We Forget to Introduce Ourselves
Every day I talk to people who are struggling with the question about how to either improve their current work situation or locate a better job. Most of these conversations are productive for them and amazing for me because I help individuals move in a direction that will improve their work life and oftentimes their life outside of work too. Sometimes, in fact more often than I should admit, we get into a rollicking conversation before I have actually introduced myself. As I was contemplating what to share with you today, I realized that aside from the bio that comes at the end of my pieces I have failed to do that again. I am a work in progress.
So, I want to make today’s column both an introduction and an invitation.
The introduction is for you to use and determine if my experience and worldview seem like they would be helpful to you. You get to choose your experts in this regard. (The invitation will come just a bit later).
My work history is found easily on LinkedIn. There are only three Russ Finkelsteins, and I am the one currently living in Portland, Oregon. I am trying to make this easy for you. I have been the co-founder of a few successful organizations, an advisor to many more founders of organizations and I spend a lot of time coaching individuals of all ages, backgrounds, professions, etc. about getting clearer about what work they want and how to locate it.
I think of myself as an accidental coach in many respects. This is going to sound a little self-pitying, but I was actually drawn to this work because I felt that people often did not see me as having talent! They did not necessarily invest in me as they would folks who looked or acted the way ‘promising people’ do in the movies. I spent much of my time in the lower tracked classes in elementary school because people could not quite assess me correctly. As I became more successful, I spent more time speaking with people about their careers and struggles and saw the common challenges they faced. And, once you have had lift off it can feel harder to have vulnerable conversations with others because you think you should have solved the career riddle already, and you are afraid of looking uncertain and diminishing how they have seen you.
These conversations are easy for me because when someone shares all the specific context for why they are struggling, you can ask more questions to get in deep. And it often comes down to underlying confidence issues that are rooted in a complexity of factors. Just as mine were as a younger man. And even now impostor syndrome or not being the right kind of person to do X is a thing I need to talk myself down from on occasion.
So, whether you:
- Are in a role that no longer engages you
- Do not see people like you, however defined, in your profession
- Experience self-doubt because your next job seems like it might be a step down
- Feel alone & vulnerable in your search
- Have no idea what kind of work would be fulfilling
- Long to combine several pursuits into your ‘work’
- Struggle with the outsized role that work is taking in you
- Wonder why everyone else has figured it out what they want to do, and you have not
- You have lost hope that you will find the work you want
I have felt or lived through all of the above at different points in my life and advised many others through these feelings and situations.
If you are experiencing any of them, you have my deepest sympathies. However, all of these situations can be made better. Each will take a little work; some will take a bit more than that.
As I shared earlier, there was going to be an invitation. Why now? Someone reached out recently seeking some support. She wrote about struggling with many of the issues I have shared above. We had a phone call. She felt alone in her struggle to imagine a future or see the value that she brings.
So many of us feel that challenges we face are unprecedented or impossible for others to understand. They are not of course, but they certainly feel that way. Their enormity often withers in the simple act of sharing the insurmountable with another(s). My invitation to you is to take that career challenge that scares you the most now and to share it with someone.
As your career agony uncle, I do not just want you to read pieces that show up in your inbox, but to get the support you need to resolve what is making you feel stuck. So, consider a person you respect, communicate well with and that you do not have baggage with and tell them, “I have been struggling with something professionally and I think you could help me consider a way forward. Can we spend some time discussing this?” You will be surprised how much good that will do. They may be surprised that you were struggling and offer support or a way to reframe or resolve your struggle. Do not compound a problem by handling it alone. Give the gift of your honesty and fully introduce yourself.
Thank you for patiently reading what I have written for the past 15-months prior to this introduction. Now let us get some help solving the problem with your work.
—Russ Finkelstein [linkedin.com] is the opposite of your High School Guidance Counselor. A career coach, social entrepreneur, and advisor to founders, he is currently the Director of Coaching with the Roddenberry Fellowship, Coach-in-Residence with StartingBloc Fellowship, and a Co-Founder of Title8 a Legal Marketplace. He was a founder of the noted careers website Idealist.org and was chosen as a Generation Z Influencer by LinkedIn.