During a significant career change, do you jump or hold on?
Generally you’ll find two kinds of midlife career changers and entrepreneurs: Jumpers and Clingers.
Jumpers thrive on energy, enthusiasm and improbable luck. The last three times they leaped, a net appeared. They see no reason why the next jump should be any different.
Clingers thrive on careers that offer security, money and identity. When they outgrow their careers, or find themselves forced out, they feel lost. They can’t remember the last time they found themselves in this position.
Jumpers call a coach when they are ready to find a new mountain. Suggest a destination and they ask, “Where is it?” Often they’ve made another leap before the coach realizes what is going on.
Clingers call a coach when they find themselves lost in the jungle. They ask, “How do I know if I’ve made the right decision?” and, “How can I find security?” They hold out a one-way ticket, asking, “How do I change to a round trip?”
Jumpers have learned to accept that sinking-feeling-in-the-gut as they leap off the mountain.
Clingers are not used to feeling edgy. They don’t want a roadmap; they want a hotel reservation, preferably chosen from a listing in the auto club book. Both Jumpers and Clingers face a new reality. Even the bravest Jumper can run out of luck. Choose the wrong mountain and the net never appears. And in the twenty-first century, Clingers must create their own security.
Jumpers must stop at the edge of the mountain, before the point of no return. “Does this feel right?” they have to ask. “Should I look first this time, to see if the net really exists? Or maybe instead of leaping it’s time to climb down more carefully, one ledge at a time.”
Clingers also have to ask, “Does this feel right?” Like Jumpers, they must look for safety nets. They learn to read maps and differentiate between dangerous potholes and afternoon shadows. And when they can’t get a guaranteed hotel reservation, they learn to make a contingency plan to avoid sleeping in the park.
Jumpers learn to walk where they used to run. Clingers learn to walk where they used to ride.
Jumpers tend to skip the research and analysis. They go with what feels good. If their instincts are sound, they will be okay…most of the time. They often hire me right off my website: the first sign I know they’re interested is when I see they’ve paid for a session and they want to set up a time.
Clingers over-analyze. They want to weigh all the pros and cons. They’re the ones who send me half a dozen emails before they decide to work with a coach in general or me in particular. Some coaches get nervous about working with these clients because any transition is risky and we don’t have guarantees. And you can scare away good opportunities with your fears.
Jumpers get into trouble at work because they don’t do the preparation. They say “yes” to projects and figure out how to do them after they’ve committed. When I work with jumper clients, we talk about slowing down and weighing the odds.
Clingers drive their bosses crazy because they ask, “What could go wrong?” They say things like, “Suppose our suppliers don’t deliver on time…” They won’t give out a number till they’re 110% sure it’s correct.
When I work with clinger clients, I encourage them to ask, “What’s the worst that can happen?” It’s tricky when we coach someone to take risks. Risks are, after all … risky. There’s a downside. But if you never take risks, you won’t go anywhere.
Over-motivated jumpers become daredevils; over-planned clingers lose momentum.
Both jumpers and clingers face disaster. Jumpers leap into icy water or treacherous rocks. Clingers find their once-secure shelter has been blown over by a hurricane.
Jumpers bring energy and daring to a new venture; clingers bring planning skills and a track record of past accomplishment.
Occasionally I’m asked if there’s a test to see if you’re a jumper or a clinger. Most people immediately know their styles as soon as I explain them. If you ask about tests, there’s a 90% chance you’re a clinger.
Most people will combine the best qualities of jumpers and clingers. Ultimately, both can achieve success by recognizing their own operational styles and using their own strengths to survive and thrive in new terrain.
And if you’d like to learn more about making career decisions, check out this FREE Report:
5 Tough Career Decisions. Instant download here.