Allison was good at everything. The problem was…she couldn’t find something she enjoyed doing.
As a self-proclaimed Upholder (defined in Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies), Allison had a knack, or rather a compulsion, for meeting expectations.
This habit led to a “see and conquer” mentality in the career world. She’d see a job posting, and whether or not she genuinely wanted to do the work, she’d take on the challenge. In other words, she’d shift into whatever shape necessary to accomplish the goals of that role.
While pursuing her degree, Allison worked as an office manager in a typical 8-hour office environment. Not too long into her role, she realized the clock-in-clock-out-pushing-papers desk job wasn’t for her. Recognizing a need for hands-on work, Allison routed her college studies for a career in oil and gas.
Upon graduation, she was hired as a High-pressure Pump Operator in Anchorage, Alaska. Looking back, Allison says she was drawn to the job’s hands-on nature and the opportunity to work in big picture operations. She felt a special love for the procedures and problem-solving ability required for her two week on/two week off schedule. She was good at her job, but the love didn’t last.
Before long, Allison’s heart for Alaskan drilling grew cold.
She transferred to the company’s headquarters, back to a desk job. This time, her stint at the front desk was short, as the Procurement team picked up on her skills and assigned her the task of building a centralized buying program from scratch.
As a lover of challenges and, like we mentioned above, a compulsive expectation upholder, Allison dove headfirst into this new project. She was successful on the outside, but internally, Allison struggled. She couldn’t find her dream job, and when she looked at her resume, it seemed like an indomitable connect-the-dots puzzle.
“I had so many different skills and interests, and I jumped around so much that one job sometimes didn’t look anything like the next job. I was grasping at straws to try to fit all these aspects of my life into one [career] that I didn’t even know was possible. So, I just jumped from job to job.
I felt like a flip flopper. It didn’t feel very good. When I would want to move on to the next thing, I felt like I had to subdue or discredit the parts of myself that were in the other position.”
When she was laid off from her procurement job, Allison decided to take some local classes on resumes and job placement. She quickly found these tools to be a bad recipe for her own career happiness. The one-dimensional nature of the assessments told Allison she was conventional, so she should pursue a role like chef or plumber. When neither of those felt like a fit, her recruiters directed her to the job board to search for something that would hit home.
Allison was beginning to believe her dream career belonged in a file with the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and the Abominable Snowman. With each new job that left her unfulfilled, Allison beat herself up a little more.
One day, Allison stumbled upon the Happen To Your Career podcast. When she heard other high achievers sighting similar struggles and then telling the stories of their successes, Allison felt something growing inside. Something that felt like hope.
“I’m tired of not liking what I do, and I’m tired of not being fantastic at it, and I’m tired of not incorporating all of me.”
A few episodes into the podcast, Allison began to gain confidence that her career search wasn’t in vain. Career happiness was possible, and her varied interests and hesitation to pigeon hole or specialize in her fields weren’t a sign of delinquency.
“When I heard the episode with Emily Wapnick, I literally cried.”
As Allison listened to our interview with Emily Wapnick, the woman who popularized the word “multipotentialite,” she felt relief and excitement. The podcast episode gave Allison an epiphany: It was possible to work in line with her many talents and varied interests instead of forcing herself to be a linear, hyper-focused specialist.
To listen to our interview with Emily Wapnick on Multipotentialites, click the play button below.
One of the approaches Emily shared for helping multipotentialites find their dream careers is the Group Hug approach. This involves finding a job that combines all of your seemingly disconnected interests into one role.
“I really wanted the challenge of trying to see if I could fit it all into one career, which took a while. But … I did it.”
While the episode with Emily sparked hope, Allison knew she needed a plan for continued movement toward career happiness. She needed a mind shift.
“I had been ‘shoulding’ all over the place.”
“I told myself, ‘I should be a specialist. I should pick something to follow forever. And it should be something that I can retire with that affords the life I want.’ This belief was all wrong for me.”
The first step in overcoming Allison’s mental barriers was to realize other multipotentialites like her had figured it out. She needed to realize there was nothing wrong with her, and that a career she loved that paid well was actually possible.
To keep moving the right direction, Allison decided to join Career Change Bootcamp. Throughout the course, she was challenged with activities like completing the Ideal Career Profile. This task required listing everything Allison wanted, from salary, to work relationships, to office environment, to location, and lifestyle.
“The hardest part was getting over fitting myself into a job board.”
Allison was so used to meeting expectations that the job board usually left her saying, “I could do that” instead of “I would love that.” But with the help of Career Change Bootcamp, she became self-aware and began to filter out others’ expectations to hear her own voice on what she wanted.
“Figure out who you are, figure out your strengths, and then get yourself in motion.”
As she completed the Clifton’s Strengthsfinder assessment during her CCB course, Allison discovered the formula for her own career happiness. She says confidence + strengths + motion = dream career.
She began to imagine a career she could be passionate about. When asked the question, “What are some of the things you can’t stop doing?” Allison found herself responding, “I can’t stop asking people if they like their job.”
This answer helped her see that she was obsessed with career fulfillment. For five or six years, she had been showing interest in others’ career success. Even when she was shifting gears with her job title, she kept asking people whether or not they loved their work.
“Looking back at the big picture, even though my jobs were so different, every single job, whether it was part of the role or not—if it was just interactions with employees or how I felt about myself in that position—everything pointed to my dream job.”
