Archives for Karen

Get in the Game

Baseball by PaulMLocke of Flickr

 

Was it hard to tell this Monday from any other Monday at work?

Can you remember the last time you felt triumphant at work?

Has it been more than three years since your last big professional growth spurt?

Your answers may reveal that you have been coasting. Sometimes we need to coast, like when we are going through big personal challenges. The impacts of these challenges can last a year or two (caring for an ailing elderly relative can take much longer). It can take us out of contention for professional growth and opportunity. There is only so long you can coast before ultimately running out of gas.

It may not be your fault; bad companies and bosses can kill your motivation and inhibit your desire to do more than a job requires.

Regardless, it is against our nature to stay stagnant too long and it can be detrimental to our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Ambition is something that we naturally generate. We can get into situations where we are re-trained to kill our own ambitions, and it can start at a very early age.

Pretty soon we are convincing ourselves that we are fine; the status quo is comfortable; change is unwanted and scary.

My friend since middle school ended a marriage she was unhappy in after she found evidence on Facebook that he was cheating. A couple years later she is very grateful for that evidence, because she may have stayed unhappy even longer without it. She is currently engaged to my brother’s friend, a man I have known since he was a boy. Who I know is making her happy, will make her happy, and will be the loyal and affectionate spouse she wanted her ex to be. She said, “You don’t know how unhappy you were until you are happy.”

I do my monthly Epic Career Tales podcast so that people can be inspired by the level of success and happiness that other people have achieved. I know it is not always good to compare yourself with other people, but if you aren’t getting back from a job what you put into it, then you already know that you’re not as happy as you could be. But how do you know how happy you could be unless you compare yourself to how happy other people are?

A lot of you reading this right now have an automatic thought coming through saying, “Yeah, but those people aren’t me. They are [enter any one of the following: smarter, luckier, more privileged, prettier, wealthier, not as busy, more educated, better connected, etc.]”

If you don’t, that is great for you, because you have few reasons not to take action and become happy.

However, if you recognize that thought, that is also great for you, because recognizing it is the first step in taking its power away.

This post is not meant to put you on a path to extreme change in your life so that you can have happiness. I realize that if you have this thought then you also perceive the effort of becoming happy as potentially futile.

You may want to take action, and I encourage it, but effort is something I want you to save until you have a clear vision of what you being happy in your job could look like.

Tony Robbins has said, “Activity without a high-level of purpose is the drain of your fortune.”

So many of my clients are hesitant to picture what it could look like to be happy because they think that it will lead to greater disappointment.

Tony Robbins has also said that our expectations of what our reality should look like can cause our misery.

I just want to leave you with one distinction that might help clear up what seems to be a contradiction.

Be mindful of how you define happiness. The change you think might be necessary in order to achieve this may not be anything external.

Instead of thinking in terms of what you get when better conditions exist, think about you and your current conditions. Picture yourself in the flow, knowing you are at your utmost best and not needing anyone else to notice or recognize you for it.

This is a baby step to get your head back in the game of your career. For now, do not worry about winning the game, and certainly do not think about the championship – just play.

 

If you can generate a sense of happiness even in unfavorable conditions, you can become unstoppable.

 

Celebrating 11 Years

Thank You by Andrew Bowden of Flickr

Ten years is usually the big milestone, and it was, but 11 is my lucky number and the year that I had been most excited to reach – a second decade in business to celebrate.

Rather, what is more worthy of celebration are the people I have met, engaged, helped, supported and been supported by. Also, the challenges I have overcome and the self-limiting beliefs that I have busted are worthy of celebrating.

I was very busy with business, grading, and preparing for my first destination girls’ trip (a celebration of the year my high school friends and I turn 40) on my anniversary, that I forgot to acknowledge it on the actual day, June 1st, prior to leaving.

But I arrived before my friends in Hilton Head, SC, and as I lie in a lounge chair over looking palm trees and the warm, gentle, loving ocean, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

  • I had hardly enough time to pack or sleep because my clients, mentors, and partners have been referring so many leads to me, and because now more clients engage me to work one-on-one with them throughout their campaign, a much larger investment, and more prospective clients are asking to speak with references.
  • I am so grateful for the myriad of former clients who are thrilled to share their story and genuinely want more people to have a happy ending/new beginning just like them.
  • I am grateful that I can spend money on a jaunt without worry that the well will run dry and I will soon regret spending that money, both because I have a full pipeline and because I have busted the belief that I am un-deserving, that the world is a place of cruel limits and lack, and that just when things are finally going well, tragedy will strike.

