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Three Questions to unlock your authentic career: Ashley Stahl at TEDxBerkeley


Translator: Denise RQ
Reviewer: Lena Clemente At age 22, I was completely immersed in this world of spying the Pentagon and counter-terrorism. Everything that I did
in my adolescent life was to prepare me for my fantasy career. But I’m here, just a few years later, as a career coach
to hundreds of millennials. So how and why does this happen? That’s exactly what people asked me when I quit my job in Washington, DC, and booked a one-way trip
home to Los Angeles. And I tell people
that my answer is simple: political science is what I love, but career coaching is what I am. This dance that we all do
between finding work that we love and finding work
that aligns with who we are is what I want to talk about today. So I remember, four years ago living in DC
and going through my quarter life crisis, and I was just chaotic,
desperate for answers, lots of pints of ice cream; and I [also] remember
hiring a career coach, and this fundamentally changed my life. And in the process, I realized that there were three key questions
that helped me unlock my authentic career. And I want to share them with you today. The first question is: what am I good at? Second question is:
what do people tell me I’m good at? And the final question: ask yourself,
“What’s holding me back?” These three questions sit at the foundation
of my career coaching practice. So, let’s start with what am I good at. We’re told early
that we need to find our passion. When we get to college,
we need to pick a major or a passion, way before we’ve given much thought to who we want to be
in our careers and in our lives. As a result, some of you here
have majors that fascinate you. But there are others
who simply picked the topics so you could get your bachelor’s degree
out of the way and move on with your life. But here’s the problem. Your interest in a subject
does not guarantee your success in a career with it. And that’s why I’m here to remind you to do something that you are
not just what you love. I remember four years ago getting
a phone call from a defense contractor that I was hired to run a program
for the Pentagon. I was ecstatic, and then I panicked. I just remember, you know,
reading about this program that prepared senior government officials
to deploy to Afghanistan where they would then serve as advisers to high-level officials
in the Afghan government. As the only woman in the room, and definitely the youngest
employee in my firm, I fell like I had the world to prove. So, like many of you probably understand,
my job took over my life. I spent ten-to-15-hour days
in Washington, DC, and a lot of my weekends ended up
on military bases in the Midwest, where I would oversee these training programs
and weapons qualifications. And I’ll never forget
one particular Sunday: one of the advisers called me over, and in the midst of our discussion, he asked me if I could hold his gun,
so he could tie a shoe. I realized without hesitation
as I threw my hand out that this was going to be
the first time I ever held a gun! This gun just dropped cold in my hand, and I just remember these chills
going down my spine. I felt like I was holding
death in my hands. So here is the great question. How was I going to be a spy
if I couldn’t really hold a gun? That set me into a tailspin, because I remember feeling
like my career, my passion, my identity were all in conflict with one another. And I felt so alone, but guess what? I wasn’t! Seventy five percent of the US population,
according to Reuters, is hiding some part
of their identity at work. I wasn’t the exception, I was the rule. In order for me to succeed in these National Security niche
that I cared so much about, I had to hide my feelings, my fears, my insecurities,
and probably my identity itself a lot of the time. I’d say ten pints of ice cream and at least 30 episodes
of “Sex in the City” later, I got off the couch, and I realized
it’s time to ask for help. And that was when I hired my career coach. And in our work together, I realized
how important it is for all of us to tune out the social pressure
to find what we love and tune in to something more significant
for your career and your life: who you are. It’s never too late,
and it’s never too early for you to ask for help. My second question for you to ask yourself is: what do people tell me I’m good at? So some of you here may be thinking, “OK, Ashley, I don’t really know
what I’m good at, I don’t know what my values are,” and that’s OK. But take an inventory
of what people tell you you’re good at. Do friends turn to you
for some sort of advice that you seem to have down? Or do your professors
and colleagues praise something special about your work? Or how about this? Do people ever ask you to teach them
something that you seem to know well? These are the moments
that shed light on your natural talents, and the work force needs them. Often, I get clients ages 18 to 30, and they are all so worried
about finding their passion that they completely overlooked
their natural skills. I, for one, was so focused
on finding my passion that I completely overlooked
my natural talent for the job hunt. In the span of six weeks,
I went to 90 events, I had coffee with 200 people,
and I got three job offers. So, other than being
completely wired from all that coffee, I got phone calls from all these friends
who wanted advice on their careers, and it was amazing what our conversations
did for their lives. Shortly after our conversations, I had friends calling me telling me
that they figured out what they want to do
with their career path and their life. And a lot of them ended up
quitting their jobs, which isn’t my fault, I’m just saying. (Laughter) But I was honored, and I was loving the fact
that they would call me and tell me that my techniques
or our conversations empowered them to get raises at work
or get job offers after a stale job hunt. But more than being
empowered, I was clear. I’m a coach. I’m a career coach. I’m often the only person I know in a room who literally cannot get enough
of a good job hunt. On the way to finding my passion,
or job in my passion, I found something
so much more significant: who I am. Don’t be so blinded by your passion
that you overlook who you are. Those who pay attention will find it. My final question for you to ask yourself
is, “What’s holding me back?” So this is the one that a lot of clients
come to me and go, “Don’t want to talk about that one!” And I’m just like,
“You know? Here’s the thing. We have up to 70,000 thoughts each day and up to 98% of your thoughts
are repeat offenders, according to UCLA. Looks like we’re all sitting
together on a thought carousel just going around and around and around with the exact same thoughts. And so many of these thoughts
may be holding you back in your career,” and that’s why I ask a lot of my clients
to keep a journal for two weeks, where they share with me
their fear-based thoughts. And guess what?
Everyone’s thoughts are the same! “I’m not good enough.” These words keep your career bar low, and they keep you
for striving less in your life, and if you simply pay attention
to these words, or your fears, you will rise above them. Because it’s one thing for you to hang out with your fears,
or hang out with the crazy, it’s a whole another thing to live in it. And you’re not your thoughts. If you open your emotional backpack,
and you question yourself, you will unlock your authentic career. Standing here with you at Berkeley today, I remember that voice in my head
at the Pentagon saying, “OK, Ashley, this is not you.” And that’s when these three questions
can save you when you’re stuck, and you don’t know where else to go, “What am I good at?”, “What do people tell me I’m good at?,” and “What’s holding me back?”. If you ask yourself these three questions, you will be able to do more
of what you are not just what you love. Talk to people, talk to your friends, talk to your professors,
hire a career coach. But don’t be afraid to ask questions, because when you do, you will be able to embrace
a career that waits for you. Thank you. (Applause)

