Living In The Storm Of The Neutral Zone

The oscillating space between what you’ve done in the past and the recalibration of what you’ll do in the future often involves choppy waters. We call these choppy waters the neutral zone of a working identity transition.

While in this zone it’s important to remember that the process of finding a new working identity should not be compared to digging around in your head for a single hidden treasure. We are not looking for that “one true thing” you can become. Instead, finding your way is comprised of a collection of explorative journeys within a variety of possibilities. All these possibilities begin in the realm of ideation and brainstorm.

Part of my job is to support the client through this choppy time by taking these ideas and concepts and converting them into actual single steps or small projects we call “experiments”.

These experiments give you a chance to step into a possibility to sense how it feels. We never know what will happen while experimenting, yet I can guarantee that each one informs us by offering up a piece of concrete – a block of experiential knowledge that informs future experiments and can be built upon.

Through her past connections and conversations, Victoria has been able to germinate three potential experiments.

She describes these as such:

  1. My coaching work with nonprofit arts professionals is slow to grow in part because people in this low-paying industry don’t always have the funds to pay for a coach even when they want one. I recently received an email with information about an opportunity for young arts professionals in California to apply for coaching scholarships. I will send out one of my bi-monthly communiqués with information about this funding source. The hope of course is that they will use any grant monies to hire me, but I know that simply sharing the information is an act of good will that is important in and of itself.
  2. I’ve been developing a program to support first time executive directors of in the nonprofit arts sector. I recently got a nibble from a national arts service organization that is interested in helping me pilot the program. They could provide me with fiscal sponsorship which would enable me to apply for project development grants, marketing support to get the word out about my product and the use of their distance learning software to create online courses. I’m not sure how this will play out, but knowing that a major player in my sector believes in the concept and wants to help is a terrific first step.
  3. A coaching client has been using Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for some of our work together. It has excited her so much she’s been talking with her colleagues about it. She suggested I start a leadership book group using this book for her and others like her – she indicated that she and her colleagues would be willing to “pay me” to create a group to help them work through it together. Music to my ears.


When we change our career and we reinvent the manner in which we work we can’t follow conventional wisdom. No amount of self-reflection or pondering can substitute for jumping in and taking action. Once you jump in, as Victoria has, your vision becomes far more informed from that experiential vantage point. So if you are working on a career change, pull your head out of diving into the depths of thought. Plunge your entire self into the act of doing something.