Figure Out What's Next

Coach Lou Gets Tough

career change dennis blank Apr 09, 2009
writing calendar

by Dennis Blank

photo via pixabay

Making progress means trying new things

Coach Lou asked me for another list this week. She wants to know my unfulfilled ambitions. (I thought we were writing a blog here—not “War and Peace.”)

Dear Coach Lou: I’ll give you my unfulfilled ambitions in a moment, but I feel I need to put the brakes on the inevitability of a new career for me as a writer. We can’t have an answer to what I’ll do in Life 3.0 yet; my deadline for deciding is still 12 months away. If it is decided that writing is it already, what are we going to blog about for the next 50 weeks?

I have two other reservations. First of all, I’ve already written enough to know that it is a pretty isolating experience. The only way to write, for me anyway, is to lock myself away from all external stimuli and write. This is not always a lot of fun, and I want to have some fun in Life 3.0.

Second, to me writing is something you do about something else, either to help explain it to yourself or to someone else. So even if writing is what I’m going to be doing more than anything else, I still need to figure out what to write about, which then becomes the quest.

Now, to answer your question, I offer you a quote from P.D. James: “We need, all of us, to be in control of our lives, and we shrink them until they are small and mean enough so that we can feel in control.”

I don’t feel I’ve lived a “small and mean” life by any means, but in order to have a career and raise a family, compromises had to be made. In my case, that meant shrinking certain personal characteristics to a level that wouldn’t frighten the average man in the street—or more to the point, in my office. So my big unfulfilled ambition is to just take the wraps off and be more open and real about how I live and what I write.


Dear d’: Well, two things are now apparent to me. One is you like to take your good ol’ time deciding things and the second is you need to better understand this coaching process.

You are getting a whole year to figure things out but that doesn’t mean you can’t take some action or steps toward whatever it is before then. This will be just boring banter for everyone, including me, if you don’t try some things out and maybe even fail at them. At least it would provide entertainment, as well as help you rule out some things.

My job is to pick up on what you are not saying or what you may not even notice yourself. (It was you who wrote “unfulfilled ambitions” in the same sentence as “writing.” Freudian slip?) My job is to get you to explore some options you might not have considered but seem obvious to me. And while I freely engage in that aspect of coaching, I never have any illusions that I am RIGHT.

Hell, I’ve been wrong way more times that I have been right, but just articulating what I am observing has often opened a door that had previously seemed closed. So, I am going to continue to say what I am seeing and you can continue to tell me I am wrong, but also let me know what it might mean for you.

So imagine the wraps are off and the inquiry for this week is “If I am being REAL, living an uncompromised life, what is different?” Time to give up control, think big and let your freak flag fly!


Well Lou: I can see there is going to be no hiding from you. I’ll have a more direct response ready for our next post. You will probably have to keep pushing me along. This level of public openness about myself does not come naturally.


Dearest d’: Perhaps if you imagined it was just you and me communicating it would be easier? I will help keep you safe so you can express yourself freely. In my experience, leaders who show some vulnerability create a high engagement with others. So while our friendly banter might be entertaining and engaging, so will your “realness.”

BTW read David Brooks’ column “Relax We’ll Be Fine.” I connected you with something he says in there on social entrepreneurialism and moral materialism.

Love, Lou

P.S. Join us on the Facebook Life 3.0 page. It’s free and easy.

Coach Lou is a co-founder of Chain Reaction Partners, an executive and leadership training consultancy in Boulder, Colo. d’blank is the author of The Daily Blank blog.


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