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Saving Your Career with Darcy Eikenberg

Listen to the episode right here.

Like many of us in the working world today, Darcy Eikenberg wears a lot of hats. She’s been an executive coach to leaders at organizations such as The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, State Farm, Deloitte Consulting, and more. 

She consults and speaks about career growth, employee engagement, and leadership development all over the world.

She’s the author of Red Cape Rescue: Save Your Career Without Leaving Your Job and blogs regularly on leadership and career issues at RedCapeRevolution.com. Her ideas have been shared in the Harvard Business Review, Thrive Global, CNN.com. 

The Ladders, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Forbes, among others. She’s an International Coaching Federation (ICF) Professional Certified Coach (or PCC), former principal and communication consulting business leader at Hewitt Associates (now part of Alight Solutions) and graduated from Northwestern University.

Darcy brings a sense of encouragement and humor to serious matters in our work and careers and offers simple, practical ways we can transform our lives at work, right where we are, right now.

Podcast Highlights

Who is Darcy Eikenberg? 

Darcy built her career in a professional services firm leading communication and change initiatives for Fortune 50 companies. Opportunities seemed to come to her quickly until one night when she got a call from her boss to tell that she was retiring. Darcy realized then that she didn’t want to move into that position, and if that was the case, she had to rethink what she really wanted out of her career.

This put Darcy on the path towards working with a professional coach and understanding her own strengths and skills, one of which is helping other people find what’s great about them. Darcy eventually went out on her own to start her own company coaching leaders and teams around the country and writing on a regular basis.

Taking Stock of Who You Are and What You Want

At the time, Darcy believed that she was clear on who she was and what she wanted from her career, but looking back she realized that it might have been true at the beginning but ten years later she needed to reassess things.

The first step is to get clear about who you are and what you want from your work, and that comes from your values. A lot of conflict in our organizations comes from a misunderstanding about what other people value.

We all hit speed bumps in our life and career. It’s part of the natural progression of life and they often become catalysts for change. They can be external or internal, but if they result in you looking for a big work change it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

You can’t read the label from inside the jar, so it’s important to take some time and ask yourself about what you care about and whether the track you are on is the right one for you.

The Alternative to the Great Resignation

Sometimes the right move is to leave a job that’s toxic but that isn’t usually the case. When we get uncomfortable in our career, one of the most primordial responses is to leave the situation, which is not always the best idea.

You can only fundamentally control three things in your life: you control what you think, what you say, and what you do. When you defer your control to other people, that’s when you feel like you need to escape the situation. The issues may have nothing to do with your workplace, and if they are internal to your mindset changing careers isn’t going to help.

Priorities

Everything is a priority is a mindset we need to break because when everything is important, nothing is important. An important aspect of doing the most important work in your career is identifying the work that isn’t necessary.

20%-30% of the activities in your work life probably wouldn’t be missed if they weren’t done. When you are sponging up all the excess and frustrating work, the leaders in your organization won’t be able to see where the holes are. You have to get clear on the work that falls into your superpower wheelhouse and have a conversation about what doesn’t fit.

Technology is another common hurdle for professionals that can actually prevent them from being productive. The leader has to be very overt with the culture they create within an organization. Repetition and reinforcement of the expectations is important in preventing an “always on” work culture from forming that burns people out.

Culture is just an informal agreement of how we do things. Each individual has a chance to change the culture if it’s not working.

Dropping Balls

Unpack all the places that you spend your time. Even little tasks that aren’t in your superpower can take up a lot of time due to the cost of constantly switching tasks. You can be a team player in other ways through the work that you should be doing.

Test out dropping tasks in a small way. If nobody notices and nobody cares, why should you be doing it? There are lots of ways of getting something done more efficiently or effectively and it often takes someone challenging the norms for something to change.

If your highest value work is worth $100 an hour, doing $20/hour work is definitely not worth your time.

The too little time mentality is not about having too much to do, it’s about not making the choices to cut out the work that doesn’t matter. We also fear the consequences of speaking out and asking for a change that could improve things, but those fears are rarely justified.

Links:

RedCapeRescue.com: for details about the book

RedCapeRevolution.com/Insider: for free weekly career strategies and tools

RedCapeQuiz.com: for a customized plan to help you decide whether it’s time to move on or stay in your job

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