Recently I was asked to serve as a coach to participants in a clinical research trial, an opportunity that would lead to being recognized in a research paper which ultimately would be published in a prestigious professional journal. My initial response was, “How exciting!” and I subsequently acted on that excitement by making a snap decision to participate, before I had all the facts.
Later, after letting the idea begin to settle in, I recognized that my feelings towards this opportunity began to shift. The excitement began to wear off and the anxiety grew. I realized that my ego was driving my decision based on only one fact – that my name would be included in such a prestigious publication. As a result of this seduction, I had blindly committed to something without knowing the specifics of the contract. My more practical (and authentic self) took control and I gave myself permission to step back and regain perspective.
Here’s what I did to work through it.
I got the facts.
In this case, I consulted with a fellow coach who also had been asked to participate in the project and knew more about what it actually entailed. This person was able to shine a light on other requirements that I wasn’t aware of, information that revealed additional “warning signs” and reinforced my anxiety about having committed to this opportunity so recklessly. After getting facts from this knowledgeable colleague, I felt equipped to go straight to the person in charge to confirm them.
I got clarity.
I reached out to the project manager to clarify expectations around roles and responsibilities, as well as answers to all my questions. I also shared what I was prepared (and not prepared) to do. During the conversation I learned that I was expected to do 20 hours of pre-work without compensation, that I only would be able to communicate with clients by phone, and that I wouldn’t be able to charge a fee for missed coaching sessions or last-minute cancellations. The actual facts led to an unmistakable conclusion: this opportunity was not for me.
I trusted my gut instinct.
In the end, I listened to my “inner voice” because it was alerting me to what boundaries I needed to establish to take care of myself and what was best for my coaching practice. What initially seemed like a fantastic opportunity for me turned out to be an ill fit when the layers were peeled away and I was able to learn more about what was actually expected of me. I pulled myself away from the project and trusted my decision once I realized the bright lights of opportunity had blinded me to what was really going on. (Yes, even coaches can falter.)
Find the facts. They (and the truth) will set you free!
When your instincts are screaming at you to follow a certain path, listen to them. Sometimes you can take a leap of faith, trusting it will work out for the best because most decisions do not cause irreversible damage. Other times, a comprehensive set of facts are needed to make an educated decision. Either way, it can only help to gather facts, get clarity, and most important – trust your instincts. They’re usually right.