We are careful planners, hard workers, strivers and savers. We succeed — sometimes at least — and when we don’t, we learn from failure. But we keep building, always.

Some young folks have a natural curiosity. They never stop asking, seeking, and testing boundaries. They learn to make lemonade from lemons, and they gradually find success.

Slowly you build your capital, intellectual at first, then professional and financial. The bank account inches upward, the Rolodex grows (remember those?). Notches in the career belt, promotions…it’s a good life for many.

In the right environment, with the right set of circumstances, this slow build is a deeply satisfying process, inspirational and highly rewarding. As an executive coach, I delight in helping many fulfill their career and life dreams, optimizing their approach, making sure they are on the right course, giving them the tools they need to level up.

For some clients, though, seemingly very familiar to those in the first group, there’s another pile that accumulates professionally along with the outwardly positive trappings of success: dissatisfaction, emptiness, resentment, frustration. Like the drip-drip-drip of a faucet that will not fully close, these negative emotions build up and can become toxic.

Are you less happy at work than you were a year ago, or five years ago, for “no good reason?” Are you questioning why you do what you do? Feel like you’re missing out…like your energy is funneling into an area that does not motivate you, or worse, actively upsets you?

If these were road signs, they’d be yellow and red triangles emblazoned with WARNING: Tipping Point ahead.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is a fascinating look at how small actions can lead to big changes…how you can trace a fashion trend, for example, down to the very first influencer who sports it.

Borrowing from his theme, a tipping point for an individual’s career and life choices can either come on gradually or very suddenly.

For me, a cancer diagnosis literally stopped me in my tracks. Faced with this enormous challenge, I had no choice but to evaluate every aspect of my personal and professional life. Ultimately, this process of introspection tipped me over the edge to leave the corporate world after accumulating decades of experience. I started Leading Edge Consulting and could not be happier with this choice. My diagnosis, awful as it was, nonetheless provided clarity. It was my tipping point.

For others, there is no sudden shock, no bolt-out-of-the-blue. Instead, it’s that drip-drip-drip of daily unease, that questioning of purpose, that wondering “what if?”

A client of mine (who is now a good friend) came to me with a dilemma. She was highly successful at a company that treated her well, promoted her, paid her a big salary, all the good stuff. But she was getting stuck, had difficulty bringing tasks to completion, was losing her motivation.

We talked, a lot, about passion, about purpose. While her career provided her with financial rewards such that was able to contribute generously to a cause she was extremely passionate about, for her it just wasn’t enough. She wanted to apply her talent directly to that cause. We worked together on developing a plan for her to transition into a role at a not-for-profit organization where she could take her considerable professional talents and apply them to a cause she lives and breathes.

Making that leap, giving up the chance to keep climbing the corporate ladder took a tremendous amount of courage. This woman was neither just starting out nor nearing retirement. She was mid-career and the risks of such a dramatic move felt huge. But she reached her tipping point, and with the right support system in place, she was able to grow professionally and personally and regain control over her destiny.

Reaching a tipping point? Don’t settle. Start with the “why” and work backwards. Consider consulting with someone objective who can help you along the way.

If you’re ready to have a conversation, drop me a line.