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I Blame it on Dan 

In my experience, the right question, asked at the right time, from the right voice can change the trajectory of someone’s life.

This nugget of wisdom was never truer for me than the summer of 2019.  I faced a very difficult, life changing decision. It involved a complete career switch, a move across the country and letting go of numerous responsibilities to which I was deeply tied. I had made major career moves in my past and have lived around the country. However, this decision was more difficult because if I accepted the new job situation, I was going to let a lot of people down in my present job situation.

My strong sense of responsibility was feeling violated at the thought of leaving my responsibilities at that time. I imagined all the projects that could collapse as a result of my departure. I thought the organization for which I had a lot of responsibility at the time might not recover in my absence. In essence, I believed that I was not replaceable. As I was contemplating this difficult decision, I pictured the stressed and disappointed looks on my teams’ faces as they heard the news.

And then came Dan. 

Approximately three months prior to being faced with this job change decision, I reached out to a well-known executive coach, Dan. At that time, I asked Dan if he would consider coaching me for a season as I was looking for some outside perspective on my leadership future. Dan graciously agreed to begin a coaching engagement with me and took the time to really get to know me. He regularly asked me penetrating questions to help me gain clarity and recognize that which informed me at that time in my life and career.   

When I got the call to consider a career move, I immediately reached out to my coach for some perspective. Dan asked me some probing questions:

How did the organization get along before you?

How might the organization thrive beyond you?

What might it look like for you to thrive in a new season?

Dan’s questions helped me recognize that the organization could move on without me and that I had to look towards the next venture ahead in my life. He never told me what I should do. However, he regularly asked me quality questions and pointed me toward helpful resources. And he always cheered for my success.

I blame Dan for the quality decision I eventually made to take a major leap.

It was that leap that opened up a whole new world of possibilities that I truly enjoy today.

It’s Dan’s fault I am thriving in my life! 

I think everyone in leadership needs a “Dan.” The person who can come alongside you, cheer you on, and ask the right questions at the right time.  

At Milestone Leadership we are strong believers in the effectiveness of executive coaching. Do you have a “Dan”? Click here for more information about our executive coaching programs. 

Erik Dees is a Partner with Milestone Leadership and a regular contributor to Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. He can be reached by phone at (319) 504-3083 or edees@milestoneleadership.com.

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