How to pick the personal career coach that works for you - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Practical Advice

How to pick the personal career coach that works for you

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Posted: Saturday, April 19, 2014 3:45 am | Updated: 9:10 am, Tue Apr 22, 2014.

When you begin your workday you have two individuals who are competing to be your personal career coach for the day. The first, whose name is Donald (of the Trump variety) is dressed in a sleek, dark, and expensive suit and is waiting to take charge. Don carries all of the latest technology with everything organized, easily accessible, and he responds to emails, texts, and phone calls instantly. Don is very opinionated about everything relating to business and has the right to be since his experience and resume are perfect. Don is everything corporate America desires. Donald is going places!

Your other career coach is Jimmy (of the Buffet line) who is wearing a tank top and shorts, has long hair and a toothy grin. Jimmy’s resume is complete (well, the half page of it with the latest songs he has written and all the countries he has visited). He has attached a picture of himself on the beach and his resume wears smudges left over from his lunch. You seek business advice and Jimmy wants you to relax while he plays you a song.

So who do you hire and who do you fire?

I have been in this situation with Don on one shoulder and Jimmy on the other. While working as a leader in a Fortune 5 corporation I chose Don to lead me to promotion, more opportunities, and the “perfect job.” I listened to his advice to work longer hours and take on more responsibility because it would pay off in the end. It took about 15 years and a near meltdown before I realized that Don was wrong and I should be listening more to Jimmy. I had it all wrong, so let me share three ways to incorporate Jimmy’s career coaching into your life.

1. Don’s voice is always going to be louder and more direct. Jimmy speaks in a softer voice, but if you listen to his voice you will realize his advice more often leads to fulfillment and happiness. Happy employees are more valuable employees. When Don tells you to stay another hour at work, take Jimmy’s advice, leave work, and grab a loved one for a walk or out to dinner. “Find some work/life balance,” says Jimmy.

2. When things go wrong at work and Don starts screaming, “This is the end of your career,” or “You are going to mess things up if you don’t do this...” remember that wisdom is calm and collected. Events like this are rarely as bad as you think. When the “stuff” hits the fan, it rarely is productive to fly into panic mode. Listen to Jimmy, “chill out,” and find a way to solve the problem.

3. Remember: “5 o’clock somewhere” does NOT universally apply. Letting Jimmy in, doesn’t mean letting him take over. Responsibility, hard work, and efficiency remain valuable tendencies but they become more effective when coupled with calm, rational, and BALANCED work methods.

4. It is important to seek out excellence in your work, but it is far easier to attain excellence when you are calm, peaceful and in control. Think of some good music to help you transition to that peaceful state when Don goes psycho on you for listening to the “other” career coach.

Remember, it is your career and life, so choose who you listen to while living it.

• A consultant, author, PhD, triathlete, father, and East Valley resident, Dr. CK Bray is a career and organizational development expert who has worked with numerous organizations – ranging from Fortune 500 companies to emerging start-ups. He can be reached at or find his blog and more at

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