough? She was poised to take a positive new step and yet she somehow felt feelings of inadequacy rising up in her.
Rebecca started heading in a downwards spiral as self-doubt and negative self-talk began to emerge. For some time she’d been experiencing what is often called ‘imposter syndrome’ where she frequently felt like she was a fluke at her job, and not really good enough to be there despite holding a degree in Electrical Engineering and having achieved success in her role as Research Scientist. Convinced she wasn’t really cut out for the work she was doing, and having grown tired of feeling like a fake, she decided she needed to reclaim her self-belief. Rebecca called this ‘the diva factor’, the missing confidence that would give her the guts to go after the right role.
We explored what being a diva meant to Rebecca and where it was likely to have positive impact in her life. In doing this we unearthed a long held belief of Rebecca’s that in everything she did she either needed to be an expert, have the ability to become an expert, or else not bother with it at all. She even had ‘evidence’ of past failures and their impact to substantiate this belief. Rebecca’s need for perfection left no space for celebrating small steps achieved along the way. It really was all or nothing.
The effect of this low self-belief was trickling into many areas of her life. For example when a French friend of hers, knowing that she was interested in improving her French conversation skills, invited her to meet up with a group of his French friends, she found herself excusing her way out of it because she felt her lack of fluency would expose her as a fraud. Her negative self-talk and over-analysis was getting in the way of having a good time and meeting new people.
Unleashing the inner diva
When, however, we looked more deeply at what was actually fact and what was simply a belief, Rebecca realised that whilst certain things may have factually happened in her life, the beliefs that she had created as a result of those experiences were of her choosing and she could equally decide to replace those beliefs with ones that would serve her better.
So we looked at times in Rebecca’s past when she had been more carefree and less concerned about whether she was the best at something. In re-visiting what she’d done back then, how she’d benefited and how this had felt, Rebecca tapped into her potential for accepting herself and acknowledging her accomplishments, wherever they happened to be on the ‘expertise scale’. She then decided she would write some ‘buzz statements’ around each of these accomplishments that she could use as daily affirmations and reminders of her inner diva.
Over the weeks Rebecca’s awareness of herself and what she wanted out of life got sharper and stronger. By our fifth session together she decided that in her singing lesson that evening she was simply going to be a diva. So she acted the part, sang her heart out and received a standing ovation from her teacher who couldn’t believe this new person standing in front of her. This gave her the inner belief she needed to go after a job as Consumer Testing Manager in the field of consumer healthcare products. We worked on how she could maintain a strong sense of self-worth before and during the interview, and how to keep her positivity levels up. She was called back within the month and offered the role.
On the impact of the coaching Rebecca said, “I’m amazed to look back over our coaching sessions and see how my perceptions changed so dramatically and so positively. Not only this, but I feel I can continue to apply a values-based approach to bring happiness and fulfilment to many other areas of my life. This new way of looking at life has removed the chaos and confusion and replaced it with purpose and confidence”. Rebecca is now transitioning out of her old job and heading off to start living her newly designed life, with a determined belief in herself, her inner diva raring to go and a newly found value placed on all steps along the way, even the small ones.
By Sarah Fraser
Sarah Fraser is the founder and coach at Happiness Express, a coaching company that helps people make positive changes in their lives. For more information visit www.happinessexpress.co.uk.