So, you want to be a best selling author or perhaps a famous musician and you are wondering if a career coach can help? The answer is yes… and no.
A career coach can help bring out your best. We can help you realize your potential and identify opportunities you didn’t know existed. So, in that sense, a career coach can help increase the likelihood of you achieving your rock start dreams. However, there are limits to what career coaches can do that have nothing to do with coaching (or your skills) and everything to do with your field of interest.
There are two types of careers: building careers and all or nothing careers.
Here is how a building career works: you start with a job that pays decently. You do it well, develop new skills, get promoted and make more money. Then you master that role, develop new skills, get promoted again and make still more money.
Provided you keep doing that for many years, and you are ambitious, work hard and keep learning, you will over time make plenty of money and have a successful career. You may not make millions each year, but it isn’t unrealistic to think that you can do quite well. –And some people will make millions (some even without a career coach!)
Think of a building career like a staircase: you just keep stepping up the stairs. If you top out at a certain stair, you never have to start again at the bottom.
Then there are what career coaches often refer to as all or nothing careers. The aspiring novelists, the musicians, the actors/actresses.
These are the most challenging careers for the boldest of individuals. I often think of an old high school friend of mine pursuing her music career in Boston singing at coffee shops and anywhere else she could for next to no money. –It takes guts and determination, and I admire that, but after a few years she gave up on that and started from the bottom in a building career.
I have another friend who recently got a big break in his writing. It’s awesome, but he’s been writing novels (and all sorts of other things) for 15 years to get this break. –And it’s still unclear how successful his first book will be.
The challenge is that in these types of all or nothing fields, all the money goes to a very, very tiny number of the people practicing. Almost everyone makes a tiny bit of money and a few people make huge sums.
To use the stair analogy, it’s like a bunch of people milling around waiting to take an elevator, and only a few people get to take it. Every once in a while the elevator comes down to take one lucky (and talented and hardworking) individual to the top floor, while everyone else sits and watches. (And by the way, that elevator often takes people back down soon thereafter, think about all the one hit wonder bands.)
In all or nothing careers, people often try for a while and then end up starting a building career from the bottom. But, the good news is that they tried, and they don’t have to go through life wondering, “what if?” -And by the way, some of those people do make it big!
From a career coaching perspective, the key point is this: as you think about crafting your career, you need to look very honestly at whether you want to pursue an all or nothing career or a building career. The safest option is pursuing a building career while using your free time to pursue your passion: singing, acting, writing, etc.
You may also be able to have the best of both worlds by pursuing a building career in an industry you are passionate about. The safe plan isn’t for everyone, just as the risky approach isn’t for everyone. The key is deciding how to match your passions with your risk tolerance… and a career coach can help you do that.
I am always inspired by the story of Steven King, who took every rejection letter he received early in his career and put a spike through it to spur him on and help him hone his craft. Great all or nothing careers can happen, but they require tremendous perseverance, and ultimately the talent that comes from it.
If you want to explore how to match your passions with your career, and are looking for career coaching in San Diego or anywhere in the country, sign up for a complimentary career accelerator coaching session with me by clicking here.
What questions do you have about careers or career coaching? Let me know in the comments below.