One of the best techniques that I know in helping my career coaching clients more clearly define their true interests and talents is to suggest they sit down during a quiet period, perhaps late at night, and consider and write about “their roots.”

The use of various formal assessment tools such as the Birkman Method, Myers-Briggs and other well regarded tools is very useful in identifying our strengths and the areas of business in which we are likely to succeed.

A useful exercise to help guide our future career direction with actual experiential support information is to “think back.”


Think back to what your teachers and other “youth guides” said you were good at. Did they suggest that you patiently studied your school work, or that you seemed to enjoy speaking to the class, or that you were always the most organized kid in the class?  Market research, general management, or administrative careers would be natural directions for each of these behaviors.

What did your friends always say about you?  What did your class yearbooks say were your noteworthy attributes?  Were you the class clown?  Perhaps sales is the right place for you, building relationships through upbeat means.  Were you always surrounded by people, active on sports teams?  You may be right for leading technical or operational teams. Were you always coming up with novel school newspaper columns or writing term papers that got the approval of your teachers and fellow students?  Maybe you should focus on creative careers such as a becoming a technical or advertising copywriter.

When you examine your high school and college roots, what role did your team-members on a class project always ask you to play?  Was it a leadership role presenting the group’s work or was it an administrative role ensuring that everyone knew the date and time for the next group meeting? Did you always draw the pictures or handle the white board during discussions?

All of these recollections will help you identify your real world talents and expertise and gain confidence in the direction you choose to undertake.

So, try going back to your roots to find your future career direction.