These beliefs kept me from fully spreading my wings, and while my wings are still not as fully expansive as they can become, they are FAR wider than ever before.

  • I trust in God and the Universe.
  • I know that I am deserving of success, happiness and wealth, and the world is abundant in resources and possibility, as long as I am resourceful and open to possibility.

My 40s and this second decade of business are looking to be my most exciting and adventurous years yet, and I have had quite an exciting and adventurous life so far. But, again, it is not about the years, it is about the people.

  • I first have to thank my husband, without whom I could not have been able to stay in business this long, and most definitely would not have been able to be home with my daughters.
  • I want to thank my parents. Even though I probably would have started a business without their blessing, I was both surprised and relieved to gain their support from the beginning through now.
  • Thank you my former BNI referral partners with whom I still keep in touch and some who still refer clients eight years later. You helped me hone my public speaking and networking skills, and supported my business during the most critical time in a business’s life and at a time when it was critical for me to have a strong business as I ventured into motherhood.
  • Thank you to the hundreds of LinkedIn Workshop for Jobseekers attendees. It was your feedback that enabled me to develop a much stronger curriculum.
  • Thank you to the people in the dozens of organizations who engaged me to speak. I found a new passion in public speaking and, now that my kids are older, see this as a primary platform going forward.
  • Thank you to my first clients who took a chance on a young, but ambitious and knowledgeable résumé writer and career coach who probably seemed like a baby to you.
  • Thank you to the clients who gave me a shot as a work-at-home mom. I was so scared of being perceived as unreliable that I was uber stressed all the time about keeping a regular schedule with my babies. I did not have a lot of time to work one-on-one with clients as I breastfed every three hours for 45 minutes. Though I was more diligent than ever with my schedule, if ever there was a snafu (baby won’t nap, explosive diaper incidents, illness, etc.) you were more patient and understanding than I could have imagined. Your patronage was so appreciated. You kept my business going.
  • Thank you to the clients who helped me test and launch new products and services. Helping you overcome your challenges was a reason to develop solutions that would help so many more.
  • Thank you to my interns and assistants. My management and mentoring experience before I started my business was minimal, but while I created new opportunities for you to grow, you also gave me the opportunity to see what kind of contributor I could be.
  • To my virtual experimental teams, who allowed me to test out new tools and processes while we learned along side each other, we may not have had the outcome we intended, but I can say that a lot was learned, and none of us were afraid to fail. For that we should be proud and I thank you. I will try again with new insights that will help future teams achieve more success.
  • To my former mastermind community, thank you for the virtually magic synchronicity that was created. Again, we may not have created a permanent group, but the momentum gained during that time had a permanent, compounding effect on my business. Thank you.
  • Thank you to all my clients who were willing to be vulnerable and honest with me, and trusted that I had your back and would be compassionate in my stand for your optimal outcome. You should be so proud of how you expanded your comfort zones, increased your life skill level and confidence, and grew empowered to create a future that makes the life you want possible. You ROCK in a very EPIC way.
  • To all the vendors who have helped me with marketing, graphic design, editing, transcription, sales funnels, and more, thank you.
  • A HUGE thanks to my current assistant, Angela, who has been with me two years supporting the most growth the business has ever experienced. Without your efforts, I could never have focused my time and attention on what really mattered, our clients and major strategic initiatives.
  • Of course, I thank my kids. To be honest, they seemed like an impediment to business a lot of the time. This might sound awful, but I used to feel immense pressure to compete with emerging coaches who had no tethers and could attend all the cool events and who started to “take” all the great speaking engagements. It took a while to grow in my own confidence, to see that I am a uniquely gifted coach, that my audience was not being “taken” by someone else, and that I am a FORCE of nature. That last one is something I learned from my kids, from overcoming the challenges that parenthood presented while conquering product development, plus business development, plus client delivery. I can now instill in other moms that it CAN be done.

 

What Career Did You Decide Was “Too Hard to Break Into?”

Dreaming in color by _davor of Flickr

 

This week I just wanted to share a brief notice about a trend that is way too prevalent.

People decide that their dream career is unobtainable. Just because– not because they did the research, crunched the numbers, interviewed people in that job to see how they got there, or even checked the LinkedIn profiles or biographies of those who were in that career – just because.

They assume.

And yet, other people are seeking and obtaining their dream careers.

True, you might have to fill a knowledge or skill gap. You might have to take a step back in income. But do you know that, or are you guessing that?

And even if few people get to do it, who is to say that you couldn’t do it?

Ask yourself this question: Why couldn’t you?

Is your answer based on fact or story?

Think it is too late? Doubtful!