Allison realized she was good at simplifying processes for people and creating new programs. She had fun communicating to people in a language they understood. When she thought about career paths, she realized she could use all of these skills in helping others find fulfillment.
Today, Allison is a professional career coach. She’s an entrepreneur living out her multipotentiality, and she can honestly say she’s discovered her dream career.
Very few people will find career happiness in this life, whether it’s because they don’t believe it’s available to them or because they can’t identify what would even bring fulfillment, but Allison is living proof that you can do work you love and be paid well for it.
Read more success stories from Career Change Bootcamp!
Transcript from Episode
Scott: Welcome to the Happen To Your Career Podcast. I am really excited- I know I always say I’m excited to be here. But I am especially ecstatic, and probably even enamored today because of our guest. And she’s somebody who has walked the walk, in addition to talking the talk in a variety of different ways with her career, and she has done a variety of hard things, especially over recent years. And I’m so excited to bring her on to be able to share her story and how she’s made some pretty massive career changes and what that even means to her because I think that you’re gonna be able to take a lot away from it for yourself. So, I wanna welcome to the Happen To Your Career Podcast, Allison Curbow, how are you?
Allison: Great, Scott. I’m glad you’re doing good too.
Scott: I am doing great and I meant when I said I’m really excited about this because, give people a little bit of backstory here, you and I got the opportunity to meet about one year ago. Is that right?
Scott: Roughly a year ago.
Allison: Yeah. About a year and three months.
Scott: Yeah. That seems crazy to me. And the reason why it seems crazy is because you, I’ve seen you, I’ve gotten a front row seat in a lot of different ways to see just how much you and your life has changed over the last year. And I think that, that is so cool. So, we’re going to talk about that and specifically what you’ve done, and what that road look like for you. But I’m curious, can you share with people what you do now?
Allison: Well, I just started jumping into the entrepreneur career coaching field, and it is nothing like I started out it. I’m gonna paint for you the roadmap of where I came, but
It’s been really exciting to see where I’ve come from my first conversation with you a year ago.
Scott: Yeah. That is, I wanna talk about all that. I also, I am really curious because I don’t even know the full story. And I think it’s important here to acknowledge, like where your career started out to. Do you mind if we jump back for a few, probably more than a few years here? Actually, where did your career start out professionally? What did that look like for you?
Allison: Ah, big question. So, I started out in an office manager position, and just in college, side job, like eight hours a week, and I decided that I wanted a hands-on technical trade and so I went into oil and gas operations. On the North Slope of Alaska, so-
Allison: -my degree in process technology to go on and be a high-pressure pump operator on the North Slope of Alaska.
Scott: So, what does that even mean? I think I might know what that means. But if people have never heard of a high-pressure pump operator, and what does that even mean?
Allison: It’s a working with drilling. So, they push the joint fluid in the ground, it comes back up, and then the appropriate materials you can pump back into the ground, we pump back into the ground. So, super technical, not being an entrepreneur.
Scott: Not even remotely close necessarily. I’m curious, what caused you to think “hey, I’m in this office manager role. I wanna do something more technical”, what transpired where you had that set of thoughts for that original decision?
Allison: My thoughts were that I liked hands on work, I like out in the field and doing things. And I was also trying to combine kind of like a big picture (I don’t really know how to put it) like big picture operations, to where you have all these really big situations going on at one time. And if you mess up on procedure communications, you got a really big problem. So that was actually kind of exciting. And so, I went that route.
Scott: Very cool. So, then what happened from there, you’re now in this technical role that you decided you wanted to move into, and clearly you didn’t stay there forever. So, what happened at that point, what transpired?
Allison: Right, well, turns out I wanted to do more local work. So, North Slope is really, really cold. And it was a rotational schedule: two weeks on, two weeks off. And I shifted in the same company to their office, to their front desk. And then I got picked up by procurement. And I worked to get this centralized buying program started for them, which those two things was another really big jump. And that’s why looking back at my resume, it’s like a dot-to-dot picture where you just go back and forth between all the little dots and it’s kind of a mess at first. But there were just what I struggled with for a long time was I had so many different skills and interests, and I jumped around so much that one job sometimes didn’t look anything like the next job. And that was me grasping at straws, to try to fit all these aspects of my life into one but I didn’t know that was possible. So, I just jumped from job to job.
Scott: So, when you say grasping at straws, what was that like as you were making some of those moves? What did that feel like? In the moment. Now we’re sitting, it’s easy to, sit here and see how some of those things work out after the fact. But I’m curious to when you were there, when you were in the moment. And what did that feel like for you as you’re going, “Hey, look. I know that I wanna be doing something different than this. But I need to, make the move. What was that? What was that feeling like back then? You recall?
Allison: I felt like a flip flopper, it actually didn’t feel very good. Because when I would want to move on to the next thing, I felt like I had to subdue or discredit the parts of myself that were in the other position.
Allison: Yeah. And so, it was actually really hard. For example, when I was in the field, and I wanted to move into some kind of procurement or office space, it was almost like I had to subdue that part to say that was my past. Moving on, this is what I wanted to do. Because I didn’t know it was possible to pull connections together to really fit together a dream job that has every aspect. So, it was really, really hard. Feeling like I couldn’t get it right or maybe I just changed interest too much. Maybe I don’t have a dream job just because everything looks so opposite at the time.
