Once I was a traditional management consultant. It didn’t suit me.
I quit and started a construction company.
Then I was running a large construction company.
I loved it.
But I got cancer. Eventually I became a global speaker and a consultant and coach focusing on entrepreneurs.
I made that initial career switch because I could not go on, waking up each day with dread, facing another day of having the sense that I needed to be somewhere else.
First, I had to redraw the lines for how I defined myself. Then I had to paint the picture so that the world that had once known me in a certain way could see me in another.
Truth be told, it was less difficult getting others to respect and view me as competent and capable in my reinvented role than it was getting my own head around it. That's because I had valued myself according to how I had identified myself.
Being a management consultant held a certain value for me. I had incorporated my job title into a part of my personal value.
What I came to understand (and how I ultimately embraced and enjoyed my reinvention) was that my title never held the value. It was what I had done while holding the title that had the value.
Winning contracts, completing good negotiations, developing relationships -- these were the things that mattered and the reason that the people around me assigned value to my stock. But it wasn’t the title that held the value. It was me and my ability to perform.
It's worth stating, though, that the comfortable identifier let people who didn't previously know me put me in a category of respect and high value. And it's rather nice to be introduced as someone whom people respect. It's an easy door opener.
And this is exactly what sometimes holds a person back from taking the leap into entrepreneurship -- the fear of losing the easy identitier.
When I reinvented myself, it took some time for me to be OK without that management-consultant intro and to feel comfortable with a new one that held less swagger. Like any stock that has not been listed for long, my new intro took a while to carry value for others.
Yet what's valuable for those undergoing reinvention is to have the opportunity to identify with other reinventors -- the innovators who have taken decidedly new paths more suited to pursuing what they want.
If you're considering a reinvention, here are some pieces of advice that have steered me well through the process:
1. Know what you want.
Don't just understand what you don’t want. Work toward something with the reinvention. Don't just simply run away from something else.
2. Get clear on what you want and why.
Then when you get it, you will want what you have.
3. Don’t feel the need to justify your move.
If someone is curious about your why, tell him or her in simple and truthful terms. No one can argue with the facts. He or she may have opinions, but the five minutes he or she spends thinking about you is nothing like having to live your life 24 hours a day.
4. Find others.
Get in touch with a reinvention mentor and someone who has transitioned from one thing to another. Such people are available more places than you would think -- and more people are wanting to reinvent themselves than ever before.
5. Take action.
Every day you spend in stagnation is one less day you’ll spend in success. Small deliberate steps add up. Take one.
There are simply too many people looking at reinvention as a risk, when it is an opportunity with a poor name tag.
Instead of asking yourself, What should I do? consider asking yourself, What do I want to get out of what it is that I do?
This rephrasing illuminated a lot for me during my reinvention and I hope it does for you, too. It is after all less about getting what you want and more about wanting what you get.