After 13 years of coaching, I finally understand why I felt a calling to become a business coach. The answers are in Arthur C. Brooks’ new book, From Strength to Strength.
In the status-driven, success-oriented world we call our home, there is little room for understanding individual failure. From the moment our beings materialize, we are taught and told, perpetually, to work tirelessly towards the ultimate goal, the top of the food chain, the success summit. The truth is, our self-worth’s definition heavily relies on how well we do and whether we have lived up to other people’s expectations, including our own. Reaching and, more importantly, maintaining business success is not the most frequent occurrence. It takes courage, stamina, persistence, and hard work. Empires do not come for free, as we know.
So, why do successful individuals decide to walk away from it all and start anew? To a bystander, it could seem like an abrupt, voluntary demotion. But, is it? Today we’re discussing why successful business people become board members, coaches, and advisors. There must be something to it.
Changing the course: multilayers
First, let’s address the obvious explanation – no, it’s not a midlife crisis. The answer to this life-changing shift is multi-angled. In order to illustrate the phenomenon, it would be best to reference the latest work of the New York Times best-selling author, social scientist, and Harvard professor Arthur C. Brooks, From Strength to Strength (2022). Let’s dive right in.
The psychology behind it
Wisdom comes with age, and so does mindfulness. The time we spend on Earth changes our perspective on life, values, interpersonal relationships, personal philosophy, and abilities. Successful people who practice mindfulness and train their “inner ear” understand the importance of letting go of stubbornness and the superficial layers of ego. Instead, they listen to what their psyche is signaling.
The element of surprise
We have all fallen victim to numerous business myths, one being that success is sustainable. Why wouldn’t it be? Workaholics know it to be true. But, what happens as we mature as professionals? And just how many of us truly experience a perennial climb? Working hard, at some point, simply stops working. We have science to back us up on this one. The professional decline is, indeed, inevitable. So, why does it occur?
The heading might sound ominous, but there’s nothing to fear. It’s good news. Advisors and coaches with prosperous business past lives learned to embrace this natural shift and turn it to their advantage, the infamous so-called decline in fluid intelligence. Now, to elaborate. Fluid intelligence is what psychologists call “natural” intelligence, or simply put, our inherent capability of solving problems and maintaining focus, along with our analytical capacities. We could describe it as our intrinsic gifts.
Our fluid intelligence slowly declines with age, leaving our business superstar reputation imperceptibly crumbling away. But nature is never cruel. As we witness a decline in one type of intelligence, another emerges and saves the day.
A new weapon: crystallized intelligence
The answer to why successful business people become coaches and advisors is complex, but it all starts with understanding and accepting the shift of their natural strengths. The moment our innate intelligence begins showing signs of slowing down, the professional decline is a looming predator. Mindful people are in touch with their inner processes, making it much easier to obtain new perspectives and start making changes. Crystallized intelligence is, simply put, our wisdom. It’s the empirical side of our intelligent being, a database of our entire existence, and a collection of our earthly experiences. If fluid intelligence is the innovator, crystallized intelligence is the instructor. It thrives on passing on knowledge. After a successful business career, nothing makes more sense and brings more happiness than shifting the niche to teacher mode.
They understand “the curse”
At some point, we all join the ingrained opinion on what makes a person content, if not happy, as they age. The response is automatic: money and success. To achieve serenity in old age, one must obtain some recognition. To achieve, surpass, reign, and be admired are the premises of an accomplished human being. True or false? An absolute misconception. Those who have fled the business sphere at their peak to rejoice in being grounded and modest recognize this simple truth.
Recent studies have shown that those who experienced tremendous success earlier in their lives tend to get unhappier as they age (the old glory syndrome). What goes up must come down; it’s only natural.
The path to true fulfillment
Successful people who voluntarily walk away from tangible wealth are most likely familiar with the “résumé virtues” and “eulogy virtues” concepts. In a nutshell, relying solely on professional success will not bring us happiness. Résumé virtues are rooted in comparison with others, earthly possessions, and workaholic achievement. Eulogy virtues are ethical and, above all, spiritual. Kindness, benevolence, and generosity are the driving force behind this virtue set. Individuals who recalibrate their careers toward more philanthropic goals understand the path to true fulfillment. Moving experts from Zippy Shell Louisiana reported witnessing a significant increase in office moving requests due to career changes.
True happiness is based on love
Although usually perceived as Queen or King Bee, strivers are lonely souls. Their relationships are mostly business-based, and finding a true friend in their contact list is nothing short of a miracle. Without love and mutual nurturing, old age is nothing but impending loneliness. Wise people acknowledge this possibility and correct their course. As attentive grandparents, nonprofit leaders, board members, advisors, or coaches, they not only have a chance to help guide others but also successfully revitalize their emotional apparatus, further unlocking personal productivity.
This is exactly where my personal journey took me and why I get so much joy from helping others succeed in business. As we mature, professional individualism becomes obsolete, interconnectedness becomes our shepherd, and the “giving is receiving” philosophy becomes our modus vivendi.
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