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How I Created a Career I Love


If you’ve been a reader of my emails for more than one month, you will know that each month I focus on a Strength that I want to use more.  This month I’ve been working on my Narrator Strength (“Telling stories comes naturally to you” as my profile reads).  This is something that I’m good at and I derive energy from so…. why has it been so difficult?

Each day of the month, it has popped up in my calendar “Monthly Strength: Narrator”.  Each day of the month I’ve thought “I must tell a story today.  What shall I tell a story about?”.  Each day of the month I haven’t got any closer to telling a story.  Until yesterday.

Yesterday I gave an online presentation about my work.  By way of introducing myself, I thought “I know, I’ll tell my own story”.  So, there I began.  Then, my Chatterbox popped up (remember her from last week?)  “You’ve been speaking for too long.  They didn’t come here to hear all about you.”  What was I doing wrong?  This is supposed to be my Strength.

Afterwards I realised that the problem was this: One of my Learned Behaviours (things that I can do well but de-energise me) is Spotlight or being the centre of attention.  So, watching people watching me telling a story was not filling me with the desired joy and energy…

BUT!  It’s nearly the end of the month and I have to tell a story so I’ve decided to combine this Strength with another of my Strengths which is Writing and today I’m going to tell you the story of how I created a career I love.  Are you sitting comfortably?

Starting position: I love working

When I was 12 years old, my 14-year-old brother got a weekend job at the local chicken farm.  I was really envious – he got to ride a quad bike, got into trouble for breaking eggs whilst driving irresponsibly and even set fire to his own leg.  It sounded so exciting and thrilling!

I begged to have a weekend job too.

When I was 14, I got my first weekend job at a local care home.  I was very proud to be paid the same hourly rate as the adults.  I even worked on Christmas Day and delayed the whole family Christmas lunch.  Such was my importance.

At 16, I started weekend working at the Little Chef, dealing with the general public, doing 7 am starts and 11 pm finishes and going home with hair smelling like sausages and burgers.  The social life was AMAZING.

My year-off was populated by different jobs including working as a waitress in a hotel on a ski resort.  A job from which I got fired.  Very grown up!  (obviously not my fault either).

So, I was a little in love with my career before I even got to university.  And I’ve been lucky to have always loved what I do for a living.  And when I haven’t, I’ve tweaked, twisted and pivoted into something new.

The path of least resistance

I got my first “proper” job because the director that interviewed me liked the fact that I’d worked on a ski resort.  I don’t remember him asking me a single thing about my French speaking and secretarial skills (it was a bilingual PA role) but we swapped anecdotes about hairy skiing experiences.  I loved the PA role, was quickly promoted to a researcher and then became a consultant.  I relished going out and meeting clients, travelling to Greece, Saudi Arabia and Doncaster.  And then I was headhunted – what an honour!

I got the job at this large, international consulting firm.  I hated it.  I was bored with the work and really didn’t like the processes, structure and regulation of a large firm.  I left quickly.

Next move was into recruitment in a small, owner managed business.  I thrived, dealing with candidates and clients all day, finding people their dream job and learning about lots of different businesses.  I was very successful here.

From there, I ran my own recruitment business (loved it), went to work for someone else’s recruitment business (got bored), pivoted into a non-fee-earning role (felt like I wasn’t adding value) and then trained as a coach.  On a bit of a whim or maybe a hunch.

Strengths, Values and Purpose

I work with my clients to align their careers to their Strengths, Values and Purpose.  If I look at my career path with that lens, it all makes sense. 

My top Strengths:
  • Serving others: have always enjoyed working with customers / clients
  • Rapport building: an essential skill in coaching to build trust
  • Listening: loved using this skill in recruitment and, of course, in coaching
  • Growth: always need to be in a role where I’m learning and doing new things every day
  • Adventure: enjoy the risk of the unknown so happy to try out new directions

My core Values of altruism, lifelong learning and beauty / harmony fit well with my strengths and running my small coaching business.

My story, my Strengths and my Values enable me to fulfil my Purpose.  To support others in finding more happiness and fulfilment at work.

Happy Ending?

As I said in my presentation last night, my career is not a fait accompli (I just know I’d get bored if it was).  I continue to work on aligning my strengths and tweaking what I do to be even more fulfilled.  At the moment, I’m a 7/10 which is pretty good ??.

For the first time in my career, I have plans for my future.  I am confident that my career will continue to evolve in a way that is aligned to my evolving Strengths, Values and Purpose.

What an exciting adventure!

I’d love to hear your career stories and discuss how you can become more intentional about creating a career you love. 

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