I remember wrestling with questions through every choice and change in my life. To what version of myself should I be true? Am I more myself as a son, friend, partner, artist, or employee? Beyond the well-intentioned advice of family and friends, how do I make decisions that are true to me?
Raised in Wichita, Kansas, the aviation capital of the world, I gravitated to art and theatre rather than airplanes. After earning a degree in English literature from the University of Kansas in 1976, I packed my belongings in an old car, mid-blizzard on New Year’s Day, and headed east. No job. no housing. I was just following a hunch – the prerogative of a 23-year-old.
By 1983, I had joined The Actors Institute in New York City, where my teachers helped me discover a particular and personal artistry. Challenged to stand in what was true for me, in the safety of artistic connection and collaboration, I came to understand and embody the power of living from my internal mandates rather than the expectations and desires of others. New questions occupied my thinking. What gets me out of bed in the morning? What drives me? What do I yearn to experience? In times of crisis, what internal resources do I draw upon? What inner guidance has led me to success?
Soon, I made a career of listening to these internal mandates and helping others do the same. In 1986, along with my partners, I founded The TAI Group, rooted in the belief that success comes from the boldness of stepping fully into who you are rather than who you think you’re supposed to be.
Then, the corporate world came calling. First in New York, then in companies around the globe, The TAI Group supported leaders and teams to articulate, codify, and bring to life how they best operated in the world. We enabled them to uncover the meaning and motivation under every action, decision, and interaction. When guided by their own essential drivers, people embody a natural self-confidence and develop resiliency and consistency, having a bias for action. This mantra continues to underscore the world-wide work of TAI today.
“Well, this is either claptrap or utterly profound,” said Nick Viner, one of my clients at BCG in 2001. Nick had just completed one of our programs and thought that what he learned was too simple to be useful. Nick soon discovered that this work illuminated an unyielding set of truths that had always been with him, even though he had not always given them voice or attention.
In 2018, Nick invited me to join Circle Square and offer members a similar type of coaching. People on the cusp of retirement could find a lens through which they could test and validate new opportunities by discovering the internal guides that creatively and unconsciously guided them their whole lives.
We each have a unique internal guide, a personal Magnetic North, and finding it is just a matter of listening in. Just as the answers to simple but powerful questions guided me from Kansas to New York to The TAI Group, they now guide Circle Square participants in Pathfinder Conversations through career transitions with clarity about what matters most.
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