On Thursday I had dinner with a good friend who’s struggling to define a new path. Frankly, she needs to. Her software business is struggling and she’s been sitting around too long watching it implode. For a couple of important months now she’s been seemingly paralyzed, unable, unwilling and unmotivated to move on to something else. Waiting and watching isn’t what she can afford to do…the stakes are big. Simply riding the current rails into the ground will hurt some people who are pretty important to her.

I don’t believe I necessarily give good personal advice. But I care, I try to help and I try to be practical.

In this case, my initial advice kind of surprised me, although apparently I’ve given it before. What was it?

Get out. Get away from your family, your friends, me. Jump on the subway. Take a trip. Go to a bar. Do anything that isn’t what you typically do.

Why? Because it will do two things for you. First, it will change your picture. Believe me, the world looks different on the subway. Or from 30,000 feet.

It looks really different in Arizona’s!

Second, doing it will give you confidence.

No, jumping the subway isn’t big. But if not’s what you do – and you do it – and you survive – and you come home with a different picture – I guarantee you will have more confidence. And confidence, including the confidence to break whatever is holding you back IS huge. Try it two or three times and you will be hooked…and moving forward.

My other advice to her was way more practical. Start making a networking list. Make a list of people who know you’re a serious talent and can help you.

Have you ever done this? For yourself or for others?

I think we all come to this exercise (at least those of us over 40 who don’t have 900 friends on MySpace/Facebook) with the early thought “I don’t know that many people”. It’s always the wrong reaction. Half an hour later, we had 35-40 names for her to call.

Making sure she calls should be easy. Early next week I’m calling her. She knows I’m calling. Her job is to have made the calls she’s agreed to make. I’m her accountability consultant, her moving-on conscience. She will make this work.

By the way, my friend is a serious talent. Now in software; a Masters in biotech; ran her own very successful executive search firm in Toronto and New York; a trained OD specialist that has worked with Fortune 500 firms. She’d love to get back into the OD area. If you know anyone….??