Scott: Was it, what took place to cause you to start to look at it differently then? Because I know now I’ve had multiple conversations with you about this exact thing. And I know now the way that you look at it is far different from that in terms of you’re not beating yourself up anymore for having different interests had at least your lens has shifted quite a bit. So, I’m really curious, what started to take place and what were the set of events that caused you to begin to look at this differently?
Allison: To be honest, it started with another five years of trying to decide back and forth which thing I wanted, because I felt like I had to choose either or, and they were opposite. So, my work history is a big finger painting from a preschooler. And once I found your podcast, and really wanted to dig into I have to find my fit. I am tired at not liking what I do, and I’m tired of not being fantastic at it and I’m tired of not incorporating all of me. And then you have that episode that: “multipotentialite” episode of Emily Wapnick. And I literally just cried because it takes a lot to subdue what you think has no value. And so then learning that there’s multipotentialite people like me, first of all, there’s a word for it. Other people exist, but it’s a thing to be able to incorporate all aspects of your life and interest into a career.
Scott: And if you haven’t listened to that episode, go back to happentoyourcareer.com/103. And you can listen to my friend Emily, she has popularized that word multipotentialite, which another way to think about that is somebody who has many talents and many interests as opposed to somebody who is a specialist and really has just one interest in one very much very narrow focus. So, for context if you are not familiar with that word, definitely check that out. We’ve had a lot of great feedback about that episode and I’m so glad that was so helpful to you too. So, then what else, as you started to think about that, like, “hey, it’s so it’s okay to have many interest. It’s okay to and even better you can work with this rather than against it.” What were some of the realizations that you had or what had took place from there?
Allison: It once I got over to the fact that it wasn’t a bad thing to have a resume that was like a finger painting, it’s okay, and there’s different. She teaches that there’s different ways for multipotentialite to handle it. One way is having a job and then having hobbies on the side or a side hustle. But I really wanted the challenge of trying to see if I could fit it all into one career. Which took a while. And, I did it.
Scott: Emily, that we were talking about it calls this the group hug method, which I love is just kind of fun to say in the first place. But I think that even though that’s not right for everybody, I think something that I have learned about you is that has been really important to you from almost the beginning of as I started to get to know you. And I think that, that’s something you’re after. So, and you have done it. So, one, congratulations because most people in the world will not do the work to be able to make that happen or don’t even know what’s possible in a lot of different ways. So, I think that’s amazing that you’ve done that. And I’m, I really wanna talk about how that happened. And some of both the great pieces about it as well as some of the hardware pieces too.
Allison: Well, it, that’s where a lot of mindset works had to happen. Because I came from a world of specialists where I was a generalist. And I always tried to fit myself in that specialist box to find that career that I’m great at, that pays well, that I’ll stay with for 30 years. And that just wasn’t looking at my background that wasn’t happening. Other combination of I would get bored and want to move on. Or I would just change my mind or get tired of subduing other parts. And I’m really driven by curiosity. And so, I would find another aspect of me that I was curious about and follow that thing. So that turned into what’s wrong with me and nothing in my world indicated how to figure that out. At one point, I was laid off from my procurement position. And so, I went and I took some vocal classes on resumes and jobs, which have really good intentions. But for people like me, who are multi passionate or really don’t know, what they want is a really bad recipe. So-
Scott: In what way? I agree with that. But for people who might not be familiar with that aspect, what do you mean when you say that?
Allison: Yeah, so they, there’s a lot of assessments online. And I went and took the assessment, and it marked me as conventional. So, if you’re conventional, you’re either gonna be a chef or a plumber.
Allison: Okay, well.
Scott: How come you’re not chef-ing or plumbing right now?
Allison: Because I haven’t found a way to combine them, obviously. And then there’s, you follow that. And then there’s a list of the salaries and job outlook and availability. And my answer was still, I don’t really know. And so, they said, “Okay, we’ll go online to the job boards, and look at positions that are out there and see which one you want to do.” And I’m like, “Okay, I’ll try that for five minutes.” And it was a mess. Because as a high performer, there’s a lot that I can do. And I’m easily challenged by something. And so, I would see a job that’s like, okay, that might be fun, and that could have my interest. And then I do it, and then I lose more time, or I just get really overwhelmed because I see no pattern. And pretty soon I’m down the rabbit hole of, I don’t even like what I’m doing. Because I get surrounded by these “shoulds” of the type of job I should have. And then I’m just like the phrase: Just shooting all over the place. Just pile of shoulds.
Scott: Yeah. And it’s, I think that’s something that’s really common human experience in a lot of different ways. And I’m curious what were some of those “shoulds” for you? I heard you say, the type of job that I should have, what were some of those that you saw pop up from time to time for yourself?
Allison: I should be a specialist. I should pick something to follow forever. And it should be something that I can retire with that affords the life I want, which are all really important and really good advice. But it was wrong for me. Because I had such a passion to find my fit and at that point I followed these “shoulds” for two more years which looking back seems like a lot of time to really not like your work since I so desperately wanted to like my work. I remember even back in middle school, being upset that I haven’t found what I’m good at. And so, for some reason there was just a part of me that really wanted to fit which I know every kid wants to fit in but I had a drive to be so fantastic at what I do that it drove me crazy to not find something I was fantastic at or recognized for.