If an 82-year-old nun can finish an Ironman Triathlon, what makes you think you are too old? A 98-year-old yoga teacher would tell you anything is possible at any age.

Who gets to decide that you are too old anyway?  In most cases, you do.

Read this blog by Tim Ferriss about an experiment he conducted at Princeton University to prove that bigger goals are more than obtainable. Most people assume that things are harder than they are, and they don’t even try, EVEN when there are exceptional rewards.

 

So, what dream job did you exclude as possible, and is it or not?

 

For What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?

 

My father-in-law, Kenneth Huller

I sit astounded at how many made the ultimate sacrifice. God bless those who were willing to leave their loved ones, put themselves in hell on earth, and give their life to secure a safe, prosperous life of freedom for future generations.

My Uncle Barry fought in D-Day, and made it home to receive the Purple Heart. My husband’s father was shot guarding the US Embassy in Germany. Thankfully, he survived to meet my oldest daughter. But my husband’s grandfather died in WWII when his mom was just four. I am eternally grateful for the choices we are afforded because of this sacrifice, but also saddened that my mother-in-law had to spend time in an orphanage when her mother could not support her three kids after her husband was killed.

Today I honor not only the men and women who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend my freedom, I also honor the families who sacrificed for them and suffered for this cause.

A memorial to my husband’s grandfather – click for a larger size

I think about the comforts we are afforded because of their sacrifices, and though I cannot say we all take them for granted, too many stay stuck or stifled, unwilling to risk that comfort, even in small ways, to pursue their truth, their passion, and their freedom.

While the majority of us recognize that our basic needs are met every day – food, shelter, clothes, we often have much more than we need to survive, and yet not enough in our lives to feel fulfilled and happy.

I aim to teach my kids not to succumb to what is immediately gratifying when what they really want for their lives requires a little effort, time, and patience. It seems like such a small thing compared to putting your life on the line, but it is because of their sacrifices that we have much smaller sacrifices to make in order to live a full life.

 

What are you willing to give up to improve not only your life, but also the lives of future generations?

 

Alternatives to Medication for Anxiety and Depression

Meditation by Mitchell Joyce of Flickr

 

Two weeks ago I spoke to job seekers about forming habits, and I would be remiss if I did not address the emotional and psychological obstacles we often face to forming good job transition habits, including depression and anxiety. Though I did not ask anyone to speak up if they were suffering from anxiety or depression, several heads were shaking in affirmation and a few hands rose when I broached the subject.

The risk of depression and anxiety are very real during any life change, including job loss. I am not a licensed psychologist, but my relationship with my clients does often border on therapist, and I have to understand my limits and know where to turn my clients when I have reached the limitations of my capabilities and they need more help.

Why am I addressing this now? My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in February. The learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, as well as stubbornness that run rampant through my husband’s family led many down a path of self-medication that did not end well for several of them. I have needed to explore all options and learn as much as I can about the side effects, primary and secondary, short-term and long-term of medications for all of the above. Of course, this research will be life-long.

Whatever I share with you today could be negated by new science tomorrow. The take away that I feel is most important for you, is to explore ALL of the options and educate yourself vigilantly before you take anyone’s recommendation, including a doctor. Just because it is prescribed, does not mean it is the best solution. What works for others, may not work for you. Your family or personal history may mean that even if a medication could ease the symptoms, it can lead to worse dependencies or risks of mis-dosing or overdose.

With the recent tragic loss of Chris Cornell to suicide and the public announcement of his wife that it was caused by an overdose of anxiety medication, many conversations this weekend revolved around pharmaceuticals, advertisements, side effects being worse than the condition, and class action suits.

I am not sharing conclusions, and do not claim to have conclusions or recommendations for anyone else, but I came across some significant findings in my search that could help you if you start to recognize signs of depression or anxiety in yourself.

First, HERE is a website that discusses the efficacy of various drugs treating General Anxiety Disorder based on response, remission, and adverse events.

You may find that the efficacy of alternatives to medication may not seem as strong when it comes to response, and the scientific studies on those alternatives do not seem to test based on all three measures of efficacy.

Some, however, have proven to be almost just as effective as anti-anxiety medications, including cognitive behavioral therapy. If it alone is not optimally effective, medication can be prescribed as a compliment, but be aware that some medications can actually decrease the efficacy of simultaneous psychotherapy. For many of these medications, you are NOT advised to withdrawal without the direction of your doctor and gradual decreasing of dosages, so if you find the side effects intolerable, you cannot just stop taking it.

