CO - HR Innovation

3 Powerful Lessons To Make A Successful Career Out Of Your Passion

3 Powerful Lessons To Make A Successful Career Out Of Your Passion

It Feels Like a Dream

As I went on stage today to receive the Asia's Most Talented Coaching Leaders 2019 (Singapore) award, it felt surreal.

Six years ago, I would never have imagined that this was possible.

Even in the early stages of building my coaching practice, so many coaches have told me that it is going to be highly impossible that I could build a viable practice on coaching alone. Truth be told, 82% of coaches never survive past the first three years of their practice. The odds were alarming and worrying.

The beginning was tough and arduous. I struggled to find time and clients to accumulate enough coaching hours for the first level of credential by the International Coach Federation. Compared to what I was doing before, I am now able to work four times faster. This meant reaching four times the number of people and transforming four times the number of lives. This pace of working, level of international exposure and impact were unimaginable six years ago.

How did I do it? What have I learned?

One part of me just wanted to be in the moment; the coach part of me decided it was time to reflect, consolidate and to crystalize my learning.

 

#1: You Need To Pay The Right Price

To get up, you have to give up.
- John Maxwell

For those of you who have read my story would know that my path to self-transformation was ignited by Dr John C Maxwell. Papa John, as the John Maxwell Team (JMT) would fondly call him, played an instrumental role in my life since 2012. His leadership principles, so simple yet profound, are the most beautiful and powerful which I often share with my clients. To make a career out of your passion, you first need to be willing to pay the price.

The price comes in many forms. It was not just finances. It was my time, my attention, my focus. I spent countless late nights poring over the online curriculum. I made sense of the many theories and internalized each of them through practice. Being a musician in my younger days, I knew theory must be complemented with practice. To learn to coach at the professional level, I needed to work extra hard. I wanted to the best coach I can be. At the same time, hitting pause on the rest of my life was not possible. I was starting a young family. I was in a demanding full-time job. I had career aspirations. I wanted to continue to give my best in all aspects and pursue my passion. Too much was happening at the same time.

When you try focusing on everything, you focus on nothing.

Not surprisingly, things were not working out. I was paying too high a price and there were times I almost gave up. Not because I could not achieve it, but the manner in which I was executing my plan was faulty. My health was suffering from the lack of sleep and mental exhaustion. There were many days where I showed up for work and felt like a zombie. I was running on empty. Something had to go, eventually.



 

I had also sacrificed my social time with friends and we drifted apart as a result. There were many times where I struggled to maintain a healthy family life.

 

Eventually, I learned to choose which price I should and can pay. I learned to slow the plan down so I will not be driven to almost-madness by the fervor of the passion, and not to drive people who are dear to me away, as I was hardly spending time with them. I learned to take care of my health – that sleep was the best medicine and best nutrition a healthy body can ask for. I learned not to envy coaches who could take career breaks and be okay with my circumstances, my stage of life. Ultimately, Papa John said this during the certification in Orlando:

We live our lives in seasons.

I learned that if this were a race, I will be a tortoise instead of the hare. I will focus my energy to hone my craft, sharpen my skills so when I am ready to enter the market run this as my business, I will be skillful and masterful.

#2: Create Your Own Support Network

There were many times when I felt I was alone. No one understood me. Coaching is a very new field and there is limited understanding of it by consumers. My friends and family were no exception.

Many coaches call themselves "solopreneurs" and for good reason. The road to building a coaching business was a difficult one. The proportion of people who do not understand what we really do vastly outnumber those who could. For a person like me, with limited understanding of the nuts and bolts of the business process, it was adding fuel to the flame. What an uphill task it was!

Over the years I toughened my hide and learned to ask for advice from veterans in the field. I always advocate "direct communication" with my clients and more often than not, you do not know what can happen until you ask directly.

Sometimes I encounter coaches who reject my request for advice, perhaps for fear that I am their competitor and they should not share trade secrets. I was fortunate to find a few people who had the abundance mindset and were willing to share.

I had found "my people".



 

From "my people", I learned the craft of marketing (and I am still learning), learned the sales process, learned to nail every interview with the big players in professional coaching and training scene. I was confident and convincing. Again, I have evolved from the meek, timid little girl into someone else. And all these were only achievable because I had found a group of coaches who were (still are) my pillars of support. Through coaching supervision, we laid our inadequacies in both coaching mastery and business building out. We heard each others' fears, concerns and showed encouragement. I was able to gain lots of positive energy which I then passed on successfully to all my clients.

When life doesn't give you what you want, you need to create it on your own.

I was relentless in fighting isolation and it was all worthwhile.

#3: Action Before Perfection

My clients, if they were reading this, would probably laugh out loud.

I have said it so many times in our sessions together.

Like many of my clients, I too, suffers from the "Imposter Syndrome". It stems from a overwhelming (and irrational) sense of "never being good enough". In the early days when I first started coaching, it took me 3 months to realize what I was doing was actually not coaching. My earliest coachees were peer coaches and I could remember some of the awkward silences after certain sessions where I was quite awful.

