Why are you waiting to take control of your career?

I just returned from a wonderful trip out West. While the vacation was with my family and to see friends, it also provided an unexpected lesson in career counseling.  

Trish Sie is a friend of mine from Penn.  I was in law school at the time.  I was her Graduate Fellow, essentially a resident advisor who also put on educational programs.  Trish has had a fascinating career.  After leaving the Ivy league, she took a most unusual road.  She became a world class competitive ball room dancer and opened up a dance studio.  From there, she was the creative force beyond the pop-rock band Ok-Go’s viral videos.  You might remember the dancing on treadmills video that was named one of the most influential music videos of all time. Currently, she is a movie director and is directing the latest Step Up movie. 

With great serendipity, “John”, one of my closest friends from law school had a business trip to Los Angeles at the same time as my family trip.  He also knows Trish and joined us for dinner.

John has been unhappy in his legal career for many years.  He is one of the most creative, interesting, and entertaining people I’ve ever met.  My wife thinks he missed his calling as a professional comedian.  

But, John drifted into his career and has never had any impetus to leave.  He’s smart and talented enough at legal writing that his law firm treats him well.   

Since John and I are contemporaries and since I never want to make him feel badly for his lack of action, I’ve always been subtle in suggesting that he consider different career fields.

Trish, however, decided that he needed a call to action.  This is your life.  What are you waiting for?  Why would you spend your time miserable in a career when there are so many other things that you could do that would you happy?  She then provided excellent suggestions on how creative types can forge their career.  Among her nuggets of career wisdom: “find your unique point to jump into a field – how would you contribute in a unique way?”

I’ve known John for 25 plus years and I’ve never seen him so inspired to make a career change.  

This is your life.  Maybe you need someone to shake you up so you can take career action.