Career Counseling: The power of practical training

The Power of Positive Thinking is my father’s all time favorite book.  Norman Vincent Peale’s classic is old school middle of the twentieth century literature that provides an adjacent strand of thought to the law of attraction.  I’m all for positive thinking and, if properly understood, the law of attraction.

Here’s the problem: some of the fans of The Secret and similar literature exclusively focus on the positive part without noting that all sensible proponents of the law of attraction focus equally on the hard work part. Part of the hard work involves getting the practical training necessary to enact a dream.

Even worse from my perspective is that the foolish sometimes create negative examples that prevent the timid from moving forward. Specifically, in the midst of providing career counseling to a client who is on the verge of making a career change, he/she will cite an example of “someone I know” who recklessly embarked on career change.

I was reminded of this challenge when one of my closest friends told me about his ex-wife’s current challenges.  5 years ago – when they were married – my friend brought his wife who we’ll call Madeline to our Old Saybrook house for both socialization and practical training to help jump start her fledgling holistic health care business.

Madeline had been a business woman. She was a self-taught holistic healer with bare minimum credentials.  Her business plan was to focus on giving on speeches to hospitals for $5-10,000.  When my friend would provide the obvious objections: you have almost no credentials, you have no hospital connections, you can’t really believe that trained health care practitioners (she planned to lecture doctors and nurses) will take you seriously etc., she would respond aggressively with her misunderstanding of the law of attraction.

I, too, had no luck in gently trying to dissuade her from this plan.  I provide training to service entrepreneurs and have a distinct methodology that has helped many get their businesses off  the ground.  Once she started arguing with me, I guided the discussion elsewhere.

5 years later she has gone through $400,000 (divorce lump sum settlement) in trying to get her business off the ground.  She called my friend in a moment of weakness and admitted that she should have put some of that money into practical training.