When Dave sought coaching with Valerie two years ago, he had been a successful lawyer at multinational law firms for 12 years. He handled complex antitrust cases and walked his clients through commercial contract disputes. Yet when it came to his career path, he was at a crossroads. He needed a change but he couldn’t imagine what would come next. Until he discovered the source of his inertia – and acquired the skills to shake it.
“I wanted to change but I had no passion, no motivation,” Dave said.
“I was looking for a job that I later realized I didn’t really want.”
Dave had set goals for himself but wasn’t proactively pursuing them. He was looking for a different job but not thinking far beyond his day-to-day role. Dave and Valerie established a routine of three phone calls a month and through coaching assignments and exercises, they established Dave’s key values, strengths and weaknesses.
Dave had always valued his independence. But through his coaching sessions, he realized that he was an active, social person. By coaching him towards his strengths Valerie helped him to turn these seemingly contradictory traits into a valuable asset. He discovered that he drew a great deal of his professional energy from others, and he learned to harness it.
“This is a trait that has served me well, one which I’ve been able to use as a mechanism to build myself professionally,” he said.
Dave soon realized that he didn’t need a different job. He needed the freedom to run his own agenda – and a solid framework in which to pursue it. Coaching with Valerie provided the framework, which placed him in a much better position to assess risk and consider change.
What had once been a daunting prospect, a test to his motivation for change, began to look like an opportunity. Dave’s friend, a fellow lawyer, had been pitching a partnership idea to him for some time. “But,” Dave said, “he was more of a risk taker than I was.” Valerie helped him identify and answer what she describes as “saboteurs”, those self doubts that fuel inertia.
“She made me realize that it’s not the risk talking, it’s not the other person, your circumstances – it’s you.”
Dave knew he and his friend had complementary skills and similar values. Thanks to coaching, he also knew that his next move needed to be perfectly aligned with his personal strengths, values and long term lifestyle and career goals.
“It was risky but Valerie gave me the confidence to know that I was much better suited to this.”
Dave made his move, not out of a vague desire for a change, but out of conviction that it was a deliberate step in the right direction. He and his partner launched their new firm in February 2013 and he has not looked back since.
“Now that I’ve started my own business, I don’t have motivation problems,” Dave said.
His focus may have shifted, but Dave says some of the insights he gained from coaching have made a lasting impact. Even with the responsibility of a growing business, Dave has reached a balance he hadn’t experienced in his previous roles.
“My life has become more unstructured in a way, but being able to superimpose a broader structure on top of that freedom maintains the balance.
“I think coaching is valuable to anyone, whether you’re looking for change or not. It’s about organizing your life and being as effective as you can be.”