If you've never been to the New York City Marathon, you haven't lived.
It's one of the most inspiring scenes you'll witness. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world, weaving through the five boroughs. Tens of thousands of reasons to reach the finish line. Tens of thousands of physical and mental barriers to overcome.
I went almost every year I lived in New York.
I'd stand about 200 yards before the finish line, which coincides with a slight incline. You'd probably think nothing of it unless you'd just run 26 miles.
Some people hit that spot looking like a million bucks. They're pumping their fists, egging on the crowd.
A lot of people hit that spot and stop.
I realized it was my job to help them finish.
I started tentatively, having not yet realized the extent of my cheering capabilities.
I'd yell, "You got this! Almost there! Almost there!" They'd snap up their head, make eye contact, then start running. Sometimes, they'd nod and mouth, "Thank you." It was magical.
(Of course, some would shoot me a look that said, "You come out here and do this, [insert unkind word of your choice]." Point taken. Not everyone wants a self-appointed marathon coach.)
As I warmed up, I lost all inhibition. I screamed. I jumped. I clapped. “Vamos, Lucia!” “Allez, Étienne!” Hours flew by.
For those that really needed it, I’d break out the highest compliment a New Yorker can pay, “You look fabulous!”
Others around me saw the effect we could have, coaxing people those last few yards to the finish line. Soon, they were were losing their minds in excitement, too.
Each time someone would stop, we’d lean into it. When they started up again, whether they gave us a high-five or the side-eye, we celebrated as if we’d crossed the finish line.
Believing in others is infectious. Helping them achieve their goal is intoxicating.
People often asked me to cheer for their loved ones. “Stay a little longer. You’re so good at this,” they’d say. “I love it,” I’d respond.
One year, a family of six or so was several rows behind me. "Can you cheer for our Dad? His name is Bill." They handed me their sign.
I motioned for them to stand beside me. They shook their heads to say, "We're good right here. We want you to do this."
We were standing on 5th Avenue, which is really wide. Bill was on the opposite side of the street. As he came closer, it was obvious he couldn't hear me. Soon about 30 of us were absolutely melting down, "Billlllllll! Billllll!!!" Our shouts grew more urgent. He was about to run past us and turn the corner. "Billlllllllll!"
I was desperate. This was my biggest challenge yet as an NYC marathon superfan, and I wasn’t about to fail. I yelled to the onlookers across the street something like, "Grab him! Get Billlll!" (which admittedly sounds more menacing when you see it in writing.)
They got his attention and gestured to our side of the street.
Bill looked over. We locked eyes, and I motioned him over, "Yes! Bill! You!" He slowed a bit and squinted, recognizing the sign but not the madwoman holding it. He jogged over, still confused, until he saw his family's hands and heads bopping up and down behind us.
He high-fived everyone in the crowd he could reach. We all jump-hugged in celebration as he ran away.
As I headed home that year, legs shaking, throat raw, I thought, "How do I get a job doing THIS?!"
This was years before coaching was even a glimmer in my eye. In hindsight, OF COURSE I became a coach. But at the time, I couldn't connect the dots.
Because that's what happens. You know what you love to do. You know what you're good at. But you can't directly connect it to a profession that pays. So you dismiss it.
By the way, I didn’t become a coach just because I’m an enthusiastic supporter of people. Coaches do so much more than just cheerleading (ask my clients 😈).
I’m not suggesting career change consists of isolating one skill and voilà, you have a new career!
I became a coach because I took the time to gather alllll the nuggets about what I’m good at, what I enjoy, and how I wanted to help people. It’s the collective of those that helped me design a career as a coach, writer, and entrepreneur.
Career change takes work. But it starts with paying attention to the clues.
There's gold in those nuggets of, "If only I could get paid to do THIS." Those nuggets lead to a career made up of the things you can't help but do. They lead to a job filled with things you do all the time anyway, so you might as well get paid.
If you need help from someone who lives to help others uncover the gold nuggets and reach the finish line, schedule a complimentary Purposeful Career strategy session here.
Scroll down to comment and share.