THE BIG CAREER STRETCH
We’ve discovered that able people can always uncover a professional ‘sweet spot’ — the field, organisation or role where they'll flourish and their work will make them feel fully alive.That’s why The Big Career Stretch was born. We agree with work psychologist Laurence Boldt that “to the extent that your work meets the needs of the world, it will be meaningful. To the extent that through it you use your talents, it will be joyful”. By working with this formula, hundreds of Big Stretch clients have moved into the work that they love.
Amazingly, we’ve also discovered that people can normally reach their sweet spot without huge financial compromise or 'starting at the bottom'. We specialise in staged transitions to new fields, and the intelligent repositioning of talents, experience and skills.
Whether you're starting an initiative in your current organisation, or finding yourself a new job, we can help you get clarity and confidence as you formulate your own direction. You can explore your career move in Spain with us, or have individual coaching to catalyse your shift.
"If you find your passions, you'll never do another day’s work." — Anonymous
A NEW JOURNEY FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO FIND MEANINGFUL WORK
If you know that you want to find work that makes a difference to others, we at Big Stretch have teamed up with some remarkable colleagues in India to offer a specialist Stretch called Be The Change Journey. Where once the choice between business and charity was binary, now there's a whole spectrum of organisations which blaze a path between the two. There are many creative models emerging for making an impact in the world - social innovation, social impact investment etc. You need to get clear what difference you want to make for whom, and work out where in this high-growth sector you might blend your talents with your passion for change.
Be The Change Journey is an immersive eight days in India, visiting pioneering changemakers who blend business acumen with social purpose, and exposing you to the major models for making an impact. At the same time, you get intensive Big Stretch coaching to pinpoint your niche and next steps for a positive career shift at home. Read more at BeTheChangeJourney.org
' Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.' Barack Obama
HOW DOES THE BIG CAREER STRETCH WORK?
You kick off with some engaging, speedy Career Diagnosis worksheets which help you review your career story, passions and disappointments, and your inherent talents with fresh eyes. Then you work intensively for a week in the mountains of Spain with two coaches, in a small group, with follow up coaching on your return.
Through a series of proven exercises, you get in touch with your forgotten ambitions and dreams, as well as your current constraints. You explore how your talents, reputation and experience might influence matters in the wider world. Within this, you can explore possible levels of involvement that are neither too abstract nor too detailed to engage you. (It's no good working on policy level change if your real satisfaction comes from being hands-on.) From here you can consider the roles and fields where you’d be playing to your natural strengths.
Things that have been holding you back — from self belief to external circumstance —come into sharp focus and are addressed. Your coach enters fully into the details of your situation, and idea generation sessions help you be creative where change promises to be hardest.
During this productive process you’ll:
The Big Career Stretch programme will engage you at an emotional as well as an intellectual level. It will develop how you think, present yourself and communicate with others, and sends you home with a time-based plan of next steps. Your coach can keep working with you afterwards, helping you learn and grow as you research new fields, move through applications and experience different interviews. We hold you to account, motivating you to be practical and specific, always moving forward.
Our pages on The Big Life Stretch and How Journeys Work explain how we blend creative processes, coaching and mind-clearing walks in the mountains to make this such a powerful process for finding your right work.
"This coaching holiday is way ahead of its rivals " The Times January 2011.
Those who cannot join a week in Spain can move through an individualised Big Career Stretch process with our coaches. See Other Ways to Stretch.
CHANGE MANAGEMENT, COACHING AND CREATIVE PROBLEM-SOLVING COMBINED
The Big Career Stretch combines three powerful disciplines. Our coaching process is open enough to allow you to create your own meaning which is authentic to you. Some parts are inspiring, and others challenging.
One element is values-based change. The exploratory exercises spring from our philosophy that as individuals we don't have to 'find ourselves'...we remember who we are, and create our circumstances . We believe that work is great when it fits with our values towards people, the ecosystem, and future generations. If we don't much like our recent or current work, this also provides information.
We entwine this core identity work with life coaching. It embraces all the elements of life -finances, family, home, fun, love, friendship etc - and some fundamental questions about balance too. On The Big Career Stretch, we make it easy to access your truth by doing revealing exercises and games.
But direction isn't enough! Promising avenues are made practical using creative problem solving. You challenge old sticking points with lateral thinking and come up with fresh ideas how to proceed. You convert wild but interesting ideas into workable approaches to organisations which attract you strongly.
Our clients have found they can go ahead and pursue success in ways they'd never thought possible before. Whether you’re spearheading a better way of working in your existing company, or researching a new field in which to apply your skills, The Big Career Stretch sets you up to make practical and positive use of your time, education, reputation, vision and influence.
The Big Career Stretch is a powerful experience. It takes a little bit of courage to sign up. Once you're on board it take a little more courage to go for your higher ambitions. However, The Big Career Stretch taps hidden reserves of creativity just when you need them. You've got nothing to lose but the work which doesn’t fulfil you and everything in life to gain.
"A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimension." —
Oliver Wendell Holmes
PATHFINDING AT REDUNDANCY
If you’re facing redundancy, ask your employer to fund you through the core pathfinding elements of The Big Career Stretch as a four-session coaching package.
WHAT THE PRESS SAY
We've had extraordinary praise from journalists who've brought their personal career and life issues to The Big Stretch. Read in-depth features in Psychologies, The Financial Times, Harpers and Queen,The Guardian and more by clicking here.
Jane — age 35; same job, new work
Jane was working in Packaging Design for a large supermarket. She was feeling uncomfortable at work, and came to Big Stretch wanting to leave. When she looked further into it, her discomfort was with the values of those around her — they cared so little about their production of so much plastic — while her personal passion was for the environment.
She realised that if she wanted to make a difference to the environment, she was already in a very influential position… so she decided to stay at work, but privately rename her role — from Head of Packaging to Head of NO Packaging.
Once this direction was clear, she used the creative exercises to flesh out the ‘how’. She went home armed with ideas to inspire and align her team at work, plans for overcoming resistance as she presented environmental concepts to the Board. Two years on, she and her employer have made great strides. A fulfilling career — and real change in the world.
Steven — age 42; stepping sideways into a new field
Steven was a management consultant. He’d gone straight from university to working in a big firm on government projects. He was well rewarded and intellectually stimulated by his work. He liked his cushy house and the national importance of his work. But he was restless, lacking in confidence, envious of others.
We quickly identified that Steven longed to see the world — and not from the luxury of a hotel room. He liked the idea of using his education and know-how in Africa, where he’d travelled many times. But he hadn’t pursued this thought, assuming he’d have to start at the bottom of a new career.
Exploring his situation, we realised his project management skills applied as much to aid programmes as UK clients — he had transferable skills! After an in-house placement on a development project with the UN, he applied for work with an international agency. Within a year, he was matching his original salary, still working on globally important matters, and enjoying his contribution much more.
WHAT CLIENTS SAY
"Exercises and input which helped me realise who i really am and what i'm capable of, pushing through the clutter to get to the point" — KL
"Coaching gave me my answer...why and how to go on with work; the outdoors gave me time and space to let ideas settle." — IvV
"it's two years now since my Stretch and the transition is still unfolding. I've started my own business which uses my old PR skills to publicise subjects and brands i want the world to know about. It couldn't be more different, or more related, to what i was doing before in a huge greedy firm". — MH
“Human happiness springs from individual creative expression and meaningful participation in the life of society.” — Aristotle