But hey, how would I ever improve if I do not practice, right?

Doctors need to practice and understudy in order to be good so I gotta gain the experience, isn't it?


 

With that in mind, I learned to focus on my practice so I could improve quickly. I wanted to be responsible for my coachees' time. I asked for direct feedback after every session, I go over my notes again and again until I was confident in all the> coach competencies from the ICF to attain the gold standard in coaching.

I believe with focused hard work, things will eventually improve. True enough, my first major payoff came almost three years later when I was working with a client from the United Nations. (>read the story here)

Concluding Thoughts

The quality of our thinking determines the quality of our lives.

To make a career out of your passion is a major decision. It takes thoughtful and deliberate planning and execution. You need to find the right strategy and be vigilant in monitoring your progress. You need to know which season of life are you in right, what are the risks you can take (or not), and pay the right price.

If you are in a rare trade like me, it might get lonely and you need to find people to do this together. The clarity of your thoughts are important here as you want to find the right company.

Lastly, take action quickly. Fail fast, learn fast. Evaluate every single experience so you can succeed sooner.

I wish you all the best in your journey.

  • Chuen Chuen
    Chuen Chuen
    leadership coach

    Chuen Chuen is an award-winning leadership coach and works with clients internationally. She is passionate about maximizing the development potential in everyone and believes strongly that everyone is a leader. She is living her dream of being a full-time leadership coach and consultant after working towards it for six years, and enjoys coaching many Fortune 500 leaders from over 30 countries, supporting them in overcoming their self-limiting beliefs and reach their highest potential. Chuen Chuen has worked with clients of 16 nationalities and from diverse backgrounds over 6 years. She has more than a decade of experience in working with youth leaders in education and has headed corporate training and learning design for a global education franchise. Other than being credentialed by ICF since 2016, she is also a John Maxwell Coach and Marshall Goldsmith Certified Executive Coach. As a true believer of lifelong learning, Chuen Chuen is continuously learning, in pursuit of surpassing herself in her ability to coach, lead and influence.

You May Also Like

The CMO of People
The CMO of People

Many organizations are not getting the best out of their HR function. Ask a CEO, “What is your...

The Challenges of Hiring Future Ready Leaders and  Russian Doll Theory of Hiring
The Challenges of Hiring Future Ready Leaders and Russian Doll Theory of Hiring

One of the biggest challenges most companies face today is hiring transformational leadership talent...

Why Do Most Innovation Programmes Fail?
Why Do Most Innovation Programmes Fail?

What do companies do when a new boss says “Innovation has to be part of our DNA”? Here ...

The Greatest Resource any Organization has is the Creativeness of People
The Greatest Resource any Organization has is the Creativeness of People

For too many years people have been treated as expense items instead of highly valuable resources. T...

How To Quit A Job You Love
How To Quit A Job You Love

It is not easy to quit a job you love. Even with a new dream job in-hand, cutting the cord that conn...

Take on Mistakes
Take on Mistakes

Yes, we do say mistakes teach you a lot and you shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes. But we...

Five Stages Of Organization Evolution And Key Characteristics And Concerns At Each Stage
Five Stages Of Organization Evolution And Key Characteristics And Concerns At Each Stage

Organizations almost always progress through five more-or-less well-defined evolutionary growth stag...

Managing in Multi-Cultural Environment
Managing in Multi-Cultural Environment

As several companies expands the business overseas, it is crucial to understand how to run the busin...

Crossing Corporate Cultures Creativity In Organizations Across Industries
Crossing Corporate Cultures Creativity In Organizations Across Industries

Every market has its own unique business practices. People working in different business sectors dev...

Four pillars of Yoga for holistic health
Four pillars of Yoga for holistic health

Every human is unique; therefore it is necessary for each of us to find out for ourselves how we can...

Brave to Lead Like a Girl
Brave to Lead Like a Girl

All of us are dealt a unique deck of cards. Our aim is to identify our strengths and play those card...

How do you Extend Influence to Others and Change Lives?
How do you Extend Influence to Others and Change Lives?

You Change Lives When You Empower Others! (Extending Influence #1) When you empower others you chan...

How Important is Vision in a Successful Life?!
How Important is Vision in a Successful Life?!

Understanding Vision (How Important is Vision #1)   How do you communicate and give vision to ...

How do you Extend Influence to Others and Change Lives?
How do you Extend Influence to Others and Change Lives?

You Change Lives When You Empower Others! (Extending Influence #1)   When you empower others y...

High Potentials vs High Performers
High Potentials vs High Performers

A Leaders Guide to Identify the Differences  Mistaking a high-performing employee for...

Is 7% good enough?
Is 7% good enough?

A topic discussed at the recent World Economic Forum was the reluctance of male executives to mentor...

Learning & Development as Part of a (Digital) Transformation Strategy
Learning & Development as Part of a (Digital) Transformation Strategy

The global workforce is constantly evolving to support a knowledge based, digital economy. Due to th...

