‘In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity,” said Albert Einstein. That aphorism would be small comfort to the person who is saying goodbye to their job and letting go of their sense of identity.

But letting go is the first step in making a change in your life, says Cathy Quartner Bailey, whether that change is retirement, a job switch, or losing a life partner.

In her business and life coaching practice, Quartner & Associates LLC, Bailey invokes the three-part change and transition model offered by William Bridges: The Ending, The Neutral Zone, and The New Beginning. Saying goodbye to your identity (“I DON’T work for XYZ”) is one of the biggest hurdles, and you have to get through that before you get to the neutral zone, says Bailey. She gives a workshop “Managing the Human Side of Change” to the Human Resource Management Association on Friday, February 17, at 8:30 a.m. at Lee Hecht Harrison, 997 Lenox Drive. Cost: $25. Call Grace Pohlhemus at 609-896-2122.

When someone gets through the first phase of the Williams Bridges change model, they progress to the neutral phase. “It’s the psychological no-man’s land between the old reality and the new one,” says Bailey, “like Moses in the wilderness.”

Feelings of confusion and loneliness are likely to appear during this uncomfortable, chaotic time.

Bailey quotes Marilyn Ferguson, in the American Futurist: “It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear . . . It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.”

Energy is low, because so much energy is being spent on change.

Creativity is high, because the possibilities for innovation are at their peak.

Invoking Moses, Bailey notes that his wilderness phase seemed endless, but that the third phase (the promised land or the new beginning) was the goal. In order to move forward, one must let go of old ways and behave in new ways.

Since Bailey hung up her coaching shingle in Princeton Junction last April, she has coached more than 25 men and women, including entrepreneurs, managers in not-for-profit organizations, and Fortune 500 executives in consumer products, financial institutions, and pharmaceuticals. She focuses on emerging leadership development, performance enhancement, and balancing work/life issues (www.quartner.com).

Bailey knows first-hand about the politics of a big organization. She had marketing management positions at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington DC, Warner Lambert (now Pfizer), the Maier Group in Manhattan (now Time Warner), and Lippincott-Margulies (now Lippincott-Mercer, a corporate identity firm).

Her expertise is in strategic marketing. Buns of Steel, a nationally best selling exercise video series at the Maier Group, was a landmark project because infomercials at that time were still new. At Warner-Lambert she managed an award-winning campaign for a pregnancy test kit. At British Airlines, she led the launch of a new worldwide identity for the airlines and marketed premium services such as the Concorde brand.

Bailey grew up in a Baltimore suburb, where her father was an entrepreneur. She has a BA in economics from Emory University, Class of 1988, an MBA from the University of Chicago, and executive coach certification from New York University. She and her husband, a Wall Street trader, have two preschool children.

“I really wish I had had a coach,” says Bailey. She did have a couple of mentors, but she points out the difference. “A mentor is someone successful to emulate, but a coach is a partner in the process, a sounding board, completely confidential. In a corporation it is very rare to completely trust someone and let your hair down. You need to be protective of your image in the workplace.”

The difference between a coach and a therapist is that a therapist might take a slower approach. “Some clients can’t be propelled to action because they are not ready,” says Bailey. “When they have to be healed, that person would not be suitable for coaching.”

Bailey sees a typical client for three hours a week for three months. Corporate rates are $300 per hour, and if a client is footing the bill without employer support, $200 per hour. Bailey says she isn’t worried about getting enough clients who want to be promoted from within an organization and need a strategy to get to that goal. “When we focus on clear results, people get them faster and more quickly than if they are on their own.” For instance, she helped a fast-rising woman at Kraft learn how to delegate. Bailey offers a free 30-minute session from now through March.

Bailey quotes Helen Keller: “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” And a Chinese proverb: “Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid of standing still.”

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