How do I find the right career path? It’s a question I explore with many of my coaching clients.
As I’ve prepared for Catalyst Development’s LEADERs program this year, I have been thinking about my own career path: how I got where I am and how I overcame all the different bumps along the way. It has been an interesting journey, and definitely not one I would have predicted if you asked me 20 years ago. I also would not give back any of the experiences if I could. They all got me here. I have made many mistakes and experienced the good and bad of people. I have learned hard lessons and had some great successes. It is a joy to share my story with so many professionals in our training programs.
This group of professionals at all levels and stages will be finding their own path to leadership (a crucial part of your career path!) and what that means for them. For some people, it is the corner office. For others, it may not mean a management position at all.
When you’re considering your career path, you should learn how to do a personal SWOT analysis. I do this lesson time and time again with my clients. It allows them to understand what their strengths and weaknesses are and where they need to focus energy for growth. This takes some deep reflection and it helps to have a strong mentor and/or personal advisory committee that will help you be honest with yourself. I have talked many times through the years about having this critical network of people in your life that will help you along your path. I have an amazing advisory committee that is brutally honest with me. These are things we will discuss in LEADERs, and we’ll walk you through important exercises.
We will also talk about dealing with conflict, being a resilient leader, and negotiation skills. These are all important skills because as we find our career path, grow, and get more responsibility, we will hit bumps in the road. How do we maneuver them? What do you do when times get hard? Do you see them as a roadblock and stop or do you find a new way to get there? It took me many years to change how I talked to myself. Early in my career when times got tough or I hit a fork in the road, I had to find all my confidence to get through it. I had to fight myself to not quit. I had to take ownership of my mistakes and not blame others. That would be so much easier, but I would not be where I want to be if I had just stopped.
So as I prepare to share my experiences and bring together leaders with those still finding their career path, it is a great time for me to reflect on where I am on my path. I am not “there” yet. But I do know this is an exciting adventure with many paths to take. The places I have been and the people I have met makes this more exciting than I can have ever imagined. I love to watch and encourage others as they create their path. Where are you going?
Dr. Katie Ervin is the founder and CEO of Catalyst Development. She has contributed to Brainz Magazine and the Forbes Business Council. She is currently writing her first book.