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A Better Approach to Career Coaching: Putting Your Natural Skills to Work

Historically career inventories have measured the extent to which your interests are similar to the interests of people in a particular career or profession.  ACI for Coaches approaches the issue of career selection differently by using strength-based coaching.

There is an old Chinese proverb from Lao Tzu that says “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” My version would read “Give a man most vocational inventories and it will tell him to become a forest ranger. Give him the ACI assessments and it will reveal the natural skills that a job must have for him to be occupationally fulfilled.”

A person who knows themselves and their natural skills is served far better in terms of finding meaningful work than one who is told their interests are similar to people who . . .  (you fill in the blank).

Historically career inventories have measured the extent to which your interests are similar to the interests of people in a particular career or profession. The rationale was that people with similar interests would seek employment in similar fields and that if, for example, you had the same interests as someone in the construction industry then you would enjoy work in the construction industry. The problem is that while you may have similar interests as those in the construction industry, you may have little or no desire to do what someone in the construction industry does when performing their job. Perhaps more importantly, interest is not a measure of skill or talent.

The ACI for Coaches system approaches the issue of career coaching differently. You have one of six basic Perceptual Styles and that style supports an innate set of natural potentials that can be developed into useable skills and talents. We have found that career selection is most effectively made from a foundation of these natural skills and talents, and that you will have a far greater chance of finding meaning and satisfaction in employment that draws on the use of these natural skills. In addition, most people find doing more of what they do best innately interesting and stimulating. The ACI Perceptual Style assessment reveals which of the six basic skills clusters is most natural to you. Using that information as a starting point, and working with a coach, it is possible to narrow down and personalize the list so that it reflects your unique skills and talents. Those skills, in turn, become a checklist against which you can evaluate potential employment to determine whether or not the job responsibilities match your natural abilities.

For example, if you have the skill “builds networks of loyal friends with whom you maintain contact on a daily basis” on your list, and the job you are interviewing for is one that has very little people interactionBusiness Management Articles, it is highly likely that you will not find the work required satisfying or meaningful. Using the list in this manner allows you to evaluate a wider range of employment possibilities by looking at the job responsibilities and required behaviors rather than limiting yourself to job titles or industries.

There may be a little more work initially learning how to fish rather than accepting one as a gift but the long-term rewards are worth the effort. The former frees you to pursue your life anywhere because you have developed the ability to feed yourself. The latter keeps you tied to the goodwill of others in order to survive. The same is true in selecting employment. Using skills-based coaching to discover what you do naturally well will free you to explore many jobs for which you have aptitude while the interest-matching approach will limit you to one or two job titles or industries that may or may not fit you. After all there are only so many forest ranger jobs available.  


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Lynda-Ross Vega: A partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., Lynda-Ross specializes in helping entrepreneurs and coaches build dynamite teams and systems that WORK. She is co-author of Vega Role Facilities Theory, a revolutionary psychological assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their deepest potentials for success. For free information on how to succeed as an entrepreneur or coach, create a thriving business and build your bottom line doing more of what you love, visit

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