Scott: That’s really interesting because I do think you’re right. I think every kid experiences that in different ways, and I know you’ve got a little boy too. So, you’re probably seeing this all over again and everything here too. But I, it’s such an irony or a juxtaposition because what I heard you just say is that I wanna be recognized for the things that I’m good at, and I wanna fit in. And those often don’t go together. So, I believe personally that, that’s one of the big reasons why it feels so challenging because those a lot of times are at odds. And if you’re looking at just those two options, a lot of times most people never find that in one way or another. And until you start introducing additional options, well what if you can fit in where you are great at something or what if you can fit in with the other type of people that you want to surround yourself around. And, it’s like taking those two options which are, is somewhat impossible and then tweaking them. And I think you’ve done a really good job of introducing other options into your life. So, what if you had, you listened to this episode way back when and I think that’s so fun that, you know, a year ago, over a year ago we didn’t even know each other or anything like that and you listen to the podcast and now you’re on the podcast. So, that’s personally a lot of fun and rewarding for me. But you listen to this episode with Emily, clearly, it made an impact on you. And that started introducing some of those additional lenses. What were some of the other be called a mental work or some of those pieces that you felt you needed to go through in order to get to the point where you could create this group hug all together? All the pieces of what I want right now in the career.
Allison: Right, and that was step one to my mental barriers or mindset blocks was just realizing that there’s other people like me and they made it work to be happy in their careers and to find something that works for them, whatever that looks like whether it was like a job in a side gig or one happy career, but that was step one realizing that there’s nothing wrong with me in this case. And just realizing that I had the either-or mindset that you can either like your job and not get paid very much. Or there can be really you can be really good at something and highly paid but not enjoy your life at all. So, the next mindset barrier was realizing that you can have more than one thing, was a really big deal and really life changing.
Scott: What helped you get there? Because I think that’s something we hear really constantly, Philip on our team, he’s our Director of Student Success. He talks with people all the time every day, and I’ve had literally many hundreds of calls, maybe even approaching to thousands calls where people have said something really similar to that like about, well, I really want to be paid really well. But I really want to be like they almost talk about it as two different mutually exclusive things. And a lot of times I find myself on those calls saying, actually, the people that we’ve worked with, find both more often than not, and yeah, many times it’s the exception rather than the rule that they’re taking something that’s lower pay, and also getting what they want. So, I’m very curious from your perspective, what helped you make that shift?
Allison: It was you and your podcast and your CCB program. So, more background, I went through your CCB program a year ago. But yeah, I finished it less than a year ago. And some of the tools are you have us design this ideal career profile. And so, you make us acknowledge all of these different aspects and put it together in one sheet. And so, it really visually lays it out that you can combine them.
Scott: Well, I very much appreciate that feedback and kind words, and that’s super interesting in terms of: how you put it. Because obviously, we put together the program and everything like that we intentionally created it. But I don’t think I’ve heard it described quite that way before. So, you’re saying the real benefit to you was that you could acknowledge all of these different pieces, and then were forced to put them together and look at them differently for the first time. Is that, right?
Allison: Yeah. Everything from money, to what kind of relationship do you want with your boss? What kind of geographic location and how do you want your work to feel? What do you want? What do you want your life to look like? What do you want in your relationships in and out of work? And what are the tasks that are ideal and minimums and it just forces you to paint one picture instead of subduing parts.
Scott: Do you, as you’re going through that type of process and trying to begin to identify, what would really create an ideal career for me? What does (not just good a lot of times you hear) what does good look like? But not just good, what does great look like? What does thriving look like? What does ideal look like? What were some of the hardest pieces for you as you were going through that process?
Allison: My, the hardest part was getting over fitting myself into a job board. Because after about a decade of following job boards and what careers were trending in on the up rise, you really get in this holding pattern of not acknowledging what you want.
Scott: That’s super interesting. What do you mean when you say not get into a holding pattern and not acknowledging what you want?
Allison: It’s… I think it’s a lot to do with multipotentialite, I think I mentioned about trying to fit it all in. Is that what you’re?
Scott: Well, I’m just curious, what you mean when you say that? So, I, when you when I hear you say get into a holding pattern of not acknowledging what you want, it almost sounds like you’re alluding to job boards are stopping you from acknowledging what you want, in some ways, and I’m curious whether you meant that or something else.
Allison: Yeah, job boards and then expectations that were either placed on me or I placed on myself, or expectations that I just assumed existed but nobody even pressed on me.
Scott: What’s one of those?
Allison: it’s… I don’t know, maybe the conventional aspect. Let me think, ask me that again.
Scott: What would be an example of a- expectation that you felt was there only to realize later it wasn’t actually there?
Allison: That’s kind of tough because as an upholder, I swim in expectations. If you want to get into my strong opinion of Gretchen Rubens book, the four tendencies, I’m gonna pull their which means, I can follow in your expectations and outer expectations. So as advantages like I expect myself to do my homework, and then I do my homework, but then it has disadvantages where someone says, “Hey, you might be good at doing this kind of job.” And then I’m like, okay, it is expected of me that I do this kind of job and then I follow another rabbit hole and probably do it.
Scott: So you, part of your past then, as I’m starting to think about this holistically. Part of your past is you have these upholder tendencies where you’ll meet your own expectations, but just as easily meet other people’s expectations as well. So, somebody says, “Hey, Allison, you should go do this.” And then you, not really no problem, but for all intents and purposes compared to a lot of people, no problem and we’ll just go and do that. And then only to realize that sounds like that isn’t what you want, because you’re following other people’s expectations. And then it sounds like much more recently have started looking at these pieces in a different way. Because now you’re beginning to realize, which are other people’s expectations, which are your expectations, and then how can you start to piece these together in a way that creates this real ideal career for you?