100 Replies to “Three Questions to unlock your authentic career: Ashley Stahl at TEDxBerkeley”

  • Watched a few minutes of her online webinar and already knew it was a scam. Can't stand people who take advantage of others and make a "career" out of it. Luckily she only wasted 10 minutes of my life.

  • Passion is what you need to succeed, if you have any doubt then just read about the lived of the of the most successful people in history and see what they say about it. This lady with all due respect does not qualify to be a coach. Just because it's a TED talk doesn't necessarily mean it's quality talk!

  • El gobierno recuerda que el proyecto está en suspenso hasta que emita informe el Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear. Y reconoce el riesgo radiológico y químico sobre la salud humana.

  • But the thing is nobody tells me I'm good at anything. I don't consider myself super talented at anything. For a long time I wanted to be a 911 responder like a fireman or a police man. But I don't think that's the right job for me but I do want to help people.

  • Pentagon fired her. People out there want to kill us. "But they aren't good at it, we need to teach them to do what they are good at. Can I hold your gun?" Um…no, psycho, you are fired.

  • I'll be anyone's career coach and apply the same methodology she does for cheaper. She found her passion taking your money, now it's time for me to take yours. This is my passion.

  • What am I good at?
    -Texting
    What people think I'm good at?
    -Texting
    What's holding me back?
    -There are no official professional texters as far as my knowledge on the subject goes…

  • your passion is who you are! if you ignore your passion, then you are working just for money. Girl that is not good information to share people… Reality tells us what to do… but we are people, we can't just accept reality and do nothing about your own dream. Set up a unreachable goal for yourself, because that makes you wake up everyday because that is your passion!!!

  • I agree you have to follow your passion, but you forget something: when you have a house to pay, children to take care for it is difficult to change a career. So: you need money and time to change your career.

  • One question – Do we really need this introspection? If what I am good at is not what I like doing then whats the point in changing the carrier? Just to get a better pay so I can buy more stuffs?

  • I don't get that she couldn't figure out her career path, so she became a career coach….? She couldn't even find a career for herself?

