I’m observing the Labor Day weekend by taking time to reflect on my own work and how it has shaped my thinking. Each chapter of my work life has given me skills and insights that I use in myriad ways. As second-oldest of five children, I always had some task that was expected of me to help the family function. My talents were more in the domestic area, so I could often be found assisting my mother in the kitchen. Cooking alongside her taught me to follow directions, when to use creative license, and that a big part of learning was about observing others. The first time I realized that compensation could be tied to performance was when my parents would pay us a nickel for every ten minutes we could remain silent in the car on long trips.
In my first job out of college, I worked at a labor law firm in Washington, D.C. There I learned about power and presence, as my work took me to Capitol Hill to follow legislation. I was given a lot of responsibility, which required that I stretch my abilities in writing and communicating. Next on my career path was a stint in commercial real estate law, as a paralegal. This job honed my attention to details, as I reviewed a lot of legal documents. For reasons that remain a mystery to me, I was also required to negotiate leases for commercial space, which confirmed the fact that legal wrangling was not in my gift set. After my sons were born, I shifted to residential real estate sales, which was much more fulfilling. I explored how people make important decisions, and how to listen deeply to clients’ dreams and desires.
For seven years I worked for a large, non-denominational church. It was there that I learned about compassion, work/life balance, and the importance of sharing a clear vision of the future. I relied on many volunteers, which honed my skills in motivating and encouraging others. After I left that job, I ran the business side of an advertising and public relations firm, where I gained insights into how to influence others’ thinking. Later, as marketing director of a consulting firm, I was exposed to leadership concepts and thinking, while being mentored by a wise leader who taught me and challenged me.
In my coaching work for the past 18+ years, I have had the opportunity to draw on a lifetime of valuable experiences in the professional world. I’m grateful for roles that have stretched and shaped my way of looking at myself, others, and work in general. Thank you for being a part of my work life journey. I learn so much from each of you, every day. If I can support you in increasing your own learning from your work, and leveraging the skills you have gathered along the way, please give me a call.
Sharon Keys Seal