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Coaches Diary: The World Really Doesn’t Owe You a Living!


Peter had worked hard to become an accountant following on in the footsteps of both his father and his grandfather. He had never really questioned whether this was the right career for him and at the age of 42, his dissatisfaction was beginning to show.

I was sitting in Peter’s office at the request of his firm’s senior partner who was concerned that his colleague’s work was both dropping in quality and quantity. Initially hostile and defensive, Peter complained both about his colleagues and their attitude towards him. As well as looking after his clients, Peter’s remit was to win new business a requirement that Peter looked upon with disdain.

In a whining voice he asked, “Why should I bring in work for them when they make my life here so miserable? I have been working here for the past two years and during that time I have won a significant amount of work for the business, something my colleagues seem to like to forget!”

Having met with Peter’s colleagues on several other occasions they had seemed like reasonable people which made me conclude that the problem (and solution) probably rested on Peter’s shoulders. I asked Peter to cast his mind back to when he heard that he had won the job with his current firm and to describe how he felt then. Unsurprisingly, he assured me that he had been delighted to be offered the post, especially as there had been considerable competition for the job.

Next, I directed him to remember the first six months in post. “I felt that everyone respected me and I just loved the praise I got when I brought in a new piece of business. Actually, I used to work quite long hours and didn’t even mind taking work home at the weekends although my wife didn’t seem to appreciate it!

“However, she did enjoy the bonus that came at the end of the first year and we both certainly felt that we deserved the cruise that we booked with the money. To be honest, I also felt good that my father was proud of me. It seemed like all of my dreams had come true.”

I then asked Peter to think about the last six months at work, again asking him to describe his activities. “Oh, now I find the job a real drudge,” he said as his shoulders started to drop. “It feels as though the challenge has gone and although there is a lot of responsibility resting on my shoulders, the feeling of challenge and excitement has completely disappeared.”

Peter also confessed that not only had he been drinking more heavily in the evenings but he was also taking any opportunity he could to skive off work and go home.

When faced with the truth, Peter could see that there was a correlation between his recent behaviour and his colleagues diminishing trust in him. Gently I suggested that he and his colleagues all had a duty to perform their jobs to their best ability not only for themselves but also for each other. He also acknowledged that the practice didn’t have the capacity to carry passengers and that if he was to retain his job, then he would need to change his attitude, fast.

As I saw it, there was one key problem. Peter had achieved his initial goals but hadn’t replaced them with any new ones which meant that he felt no excitement or drive. While Peter wanted to continue practising as an accountant, he admitted that deep down, he really wanted to work for himself but couldn’t see how to make it happen.

We discussed how he could look at his current job as a training ground for the future and that he should learn as much as he could about all the different aspects of running a practice. He should also set himself a goal for when he would go solo and start planning to make that goal into a reality.

Noticing the concern on Peter’s face, I asked him if he was worried that he was being disloyal to his colleagues. After he nodded, I asked Peter when he thought he would be working for himself. “In about five year’s time,” was the response, “I have a lot left to learn!”

My next question made him smile. “Knowing you have a reason and an end vision in mind do you think you are likely to be more effective and enthusiastic in your current job? Isn’t that better for your colleagues?” Seeing him nod, I continued, “You may even find the confidence to share your dreams with your colleagues and I suspect that they will help you turn your dreams into reality!”

And at this Peter’s smile broke out into a huge grin as he remembered that this is just what had happen to his predecessor Jim, who was now successfully running his own practice with his colleagues’ blessing.

Olivia Stefanino is a leadership development consultant and executive coach, who works with blue chip organisations, SMEs and individuals. To find out more – and to download your free e-booklet “128 ways to harness your personal power”, visit


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