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Take Me Out, Coach

Hey, I get it.

You’ve always wanted a career coach. Some slick, wildly expensive, extremely well-coiffed individual who could bring out the best in you while, at the same time, take out the worst in you: the self-doubt, the complete lack of motivation, the deep-seeded desire to be paid a whole lot of money for doing a whole lot of nothing.

But you’ve never hired a career coach, have you? Like I said, I get it. In order to have a career coach, you probably should have a career.

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But that may be changing. According to a recent Joy C. Lin article in Forbes, reprinted from a slightly less recent article in The Daily Muse, there are “5 Surprising Career Situations A Career Coach can Help You Through.”

This topic should give you hope. After all, what could be surprising than a career coach, or anyone, really, who could help you? Let’s take a closer look — shall we? — and see what a career coach could do for you.

Surprise No. 1 is that a coach can help “When You Don’t Know How To Handle A Sticky Work Situation.” As Lin writes, “sometimes, something unexpected happens at work and you know — almost immediately — the best way to handle it. Other times, you’ve never encountered a situation like this before and you’re stumped.”

Fact is, this is one area where you don’t need a coach. You have a million ways to respond your most frequent sticky work situation — when your manager actually wants you to do some. Not even an acting coach could improve your ability to fake being sick, or busy with a family emergency. (I hope you’re keeping track of just how many times Peppy Paulie, your beloved cockatoo, has fallen off his perch and must be rushed to the intensive care unit at Menninger.)

“When You’re Faced with a Mid-Career Slump” is surprise coaching opportunity No. 2. “A mid-career slump can feel like a plateau,” Lin writes, “especially if it’s been a while since you’ve considered your next step.”

This could definitely be useful to you, assuming you ever get to the midcareer point. Alas, your issue is your “start-career” slump. You’ve been plateaued since day one. The time for a coach who can “advance your career at a critical stage and guide you into the next chapter of your work” has long passed. It’s way too late for you to “begin training for an executive position or consider a career pivot.”

If a career coach can’t help you accomplish a career pivot, a dance coach might help you choreograph a career pirouette. Come into work wearing a tutu and gracefully pirouette right out of your job and into the unemployment office.

You can totally ignore surprise No. 3, “When You’re A First-Time Manager.” You don’t need a coach to “help you boost emotional intelligence and strengthen your ability to communicate clear goals, processes and vision.”

No one is more expert when it comes to communicating to your co-workers the reasons to linger an extra hour or three at lunch, with the clear goal of getting first dibs on the free chicken wings at happy hour.

Now that’s leadership!

Surprise No. 4, “When Networking Is Not Your Forte,” might indeed be a place where a coach can help. Author Lin has been reading your mail when she suggests “if your network is suffering because you opt out of big events and stay away from groups outside your immediate circle, a coach could be your new best friend.”

This is an excellent reason for hiring a coach — not for learning networking skills, but for gaining a friend — a best friend. It’s been a while, but remember how wonderful it is to have a bestie. Someone who you can borrow money from. Someone who will let you sleep on their bathmat when your significant other kicks you, and your “Star Wars” action figures, out of the house. Someone who will always be there for you to disappoint and, eventually, betray. And best of all — because they are coaches, they have to understand and forgive and let you take advantage them over and over and over again.

The final surprising use of a coach is “When You Want To Build A Side Business.” No question, many people do dream of escaping their corporate overlords, but be careful. If you think it’s bad working for someone like you, think what a nightmare it would be to work for someone who is you.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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