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Harness your strengths

Chair's Message

Rebecca Keran, CPA, MBA, CGMA | September 2018 Footnote

Editor's note: Updated August 29, 2018

Do you remember ever being told, "You can be anything you want to be -- as long as you put your mind to it?"

I've been thinking about that phrase recently. What seems on the surface to be a positive, innocuous message of encouragement has quite a bit of pressure behind it. It basically says, "Sure, the world is your oyster. But, if you fail, you clearly didn't try hard enough for it." Is that the message we want to send to our colleagues, our proteges or our children?

How about this phrase instead: "You cannot be anything you want to be, but you can be a lot more of who you already are."

This maxim comes from Tom Rath, the author of "StrengthsFinder" and co-creator of the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment.

The strengths assessment was built based on research that each person has a greater potential for success by building on who they already are. For example, I'm sure many of us are CPAs because of our analytical talents, working with numbers and drawing conclusions based on data.

My co-workers and I recently took the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, and "responsibility" came back in my top five strengths (which, for those who know me well, shouldn't come as a surprise). One way I was able to build on that strength was to volunteer to take on more responsibility as a board officer -- and now chair -- with the MNCPA. And, because I thrive on responsibility, I'm finding success and enjoyment in this role. On the other hand, discipline is not one of my top five talents. I periodically say yes to too many opportunities and try to tackle much of a project's work myself. When partnering with someone strong in discipline, we can work together to keep focused on what's important for us to complete the project, and also from preventing us from overcommitting.  

What would you identify as your top five strengths? More importantly, are you leveraging those strengths every day? That self-awareness is critical in helping you truly focus and accelerate your career growth. As Brené Brown says, "True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world. Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance."

Celebrate with us!

Sept. 27 brings a great opportunity to recognize the talents of our CPA peers at the annual Celebrate CPAs Awards Luncheon. This year's event features keynote speaker Jay Coughlan, former CEO of Lawson Software and XRS Corporation. I hope you'll join me to congratulate our colleagues and celebrate their many contributions to the CPA profession and respective communities.

Please visit www.mncpa.org/celebrate if you're interested in attending.

Becky Keran, CPA, MBA, CGMA

Chair, MNCPA board of directors