Four Effective Ways of Building on Clients’ Inner Strengths to Accelerate Career Transition
By Esther Wang
Inner strength is like a powerful engine that drives you forward, to face difficulties and obstacles (Sasson, n.d.). It can be expressed as assertiveness, courage, and the ability to withstand challenges. Nancy Schlossberg, an expert in career transitions, emphasized that an individual's inner strength and experience are critical elements in coping with transitions (Jordan & Marinaccio, 2020).
Career professionals may want to use the following four ways to build client's inner strength when facing a career transition: Role Model, Mantras, Successful Events, Creating a New Self-Image.
Encouraging clients to look for role models, especially of the same gender, plays an important part in developing individual strengths. From their role models, clients can become more brave, confident, empowered, and resourceful. Role models can be found in novels, history books, TV dramas, movies, cartoons, and comic books, as well as from public figures or people they know.
For example, if a client identified their role model as Michelle Obama, the career professional could pose the question, “If Michelle Obama were here, what would she do?” or “If you could borrow three qualities from Michelle to support you through this, what would you borrow?” As clients identify qualities that support their vision of themselves, they could find additional solutions.
A mantra can be a way to reshape a future self. Typically, it involves a few positive, powerful words or phrases repeated many times as a way of overriding the negative influence of the subconscious on emotions, behavior patterns, and energy levels. It may take several months of repeating a mantra for it to become effective. More practice makes it more effective (Thorp, 2021).
One way a client could set up a personal mantra is to state their name followed by a positive adjective which helps ground the mantra in the present reality. A positive adjective, such as powerful, strong, confident, or wise can become part of the client’s personal belief system when repeated multiple times.
For example, if a client is feeling insecure and identifies the positive adjectives safe, brave, and confident, ask them to practice speaking their mantra out loud everyday for ten minutes. Over time, they may find they no longer feel scared and their energy level is more stable, allowing the practitioner to return to encouraging the client to continue facing the career transition. When clients are familiar with their mantras, they can recite them any time doing any activity including cooking, driving, and even bathing.
Mindset coach Marie Forleo said, “What we say to ourselves in the privacy of our own mind matters. It drives our behavior which drives our destiny which shapes our world” (Teamsoul, 2018, 3rd quote).
Reviewing successful events from clients’ past experiences is powerful and confirming. When clients can identify even one previous success, they become more confident. Successful events may be big events, such as entering a prestigious university or creating a company, but also include small events such as learning a new skill or helping a stranger. Career professionals can encourage clients to recall as many successful events in their life as they can, by talking through a typical day or week and asking, “How did you make it happen? How did you feel about yourself?”
For example, a client reported that their only successful event is growing challenging plants well. I helped them discover their positive qualities when working with plants included love, patience, attention, and consistent care. I asked the client, “If you treated your career transition like that plant, what would happen?” Six months later, the client found a new position as an account manager, in a different industry, where the client felt appreciated and successful.
Creating A New Self Image
One goal in supporting clients through coaching is to create a new self-image. Self-image usually develops in childhood. As we grow older, we develop skills and acquire knowledge but our self-image may still be that of a helpless child (Maltz & Kennedy, 2014). During coaching sessions, career professionals can help clients create a new self image by looking at their positive traits and potential.
Help your clients to get into a resourceful mood, then ask them what they look like in that mood. For example, ask your clients, “When you become the person you really want to be, what would you look like?” or “In ten years if all your dreams come true, who would you become?”
For example, one client worked as an engineer for more than 20 years. She didn’t want to do that job anymore but had no idea where to begin recreating her career. In our first session, she described herself as just a “gust of wind, coming and going without a trace.” She saw no purpose in her current work and felt shackled to her responsibilities. I asked her to imagine what she would do when she felt free. She said she would walk around in the mountains, breathing fresh air and smelling the flowers. Then I asked her to convey how she would describe her feelings at that time and she said, “I am stable, tall, powerful, and very quiet.” She changed her self-image from a gust of wind to a powerful, solid, and peaceful image. A few weeks later, she got an offer as an editor from a press house that reflected her interests and passion.
People do not behave and perceive things as they really are, but as the way their brain perceives things (Seth, 2019). When clients have a new positive self-image, they think that is who they really are and will behave according to that new self-image.
These four strategies help clients see they have more internal resources than they may have thought and help them find a powerful battery for their engine to solve difficulties during career transitions. Change starts from within and the career professional can use different strategies to support that change.
Jordan, A. L., & Marinaccio, J. N. (2020). Facilitating career development training program student manual (rev. 4th ed.). National Career Development Association.
Maltz, M., & Kennedy, D. (2014). The new psycho-cybernetics: A mind technology for living your life without limits. Nightingale-Conant. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OH7AD5E?tag=scribbr00-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1
Sasson, R. (n.d.). What is inner strength and how to develop it. Success Consciousness. https://www.successconsciousness.com/blog/inner-strength/how-to-develop-inner-strength/
Seth, A. K. (2019). The neuroscience of reality: Reality is constructed by the brain, and no two brains are exactly alike. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-neuroscience-of-reality/
Teamsoul. (2018, February 20). 20 Marie Forleo quotes to make you aware of your highest potential. Fearlesssoul. https://iamfearlesssoul.com/20-marie-forleo-quotes/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CWhat%20we%20say%20to%20ourselves,times%20to%20feel%20mentally%20strong
Thorp, T. (2021). What is a mantra? Chopra. https://chopra.com/articles/what-is-a-mantra
Hong (Esther) Wang, CMCS, is an experienced career coach. She is the founder of Beacon Career and author of the book Awakening: Design Your life to Be the Way You Want. Her expertise is in career transition and supporting clients to create visions, remove barriers, and find meaningful jobs and lives. She holds a PCC from ICF and can be reached by email at email@example.com and through LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/estherwangcareercoach