Allison: Yeah, which is where the holding pattern comes in. And I’m combining all these “shoulds”. And when I take on other people’s expectations, I don’t filter out if they’re mine, or if there’s someone else’s, or if I just assumed that it was someone else’s expectation. I think a lot of people see that in the form of I don’t want to let someone down.
Allison: And my big mindset overcoming that mindset hurdle, was really understanding myself as an upholder. And that gets into the whole other topic of the importance of knowing yourself and all of this. So, once I became self-aware, which was no easy task, but there’s tools to help you become self-aware, like in CCB. And once I became self-aware, I was able to create a filter and separate those “shoulds” and be able to pull up my own voice about what I wanted.
Scott: So, what are some of those things that you found along the way? As you’re going through this exploration, you’re beginning to identify all of these different areas that you want to bring together into a cohesive career? What were some of the most important pieces for you as you were working through this and having realizations along the way, that you learned that: hey, in my next role, next opportunity, whatever the next stage looks like, I need to start having more of this or these things. What were some of those for you?
Allison: Once I got past that roadblock of there’s nothing wrong with me. Because of this background that’s jumping around, I’m not flaky. One thing I had to overcome was, in your podcast, you speak to high performers. And because I wanted to be so flat out fantastic at what I do. I wanted to be a high performer so bad, but what I thought was a high performer, I didn’t fit into. So, what I thought a high performer looks like was somebody that’s been in the same linear path, who’s winning worked up in a company who has the salary they want, and has a respectable title they’re proud of. And so, I’m thinking “K. that’s what a high performer means.” And you’ve had other guests where they’ve worked up the ladder, and all of a sudden there, they realized that they’re unhappy with it, or that they want something different or it doesn’t fit your life. But I was even desperate to feel that much of a high performer. And so, I, it took some work to even identify is that because I didn’t feel like I looked like someone who was a normal high achiever. In a sense that, my background and resume did not look impressive for what I knew I was capable of.
Scott: You know, it’s so interesting. And I know you and I, before we hit the record button, we got to briefly chat about this. But this is something that a lot of people don’t see behind the scenes. And I worry sometimes that we misrepresent some of these things that go on behind the scenes on the podcast. And one of the things that we have happened over and over and over again, is we get to meet (like, I feel so fortunate that we’ve created this business) where we get to meet all kinds of talented people like you and people from all over the world for all intents and purposes. So, we get to meet tons of high performers, high achievers, and everything along those lines. And just really cool, unique, fun, and talented people from all over the place. And I am eternally grateful for that. Also, one of the things that has- that people don’t see and all the calls we have, and the meeting of all these people is that, we get people that have a… I guess you could call it like you called it a “finger painting type background”, like the scattered background of lots of different resume, or lots of different pieces on the resume and stuff of that don’t go together. And they’re like, “I don’t know if I fit into the traditional method of high performer.” And then we also on the other side, we’ll talk to a person an hour later where maybe they worked at, I don’t know, NASA or Facebook, or just think of a big company and insert the name here, or something that’s really well-known. And they’ve run up this trajectory and have had those promotions. And they’re dealing with the exact same thing. They’re like, “I don’t know if I fit the method of traditional high performer” or even maybe the opposite way where they’re like, “Hey. I’ve done this thing, but this isn’t actually what I want. And now I’m here and I realized I did it for some of the wrong reasons or it was good before, but it’s no longer good now and not what I want in my life” or even in our later we’ll have another conversation with somebody else who doesn’t fit into either of those categories and is completely different. So, what is fascinating to me that everyone experiences variations of this. Absolutely everyone experiences variations of what you’re talking about that feeling like they’re not fitting in with one area or another. And I think that, that is… the good news is that means you’re human. So that’s a bonus. But also, that, I think that’s one of the best examples of what Seth Godin calls “The Imposter Syndrome.” And he really popularized that word over the last 10 years or so, or that phrase over the last 10 years or so. So, I’m curious now that you’ve started to reconcile with that a bit, what advice would you have to other people that are feeling a bit of that? In one way or another.
Allison: I think that it’s really common for people to feel especially when people are stuck. And especially when they’ve been stuck for a length of time because I got really down on myself when I was in my jobs that didn’t fit, because I wasn’t measuring up to their metric of success. And I felt like I was a bad employee or incapable or maybe not as fantastic as I thought I was. But then I really broke down that the reason for that is because I’m not a good fit for that. Because everybody has their own unique strengths, that when they recognize and cultivate them are so strong, that when you put them in the wrong spot, they’re gonna look like a fish out of water. And so, they’re gonna tell them themselves, I am a fish out of water and I’m incapable and the longer they’re not with their own view of success, then they seem not successful. And so that’s where I got so held up is because I didn’t feel like I was successful as a person because I wasn’t measuring my workplaces’ success. And so, I think that people that feel stuck fall into this trap of feeling not good enough. And then they get down on themselves, when really, it’s just a matter of you’re not using your strengths and, or your values don’t match your workplace values. And so, you feel undervalued and overlooked. And the remedy is really simple. Figure out who you are, figure out your strengths, and then get yourself in motion.
