Career Changes: Personal Inventory
A former client wrote to me last week and said he’d like to understand better what we mean by “magic”—-what it is, what it is not, and why it’s important to define.
 Personal Inventory of Strengths, Weaknesses and Experiences
In a previous article we wrote “it’s absolutely necessary to take an inventory of strengths and weaknesses; review what’s worked in your career and what hasn’t; identify moments of passion and success as well as those of boredom and disinterest; in short, to discover the “magic” that makes you unique and special and differentiates your contribution.”
I’m going to stick with those words as a definition from my experience of guiding this vital discovery activity with over 700 clients. Different tools and techniques are used to facilitate this process of course. The “magic” discovery itself can be quite unexpected. A sales and marketing VP fired from his job for missing the sales growth target realized that it had happened twice before in his career after he’d built dysfunctional sales groups into high performance teams but had then become bored with the day-to-day management activity. His magic was in building and when that was done he needed to move on to the next building and development opportunity.
Now, an argument can be made that the newly enlightened VP could approach the day-to-day management growth challenge with a better attitude—the “you’re lucky to have a job” argument—and in some cases behavior change like that can occur. The problem with that approach, however, is that eventually another VP candidate will come along who is a really special manager of existing teams and replace him. The uncomfortable reality of today’s organizational life is that “can do” isn’t good enough. “Best at” is the required performance standard.
 Matching Job to Your "Magic"
Your primary piece of due diligence for any work opportunity is to ask sufficient open-ended questions to feel comfortable that the values, culture and management style of the organization match what you need to allow your skills to be embraced and appreciated. Step 1 is to define it and step 2 is to test for organizational match.
You’ll know you’ve ‘got it’ when the following interview situation sounds exciting to you: you’re told by the hiring manager “I have several qualified candidates–why are you the best one for this job?” …and you can’t wait to look that person in the eye and say “great question – I don’t know if it’s me — but if you need someone who is best at (…describe your magic…) then no question I’m the right one!
 Related Best Practices
- Career Changes: Steps Along the Way
- Career Changes: Becoming Your Own Career Manager
- Career Changes: Getting Unstuck
- Career Changes: Career Evolution
- Career Changes: Be Proactive
The author of this article is Frank Cohee.
Frank Cohee is an accomplished coach and facilitator of individual client discovery. His highly-interactive process nurtures clients to connect their strategic goals with the realities of market needs. Focused and realistic implementation plans result. During the past 20 years Frank has assisted over 700 managers and executives as they have evolved their vocational careers.
As a particular area of coaching interest, Frank has designed and presented innovative entrepreneurial seminars over 60 times to in-excess of 600 attendees. He’s followed up with many of these clients to assist with marketing and fiscal strategic plans for their new business activities.
Prior to founding his consulting company in 1990, Process Improvement Associates, he spent 25 years in senior leadership roles with Northwest companies. These included seven years as President and COO of an innovative manufacturing company. These prior life activities provide a solid foundation of experience to integrate into his client career coaching work.
Frank holds a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Harvard University with distinction.