Finding the Right Chair
You’re familiar with the story of Goldilocks, right? A little girl finds a house in the woods and basically touches every single thing trying to find what’s right for her. She tries Papa Bear’s chair, but it is too hard. On to Mama Bear’s chair, which is too soft. Baby Bear’s chair is the only one left, so she sits down and immediately declares it is just right. It’s a sweet children’s story, but I think it’s also a powerful metaphor for many of our life choices.
For more than a decade, I worked in the cosmetology industry. I was a stylist and then a salon manager, eventually working as the Director of Education at a large salon and spa in Des Moines. I loved my clients and enjoyed creating educational opportunities for the stylists and leading a team of educators, but something was missing. Cosmetology wasn’t the right chair for me.
I had this need to grow, and I felt it deep in my bones. But I had been in the same industry for almost 15 years, and starting over felt, well, impossible.
One day, I was cutting the hair of a friend who had been a client for many years. I knew she worked with the Predictive Index (PI) but wasn’t entirely sure what that meant. She sat down and we caught up on life since our last appointment, and then she abruptly switched gears.
“Anna, you absolutely HAVE to take this assessment. You just do. It will change your life.”
She talked excitedly about it for the next 30 minutes, but I didn’t hear much of what she said. The words “it will change your life” were ringing in my head. I knew I would take the assessment before I was even done with her hair. And the rest, I guess, is history.
Learning the Ropes
The PI assessment did change my life, but not in the grand, immediate way you might think. It made me fully aware of the fact that what I was doing was not working and helped me put words to what I was feeling. There was no stunning aha moment; rather, a gradual understanding that I could use my strengths in other ways that would be far more productive than trying so hard to be better at something I wasn’t passionate about. My results made me look at myself and my life differently, planting the seed of an idea.
I knew I wanted to do the kind of work my client was doing (PI consulting work for a private firm), but there were so many barriers. I sat with this idea for a few months before I decided to call the owner of the firm and ask if he had any openings. He was surprised to hear from me and sent me right back to my client. At her next appointment, I mentioned that I was interested in this kind of work and she surprised me with the confession that she was ready to be done doing it. After 30 years doing PI, she wanted to retire at the very same moment that I wanted to start in the business. It was just the perfect opportunity for both of us.
She knew my PI results and felt confident that my personality would be a good fit for this work. I knew I would benefit from her mentoring and was thrilled to take over some of her clients. We spent two years working together and growing my business. During that time, the firm’s owner also decided to retire, so I was officially on my own. Having that time with my mentor was incredibly helpful in learning the ins and outs of the tool and figuring out how to apply the results in the workplace and life. Eventually, she was ready to be done and I fully stepped into my role as consultant and owner of Anna Mason Consulting. And this time, the chair was just right.
Making It Mine
My PI profile is Scholar. As a little bit of background, Scholars are driven by the need to master things, and they tend to be relentless in that drive. Other scholar traits are stability, consistency, and discipline. So when I dove into my business, I went all in and I went deep. I wanted to master PI before I tried to teach anyone else about it. I absolutely fell in love with this tool, while also feeling like there was something else out there that could be used with PI to provide a more complete picture.
As I fully immersed myself in the world of PI, I learned about the concept of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way. This led to me to the EQ-I 2.0 and EQ-I 360, and I think these tools are the perfect counterpart to PI. I began to create my own version of consulting using both tools and my own experience to help clients explore their own strengths and challenges. PI helps people better understand themselves, and then the EI piece highlights strengths and potential areas for improvement. They really are like the yin and yang of personal leadership development.
One thing that I love about PI is the idea of developing greater self-awareness and putting people in the right seats to be successful. I feel like my own story is proof of this idea. I knew I was in the wrong seat, but it took time and courage (and a trusted friend) for me to be ready to think about doing something else. And when I dove into PI, I knew right away that it was the right fit for me. I love working with so many diverse clients. Each partnership is unique, and I come into the consultant/client relationship with an open mind and a keen eye for spotting opportunities to grow and evolve. It is incredibly rewarding to see how quickly the change can happen when I sit down with executives one-on-one, and they really open themselves up to the process. Once people have the right tools, they can level up so quickly. Being the person to help them find the tools and learn more about how they can be the very best version of themselves is why I do this. I love being part of the journey of discovery as we try all the different chairs until they find the right one for them. And when they do, it really does feel like a storybook ending.