The Future of Work – Digital Nomads and the Gig Economy
The Future of Work – Digital Nomads and the Gig Economy

It is estimated that within a short couple of years, a large portion of the workforce (estimated to ...

Political Correctness towards Civility To be, or not to be, politically correct...
Political Correctness towards Civility To be, or not to be, politically correct...

We can incidentally praise or criticize others depending on how we say it, the word choice or expres...

Let's not confuse loyalty with longevity
Let's not confuse loyalty with longevity

Let's not confuse loyalty with longevity It is interesting that the issue of loyalty in the wor...

The Attitude of Gratitude - Replying does not mean Answering
The Attitude of Gratitude - Replying does not mean Answering

The Attitude of Gratitude - Replying does not mean Answering In the ever increasingly connected di...

(Work-Life) Balance or Harmony (! / ?)
(Work-Life) Balance or Harmony (! / ?)

(Work-Life) Balance or Harmony (! / ?) Welcome to the world of Work-Life Harmony, beyond Work-Life...

Making Board Meetings More Agile
Making Board Meetings More Agile

Making Board Meetings More Agile Given my belief that the world we live in today has changed irreve...

It's Good To Fail
It's Good To Fail

It's Good To Fail I want to share with you something different from a normal convocation speech...

Four Lifehacks To Be More Productive Now
Four Lifehacks To Be More Productive Now

Four Lifehacks To Be More Productive Now Here are four daily life-hacks to help you to be more pr...

A leader sets an example, a leader doesn’t just order things, he does it so that others can do it  
A leader sets an example, a leader doesn’t just order things, he does it so that others can do it  

A leader sets an example, a leader doesn’t just order things, he does it so that others can do...

How would you end Executive Loneliness?
How would you end Executive Loneliness?

How would you end Executive Loneliness? What is the hardest part about being a leader? Altho...

Leadership Soft Skills Required for Business and Personal Success
Leadership Soft Skills Required for Business and Personal Success

Leadership Soft Skills Required for Business and Personal Success We often get asked, “What s...

New-G Leaders: Remember the Cow
New-G Leaders: Remember the Cow

New-G Leaders: Remember the Cow "Cow Don't Drink Water, Cannot Push Cow Head Down"&nbs...

Google your self
Google your self

What are your key leadership attributes? The beliefs and behaviours that make you unique and success...

Culture is not enough … Get the right culture
Culture is not enough … Get the right culture

A few years ago in Europe I asked a group of business leaders if they had the right culture.  S...

How Leaders Can Create a Culture of Agile Collaboration to Win in a VUCA World
How Leaders Can Create a Culture of Agile Collaboration to Win in a VUCA World

China growth-deceleration, the normalisation of monetary policies on the USA, tepid economies in Eur...

Is LinkedIn Improving Itself Out of Business?
Is LinkedIn Improving Itself Out of Business?

I still remember the day I joined LinkedIn.  A friend of mine called in frustration and asked w...

Life is the Name. Transformation is the Game.
Life is the Name. Transformation is the Game.

Over the past half a century, I come to realize life is about having gratitude and resilience. We ne...

How to handle negativity and negative colleagues at work
How to handle negativity and negative colleagues at work

In arithmetic's, negative into negative equals positive. But that’s just in arithmetic'...

ADAPT or PERISH: It is time for HR professionals to decide and create a new function or move out of the way!
ADAPT or PERISH: It is time for HR professionals to decide and create a new function or move out of the way!

Artificial intelligence in recruitment and performance management giving employees their key deliver...

Leadership Confidence in Times of Uncertainty
Leadership Confidence in Times of Uncertainty

How do you successfully lead an organization in uncertain challenging times?   Unparalleled st...

Insights for Making Working at Home Work!
Insights for Making Working at Home Work!

How can business and HR leaders manage challenges and find opportunities in the new realities of wor...

The Real You Is Not Really You…
The Real You Is Not Really You…

The Real You Is Not Really You…   We tend to see and act with our surrounding based o...

How to Recover Your Direction - a case study during COVID19
How to Recover Your Direction - a case study during COVID19

What really happened 5 days ago I set myself a new challenge. Coronavirus had fundamentally changed...

Career Tips, Please
Career Tips, Please

Last week, I was tagged by the fab Tim McDonald in a LinkedIn post asking to share some pointers for...

Impact of AI on the workforce Pre and Post the Pandemic
Impact of AI on the workforce Pre and Post the Pandemic

With the sudden advent of COVID-19 - a global crisis of unprecedented scale, organisations now are c...

Career Kickstart
Career Kickstart

The first job you land could be the most important decision you make in your career. I have seen th...

Peter Principle - Are you a victim or Perpetrator?
Peter Principle - Are you a victim or Perpetrator?

The Peter Principle – Who do YOU Blame? In my junior years of business, many times clients an...

4 Best Practices CEOs and Public Speakers Can Learn from Athletes
4 Best Practices CEOs and Public Speakers Can Learn from Athletes

What struggles do CEOs and public speakers have in common with athletes? For one, there’s the...

Stay Connected With Us