Making Space for Change
People seem to want an overhaul. Have you noticed? There is a bumper crop of TV shows about change--Changing Spaces, Trading Spaces, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The hammers are flying, the paint is flowing, the cleaning crews are long overdue, and the new wardrobes are fun, but I always wonder if the changes last.

Over ten years ago, a very wise friend told me, “Leigh, you have to make space for change.” Her words were prophetic and I remember sensing that all of life stopped to resonate with their wisdom. Their meaning continues to unfold in my life and in the lives of my career coaching and outplacement clients where I use making space for change as a theme to address various aspects of career exploration and career transition.

In Atlanta, GA, where my practice is located, we have an overcrowded expressway, probably very similar to the one in your city. Frequently you will see someone barreling down Interstate I-285 at 80 mph who then tries to cross over three lanes of traffic to exit the freeway. This is what I see with my clients. Moving full speed down their current path allowing no time to make a significant change in their lives, but wanting a new direction. What I see is that it rarely happens or if it does, the results are not what they expected or wanted. Albert Einstein said, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

In a consumer-oriented culture that values productivity and bottom-line results, it is my experience that we far too often want to skip to the end of the novel rather than watching the story unfold--especially when the main character is us and we are in the middle of a situation that is uncomfortable! When the product is more important than the process, then frequently we make the same mistakes, over and over again. Making space for change implies honoring our current circumstances, sitting with them, directly facing them. It also means that we connect with our own source of wisdom and if you are always moving at the speed of light, this is particularly hard to do. Our culture may see busy-i-ness as the icon of success but our hearts value the connection with that part of our being that is truly untouched by outer circumstances.

Some years ago I was on my first assignment with an outplacement (OP) company and I met with a woman who had recently been laid off—forced into a major transition. She had been working many long hours prior to the downsizing, which the employer had handled poorly. So, in front of me sat a very tired and emotional client. At one point in our conversation she told me that she knew she needed to start moving forward with her job search, but she felt there was something that she needed to do first. An answer rose up inside of me and landed on my pursed lips. Intuitively I felt my response would help her but I wondered how she would receive it and this was, after all, only my third day with this OP firm. What would they think of my answer? Higher wisdom prevailed and I said, “You need to clean out your closets.” Her body moved forward and she immediately responded, “That’s it!” The session moved to closure quickly as you could readily see that she wanted to get home! I knew that this act of getting rid of clutter would help her let go of the past, make space for change, and free this woman to move forward with her job search. This was not a cutesy makeover or decorating job. A rich transformation was in process.

The world of work / career management is undergoing a major paradigm shift from monogament (having one employer for life) to polygament (multiple employers in one career) and employees are now being forced to learn to manage their own careers. After many years under the paternalistic arm of a corporation, it can be a hard pill to swallow. A sampling of the career management topics that I discuss with my clients are:

Alignment—What are your core values and are you living in alignment with them? What corporate culture is a good fit for you? What work uses your skills and interests?
Body—any recurring aches and pains? What are they saying to you? What are you doing to make space in your body so your energy flows in an unimpeded manner?
Career—what is the role of your career in your life? How do YOU define success in your career?
Dreams & SpellbounD—What beliefs and limitations are holding you back from your dreams? What wisdom is trying to reach you in your dreams while you are sleeping that you have not acknowledged?
BridgE—know where you want to go next in your career? How do you get there? Do you need a bridge assignment or training to help you get there?
Finances—If there is no space in your budget, if you are living at 100% of your salary, then you are painting yourself into the proverbial corner. You are limiting your career choices.

While many of us wish we could sit under a Career Sorting Hat similar to the one used at the Hogwarts School of Magic in the Harry Potter books to sort students into like-minded dormitory groups based on the desires of their hearts, most of us recognize that making a transition does not come without effort. By Making Space for Change and allowing the room in our schedules to address our career needs, we open ourselves to a life-altering transformation.

In working with my clients I have seen the manifestation of the fundamental principle of giving and receiving. Time and time again, I see when people are willing to open that door.