Skills are a funny thing. At the time you acquire them, many seem to you like they have minimal value. Then, several years and positions later, you realize they they contribute in a major way to your success in a new role.
I am, by profession, an accountant. I trained for it, wrote professional exams, studied, and practiced for 17 years before I changed careers to become the CEO that I am today.
Being an accountant, spring did not represent April showers and May flowers. Taxes stole my season! I can remember how I resented that part of our business cycle, and how annoyed I was every.single.year. I grew frustrated with my employers, and also with myself for the dedication and intensity that was required of my practice during this key period. I really didn’t see any value in this work, and could not wait until the months were over so I could resume my normal routine, both professionally and personally.
Then, last week while attending the Women Presidents’ Organization Annual Conference, I heard the famous business book author Jim Collins speak. During his session he talked about unequal intensity and unequal performance required for different periods in a business life. He described great leaders as individuals who have distinct traits: Fanatic discipline and productive paranoia are two of the three essential leadership characteristics he describes in his newest book, “Great by Choice“.
As he was describing these characteristics, I realized I had acquired these two critical skills during my 17 dreaded tax seasons. I had not even considered what I was gaining during those stressful months. Those great traits are now part of my DNA.
So, thanks to Jim Collins, I’ve decided that I’m going to take that chip off my shoulder and appreciate my accounting background for making me a better CEO.
Oh, by the way, did I mention it is April 30th?