Join me as we explore my latest coaching insights.

How much have you thought about your career and the ways relationships can positively shape it? Do those around you give you feedback and advice? I refer to your work place peers and managers and your family and friends who are in a position to hold up mirrors for you to see yourself from different perspectives. This post explores how relationships influence your career decisions and direction. You may well be surprised how much untapped assistance is available to you. Relationships can shape your career in many ways–it’s up to you to benefit from them.

Do you make the mistake of jumping too quickly to conclusions about your life and career because you give too much emphasis to the information in front of you? Do you fail to search for new information that might change your views or disprove your beliefs? I am sure all too often, the answer is ‘yes’. There are consequences for your life and career. And you know all about them, don’t you?

My first post of 2013 asked 'How often do you get lost in your work?'. In this post I drew on the work of Milhály Csíkszentmihályi in explaining how the idea of finding ‘flow’ can help you develop your career. In his latest book Flourish, Martin Seligman–of Authentic Happiness fame–expounds a theory of well-being. Reading Flourish reminded me of a very useful and relevant tool that Seligman makes freely available. One major component of well-being is being engaged and this, according to Seligman, is the same as being in flow. To help you explore how you can find flow in your work, I recommend you complete Seligman's Values in Action questionnaire.

I was privileged to be in the Sydney 2000 Olympics stadium the night Cathy Freeman won the 400m Gold Medal. It was an experience of a lifetime that still makes me feel at once overawed and exhilarated. Years later I heard Cathy speaking about her state of mind and body when she runs competitively: “I am swept along. My feet don’t touching the ground. There is no noise; sound is absent. I have a deep sense of detachment and contentment. In that moment everything is turned off.”

This is my last post for 2012. It’s my opportunity to reflect on the joys of working with my wonderful clients, writing my blog and building my practice as an executive coach. Merry Christmas to all my followers. Have a restful and reflective break and return in the new year to focus on those aspects of your life and career that are most important to you. In doing so, you might like to review my favourite posts of the year and let me know which one/s you found most useful and why; drop me an email at margaret@beatonexecutivecoaching.com.

Tom Stoppard, a British playwright, penned ‘Every exit is an entry to somewhere else’. Stoppard’s eloquence leads me to ask How well will you leave? whether you are about to step up or let go in a particular phase of your career. I am referring to the challenges, including the pain, of leaving precious people and things behind so you can move on whatever your next destination.

Most of us will readily identify with this statement: What you say about yourself reflects your innermost beliefs about yourself. These beliefs include the importance of your role in your organisation, how much you have achieved in your work life, who your friends are, and how successful you have been in your close personal relationships. The statement is true whether you are talking to yourself (self-talk) or talking and interacting with others.

After I wrote 'Does your network bind (and blind) you?' I came across this excellent book 'Leadership Networking: Connect, Collaborate, Create' by Curt Grayson and David Baldwin published by CCL Press back in 2007. The authors challenge the reader by asking if you are rating the strength of your network by the number of Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections you have. And, if you are, they suggest it’s time for a lesson in leadership networking.

It’s a truism for many of us. We are defined by our career and work.  But it’s true for all of us in another, more fundamental way. The guiding principles that drive us in our personal lives are identical to those that drive us in our business lives. This week I was struck by an article on the life and career of Harvard’s Clayton Christensen, one of the world’s leading business school academics and author of many seminal books.

After a lifetime in the firm, Simon's career as a partner was over. He was not yet 60, and the firm didn't need him any more. The inexorable forces of de-equitising had arrived in one short, traumatic meeting with two of his colleagues, the bearers of the decision by the management committee. It wasn't personal. And it certainly wasn't anything to do with his competence and dedication. It was, well…"just the way things are in the firm we can't justify your position or points any more". He should have seen it coming. The signs were all too obvious. But he was not ready to go. He still felt energised, competent and able to add value to clients and the firm. Questions raced through his head. Could he afford not to work? How would he explain it to his wife and family? What would he do with the rest of his life? He had no particular interests or hobbies. His life was the firm–his firm after all. In the days that followed Simon experienced the gamut emotions ranging from of disbelief ('why me?'), resistance ('they can't do this!') and anger ('after all I have contributed’).

If you want make your way upwards, climb the organisational ladder, build your business or grow your practice, you have to learn to manage up. The majority of my clients are pursuing careers in organisations characterised by hierarchical levels. As a younger manager or partner for you to move towards the top level you have to develop the skills and confidence to manage your supervisor or more senior partner. Three core elements are involved.