  • Noticing the other comments and overall TED needs to step it up. Where is any kind of quality control, these are getting desperate and ridiculous. Content must be evaluated before you waste people's time. Speakers should have to send in tapes or the like

  • You where holding a machine of death !!!
    But ! How many in America are holding the same thing and don’t the humanity or thought characteristics of yourself or someone like you

  • I remember I spent my whole childhood drawing clothes since I wanted to be a fashion designer in Paris but then life just taught me that I was simply not good enough for it. Passion can lead to success but only if it goes hand in hand with personal ability.

  • Nice video content! Apologies for butting in, I would appreciate your initial thoughts. Have you ever tried – Chiveard Discovering Potential Framework (google it)? It is a smashing one off product for finding your true calling and achieving success minus the headache. Ive heard some incredible things about it and my old buddy Taylor got cool success with it.

  • We live in a special era where truly creative ppl can earn a living as artists much more than in generations past… But despite the level of ppl we see making it big time by pursuing their creative abilities … The odds are slim … Very slim … Get a job that turns into a career and you'll have a higher standard of living than someone who banked on their art or passion to get them to position where they pen their signature on a deposit check for loads of 💰💸💲💲… But it CAN NOT be argued success is repeated actions of failure or minor unnoticable progress that intersects lady luck

  • Is it just me or is there someone else feels like me, they always focus in what am I good at what do people tell me that I am good at? there is more to it …what if I am or you are good at something you hate? What if you are a good at accounting and you hate it does that mean it’s who you are have it resolved the question of who you are and what you should be? Every single time I attend a coaching session or Ted X or whatever they always focus on these questions nothing new came up, we know what we are good at that doesn’t mean it is who we are I think that does not solve anything there is more to it than this question

  • She gives bad advice. I have been researching on opening my own business and I've been studying books and videos from very successful business people and all the multi-millionaire/billionaire entrepreneurs like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, etc.. give opposite advice. They encourage people to pursue a career/business of your passions because if you're not doing something that you love, when things get rough you're only going to want to give up. So they even strongly encourage people to do something they love so their business will survive and they will be happier.

  • I think many people have misunderstood her. Finding who you are should not mean that you negate your passions. I think it's more like, you have a passion you are convinced it's what you should do, but actually there is something better you can do, something that you are blind to, and that is what she calls "who you are". And when you find that, you'll realise that this is what you've been looking for even when you were trying to follow your passion, this is what you should be doing, and it makes you come alive.
    At least this is how I choose to understand it. 🙂

  • Your speech is so incredibly put together and clear. It is one thing what you loves but another thing of who you are.

  • "I felt like I was holding death in my hands" To translate that into English "I felt like I was holding freedom in my hands"

  • I really like her advice because it is no the same I like cooking, teaching english, psychology or medicine rather than Do I think I am the one really qualified to be in those professions?

  • What's an authentic career? This I think is just some sort of play on words. The truth is if you understand yourself. Your "self" practically changes from moment to moment. We are all a bunch of replaced cells that changes every ten years. Your interests now, your rationale, your outlook on life will change. It is not to look back to the past, but to embrace who you are now. I personally think its not the amount of seminars you go to that will give your life's calling. But looking where you are now is perhaps what your Creator has given you to do. Personally I have done many courses and many jobs. I have failed at some, missed some opportunities along the way. But hey, I am HUMAN. I am LEARNING. And these are the people I want to be around. People who say its OKAY to be human. ITS okay to be confused. We are all in this journey together so don't feel like if you are alone you are the only one. I think its about meeting like minded individuals and experiencing LOVE. Love is a gift. It isn't something you got. It's something you inherited. I have wondered should I do marketing? Should I do architecture? How is it I have so many gifts? Should I do music? But even if I were to look back on these passions and to rekindle a love of them. It doesn't FEEL right. Somethings missing. Perhaps time and tide brought you into a different season of life. And thats OKAY. As a 28 year old man, I am doing a Masters of Information Technology. I have NO IDEA how I got here. NO FREAKING CLUE. But there seemed to be a purpose in all these. I seemed to be destined to become a systems analyst. Rich with them babes, LOL. Anyway, I enjoy thinking logically about business. I like being realistic and having a sense of success that comes with working for a big company. But life is more than work. It's also finding who you LOVE, what kind of things OUTSIDE of having a good job you want. For example, maybe you always wondered why you were good with your hands, so you can try juggling for example. I guess what I'm trying to say is embrace whereever you are at. There's always a reason for your current circumstance. I know sometimes we can over analyze but really. Have a sense of certainty and just go for what you think is the most logical next step. Bon voyage! and no worries!

