When I was 19 years old and a sophomore in college I took an accounting class to satisfy a requirement for my minor in Human Resources. Most areas of math never came easily for me. Therefore, I didn’t think accounting would be easy even though accounting is in my blood – my father is a CPA. I believe my dad wanted one of his children to major in accounting, even though he never said so.
Not Sure What to Expect
Going into this class I decided to sit in the “T” area of the class. I had heard that students who sat in the front row of a class or in a seat in the vertical middle row (thus making a “T) got better grades. I don’t know if this is true, but I made sure to sit in the “T” area every class because I wasn’t sure how I would do with the material. I took to the information fairly quickly and felt it was easy to understand. I received an ‘A’ in the class. Being proud of this accomplishment, I was excited to tell my father. His response was something to the effect of, “Great now you can take more accounting classes.” My response was, “Dad, just because I’m good at something doesn’t mean I like it.” I had no idea how profound a statement that was. In fact it wasn’t until much much later in my life when I reflected on that conversation that I realized how true that was.
Could I understand accounting? Yes. Did the concepts come easily to me? Yes. Did I want to spend more time wanting to learn more accounting principles? No.
Being Good at a Job Isn’t Enough
Many of my clients bring up this very point. They are skilled in a certain area, but do not want to stay in a career in that area. It doesn’t feel right. My clients and I discuss how a career needs to meet more criteria than just a match for your skills. To a degree, a career must also align with your interests, personality and values as well as your skills. Within your skills, not only should you be good at that skill, you should want to utilize that skill in a major way in your career. Is your career aligned that way? Are you using the skills you are good at or the skills you are both good at and want to be using? It’s an important distinction for career engagement.
Helping clients understand this difference led me to start Wolfgang Career Coaching. In our Explore and Discover framework, we discuss interests, personality, behaviors, values and skills. We determine which ones are most important and you require in a career. I’m fortunate to help many clients reach an “ah ha!” moment when they realize why they aren’t satisfied in the job or career. At this point, my clients see jobs in a different way and have a clear set of criteria they are looking for as we “discover” alternative careers.
I think back to that accounting conversation with my dad often. I encourage you to spend some time asking yourself what skills you truly enjoy and want to be using in your career. Once you have identified them, begin to think of ways you can use those skills more in your life. This exercise could help you begin to enjoy your day-to-day activities much more.