You are not your resume.
You are not who other people need you to be, nor are you at the mercy of the people who control your payday.
You are not the number of hours you work, how much you earn, or how often you check emails on your BlackBerry or iPhone.
You have a CORE – it is the center of who you are and it’s not measured by any of these things.
Your CORE is highly unique to you – it is the essence of who you are, what you value, what you do naturally, and what you are best suited to do in the world.
For most of us, the CORE gets buried under layers of who we were taught we should be and suppressed by the compromises we have made to get ahead in the world.
If you’re anything like I was, it’s buried so deep that you’re not always sure it is real.
But that doubt that creeps in, that is real.
And what about that nagging question that lurks in the periphery of our workday…
“Is this really what I’m meant to be doing?”
During my consulting career, I was great at helping people be “who they needed to be” to get ahead. But over time, I became painfully aware of how many successful executives harbored real doubts about the path they had chosen.
How to Be Distinctive?
For many years, I served a leading global consulting firm that was deeply committed to developing its people. One of the criteria for making partner at the Firm was “distinctiveness”, which meant bringing your unique contributions to bear in service of clients and the firm. Yet many of the young people who I was coaching kept asking me, “What should I do to be viewed as distinctive?”
Pretty ironic – even in a culture totally committed to bringing out the best in the individual, “being who you really are” had become a box to be checked.
Getting Ahead Culture
From early on we’re taught, either overtly or with subtle cues, that we need to make the grade, hit the mark, and do what it takes to get ahead in life. We’re conditioned to think about who we need to be, not who we really are and what we really want.
As kids, we are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up” and in adulthood, we regularly face that cocktail party question, “So, what do you do?” In both cases, it is important to have a good answer.
But not everyone is like this. Some people are “Naturals.”
You know these people. They may not follow the rules, yet they somehow get away with it. And amazingly despite their quirks, they flourish because they are real. The great ones know who they are at their CORE and they are “who they are” wherever they go. They just can’t help it.
John L. Weinberg – A Natural
When I joined Goldman Sachs, I was acutely aware of the importance of looking and acting the part. What tie you wore, the right suit, how you spoke, even the number of eyelets on your shoes – it all mattered and perception was everything.
Then I had the privilege of interviewing John L. Weinberg, the legendary banker who led Goldman from 1976 -1990, and I realized that there was another way.
When John died in 2006, his NY Times obit said it all:
A former marine who saw combat during World War II, Mr. Weinberg had a blunt, unpretentious manner. His style, like his disposition, was unadorned. He kept his hair closely cropped and wore off-the-rack suits and socks that hung a bit too low. He was also known for his earthy maxims, many of them aimed to deflate the ballooning egos of his bankers.
”I don’t think John ever thought about money,” said Robert E. Rubin, the former Treasury secretary who, together with Stephen Friedman succeeded Mr. Weinberg. ”… when he dealt with clients he never thought about the transaction, he thought about them.”
John was a Natural.
Naturals are not just the leaders of big firms; they are the great ones in all walks of life. They are who they are, wherever they are and they can’t help it. And they all have one thing in common. Whether they are aware of it or not, they operate from the CORE.
You’ve got to CLARIFY who you really are and what you love to do to find out where you are a natural.
Ask New Questions
You don’t become a natural by asking, “What am I qualified to do?” or, “How can I reposition my resume?” Who you are naturally resides at a certain corner of life. It may not be clear now but you can find it.
Discovering your CORE requires a skill that most of us don’t have, a skill that was never taught in school, a skill that is rarely rewarded. This is the skill of not knowing and the ability to tolerate that long enough to really explore. In our society “not knowing” is rarely OK and the fear of the unknown is a normal phenomenon.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can find your CORE. It just takes a little structure and some help along the way.
Using the CORE method, I help clients find their real answer.
The 4 Steps to Finding Your CORE
CLARIFY. First, we clarify, and we suspend judgment, forget what sounds good or looks right, and find what is real. This requires courage.
OPTIONS. Next we explore your options. The secret to creating Career Resonance™ is the knowledge that the place for “who you are naturally” already exists in the world. It’s out there, and you can find it. And it is not random. We use an Options Map™ to set up a clear timeline, provide structure, and apply real world criteria to your exploration process. That structure guides the “not knowing” and makes exploration much easier.
RESONATE. Next we see how you resonate. We know intuitively in minutes whether we resonate with a person or idea, and then spend the rest of the time seeking to confirm or deny that inner knowing. We resonate or we don’t, then we start thinking, often ignoring what we feel in favor of what sounds right or what looks best on the resume. The “Resonate” step is about being clear and straightforward about what rings true for you and articulating that in a clear manner that others will understand.
ENGAGE. Finally, you engage, which is when you bring the “who you are” to the right people and see if you resonate together. No more lobbing resumes into the internet abyss, no more spinning your story for recruiters, and no more rationalizing taking a job that isn’t quite right for you. Engage means taking clear action with the knowledge that the lifestyle, the money, the time, and most of all, the work you love to do will happen when you find the people with whom you resonate. They will “get it” and they will get you.
That’s a CORE Career worth working for.