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Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash

I want to ‘work on projects that I believe in, with people I like…’

So said former CEO of Anglo American, Mark Cutifani, when he left his position.

What do you do when you decide, whether voluntarily or otherwise, that you’ll no longer follow the path you’ve been on for many decades.

How will you spend your time? How will you find a new purpose that gets you up every morning? What makes you feel fulfilled at the end of the day? What is your new identity?

These are the kind of questions that senior executives ask themselves when they step out of their career. They are actually the questions that anyone transitioning out of one career and into another has to ask themselves.

It can be a scary, and certainly destabilizing, period.

Increasingly, as this Financial Times article shows, leaders are looking for help in finding the answers to these questions. It’s not that you can’t find them alone, it’s just that it can be easier if you have someone to challenge your thinking or to bounce ideas off. Someone who holds no preconceptions about who you are or what you should do. Someone who holds no judgements.

What a coach can do is to help you expand your map - to help you lower the guiderails that have been built up over the years by virtue of your experience. The self-defined boundaries that have helped you pursue and succeed in your path to date, but that restrict you as you map out your new territory.

I believe that success isn’t finding something to do, it’s finding the best something to do.

My clients have spoken about cliff edges. They have stated with some wonder and not a little fear or regret, that they have never actually asked themselves the question, ‘what makes me happy?’, and don’t even know how to start answering it.

And so we go on a journey. One of exploration, discovery, at times frustration, leading to activation and, dare I say it, contentment.

This is choosing to take control of your life.

Why me? Why do I choose to work with people in this transition? For two reasons. First, I have personally been through it and know how hard it is to do alone (my coach was, quite literally, transformative for me). And second, every person transformed, participating, excelling, engaging in new ways, is delivering real change into the world. That is my fulfilment.

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