When a Small Win Changes Everything – Claire Steichen (FGI New York)

When clients share their frustrations about corporate life, I often see benefits they don’t. One of these is that milestones and progress are easier to measure, which is why when my clients are working on longer term projects like job search, promotion, or shifting their team’s dynamics, progress can be hard to measure. Here are a few lessons from years of working (mostly) alone:

  1. Create interim milestones. Early on, I had a monthly income goal in my head. It seemed that if I could generate that, I was viable and I was also touching on something that resonated with my clients. I reached the number in year two and can still remember the major shift in my confidence that came from this small win.
  2. Evaluate your progress regularly. It’s easy to focus only on what’s not yet done, and that subconsciously hurts confidence. Make sure, every week, that you look at what you did and how it impacts the long term effort. My colleague Nadine Nicholson gave me a game changing tool early on. Each Friday, look at the week’s major accomplishments and ask: What is the accomplishment? Why is it important? What would further progress look like? and What are the immediate next steps? The exercise makes you feel on top of things, plus generates your To Do list for the following week.
  3. Don’t go it alone. John Kotter, a famous management guru, has eight steps for change management, two of which are about getting the support of others. The first is about getting a close team of advisors – get advocates or a good friend early on to help with accountability, bouncing ideas, and picking you up after the bumps.
  4. Shift how you view wins. Often a client will tell me that they got a ding letter. And I say, “Bravo! Until now, they haven’t even acknowledged you. This is progress.” No kidding. Big projects are like crossing the ocean in a row boat – when signs of progress that are comfortable and familiar are not there, you have to find another way to measure your forward motion.

A few years ago I came across a Peruvian proverb: “Step by Step, One Walks Far.” When you are tackling a big project, mindset is so important. Keep working, and look for when a small step generates a a big shift.

Author: Claire Steichen (FGI New York – Executive Member)

As an executive and career coach, Claire Steichen works with Beauty and Fashion organizations to motivate middle and senior managers, and with individuals on crafting careers they love. Before becoming a coach, Claire was an Account Manager in sales at Givaudan, where she managed on-going client relationships with Avon, Estee Lauder, La Prairie and Victoria’s Secret. Prior to Givaudan, Claire worked as a Marketing Manager for L’Oreal and Christian Dior fragrance, where she oversaw the US launches of major skincare and fragrance brands. Claire has her MBA from Columbia Business School, where she works as a coach with several executive education programs. Claire is bi-lingual in English and French, and is fluent in Spanish.

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