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Group of black wooden frames on old painted  wood panels wall. Gallery, retro style

Filed Under , on July 8th, 2017

Walled Open

By Seth Kabala

Is it a puzzle? he wondered, staring at the empty space on his office wall. If so, how do I solve it? He stroked his chin with the thumb and index fingers of his left hand, repeatedly pinching from a width in line with the corners of his mouth to the center. Then tapped with the pinched digits at the point of his nose, as if believing this inane tic might annoy his brain into releasing its secret for withholding answers.

* * *

I passed the CPA exam in December of 2016. After living off the grid, crossing the Rubicon, and summiting Everest, I passed the robust application process, and the Oregon Board of Accountancy approved my license in May of 2017. Today, however, even though I’m officially licensed to practice as a CPA, I still don’t have my wall certificate.

The administrative process for having the certificates hand-lettered (by a calligrapher), signed by the Board members, and mailed to licensees is a long one. Thus, from approval of license to actually having that piece of paper on your wall, you are looking at roughly three months. In my experience, that’s just enough time to drive you crazy.

This shouldn’t matter to me, but it does. Am I upset that it takes this long? I have to divide my answer into two parts. For the first part, I’m no more upset about the time to issue the certificate than I am about the time it takes to prepare a five-star, gourmet meal. Something that tasty and refined, so complex in its layers and depths of flavor profiles, takes time to get right, and I’m paying for it, so I want it to be perfect.

In the same way, it takes time and concerted, professional effort to license certified public accountants. You don’t want just anybody digging their fingers into your financial affairs. Oregon puts significant effort into ensuring the competency of those granted the privilege of holding themselves out as CPAs. For that I am grateful, as I consider myself among the elite, and I appreciate the Oregon Board’s fastidiousness to ensure the relevance, reliability, and respect of the profession.

A word about being in the elite. Do I consider myself fundamentally better than all peoples? No. My wife, son, and eldest daughter are all fantastic artists, while I get picked last to play Pictionary. It’s alright. I know I suck. In that matter, my family are the elite, whilst I am the sub-amateur. Elite, to me, means having put in the work and being recognized for it. Are we clear on that? If the situation calls for it, don’t shy away from stating facts.

That’s a fundamental problem with business success, I think. People spend too much time worrying about being too braggadocious, too forward with self-promotion, and then miss all kinds of opportunities that passed by while they were worried about not doing enough. I submit to you that doing something is better than nothing, even if feathers get unduly plucked along the way.

For the second part, I’m impatient. I want that certificate on my wall, and I’ve been using its absence as an excuse to avoid doing things I am allowed to do as a licensed CPA, such as being in motion and attuned to new professional business opportunities. The world’s capabilities are, if left unused, as effective as a Mustang Shelby GT 500 that sits in your garage. Powerful as it is, it’s not going to help you win races, impress women, or build OPEC’s profits unless you fire it up, nose it out the garage, and open those cylinders.

My wall looks incomplete, but that’s only an illusion keeping my attention focused inwardly instead of outwardly, masking my ability to see through the misdirection to what’s happening off-stage. Taking a moment to break the hypnotism, reconciling with the reality that, in time, my ego wall will decorate itself and that I can move forward without another charge of superfluous me-me-me fuel, I actually can get stuff done.

If you’re like me, you sell yourself short, failing to tap the tremendous power existing within you right now. Remember this: concerning your actions, your own launching off earth and into professional orbit, you are the magician. You control the illusion.

What’s happening on the sides of your stage?

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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