Careers, like software, require updates to keep them fresh. 

Just as with software, Version 1.0, while it works, is just the beginning. For some, Version 1.0, is well thought out. These are the lucky ones. My husband, for example, knew when he was a child that he wanted to be an engineer. And, he did just that, even in high school he was preparing to become an engineer. For him, later versions consisted of different types of engineering roles, mechanical, quality, and ultimately design. He is always learning, always updating to a new version. 

Me, on the other hand, I graduated high school at 16 because I was anxious to be on my own, except I had no idea what I wanted to do. I walked down the street and applied for a job at a local Savings & Loan Association1. Thus began my career in financial services, career Version 1.0. I eventually completed my undergraduate education, moved to Chicago, began Version 1.5 as an executive at Northern Trust and completed my MBA at Kellogg.

After 18 years of Version 1.5, I looked in the mirror and said to myself, “you don’t have kids to send to college, you don’t have to make this much money, it’s time to go and find something new.” While I wasn’t able to name it at the time, this was the beginning of Version 2.0 and my consulting career. A few years later, came Version 2.5 as a Leadership Coach and Peer Advisory Board Chair.  

Today I am somewhere between 2.5 and 3.0. Maybe it’s 2.8? I continue to chair a fantastic CEO Peer Advisory Board in affiliation with Vistage International, and I privately coach leaders in transition.  

What prompted me to tell this story?  

I mentioned to a friend recently that I am working with leaders in transition, and he asked me, “how does this work, doesn’t “in transition” mean unemployed? I was astonished by this comment, having never thought about transition as an ending; instead, for me, transition is a beginning. And of course, transition is both. To have a beginning, we must also have an ending. And it’s the ending that is often the hardest part.  

Sometimes when people are ready for an ending and a change to a new version, they tell themselves a story of failure. “If I were more successful,” they say, I wouldn’t need a change.” How then do we explain the professional singer I met recently, who is now a first-year medical resident?

We need language to talk about transitions, and this language needs to normalize the experience. We are living a long time. With these longer lives, we are likely to have many transitions both in our lives and our careers. Isn’t it time we embraced transition as a normal part of life? And, more importantly, a positive force in our lives.

For me, the people who become intentional about version changes are the successful ones. I enjoy working with people who are ready to explore a new version of themselves and their careers. My clients typically fall into two groups: CEOs, Presidents and Owners who have recently begun a move toward 2.5; or those who may already be in Version 2.5 and are looking toward 3.0.  

As you think about your career, 

  • Which version are you currently in?
  • Do you continue to feel passionate about and get fulfillment from this version? 
  • Or, is it perhaps time to explore the opportunities that lie ahead in a new version?

Let’s work together. You can learn more about my leadership coaching and peer advisory boards here.

1 For those of you who may not be familiar with Savings & Loan Association, S&Ls were a simple financial services concept designed to foster homeownership. They took deposits at flexible rates based on market conditions and then lent these deposits at fixed-rates to people buying homes. The model worked until inflation and interest rates skyrocketed in the ’70s. Borrowing and lending terms were mismatched, and while it took a while, that was the end of Savings and Loan Associations.