Scott: I was trying to think and Google at the same time, do you remember the quote that I think it gets attributed to Benjamin Franklin a lot of the time, and I don’t know if it actually came from Benjamin Franklin, but it’s still a good quote, nonetheless, where it’s everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree (you were saying fish out of water. So, it made me think of it.) Then, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live his whole life believing that as a stupid.
Allison: Yeah, it’s that thing. Because I didn’t have a filter term to really empower myself to know that I can have my own definition of success. And to really say, these are my workplace values. And this is how I wanna be treated and viewed at the workplace. And I was so down on myself for not fitting in my job, that I totally took the power out of my own hands. And I was not in the driver’s seat of my career. And it took a lot of realizing and mindset work and being open to let me become me that career change really started to happen.
Scott: Do you think, as you reflect back on this, what do you think are the two to three major things that you did, if you could point two, just even one to three major things that you did, that really began to set everything else in motion or made the biggest differences for you? How many understand what some of those were?
Allison: Probably the biggest thing was seeing my strengths and CCB, we take Strengths Finder assessment, which is personally my favorite one I’ve ever taken.
Scott: Why is it that one your favorite? I know you’ve taken a lot of assessments. Curious why this is your favorite.
Allison: It is so detailed and so accurate. It spits out like five to eight pages of these are your top five themes. And it really breaks down into this is what it probably looks like in your life and this is what you tend to say and think and do. And it’s like, I am so fantastic because I happen to love these things. And it really pieces together that what you’re good at, and then you realize I actually like doing what I’m good at and then with figuring out your ideal career, you can be like, “holy cow, I can add in what I want to this” and it becomes this formula that I thought of where it’s confidence plus your strengths plus motion. And the confidence was that mindset work of, “there’s nothing wrong with me I can have my own success, definition of success and my own values.” And it gives you the energy but then you need to know your strengths, to really feel like a superhero. And with the program, you get us to figure out our signature strengths which are the top things that make me uniquely me and once I realized those, I was really finally able to articulate what I might be fantastic at.
Scott: So, I think that there’s a lot that can be glossed over really quick here. When we said, I think everybody understands those pieces intuitively, like the whole concept of working with your strengths rather than against you. And working with your strengths allows you to get a lot further a lot faster, and become more successful in whatever it is that you want to do. If you’re working with the way that you’re wired and the way that you’ve developed over years and the experiences do you have and more of your natural tendencies versus trying to work against them, which is working outside your strengths. However, I’m really curious for you, why you felt that being able to articulate those things was so powerful? What did that do for you?
Allison: It… other than confirming that I had the capability of being the best that I can be at my job. It really gave me a roadmap to instead of fitting myself to those job boards, it really empowered me to say, “Okay, I’m great at these five things. So maybe I can come up with a job or direction that I can use all five of these things”, which I really don’t believe that you have to have all of your top strengths in a career because some people like the side hustle or they have something that they’re really happy with and they can use their strengths somewhere else, but I think a lot of power comes from feeling like you’re the best at what you do. And I think that comes when you use what makes up your strengths.
Scott: Have you read, Angela Duckworth’s “Grit”, by any chance?
Scott: It’s… so, the full title of the book is “Grit” the power of passion and perseverance. And what you’re talking about is something that I think is so misunderstood everywhere. Like, really smart people from all over the world have a tendency to misunderstand this not because of anything they’re doing or not doing, but because it’s been so wrongly circumvented out. It’s been so wrongly spread, the misinformation has been so wrongly spread throughout our society. So, one of the things that we think about passion like as we started talking about passion and what that even means and everything else, a lot of people have a tendency to think that, that means that some kind of like spark and excitement and like all these flashy things, and there’s fireworks and like, we associate fire with passion and all kinds of, we have all kinds of associations like that. And that’s what pops into people’s heads when we use the word passion. But actually, when you start to look at the research around passion, and there’s not tons comparatively to many other subjects, but when you really start to look at the body research that makes up what passion actually is, you start to realize that real passion, a big part of it, comes from being over time developing a level of mastery or working intensely in those areas that correlate with your strengths. And doing that over time. And what’s crazy, is the people that do in fact, have ongoing lasting passion for something, not just that spark, and then it goes out and then move on to the next thing, which most of us associate with passion, that spark. But the people that really actually have that are those that are consistently aligned with their best work and their best efforts. And that means that people who are aligned day to day are feeling like they’re delivering a high amount of value because its associated with their strengths. That’s part of how people get that feeling. And it’s more of a stacking type effort. It doesn’t just like happen, you go in your find the thing and boom, it’s exciting forever. Instead, it’s much more of a stacking, like you start to get good at it, you do a little bit more work in your strengths, you see some of the excitement or benefit from that, you start to see how you’re contributing in a different way that gives a positive reinforcement there, you start to enjoy that more all these things, all these individual pieces start to stack on one another. And that adds up to a sustained passion over time. And that’s something that is so commonly misunderstood because of how we portray passion in society. So, I’m so glad that you brought that up. Because I think that the layers behind what you’re saying are very deep. And I think that there’s opportunity to misunderstand what is behind that. So, for you, as you think about some of those other pieces that create those strengths and passion and what you need, what are a couple other examples working in
your strengths clearly has been very important to you? And then what are the one or two other pieces that you felt like must be there in order to create? In order to move you down the path again.