  • It is unfortunate that you didnt realize or learn that the gun you held, was a one pound metal and plastic machine. Over %99.9 of those machines will never hurt anyone and far fewer of those will kill someone. One pound of metal and plastic. The car you drove today is a 2,000 pound death device. Over the lifespan of your car, it has a greater than %10 chance of killing someone and an almost %50 chance of hurting someone. I am glad that you found your niche but it is unfortunate that it was the result of inexperience and ignorance of the truth.

  • This is very true! When you are on a search for path in life there are very powerful questions which helps to understand yourself. I found them more then 3 and they keep me going my way. I collect them all in my last video.

  • Thanks for the Video! Apologies for the intrusion, I would appreciate your thoughts. Have you heard about – Chiveard Discovering Potential Framework (should be on google have a look)? It is a good one of a kind product for finding your true calling and achieving success minus the normal expense. Ive heard some interesting things about it and my GF after a lifetime of fighting got astronomical success with it.

  • I actually really liked this video. It helped me gain a lot of answers about myself and my real skills rather then just what i thought I wanted to look like. Ok so she is a career coach who has a course she is marketing.. that is her job, which she has chosen, and that is the worth she has assigned to her service, which is pretty admirable. Its a video designed by a professional giving free advice. Constructive criticism is fine, but why people feel the need to be so mean is beyond me. Ashley, ignore the haters, they're just a product of the internet, I personally found this video brilliant and I recommended it to a few of my friends. GOOD ADVICE BY SOMEONE WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE TAKING ABOUT IN MY OPINION.

  • i hate when people tell me what I'm good at, or say that I have a gift. I am a massage therapist and everyone that I treat tells me that I have a gift. Well it's 15 years into this field and I just want to move on, but that's what I am good at. Ugh!!

  • Not trying dramatic and all but tears formed in my eyes while listening to her talk. Maybe I was too invested in her words and they all hit me so hard, especially at this moment in my life. Thank you Ashley!

  • I don't now what I am good at and I'm so reserved that people don't know me well so they can't tell what I am god at. I feel so lost 🙁
    I've trying a lot of new things I wanted to do for a long time and I will keep doing it. I'm sure that I'm going to discover more about myselft and hopefully understand what I want to do with my life.

  • Just wonderful, I've been looking for "catholic spiritual meditation music" for a while now, and I think this has helped. Have you heard people talk about – Banulian Lonameron Breakthrough – (do a search on google ) ? Ive heard some interesting things about it and my mate got great success with it.

  • I know what I'm good at. I know what others tell me I'm good at and it is Money…..MONEY, that is holding me back. I cannot simply quit my job and hope that I somehow manifest the money I need to pay my bills while I work on my "authentic career".

  • Made me think about career choices differently. I’m at a real crossroad in my life right now. These were helpful and practical questions for me to consider. Thank you.

  • What am i good at. – math / problem solver
    What do ppl tell me i am good at – staying calm / patient / discernment
    Whats holding me back – anxiety / money / time / focus / drive

  • wow, I feel like she is speaking to me directly. I'm currently in school trying to figure out what it is that i want to do with my life.

  • I disagree. Just because you're good at something, doesn't mean you'll love it or can force yourself to. I'm a great writer, but writing makes me miserable. Your passion is what accrues happiness in the end.

  • She lost me at 1/4 life crisis… To quote Jordan Peterson "most people won't have a career…they will just have a series of jobs".

  • I've had 2 careers, one I loved but not the hours, 70 hours a week on the road never home. I"m some one who loves to be home with my family and projects. My 2nd career I could do but it was really stressful and I didn't really have an affinity for it. My third career is going to be in something related to Psychology and counseling. I've been told to become a photographer, but it's my outlet, I don't want to own my own business. Just keep at it and me realistic, take advantage of employer offered tuition reimbursement, explore life and try new things. Have a positive attitude and show up. The rest will fall into place.

  • Be perceptive to the idea of a 'calling' – the advising voice within. “… make ye a mighty effort, and choose for yourselves a noble goal.” – Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha

  • Career vs Business, people may have passion but they may not have skills. What others tell about you is not important for every one. It may change with persons. Do not have to choose career based on others recommendations. It is you who exactly know what is in your mind and works betters for you.

  • Anyone can be a career coach. There's no certificate needed.
    Just advertise yourself as career coach, and get people to pay you thousands for advice.

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