Success Strategy:  Become an expert observer to excel in your job search

Success Strategy:  Become an expert observer to excel in your leadership skills
May 11, 2022

Cultivating a high degree of observation and self-awareness – what is important to you and what your intuition and body are telling you – is integral to clarifying what you want in any situation. Especially if you rely on your strategic mind and ability to think things through, transferring your attention to your body can be a direct line to connecting with what you want in your career.

As noted in a recent blog about becoming a better observer to excel in your leadership skills, self-awareness has multiple dimensions:  

  • what you can intellectually understand with your brain, 
  • what your body (gut and intuition) tells you, and
  • what your heart longs for


Being a keen observer allows you to distinguish between what you WANT to do versus what you CAN do, between the path you WANT to take versus the paths you CAN take. You can foster an innate sense of the job responsibilities that bring out your best, and, by contrast, which attributes tend to put you at a disadvantage, drain your energy, and keep you from bringing your best self to work. 

Debbie’s experience illustrates the upside of self-observation in a job change situation.  

Debbie came to coaching feeling underutilized and undervalued in her job. Though she lived in San Francisco and longed to spend her time there, her commute to work was a full hour one-way. She had enjoyed success across the span of jobs she had held, but the current role no longer worked for her as it once had. She held a fuzzy picture of what she wanted to do next and felt a vague unease with her current situation, but could not put her finger on what was missing. She dreaded going to work each day and felt scattered about how to figure out what would be a better fit, scanning job postings for other options. To change her situation, Debbie needed to develop her observation skills. But where she was looking outwardly for her answers, she needed to go within first.

During her coaching program, I helped her reflect on what was important to her in her next role. Beyond working in San Francisco, she distilled:

  • values she wanted to honor
  • job duties she wanted to perform 
  • skills she wanted to use
  • work-environment elements that would best support her
  • where and how she would like to derive satisfaction from work
  • aspects of her personality she needed to embody to feel like she was being herself
  • the salary level she needed and would feel energized to make, and
  • competencies she wanted to employ on the job

This inventory required her to observe her past experiences to cull what she enjoyed and where she thrived. With those in hand, she was able to skinny everything down to a shortlist of non-negotiables. From there, Debbie activated a targeted job search, networking and interviewing with an exploratory eye, in search of a good match for her priorities. She landed the opportunity she was looking for in short order. 

By growing the ability to notice what is important to you from all three of these centers of intelligence, you identify what the ingredients of an authentic and meaningful career are for you. Plus, you can apply those same observation skills to notice what others want so you can design mutually beneficial outcomes in collaborative work situations.


This is an excerpt from the preface of my forthcoming book. I coach leaders to define their path through complexity to intention, fulfillment and impact.