Allison: Kind of along the lines of what you said about passion, how it doesn’t really have to look like a fire. For me, passion is what I can’t stop doing, no matter how hard I try.
Scott: What does that mean for you? What are some of those things you can’t stop doing?
Allison: I can’t stop asking people if they like their job. That was a big indicator for me finding my dream job as a career coach was because for like the last five or six years, I compulsively ask, “Do you like your job? Do you like what you do?” And I just can’t stop doing it and then I’m like, “Ahh… Don’t ask people that it’s too personal or too weird.” But the magic of your dream job is realizing what you can’t stop and doing anyways. And that’s because my background is so eclectic. I really had to look between the lines in my roles of what I couldn’t stop doing, and what I was naturally drawn to. And it took a while for me to figure out my signature strengths and what made up what was uniquely me, because I had to look back in every role even though they were different. I had to look between the lines of what lit me up about that. And what was I complimented on and where was I proud of the value I delivered and looking back at the big picture, even though my jobs were so different, every single job, whether it was part of the role or not, if it was just interactions with employees or how I felt about it, everything pointed to my dream job. So, it was weird. It was like this full circle where even though it wasn’t a linear path, because there was something I enjoyed in every role or situation. I really learned how to pull all that together to work harmoniously.
Scott: I think that, I really see a lot of those pieces come together for you as a career coach, and I also know that to you, it’s important for you to be able to do your own thing, have your own business. And you’re building that business in a way that allows you to have a variety of other pieces that are also important to you. I got to be really honest, a lot of times so even though we’ve helped a lot of people behind the scenes become career coaches, and more recently, we’ve actually developed out an entire program for professional career coaches or people that want to become professional career coaches. However, we don’t talk a lot about and we don’t bring on a lot of a lot of people that we’ve helped become career coaches. We don’t bring along a lot of them to the podcast, and you probably noticed that as a listener, however, one of the reasons we don’t is because a lot of times people have a tendency as a working with career coach to be very excited about that. And you have that bias of what is in front of you and what you’re experiencing and attributing that to what you’re seeing and that causes people to sometimes think that they want to be career coaches. So, we’ve been very cautious about that as we feature different stories on the on the podcast, because it really does take a certain type of person to be in a really great and effective coach and to love that over a sustained period of time as we were talking about passion. So, for you. I’m curious, what are some of those road signs where you’re like, “Yep! Actually, this part is right for me versus just something that’s exciting right now and right this second.”
Allison: Because one was that nerdy thing of always asking people compulsively if they like their job, so being obsessed with career fulfillment, and seeing or if other people are fulfilled in their careers, and-
Scott: Can you do that for five, like five or six years too? So that wasn’t just like a passing thing. Like, I’m really infatuated with this over, three months or two months or something like that, like you could point to five or six years where you were very sustained interest there so.
Allison: Which is a big deal for me ‘cause as a potent- multipotentialite, I shifted gears every couple of years. And so, to see sustained patterns of doing the same thing was a really big deal for me. And then, kind of going back to strengths, I call them my superpowers because I’m so proud of finally finding my strengths and mapping them together.
Allison: But another thing I realized was, I’m really good at simplifying processes for people. And for example, when I was bringing in a new program and procurement I had to teach people of a lot of different backgrounds.
Allison: And people that are not into learning new ways of doing things because they’ve been in the same job for 15/20 years. But realizing how easy and fun it was to really break down the process and speak to someone in their language, and then realizing that, career change is big and messy, and a lot of people think it’s complicated, but then seeing how easy it is for me to simplify it and their language really turned on a light bulb for me.
Scott: Well, that’s so true. Because every single day as coaches when you’re having those types of conversations and interactions, a big part of what you’re doing for people is helping them focus on those pieces that matter most by simplifying and breaking it down into what is most relevant and being able to communicate it back to them in a way that is helpful to them in their own words and meeting them where they’re at. So, I can absolutely see that.
Allison: Yeah. So, when I was able to find the core of my personality and tendency, shifting back through that wide variety of past roles and interests, because along those lines, my interest would also change and learning how to do a lot of different things. For example, I have a welding certification, which means absolutely nothing to my life anymore except when I get down to the why. And the why of it was because I like learning and being challenged. So, just because you’re you have some technical trade or some really specialist thing you’re good at doesn’t mean you need a job in that. You can break down to why you like it or what is the root personality or tendency that really brings that out.
Scott: I think that it’s both incredibly multipotentialite and seriously badass that there is simultaneously a coexisting welding certification and PCs, or sorry, certificate or a career coach certification. And all of those different types of experiences all in one, one fell swoop. So that’s super cool. Here’s one question that I really, not to shift gears too much, but I’m really interested and curious for your variety of experiences here. Especially since you happened to figure out that for career coaching really is right for you. And that’s absolutely not the case for most people, very few career coaches in the world for all intents and purposes. And what I think that does is it gives you an even different lens to look at these things through having had these types of interactions with people too. So, I’m curious for you, what overall advice would you give to somebody who may be is back where you started in the very beginning, and you were just finding the podcast and you’re starting to think about this in a different way. You’d spent multiple years in a role or job where it was fulfilling those “shoulds” and you’re realizing that you had to do it differently. So, for people that are back there, in that mind space, what would you recommend for them to do right now, today or even over the next week or month, what advice would you give them?
