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I Lost My Drive….Then A Career Break Taught Me 3 Valuable Lessons.

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I have never known myself to take risks.

After working for close to two decades and being a highly driven corporate warrior, I kept asking what’s next? Surely there is more to career success. In this VUCA world, everything around us was being disrupted. With a leap of faith and courage, I decided to disrupt myself too.

So I stepped off the corporate ladder, took time to learn new skills and go on a journey of self reflection. I had no timeline but I was committed to getting out of my comfort zone and do something different.

After getting certified as an ICF Executive Coach, I embarked on a coaching journey, helping unemployed Singapore PMETS back to the workforce. In the work I do, I get to meet people from all walks of life (from CEOs, Corporate Bankers to Admin Assistants), each with a story to tell. Some of the people I meet include

–      “High Flyer/Dream client”, people who are extremely positive, humble and easy to work with;

– “Lost Sheep”, people who don’t have clarity on their career goals;

– “Corporate zombies”, people who are tired of work and wanted to do something different;

– “The Self-entitled”, people with bruised egos who feel the government and everyone else around them are to be blamed for their state of unemployment etc.

– “Back to work mum/dad” or people from sunset industries, who had skill gaps to bridge;

“The Dreamers”, people who think that coaches have magic wands that will make jobs appear

Among these people, there are some who are sole breadwinners, urgently looking to get back to work, single mothers struggling to make ends meet, people who are at the verge of depression because their self worth is defined by their job titles. In most cases, their perspectives are limited by their beliefs and experiences. As a coach I have to make them see possibilities.

Working with such a diverse group of people challenge me to think outside the box and learn how to handle them differently to break down their mental barriers and create possibilities. 

My journey taught me 3 important life lessons. By sharing it here, I hope it can bring fresh insights to you.


Having had a successful career and work being a big part of my life, my key measure of success was my job title and material gains. But working alongside with colleagues who have a deep passion to help people, has been a humbling experience. Some of them gave up a good career to help people who are displaced from work. Their level of passion is just commendable.

I was also humbled by my clients’ generosity and graciousness, often buying treats for the coaches, some offering encouragement for the work we do, despite their state of unemployment.

Through them, I found a new drive for work.. transforming lives and solving problems. I may not solve world hunger, but being able to help one person at a time could make a huge difference to the person.

“Regardless of where you are in your life or career, there is always someone behind you that you can lift”


In the corporate setting, one would quickly size up people, have a certain preconceived judgement, to decide how he should interact with the person. However, as a coach I have to start from a clean slate of paper with no judgement. That helps me focus on my coachees, empathize with them, practice active listening and ask powerful questions. Some tell stories of broken marriages, family health issues and just being present builds trust which opens their mindset to being coached.

I have learned to be comfortable with silence, pausing and letting clients compose themselves as they share their stories. Slowly but surely, it is becoming part of my DNA that I find myself listening actively and asking questions. Even over lunch with a friend recently, I have unconsciously helped her achieve a minor breakthrough. 

“Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence. That’s why they look alike.” By Daniel Goleman

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Good is just not good enough for me. Learning to be grateful helps me to be more forgiving of my imperfections and that of others. Now I am a Work-In-Progress and I am totally ok with it, at least there is progress.

I am thankful for the opportunity to impact so many people’s lives and in return gain an enriching experience. And I am grateful that I have wonderful colleagues who have my back.

Coaching has helped me improve my mindfulness, presence and listening skills and taught me humility, empathy and gratitude. It has given me the confidence to deal with tough situations as I have learned to break down my mental barriers too. #GoogleProjectOxygen

The career break has also given me time capacity to gain new knowledge and volunteer in the start-up community. Thanks to a colleague who constantly push the limit for learning, I got hooked on #Big data, #AI/Machine Learning, #Blockchain, #IOT.. and in 2019 I will make a trip to the Alibaba Business School to learn how technology is transforming their customer journey and their radical marketing campaigns. #Lifelonglearning

So glad I decided to take time out to recharge in 2017. I now create capacity in my life to learn and keep growing at the professional and personal level, to be effective. I am beginning to miss the adrenaline of the marketplace, building brands, driving revenue growth and striving to be ahead of the competition.

Most importantly, I found a new drive for work. #CareerBreak #GrowthMindset

Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

About Author

Adeline Tiah

Accomplished executive with more than 20 years of experience in building brands, delivering business growth and leading teams. I am passionate about building brands and high performance teams.

A practitioner in Human Centred Design Thinking, I enjoy helping organisations solve problems, connect the dots to make things happen.

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