Recognizing Your Why
When there is something that you don’t like about yourself or your work, or you realize something is interfering with the pursuit of your goals, change it. Simple, right? Anyone who has tried to change knows it’s rarely that simple. Change can be slow, frustrating and painful. That’s why some people choose to stay the same and miss out on the rewards that powerful change can bring.
To make a difficult change or seek out your purpose in life, it’s essential to find your ‘Why?’ We see this a lot in personal development: Why push through a training program to run a marathon? Why change careers or start a business? Most significant change involves an element of suffering, and it’s the ‘Why?’ that gives you clarity, sees you through the tough times and provides a deeper well of motivation from which to draw. But how often do we ignore the pain points that make up our ‘Why?’
One big red flag that we’re ignoring our ‘Why’ occurs when a new person joins a team and asks questions about why things are done a certain way. When the answer is “I don’t know” or “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” there’s a good chance that someone is ignoring an opportunity.
Consider these scenarios:
Your clients are always complaining that they don’t understand their invoices. They’re constantly asking why the bill is higher than they thought it would be. How could their “simple” tax return take so long? You’re always comparing current year fees to prior year fees to justify the amount you’ve billed them, but that’s just the way clients are. Everyone thinks their return is “simple” and everyone is looking for a discount.
Someone in the firm didn’t want to get on board with your move to a paperless office years ago. This person circumvents procedures that everyone else has been using for years, prepares all work papers by hand, and forces admin or staff to adapt. It adds more time and confusion to an already hectic busy season, but that’s the way it’s always been done.
It seems like every new CPA candidate you hire leaves within five years of joining the firm. They pass the exam, get some experience and then they’re gone. You hire another crop of new graduates and go through the same thing every few years. It must be that young people don’t have a work ethic anymore. They can’t take the heat.
Is some variation of one of these stories happening at your firm? If so, recognize them for what they are: they are your ‘Why.’ Like a nagging pain that we just learn to ignore and live with, we sometimes just learn to live with a bad situation when we should recognize them as pain points that can be addressed.
Chances are, whatever nagging pain has been bothering you is bothering others in the firm, too. Start asking ‘why’ you’re doing things this way and asking others how they feel about the current process. To get to real change we need to look past the hard part. We need to get into the right mindset, let go of outdated traditions, and reprogram new norms and behaviors. But first, we need to recognize why we need to change.
Michael Wherry, CPA, Consultant and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt for Boomer Consulting, Inc., leverages his past CPA firm experience to provide factual, reliable and thorough results on client engagements. He now focuses on Lean Six Sigma projects and training, strategic planning, technology planning and engagements designed to fulfill the custom needs of CPA firms across the country.