At this month’s Zoom happy hour with my networking group, Inner Circle, we were asked to share what we feel is our mission: What is the “why” behind why we do what we do?
The concept of finding our “why” was popularized by Simon Sinek in his book and TED Talk “Start With Why.” I highly recommend both the book and the talk, but the essence is that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Sinek does a great job of illustrating this concept by highlighting the brand loyalty achieved by Apple compared to Microsoft.
So there I was in the Zoom event, hurriedly thinking about how I wanted to succinctly answer the question for the group.
I shared my greyzone “why” (as opposed to my “whys” for fiction writing or my women’s work with Tami’s Tribe):
I’m driven to support people through the process of making intentional career decisions. The operative word being “intention,” probably one of my favorite words. Too often we drift through life from one pursuit to the next, not really understanding if the choices we’re making truly align with our overall career mission. Is the next job going to support a grander plan of where we’d like to be 10 or 15 years down the career road? Shiny object syndrome is rampant among people I work with; they often get lured away by roles that offer something different than what they’re doing now. When clients have “Aha!” moments, connecting the dots on patterns in their career or understanding the barriers that have sprouted that are in their way of achieving the work they want, it’s a rush for me. It’s my “why.”
But how did I come to this work? I didn’t even know coaching was a thing when I was in college, when I was picking my major and planning my life.
The networking conversation got me thinking about my own career journey and how I can pin it starting at 12 when, after my parent’s divorce, I was in family therapy, processing our new norm. I clearly remember thinking, “I know what you’re going to say, Ms. Therapist, and I could do your job better than you.” My intuition regarding matters of psychology and how we’re wired was strong, even at a young age. My passion for personality tests and astrology also formed early. In the alternative community I grew up in, I was calculating detailed mathematical astrological charts by hand in my middle school years.
I received my first communication coaching around that time when a parent led a class on the work of Zig Ziglar. Among my tween peers, we were practicing “I” messages and getting an active education in assertive versus passive language. Such a gift at such a young age. Thank you again, Charles Betterton.
In college I started to pursue a psychology degree, but the amount of math and science, all the data and analytics involved? None of it was for me. That wasn’t the way I worked with people. So I followed my first love—writing—and planned to somehow become the next Judy Blume. (Spoiler alert: While I have published a YA book I’m proud of, I did not become “Judy Blume” big. My book, however, was heavily influenced by her writing).
A college friend and I delivered a workshop at a conference about the lessons I learned from Zig Ziglar. They hadn’t left me. The coaching thread was still there.
By my mid-20s, I’d fallen into recruiting, a mix of psychology and business that really excited me. When I landed in a human resource department at a technology company, I was able to broaden into talent management, creating a leadership development course. On the side, I was volunteering, helping displaced job seekers. Advising them lit a fire in me. By my late 30s, I was ready to find a way to support job seekers full-time.
Now, 10 years later, I can honestly say that my gained expertise, combined with my innate talents of deep curiosity about others and strong intuition, have positioned me in the perfect spot. Being a coach makes so much sense to who I am. I’m often referred to as a career therapist by my clients and it fits my story. I’ve come full circle. This is validated by my StrengthsFinder results, my favorite personality tool to help us better understand our gifts and how they can be maximized in the workplace.
Last weekend, I took the test again and was delighted to see that some of my keywords had changed. Delighted because that means I’m learning and growing, and, more importantly, becoming more self-aware.
I’m excited to announce that in about a month’s time I’ll be adding a StrengthsFinder certified coach to my growing team, and we will be offering in-depth analysis of StrengthsFinder results for clients.
My business offers job search support from career coaching to practical job search guidance. The truth is I now cherry-pick what aspects of the business I provide myself and what gets offered through my team of associates. I have resume writers, a job search coach, a coach who specializes in advising young professionals, and now I’ll be adding a StrengthsFinder coach.
Staying in my lane, keeping to my genius, I can provide the most impact and remain in my highest attunement. My top five strengths now:
Strategic – Maximizer – Connectedness – Intellection – Activator
Ready to unlock your strengths and connect them with your “why”? Let’s talk!