For about six years after I sold our financial planning business following Jerry’s death, I did Executive Coaching — focusing on leaders and senior teams in business, the non-profit world, heath care and academia. I was good at it. No one ever came to me about the content of his or her job — that they could do. They came to me about the politics, about how to make choices under impossibly difficult conditions, about what kinds of ethical compromises are acceptable and what kinds are a slippery slope to becoming someone you don’t want to be. I always began with the premise that in any situation, there are a limited range of options, and eventually you’re going to have to pick one and make it work — walking away being one of the options. Sometimes we could expand the range of options. But the choices were never infinite.
I wasn’t very good or very interested in specific tools like resume writing, or how to interview, or how to negotiate a compensation package — I sent people elsewhere for those important pieces.
I’m well out of the job market now, having fully retired in 2010 when I moved to Seattle. There are big chunks of the contemporary world of work about which I know nothing, or what I know is woefully out of date.
But I’m still good at the politics. And the basic premise that you have to find the best range of alternatives you can and pick one still applies.
Occasionally I get asked for career advice of that sort, and willingly give it, although I don’t charge any more and don’t take ongoing clients. I’m a little astonished that I still have something of value to contribute this late in life, but glad that I can be a resource.