Avoiding Flame Outs

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

Fighter JetA flame out is when the engine of an airplane stops in mid-flight. The pilot’s job (and life) depend on his ability to restart the plane. Being zapped is a lot like this.  Everything is fine with your career one moment until – BAM! – you are unexpectedly falling.  Like a skilled pilot you need to restart you engines quickly and efficiently or you will not be nearly as effective in career transition as you’d like and need to be.

What’s the difference between a career transition that’s red hot and one that has flamed out? It’s usually not about capabilities or experience; rather, it’s about the meaning you have attached to the career transition process that generates a quick or slow land into your next role.

Reluctant job seekers are often paralyzed by the belief that they are somehow flawed and the idea of networking (or asking for help) is tantamount to begging or imposing on others.  No wonder they feel ashamed and embarrassed; they are not in their most powerful and confident state.  The reality of the shame factor is that it is an illusion. It is of your own making. You might feel real shame, but if you look below the surface of your job search, you will find its source is something else.  You are human and vulnerable; you’re not invincible and all-knowing, contrary to what you might like others to think.  Being embarrassed is real, but it is a waste of time and a major derailer to forward momentum. Plus, there is zero power in feeling victimized.  So, what to do?


Similar to pilots who go through a checklist to restart their stalled planes, here are some ideas to restart a stalled search campaign.

Get Grounded In Your Powerful Self:

Revisit a number of your notable successes and identify the things that you did and how you operated to achieve what you did.  Competent people that show up – boldly, authentically, and passionately – pay for themselves within an organization tenfold. You are an incredibly valuable commodity for your next company. It is easy to forget that fact when faced with crushing uncertainty.

Update Your Credentials:  

The most powerful exercise for reminding yourself of what you have to offer is to update your resume. Yes, the resume is a tool to give a company an idea of your skills, but it is also a tool to help boost your confidence and self-worth by forcing you to quantify your past work and experience.  Don’t just slap your activities together; rather think deeply about your achievements from multiple perspectives, so you might portray the breadth and depth of your towering strengths, capabilities, and accomplishments.  By doing so, you will reclaim your personal power, focus, and courageousness.

Dig Deeper:   

Before looking at what roles you have held, look more broadly and think deeper. Ask yourself:

  • What do I want my future to look like?  Now?  In 10 years?  In 20 years?
  • What kind of role or organization will bring out my best self?
  • Who do I know that could help me network into this role?
  • How well are my current job search strategies generating viable leads?
  • What fear-induced roadblocks might I be erecting in my career transition that I need to obliterate to achieve what I need and want?

Don’t forget:  boldness, confidence, and enthusiasm are all contagious. If you allow your genuine, authentic self to emerge, people will naturally gravitate to you like bees to honey.

Don’t just look for a job. Look for the job that will unleash your capabilities and ignite your passion.

Howard Thurman said:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.
Because what the world needs, is people who have come alive!”

So, I say to you – Best wishes for your continued success and  . . . Flame On!


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