Supporting Career Development From the Inside Out

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When I decided to make career change development coaching a focus for my work, I invested my time and money in my education including becoming a certified yoga teacher, getting an MA in Organizational Psychology at Columbia University, and a certification in life/organizational coaching from the Hudson Institute. I also attended classes and programs with many experts in the field of personal growth and career development and completed a traditional Lakota Vision Quest.

My goal was to find a holistic approach that would value career dreams and help people develop careers from the inside out. The method is informed by an ongoing process I began twenty years ago in my graduate program, of interviewing people who LOVE their work. That qualitative research continues in the interviews I am doing today for these posts on compassionate leadership.

In this intensive search for a complete 360-degree approach to career and life planning, I ultimately decided to create a new approach based on what I learned from what I call the super- satisfied careerists. The result has become The Donnellan Method. I started developing this process in 1999 and have used its current iteration for the last fifteen years as the foundation for one-to-one and group career transformation programs. This year, my team and I have honed and used this approach in partnership with the SC College of Business at Cornell University and the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver with both alumni and student cohorts.

This twelve-part foundation for curriculum helps people examine their past, assess their present and plan their future through the lens of what I call Soul Work. Soul Work is the absolute best use of your passions and purpose. In our experience, anyone can find soul work or a calling, if they are willing to do the work:

Donnellan Method

In addition to providing a core curriculum, we have a comprehensive facilitation method that provides tools and techniques that can be used by any leader, helper or coach who is guiding people through a career change. Here are ten tenets that are part of this approach that integrates the head with the heart:

  1. Dream Advocacy – We maintain faith in the possibility that clients can find and practice their soul work, meet (or more fully meet) their highest potential, and make positive changes in their lives.
  2. Wisdom – We espouse a “lead from behind” approach: we respect clients’ limits, show gentleness towards their vulnerability, and never impose our own values or hopes on them.
  3. Trust – We are patient with our clients and the process, and help our clients to be patient as well. We believe in the power of trusting relationships and our methodology.
  4. Partnership – We acknowledge when a client’s issue or block is beyond our expertise and show savvy in assessing client needs, conferring with our colleagues and making referrals to other professionals.
  5.  Safety – We are able to witness, hold the space for, and appropriately respond to a full range of emotions. We listen deeply and openly. We are tolerant and supportive of differing values.
  6. Focus – We appropriately use self-disclosure, focusing on the process and needs of the client and knowing that self-disclosure should be used instructionally and prudently.
  7. Expertise – We judiciously use and balance strategizing, advising, guiding, questioning, challenging, giving honest feedback, and listening.
  8. Awareness – We know our own issues, strengths, biases, projections, fears, and sore spots and we seek out coaching from a mentor whenever we have a question or concern that we cannot manage ourselves.
  9. Grace – We expect and accept that some aspects of the process of finding and following a calling are mystical. We develop our attunement to this and honor our clients’ personal experience of grace, intuition, and spirituality.
  10. Mastery – We proactively learn and strive to become masterful in our practice so we will be up to date on career technology, trends and resources while being the best guides we can be in meeting the objectives and expectations of our clients.