Allison: Excuse me. I really like your method of thinking like a scientist to get out of the slog of feeling overlooked and devalued. And really looking at your life with curiosity, and look through your past roles. And what you can’t stop doing and say, “That’s interesting. Why did I like that? Or why do I compulsively ask people these questions?” And really get a lens of taking in data, and observing and just observe yourself and observe how you talk to people and observe what people call compliment you on. So, for me, step one is really just taking in data. And it helps break down the process so you’re not overwhelmed and think what the heck is out there for me? Does a career even exist with this thing?
Scott: I appreciate that. And I think one thing I would add to that too, and I’m curious if you’ve seen that as well, we’ve seen a lot of people as they start to shift that mindset and treat it more as acting like a scientist and saying, “Okay, well what is out there? What is the reaction to this action? Like, how can I experiment with this? What are the pieces of data being able to begin to attune yourself to recognize those pieces of data?” Like you mentioned compliments, like what people compliment you on? One of the things that I found is a lot of people are like people don’t compliment me on anything until they start paying attention and realizing that they’re saying things like, “Oh my goodness, how did you do that?” And maybe they’re not saying, “Wow, you’re so awesome at this. And I want to give you a compliment.” But they’re saying, “Wow, how did you? Like how did you do that in that amount of time, or like, I could never do that.” And really, a lot of those things are embedded compliments. And as you start to look at the data that’s right in front of you differently, you realize that those things that you are great at, without even realizing it, that are caused by some of your strengths underneath the surface, then a lot of times we have a tendency to undervalue them or not realize where they’re at, because they’re so easy for us or it’s making it to seem like it’s not that big of a deal. So, I really like your point about paying attention to that data and it, the funny thing that happens is you start to begin developing the skill of looking at the data in a different way than what you’ve realized. Anything else that you would add to that?
Allison: It probably sounds really nerdy and really basic, but positivity. And I kind of hate to break it down and it seems kindergarten and be positive but when you have that attitude of positivity, then you respect yourself a whole lot more. And it makes it a lot easier to see, to tell yourself I am valuable and then you see where you add value. And plus, if you’re stuck, it’s really hard to be positive about your job. And yourself because you’re, you’re stuck and you feel incapable. But if you make yourself be positive, and you’re gonna find a whole lot more opportunities. And then-
Scott: What are some of the one or two things that really worked for you to help create that positivity in your life or help to make it easier to make yourself be positive, as you said?
Allison: Two things. One, is when you have a negative thought, or you’re down on yourself like, I can never like, get myself to do this, or I’m really bad at this. Flip it around and say the exact opposite thing. For example, I’m really bad at writing resumes. Make yourself say, I am great at writing resumes. I can do this all-day long. It’s awesome. I’m fantastic at it and it’ll feel really cheesy and fake it first, but if you make yourself say it, then then your outlook will improve. And then the second thing, which is also really basic is when you have a negative thought or feeling, say, but at least, and then insert a positive thing. For example, if your boss is really mean be like, I can’t stand my boss and then say, but at least, I like my coworkers, or at least I am really good at speaking to clients. So, it’s like I said, probably sounds really cheesy, but it really helps you to have a filter of seeing where you can add value. Plus, when it’s a habit and you go for interviews, then you come off as a whole lot more confident and strong about yourself because you trained yourself to do it.
Scott: One of the things I found for me because I think that what I hear you saying, and the pretext, or the underlying pieces of what I’m hearing you say is that, if you can begin to practice and train yourself to get back to positivity more quickly, then that’s part of what will allow you to spend more time in that positive area. And so, for me, I found it really difficult to do the, like you said, turn it around completely in the opposite. So, I had to almost put like an intermediary step in for myself. And this might help some people that can’t go just right to the thing, instead of saying, instead of feeling terrible about the resume that I’m writing or whatever else, or what’s something that I don’t feel great about right now, my ability to raise plants. Instead of just flipping that around and say, I’m really great at raising plants, I couldn’t quite get there mentally. So, I had to put an intermediary step and say, I can be great at raising plants. And that was my getting back to positivity if you, so if you’re listening to this and what Allison says resonates use it, if you can’t quite get there on that one, there’s an even alternative. And we’ve also had, a variety of other folks that have had other suggestions to around very similar pieces. This stuff really matters. And you heard it here from Allison, who has made this type of change and trajectory and done something that is, unfortunately, what many people in the world will have not done and won’t do. And that’s part of the reason we exist as a company is to help make that type of change. So, Allison, I wanna say thank you, first of all, for spending the time and coming and sharing your story here and sharing some of the things that worked very well for you. And then also just congratulations again, because I don’t know if I have told you that. And I just really want you to know that I’m thankful to have been any kind of part of it and getting to witness some of this and your growth as you’ve gone along. So, great job.
Allison: No, thanks, Scott. It’s been really fun. And I just want our HTYC listeners to know that your fit is out there. And your dream job exists, whether you just haven’t heard of it, or if you have to create it, but it’s there and when you find it, it’s like realizing the person you knew back in middle school is your true love and it was there all along, and it existed and you just didn’t know how to find it.
Scott: Allison, where can, if people are interested in more of your story or want to connect with you, how can people do that? How can they get more, Allison?
Allison: My website is: worklifealignment.org and firstname.lastname@example.org because as I may have painted, I really believe in tying your life to your work. So, I’m at.
Scott: Very cool. Thank you again for taking the time and making the time I really appreciate it.
Allison: Thanks, Scott. It’s been fun.