Is there a horse in the kitchen?


As a kid, one day I was having breakfast with the rest of the family at the kitchen table. My mom was at the stove. Suddenly a horse walked in the back door and poked his enormous head around the edge of the stove vent hood to peer curiously at my mom who immediately shrieked my name and exhorted me to “get that horse out of the kitchen!”

That was King, our 16-hand, iron roan gelding who must have been part draft horse because he really was big, but gentle. The house was under construction. At that particular moment there was no back door in place, so, when he escaped his paddock (as he occasionally did), he went to explore, found the door open, and invited himself to breakfast.

What does that have to do with career management, you might reasonably ask?

Well, recently I was interviewing an industry insider in the Venture Capital (VC) / Private Equity (PE) space, Fabiano Aguilar, whose interview will appear soon on our website. The VC/PE industry hires an enormous amount of talent every year and is therefore of considerable relevance to our key constituency: executives contemplating a change of career. Toward the end of the interview, I asked him if he had any further advice for executives thinking about changing their careers. He responded with a quote that he attributed to Confucius:

“First fix yourself. Then fix your family. Then fix your village. Only then can you fix the world.”

To which I responded, “That is a near-perfect explanation of our Clarity Program©, the “Targeting” step in our five-step career change system for executives.” In other words, “Any road will take you there if you don’t know where you are going.” We help clients clarify their objectives first before they begin the career search. This typically will greatly shorten the journey and it seems to be working. Just look at the number of interviews our executive clients are enjoying so far in 2021.

Horse in the Kitchen. Average Client Interviews per Month graphic

But determining the objectives is not as straightforward as you might think. People are more than numbers on a P&L or balance sheet. We have emotional and other needs that also must be met to have a truly balanced life, and that is why the second part of our Clarity Program© looks in detail at each client’s whole life in terms of financial, career, health, and social aspects. In short, it is difficult to be successful in your career if the rest of your life is out of balance.

So, first “fix yourself,” as Fabiano reminded us.

Part of fixing yourself invariably means taking other aspects into consideration—aspects that you may have ignored for too long if you are a driven or perhaps an exhausted executive. In other words, just paying the bills is not a very motivating way to live. There must be more to it than that.

Some people live to enjoy their grandchildren. Others live for the exhilaration of race car driving, downhill skiing, sky diving, or just riding a bike on the weekend. Some enjoy socializing and gain meaning through interacting in a familiar context. Others prefer quiet pursuits and contemplation.

In other words, if you don’t have a horse in the kitchen, why not, and how are you going to get one?

How will you make space in your professional life for those other interests that complete you as a person?

That is how our Clarity Program© helps clients redefine their career paths by taking the full picture into account and not just the next title or the income it will generate.

Here’s what one recent client had to say about our Clarity Program©:

“Clarity was good. It confirmed what I knew about myself, but it also made me sit down and ask myself, ‘What do I want out of my career, and where do I want to be longer-term?’ It was very informative and made me think more deeply about what I am doing and where I am going than I ever have. In the past, my job searches were reactionary, but this time I felt I was being proactive in my decisions.” [Dennis Green, 2021, Read More.]

So, again, if you do not have a horse in your kitchen ask yourself why not, and then go out and get one. We can help you, too, and help you be able to afford the barn and stable you might need, metaphorically speaking, of course, through our interview preparation and offer negotiation services, to name just two other aspects of our career change system.

We make it our job to help you find yours. Give us a call.

Peter Irish
CEO
The Barrett Group

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