Wednesday, October 10, 2012

You're Probably Not Very Good at Most Things - Eric C. Sinoway - Harvard Business Review

You're Probably Not Very Good at Most Things - Eric C. Sinoway - Harvard Business Review:

'via Blog this'

This is one of those days when I've read someone else’s thoughts in order to get my own thoughts churning.  Fundamentally, the reason I read the article I've referenced above is that I've reached a point in my career and my own professional development where a few things have become very clear to me.

In the referenced article, the writer shares a great example of a friend of his who called on him to give a reference to a prospective employer on the friend’s behalf.  What I really like about the writer’s response is that he was honest with his colleague and he told his colleague that he would be happy to give a reference based on the colleague’s strengths.

The article goes on to pose two questions to someone who is confronting or pursuing a new career opportunity. 
1.     Can I do it?
2.     Can I win when competing against others who can also do it? 
My Executive Coaching Journey

While I appreciate both questions, I’m going to attempt to push this thought process even deeper and I encourage you to come along for the next few minutes.  Through the executive coaching certification and methodology training I went through earlier this year with The Marshall Goldsmith Group and with Executive Coaching University, it became very clear to me that many people can do many things professionally.

I thought I was going to learn methodologies around executive coaching.  I did in fact learn the methodologies I set out to learn but I learned a whole lot more that I wasn't expecting to learn.    I reached a point of personal clarity around the difference between what I can do and what I should do.

Can versus Should

Here is an example.  I've been recruiting now for 22.5 years.  Over the years I've recruited Programmers and Software Engineers, Analysts, Network Administrators, DBAs, UNIX Administrators, Managers and Directors in the IT Space, CIOs, Security Analysts, Security Engineers, Security Architects, Security Managers, Security Directors, CSOs and CISOs.  I've learned a lot and have successfully covered a lot of ground.

I’ve worked with security product vendors and professional services firms.  Some of my clients have been small to medium sized companies while other clients have been part of the Fortune 500 and even the Fortune 100.

Congratulations to me! 

Please keep reading because while I've done many things that I can do over the years, I haven’t always been doing what I should do.  You can't focus on what you should do until you've discovered what should means to you.

The clarity I came to earlier this year surrounds not just what I can do but what I should do.  What I can do has sometimes been satisfying and fulfilling and sometimes not so much.  

My personal light bulb moment occurred when I clearly saw the difference between what I can do and what I should do.  In other words, when I started to clearly see what I was built and designed to do, I knew without any doubt what I needed to do in terms of making professional adjustments.


Those who know me would likely stay that I’m a pretty passionate person.  For some people, I’m too passionate. In fact, I was once told that I am "too direct, too intense, too driven, too competitive".  To that person, I was clearly too passionate in the setting his comments applied to.  It was a sports setting by the way so I'm probably guilty as charged.  

I’m passionate about my business pursuits.  I’m passionate about playing hockey.  I’m passionate about skiing.  I'm passionate about competition.  There’s much more but I’ll stop here.


Professionally speaking, the clarity I came to earlier in the year showed me that I’m passionate about investing my experience and knowledge into others to help them get from where they are to where they want to be in their career.  This might sound simple but it is anything but simple.

I can fill all kinds of jobs and for that matter, I have filled all kinds of jobs.  However, where a company gets the most bang for their buck and their highest ROI when investing ih me is when they engage me to solve highly strategic problems.  This kind of assignment in turn causes me to go into the marketplace to find highly accomplished top-shelf security, risk, compliance and privacy professionals who are making a difference wherever they work. 

I’m passionate about working with professionals who function at the top 25% of the Bell Curve and who are difference makers.  It is this kind of daily interaction that keeps my engines revving at high RPMs and it is this kind of work that ignites my passion.  In other words, this is the work I should be doing.

I am passionate about helping stakeholder decision makers who may not fully understand how to set proper expectations, who may not understand how to properly evaluate and how to properly hire a security leader to reach a point of clarity around what it means to hire the right person.

Closing this kind of deal where I know everybody involved is winning and getting what they want and need is my passion.

I’m passionate about helping individuals who are not satisfied with their current professional situation to find their own clarity so they too can find the kinds of roles they should be stepping into along the path of a career.

Is There a Perfect Career?

There probably isn't a perfect job or a perfect career but I do believe that when you reach clarity about who and what you are, how you are naturally hard wired and you pursue what you should do rather than settling for what you can do and you find a way to work in areas you’re naturally passionate about, going work can be exciting more often than not.

I haven’t quite found this place that I speak of all day every day but I've had glimpses of what it looks like and I’m pushing towards this place every day in my own career.  This place I refer to is the place where if I do what I truly love to do, do what I was hard wired to do and do what I’m passionate about doing, I’ll never actually work another day in my life. 

When your skills, personal values and passions are aligned with the job you’re performing, the work itself no longer feels like work. 

Call Me

Would you like to discover the differences between what you can do and what you should do?  I’ll soon be launching for the purpose of helping security professionals to find clarity and purpose in their professional journey.'s Security Recruiter Blog