The Howells Group Blog

Career Accelerator #1 Create Your Compass

Create Your Compass
“Even today, remarkably few Americans are prepared to select jobs for themselves. When you ask, “Do you know what you are good at? Do you know your strengths?” Most people look at you with a blank stare. Or they often respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is fundamentally the wrong answer”.

– Peter Drucker

It’s easy to get disoriented or even completely lost in the ever-changing terrain of today’s workplace. Companies get bought and sold. Good bosses we followed to a new job leave. Life circumstances change. So it’s more important than ever to have a compass. A “Career Compass” helps you navigate effectively. Your compass offers you clarity – and clarity reduces all the unneeded wandering and ruminating. When you are crystal clear about what’s most important to you (your values) and what you are truly good at (your strengths) you have a compass that provides a “true north” in the wilderness of career changes. No matter what switchbacks show up on our journey, we can consult our compass, redirect and get back on track. Remember your careers is a journey and not a straight–line!

This was certainly true for Greg (not his real name but a true story). Greg started in sales at his dad’s car dealership in a small Oregon town. He was a natural. After graduating from college, he moved into selling services. With his natural energy and ability to connect with people, he became very successful. He was steadily promoted. I met him during a season where he also lead an industry association as the president. After being appointed CEO of his companies west coast region, it looked like he had it made. He traveled constantly and work was unrelenting. He was struggling in his marriage and yearned to just be in the lovely new custom home he and his wife had built with their little girl. He fought to keep up with the workload and felt that he was either always in long meetings or on long plane flights. By the time he came to me for help he was, admittedly, miserable. Greg and I worked on rediscovering his compass; what he most deeply cared about in life, and what he was truly gifted at doing and brought him joy. Getting clear was transformational for Greg. He loved mentoring others, working in a team environment, freedom in his schedule and time with family. None of these values or strengths in his current job role were central! He spent his days overseeing financials, figuring out politics and showing up as a figurehead with no time to mentor. He had always thought to be the President or CEO was the indicator of true success. But being miserable couldn’t be success…

So, to create your own personal “compass” start with values. What is deeply important to you? What beliefs do you have an emotional connection to? What are the “non – negotiables” in life and work for you? I have a set of Value Cards I like to use with my clients that are helpful to narrow down what their values are. Please email to receive a free pdf of these value cards!

Then, clarify your core strengths. So much focus over the last few decades has been on strengthening your weaknesses. It’s actually wasted energy. Leveraging your natural strengths will make you more successful and make you more satisfied. Manage your weaknesses – but don’t over focus you your energy on them. If you haven’t taken the StrengthsFinders assessment available through this little gem called “Strengthsfinders 2.0″ you’ll find it’s one of the best ways to spend under $20 dollars. Knowing your strengths keep you focused on what you do best so you find a best fit.

So how did the story end for Greg? Well, like our stories, it could change again but last I heard from “Greg”, he had left his CEO job and joined a smaller organization as the VP of sales and co-owner. He was working with a small team to help grow the organization, coach other young sales people, be home for dinner most nights, and to be an active part of his little girl’s life. Truly knowing his values and strengths gave him courage, along with a big dose of clarity , to get his life and work into much greater alignment.


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