What images come to mind when you think of a big red funnel? A big round circular top, a narrow opening at the bottom? Liquids swirling around? Someone making a funnel cake? Probably not a career transition.
When I was thinking of a new direction for my career, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to wise elder gentleman who had been an instructor at the Harvard Business School. He and I would meet once a week to talk, listen, pause, and reflect. We often just sat in silence. He would shuffle across his deck with his white t-shirt, red suspenders, baggy gray pants, and clouded eyes. He would gently sit down next to me. We’d sit in silence and then he’d ask me a question; a really hard question that I did not know how to answer. Something like, what dream is not being fulfilled right now? I had to really think. I’d stumble along with my words and he’d nod and rarely say anything until he’d either get up and say it was a nice day or ask me the next powerful question, like “what is your story?”
One day after I had fumbled along in my words he said to me…“Polly, ever since you were a child people started asking you ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ Over time, you started answering and you slowly moved down into the bottom of the funnel, which has been your career for the last 15 years. Some people, like you, are fortunate enough to get shot back up onto the top of the rim of the funnel. While you are up on the rim, take a good long look around before you start going back down the funnel. Take time to notice what’s possible while you are up on the top of that funnel rim”.
We sat in silence. I visualized a big red funnel with me up on the top looking around after deciding I needed a change in career. I could see I needed to take some time to decide what I really wanted because I had been given the opportunity to start over. “Take a good long look around the rim Polly”. Wow, what a powerful invitation.
A new job, graduation, a promotion, a retirement, a new business, and a return to the work force after raising children are key transition points in our life. They are moments when we get shot back up onto the top of the rim. They are moments we need to carefully look at our options and set an intentional path forward. The rim holds an invitation to do more of what we love to do every day. It is a place to get clear on our purpose and set goals for a thriving future. The rim is where we can leverage our greatest passions, strengths, knowledge and skills towards a vision of a thriving professional life.
Remember when you were a child and someone asked you…what do you want to be when you grow up? And you rattled off a list of amazing careers…. an astronaut! A symphony conductor! A teacher! An architect! You never doubted that anything was possible. You were on top of the rim, filled with imagination, joy, anticipation, and wonder.
I invite you to the rim of the “big red funnel”. This is your time to wonder, don’t rush; just enjoy the view. It’s quite possible that you will start seeing possibilities in ways you never dreamed.
What do you see from the rim?
Tell me about your transition. I’d like to learn more about your story. What tools and strategies have helped you navigate through your career transition? Please contact me.