‘Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.’ - Narayana Murthy
I have spent a decade and a half working on Wall Street. Much of the industry is now in secular decline, it has been for several years. Hundreds of articles have been written explaining why. I’m not here to discuss that point, I’m here to offer hope.
In my experience, Wall Street is largely comprised of good people diligently doing their jobs and trying to safeguard the futures of their families. Moreover, such was the draw of the finance industry as little as 10 years ago that the people employed tend to be driven, intelligent and often truly exceptional. In 2007, half of Harvard seniors took jobs in finance or consulting.
So we now have a situation where some of America’s brightest minds are trapped in a secularly declining business. I’m sure many people are content and thriving, but a great deal of the people I speak to know their own professional and financial trajectory is likely downward-sloping. They’re ‘riding it out’ for as long as they can. Yes, of course many of us have assembled lifestyles that are now out of sync with our futures. But that isn’t a good enough reason to damn an entire industry, and the humans within it, to uncertainty and professional purgatory.
‘Riding it out’ is the easy pitch as the financially responsible thing to do, but I think it comes at an incredibly steep psychological cost. Ambitious people are especially vulnerable. Instead of taking responsibility and putting your own sense of order on your life, you make yourself captive to the whims of the industry. If the flood is coming, why aren’t we building an ark? As you surrender your fate to inexorable decline, with that surrender comes a sense of shame and helplessness. With the helplessness comes significant guilt; why am I not doing more? Did I put myself in this position through pursuit of money and naked ambition? What level of sacrifice strikes the right balance between family and self?
As I struggled myself with these questions, I didn’t see anyone trying to help in any kind of systematic way. So I decided to spend the last few years intensively studying career transitions and executive coaching. I got myself an excellent coach. I read hundreds of books and thousands of articles (here are some of the best) and I met with as many experts in the field as I could find. I now believe that the right coaching relationship is an extremely effective antidote to the epidemic of chaos, shame and guilt so many of us are feeling.
It doesn’t have to be like this. Wouldn’t you prefer to go to work every day with A PLAN for growth in place? Wouldn’t you prefer to be working towards that plan rather than stagnating or regressing in front of a computer? If you know you can’t leave due to external constraints wouldn’t you like to be finding more dimensions for personal growth? This is the way out of the loops of Groundhog Day. There’s more out there for us in life than hitting refresh on the same 5 websites while we monitor our inboxes. Once a career path stops holding your attention, it can be the clearest of signs that it’s time to move on and grow. You can’t stuff the toothpaste back into the tube.
I am now qualified as a coach and have launched Personal Best NYC. As the name implies, Personal Best is a defiantly individualized 1-on-1 coaching service where the approach is completely tailored to each client. Despite the term “coaching”, this is not about pre-prescribed paths, life-hacks or bullet-point advice. If there was a generic system or app-based solution, that worked, it would already exist. I believe it doesn’t, because the secret sauce is in the coaching relationship itself. Help probably won’t come from anything you can type into a search bar.
As a former Managing Director on Wall Street I am uniquely-positioned to understand the fears and insecurities surrounding transitions and pivots. I am living it.
I would even whisper the most optimistic sentiment of all: I have come to believe that coaching can help reconnect people with their sense of meaning in life and help them find the path back to it.
There’s simply so much untapped potential within us and within this industry. It’s never too late.
You can visit my site to learn more. Our first 45min consultation session is free. There’s nothing to lose.
Follow me on Twitter @personalbestnyc