For today’s blog post, I thought of doing a Q & A based on questions my friends and followers on Facebook had about my transition from Assistant Professor of French Literature to Coach. Well, the following question won my attention and took the whole prize:
“Money aside, how does coaching compare to your former career. Again, take the money out of it. Do you love it?”
This is a great question from my friend Dave, a former lawyer turned Independent Beachbody Coach. He and and his wife have an interesting story worth telling as it relates to leaving one prestigious and even well-paying career for another profession altogether. At first, Dave wanted nothing to do with Beachbody when his wife Monica, an elementary school teacher, was invited to join as a founding coach. Even when Monica was doing great with the company–today she’s one of the top leaders–Dave remained more or less detached, until one day he received a message that changed the course of his life. Earlier today he shared this with me, when I asked him what made him finally “buy into” Beachbody (I told him he only had three sentences to tell me): “I hated practicing law and wanted to own my life. I wanted to do the things I wanted to do when I wanted to do them. I helped a guy lose 50 pounds and after receiving his email of gratitude, I was in.” Today he is a completely different person from the man I met just 3 years ago. Aside from losing the lawyer suit, he also lost the lawyer face. Today, he seems relaxed, happy, and gets to spend as much time as he wants with his family. He really is, as they say, living the dream. So am I.
If you will, allow me for just a minute to not take money out of the question. I didn’t hate academia. In fact, I loved and still love teaching. I loved being part of an institution. Even as a graduate student, I didn’t mind sharing an office with four people. Those were wonderful years for me, despite the struggles. As a graduate student I was making under $20,000 a year and somehow I made do. What I didn’t like was researching. I frankly wasn’t any good at it. And even if I had been fully supported in the way that I needed to be supported by my thesis director, my work would have never been brilliant. That’s the truth. At SMU, I was fully supported by my department, made an income I could survive on, had a light course load per semester where I pretty much got to choose what I taught, and not to mention, my office and the campus were beautiful. However, I hated every moment that I had to spend working on my book. Had I loved the research component, who knows where I would be today. But, I didn’t love it. I hated feeling mediocre and in my field of research, I was just that. Had the Beachbody coaching opportunity not come along, I may have chugged along and perhaps received tenure. I’m really not sure. What I am sure of is that no amount of money could have rid me of the feeling that I wasn’t enough as an academic.
When I decided to leave academia, I had no idea that today I would be earning what I earn. Yes, I saw potential, but at that time I was only making about $60,000 a year with Beachbody. In other words, I didn’t leave simply because there was more money to be made with Beachbody. Leaving academia meant saying good-bye to relative security and comfort, as well as the prestige that accompanies the title of Assistant Professor. All those things were difficult to give up. But I left because I felt a calling to do what I had stumbled upon: coaching others and building a team.
So: do I love what I do? YES! How does it compare to my former career at the university? Believe it or not, as a team leader I get to put my teaching and mentoring skills to use almost every single day: in my interactions with my team and customers, during team calls, as well as by creating and presenting trainings for the Beachbody coaching community on topics such as social media and branding. I get to do the very things that I loved most while in academia, without the parts that I didn’t like or wasn’t good at. I have always considered myself a good teacher. Now I see I have an opportunity to become a great leader. The fact that I can afford to live where I want, how I want, and to travel where I want is truly such an incredible blessing (if I may use the word without religious connotation) and something that I do my best to not take for granted.