I was talking with a member a couple of weeks ago and he remarked that he’s quite happy with the way his life has gone he can’t help feeling that he’s not doing what he set out to do and what he knows he’s capable of doing.
I asked him what he meant and he said that when he went to college and did a business degree he found accounting both interesting and something he thoroughly enjoyed studying. He particularly liked the idea that it would offer him lots of business opportunities and he saw a future in management or as an advisor to management.
After graduating from college he accepted a position with a second tier firm and together with a bunch of other new employees found himself involved in a wide variety of engagements that gave him excellent experience and he progressed through to manager level quite rapidly.
Soon enough he was offered a senior position with a quality regional firm and the promise of partnership which eventually came and before he knew it he was caught up in the day-to-day rabble we call public practice.
Financially he’s doing well and from that point of view he has no regrets but when he looks back on his professional life to date he said he can’t help feeling that he’s allowed himself to be hijacked by a system that drives you down the same path everyone is on simply because it’s there and relatively easy. But he’s not helping people build a better business, he’s merely a service provider that businesses need. Perhaps more importantly, he’s not really getting much challenge or satisfaction from what he’s doing.
He concedes that most of the things he learned at college have been long forgotten and what he felt he had a real talent for and the potential to do, seems to be slipping further and further from his reach.
It’s so easy in these circumstances to rationalize the situation rather than take personal responsibility and control. I believe a serious challenge we face after we become owners of a professional firm is the belief that we have arrived! We find ourselves making quite a nice income so there’s no need to push ourselves to learn new skills and perfect our performance—this is pay-back time. The hard work, we think, is behind us! We reach a level of acceptable performance (perhaps mediocre is the word I should use) at which point we more or less plateau and so does our firm.
But I think there comes a time when we reflect back on what we’ve accomplished and ask ourselves the question: what could I have done if I’d exploited my full potantial? If you ask yourself that question and you feel a twinge of guilt, there is no better time than now to do something about it.
There are many people who never stop seeking to achieve what they believe they’re born to do. I find people with this inner drive very inspirational. One such person is Paul Potts, a mobile phone salesman. Take a look at this video to see what I mean then go out and do what you are capable of.