Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why rethinking yourself isn't a midlife crisis: For transitioning communicators

I follow Scott Berkun on public speaking and innovation issues (he's the author of Confessions of a Public Speaker), but last week, he shared a post of his own that resonates strongly with me--and I suspect will do so with you, particularly if you're among my many friends and clients who are in the midst of transitions.

I nearly wrote "career transitions," but in fact, making changes in your work creates change in your life, and vice versa. Right now, people in my circles are looking for new jobs, moving to other countries, starting the books they've been putting off for years, switching fields and specialties, or going back to their original choices after long detours.

Changing your life is not a (mid-life) crisis nails something I've felt for years. But then I've learned to make changes in my life that keep bringing me closer and closer to who I am and what I want to be doing. Berkun's theme reflects the awkwardness that change-agents ('cause that's what you are when you are transitioning) feel when others react to their new dreams:
We have no label for an adult who continues to grow, who works to better understand themselves, and who periodically chooses to re-align their life with their dreams. And most of us, as friends, don’t know how to respond when someone tries to step out of the box we’ve held them in, a box much like the one we hold ourselves in all the time.
That might be why I so treasure a client and friend's recommendation for including these words: "You can be in the business 25 years and still learn a lot from her, in part because she herself is always learning and growing." That kind of reinforcement for making changes is rare and refreshing, and Berkun explains why:
When you share your deepest dream it’s surprising who understands and who is mystified, or even disappointed. Part of the adventure of a big change is resorting who your allies are, as you can’t predict who among those you know will be most connected with the person you’re becoming. And the biggest surprise of all is the new important friends you make along the way, happy consequences of a scary choice made with conviction.
The good news: If you open yourself up to change and new experiences, you'll get even more ideas and opportunities, in my experience. Berkun's a good writer and uses metaphor skillfully in this frank and honest piece. Enjoy it, and pass it around. We all need more reads like this one.

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