What does it means when someone makes an abrupt decision to almost completely change our professional direction without doing all that careful introspection and reflection stuff, without considering the options or alternatives, and with little thought to logistical realities or the possibilities for success?
My wife recently became a licensed real estate agent, a career for which she has been preparing most of her adult life and one that fits her like a glove, uses her considerable knowledge and skills artfully, and is simply the best work choice for her that I can imagine. The woman is thoroughly and enthusiastically “into it,” as they say. I was extremely supportive of her decision to leave the security of internal and steady employment, with those regular paychecks, essential benefits, and corporate logistical and technical support, because I knew this was the right decision for her.
On the other hand, I have not had the slightest interest in anything to do with houses, housing, or real estate. I do not watch television shows about real estate agents, series that depict house flippers, or even those that help buyers and sellers understand the process. My interests, background, and talents all lie in other areas … or so I thought.
As she went through the educational process to pass the real estate license examination and the concentrated training program provided by her agency, two things became clear: First, she is indeed in the best place work-wise that she can be, and second, she was overwhelmed by the rapidly evolving technology around online presence, social media, and other aspects of our modern digital world that are changing the real estate industry.
Well, I know technology and social media, so I volunteered to help her become the successful real estate agent that I know she will be … my “small” contribution to helping her shine. Since I was working away at building a coaching practice around helping folks navigate change and had just earned a group coaching certification, I thought that my skills and knowledge might help her in any number of ways.
Then we had a little chat. Here is a relatively accurate representation of our pivotal conversation just over one month ago:
She: “You know, I think it would help if you were licensed too, so you could talk to folks about buying or selling their house too.”
He: “Hmmm … I hadn’t thought about doing that. Yeah, makes sense. OK:)”
Yes, I made a decision to spend thousands of dollars and almost completely change my professional identity that quickly. This is NOT how the change process is supposed to work.
In less than 30 days, I have studied for and passed the examination and am working my way through the training program, while happily helping create our marketing tools, researching properties, conducting open houses, and doing all the other things that successful real estate agents do. Terms such as listing agent, farming, sphere of influence, and so on are now part of my lexicon. I notice houses for sale by their owners and plan where I would place open house signs in an area to drive traffic to a specific doorstep. I accept the fact that I no longer have weekends free.
I engaged in no lengthy reflection or consideration of either alternatives or realities, but quite simply jumped at the chance for this change.
Change is a well-researched subject optimally viewed as a clearly rational process …
Most change models identify some number of distinct, logical, and linear steps to take when engaging in change. Some of us have made our livings by convincing folks that these organized and logical ways to move ahead exist and that we can help someone move through the change process in a more orderly fashion by knowing and using them.
Most change models emphasize clearly identifying your best alternatives, weighing them carefully for a while, and making a decision for forward motion based on some well-stated and specific criteria.
My decision does not fit this description.
While I feel quite comfortable with my decision, I am planning to incorporate some aspects of my preexisting career into the new venture. My coaching and presentation skills apparently have application in this particular sales process. Maybe that is my way of maintaining some security while I move into an uncertain future, but I am finding all manner of ways to use past skills and knowledge in this new venture.
All this has made me very curious about change, fast and slow.
Have you ever just “jumped” at something big?
Do you feel the steady and paced change is more effective or do you prefer a heavy reliance on intuition?
What are your reactions to my little tale of abrupt and comprehensive change?