Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How Can You Know What You Don’t Know?



This topic comes to me weekly when my phone rings and on the other end is someone I’ve never spoken with before.

Career Transition

Frequently these unsolicited but welcomed calls come from people who are transitioning from a first career such as Law Enforcement or Military to a Private Sector or Corporate career.

Bob: 20 Years in a Federal Agency

Last week one of these inbound calls had someone on the other end that has had a distinguished career in a three letter federal government agency.  I’ll call this person Bob.  Bob’s story sounded great until he told me that he’d been looking for a position in the private sector outside of his government agency since August of 2014 but has had no luck.

He Didn't Know What He Didn't Know

As our conversation progressed, Bob suggested that he had no idea how much he didn't know about transitioning to the private sector.  In fact, he thought the transition would be somewhat easy given where he was coming from.  

At this point, I wished that Bob had found me back in August of 2014 but the truth is that Bob very likely wouldn't have been ready to meet me in August of 2014.  He had to go through a personal process of learning that he didn't know everything first and that's precisely what he said to me last week.

It was at this moment that I knew I was in a position to help Bob.  In order for anyone to address what they don’t know, it is entirely necessary for that person to get out of their own way.  This applies to me too by the way.

When it was suggested that I had natural talents and gifts for coaching by several clients and candidates a few years ago, I had to get out of my own way in order to find people who were ahead of me on the coaching learning curve to learn how to properly deliver coaching services.

What are Bob's stumbling blocks?
  • Bob has never written a resume before that would be directed to a private sector audience.
  • Bob does not understand that power of LinkedIn, the world’s largest and fastest growing business network.

  • Bob has never before made career direction choices.  He has always been told what to do and where to go next in his first career. Now he has choices and he isn't yet crystal clear with regards to how to make private sector career decisions.
  • Bob does not understand business since he’s never before worked in a business.

  • Bob does not yet understand how his approach to people needs to change moving from the public to the private sector.  In the private sector, Bob has to build relationships that are grounded in trust and he needs to operate with a certain amount of empathy.

  • Bob has to learn a different style of leadership to be successful in the private sector. 


Back in August of 2014, Bob didn't know any of these things.  As of last week, he started to recognize that he didn't know what he didn't know and that’s what prompted him to call me.




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