Today’s New York Times magazine included an interesting article on an extreme danger sport – base jumping. People wear special flight suits as they leap off a cliff, experiencing flight sensations for several minutes. You can read the article here. Be warned: it’s not the cheeriest article in the world.
One small part of the article caught my attention.
Dave McDonnell, now retired from the sport, talked about how he tuned in to his intuition to differentiate real danger from fear.
“If you’re all tuned in, there’s a ‘Yes….’ On the mediocre days, there are two other voices. One’s ‘Fear.’ Your body is screaming out at you, ‘Don’t do this,’ because it’s dangerous, unnatural. You’re there to conquer your fear.
“But there’s another voice that hangs around every now and again, and that’s called ‘No.’ Something’s not right. .. It’s just, ‘Walk away, don’t go jumping today.’ The difficulty is trying to discern between ‘Fear’ and ‘No,’ because they’re both telling you the same thing. ‘No’ is your sixth sense that’s trying to save your life.”
This brief excerpt is one of the best examples of intuition I’ve seen anywhere. It applies to many situations, especially life changes involving career and relocation.
When I moved to Philadelphia just over two years ago, I often felt quite fearful during the planning stage. So much could go wrong. I needed to rent out my Seattle place, find a home in Philadelphia, find someone to board the dog, get the cats to Philadelphia, and a lot more. It was pretty hair-raising at times, but everything worked out.
The dog was a little spoiled by her temporary owner. One of the cats hid in a closet for three days. The place I rented in Philly was not comfortable. Now I’m living in my own beautiful condo in a fun part of town. The dog got back to her slim, trim self and made friends all over the neighborhood. One cat crossed the bridge last summer (due to illness unrelated to the move – she was old!), and our newly adopted kitty has taken over the household in her place.
People who live in the edge, sometimes literally, need to learn this language to survive. The rest of us need to pay better attention if we want to avoid boredom and enjoy adventure, while avoiding some pretty heavy negative outcomes.
In my ebook, Intuition for Careers and Relocation, I talk about getting in touch with the language of your intuition. I’ve found that it’s hardest to hear the “no” and recognize it’s not fear. It’s really a “no.” For some people, the signals are very strong; my own “no” speaks more softly.
When you feel lost and confused, it is easy to give your power to anyone who appears on your doorstep — a coach, a counselor, even a good friend or relative. People in transition, who are seeking direction, are especially vulnerable to anyone who offers help. The US government has developed programs to protect newly-bereaved citizens who are vulnerable to claims from funeral services.
Sometimes I meet people who have been laid off or otherwise terminated. They have been sitting on the couch for a long time, trying to decide what to do. They have undertaken introspective life reviews. They may have begun a frantic search for a new career, sending out batches of resumes. Perhaps they called half a dozen friends to commiserate about the evils of the workplace.
After six months or a year, they get a new sense of purpose. They visit a career center, call a couch or check out the services of the Small Business Administration.
Inevitably, when you get off the couch and start moving, you need to learn a new way to walk. Maybe you were a champion networker when you were vice president of Mega-Mega, and now you are a job seeker or a start-up entrepreneur. Maybe you wrote award-winning ads, and now you are faced with selling yourself through a resume.
Starting over is much harder than starting out. Author Martha Beck says that career transition feels like going back to kindergarten. You feel that everybody knows more than you and you really want to go back to the way things were before.
And one day you wake up and realize, “Wait a minute! I know more than I realized!”
You may be angry with those who steered you in the wrong direction — or with yourself for not paying attention.
You may be angry with someone who says, “You can’t do that!” when you know perfectly well you can.
I am not suggesting you lash out at those who offended you, although I think you can ask for reparation if you can demonstrate that someone really harmed you. I am not suggesting that you make decisions while you are angry.
But if you have let your intuition lie dormant or you have responded passively to events around you, anger is a sign that you are getting your power back. You are turning on the juice. Your intuition is beginning to overpower the wet blankets, the poison darts, and the well-meaning-but-misguided mentors.
Some clients are surprised when they feel angry. Some believe that only happiness can signal that a transition is going well.
Sadness, depression and grief can be danger signals. They can paralyze.
Recognize, welcome and manage your anger. You are almost certainly ready to take action and experience your own power once again.
To learn more, check out my ebook on intuition.
I read a story about a flight attendant who was fired for posting photos of herself striking suggestive poses. She was photographed wearing her official uniform on an empty airliner, clearly identifying her employer. I’ve also read about a hotshot cosultant who sent an email message describing his last date in graphic detail, using his employer’s email account.
Most of us manage to hide the live editions our worst case scenarios. But as a disaster planning exercise, here are my candidates for the Top 10 Dumbest Mistakes Made by the Smartest People.
1. Posting a photo of yourself on the Internet in a pose or costume that might raise eyebrows (not to mention red flags) at the office. Would you post this photo on your desk? Add a framed version to your office wall? Show it to your mother? Once you’ve posted to the Internet, you might as well.
2. Wearing a company uniform (or carrying an emblem of the company or standing outside company HQ) while performing Dumb Mistake #1. It’s like being the black sheep family member.
3. Writing a blog about your company “for therapy” and insisting it’s for you and your friends. Therapy should be private. Blogs are written to be shared with the world.
4. Using the company email to send a personal message. I get dozens of queries every year: “Hi Cathy. I hate my job. Can you help?” All written on their employer’s message system, legally available to their bosses and colleagues.
5. Thinking your boss, the HR department or the recruiter is your friend. Whoever pays their salary is their new best friend. Talk to your recruiter as you would talk to an employer or client. Talk to HR as little as possible.
If your career search keeps getting stalled, return to Step 2: Inventory Your Friends. I’ve found people who think they have false beliefs or inner blocks often find themselves moving forward once they restock their friendship shelves.
You’re fighting for your life here. I once knew “Mark,” who was out of work and looking for a job. He was hanging out in a coffee shop or a nearby park, talking to others who were having hard times. He rarely talked to anyone who shared a similar level of professional experience and education.
By sheer luck, Mark fell into a good job. He wasn’t earning as much money as he wanted, but he was paying the bills. More important, he was surrounded by smart, upwardly mobile professionals. He had lunch with them. They took Starbucks breaks together. Occasionally they convened on a weekend for parties.
I watched Mark change so slowly he didn’t realize what was happening. He began to speak of more career options. He dressed differently. He moved more purposefully. He even lost weight without effort.
And after I moved, I found myself changing too. Sadly, I had little in common with some friends, because now I had to work more. Some people just didn’t get it. They vanished from my life. Now it seems everyone I know is on a path to success…and I am too. It’s contagious.
Often you know on some level, “Something is wrong with this picture.” That’s why I often say, “Your own intuition is your best career coach.” To get started with new friends and a clearer sense of what’s going on, click here.
How to tell when it’s time to toss outdated inventory and get a shipment of new people in your life:
(1) When you talk to someone, you feel drained afterward.
(2) You seem to have less motivation as the days, weeks and months go by.
(3) You stop seeking ways to grow.
(4) You feel inadequate about your appearance.
(5) You feel more powerless. You find yourself saying, “I can’t…” more often.
(6) You realize you’re not getting out to do new things and meet new people.
(7) You get increasingly frustrated with where you live and/or where you work.
What if these people are also your family? Or if they’re important to your own family? That’s beyond my scope. Time for your own personal equivalent of Dr. Phil.