Though this study of 37,333 patients found that medications were more effective than psychotherapies generally, but certain psychotherapies had higher than average efficacy, including mindfulness therapies (such as meditation).  Exercise proved effective, but not as effective as a placebo, and I could not find studies (among the surface search results) that tested exercise plus therapy, but if you are concerned about the side effects of medications, considering the health benefits of both, it seems worth trying first.

Here is another study, one of many, that purports that meditation is an effective way to ease symptoms of anxiety. Yet another study followed up with anxiety patients who had participated in an 8-week outpatient meditation-based program three years later, and found that the program had long-term benefits for participants, even for those who discontinued meditation, though most did not.

I also found a small study that proved spiritual healing was effective in treating depression and anxiety with just 10 minutes for three consecutive days, but the measure and scale the efficacy was presented in was different, and I would love someone who understands these studies better to shed some light on a scale-to-scale comparison.  I suppose that insurance would not cover this type of treatment, which may discourage you from trying it. Finding a trustworthy provider may also prove to be a challenge.

Studies that used music as a therapy across the board had inconsistent results for coronary heart disease patients, but had more consistent positive results when the patients chose the music.

This article obviously is not the result of exhaustive research, and, as I mentioned, results of new studies are released nearly every day. At a minimum, you can see that there are viable alternatives to medication for depression and anxiety.

An issue, however, that I must mention, is that too many people who suffer do NOT seek out any help, in spite of the options. Like the loved ones I lost, too many fail to seek out help or choose to supplement, translate or ignore a doctor’s recommendations in harmful ways. Reasons can include the need to be self-reliant, a fear of doctors, a stigma against getting such help, or an unwillingness or inability to sacrifice vices for wellness. As we have seen, it can have tragic outcomes.

 

For those we have lost, those we are losing, and to those we have yet to lose, I can only hope it is not in vain, and that others may find hope and healing where you could not, and rest in eternal peace.

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: The Last 2 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To

Graduation Day by MD Saad Andalib of Flickr

The big day is arriving soon, dear graduates.  You will be a full-fledged member of the “real world.”

Some of you are ready, while others are scared to death. The difference between the two groups is outlook. The ones who are ready perceive the real world will be able to offer them more than childhood or college life, such as independence and self-reliance.

I considered myself in the other group – the scared group. I perceived that the real world was harsh, and success was not necessarily dependent on my effort and talent, but on my aggressiveness, competitiveness, and self-preservation.

This was so unappealing to me, and I did not feel very powerful or self-reliant. As the youngest child and only girl, I was taught to be afraid of the world, that there are situations and places I should avoid, like the city. At nearly 40-years-old, my father still worries about me going to the city. He thinks I’m naïve. I’m not – I receive alerts of assaults where I go to work in the city every week. I grew in my awareness of a self-limiting belief that was formed by this conditioning and decided it was not truthful. I did not have to let other people take opportunities that the city offered so that I could stay safe in my suburb – which is equally untruthful.

There were a number of things I perceived about the real world that limited my early career growth, and one that I did not realize, but got lucky and unlucky in how things worked out.  Here are two things that I want to share with you that might have made a big difference to me, had I known them.

  1. The demands of life will become greater; enjoy yourself, but put in the effort to be a reliable performer.

It is very hard to help you form a realistic expectation of how limited your freedom will be once you settle in to family life, if that is the life you choose. Some may express resentment, in fact, for how free you are. As long as your personal activities do not interfere with your professional obligations, take advantage of this time in your life – travel, socialize, be civically engaged, volunteer, delve into your passions – whatever they are.

Attend conferences and make great new contacts. Maintaining relationships will become more challenging, even if you do not choose a family life, because OTHER people will, and that will limit their availability and freedom to connect. The more you connect and engage with people now, the stronger your bonds will be, and the easier it will be to reconnect with people after some time passes. You may not see some of your best friends more than once a year. This is okay, but do not give up on people because they become busy. In fact, it will take more effort as you age, but it is just as necessary, maybe even more so, to maintain these relationships.

Keep your word – it is your key to long-term success. If you say you are going to do something, deliver. Last week I shared how as you grow older it will seem harder to procure the help of others, because people generally grow more skeptical, if not cynical. However, if you have impressed people as a person of your word, and you come through for people (if they are given proper direction and inspiration), they will be more apt to come through for you, too. Making an extra effort on someone else’s behalf requires time. Many perceive time as a resource they already lack. To make it an effort they are willing to make, you have to be WORTH the effort. Use your youth to establish yourself as a person worthy of the effort of others. Remember to express gratitude to those who invest their time helping you grow and develop. Look for ways to give that value back and pay it forward.

  1. It will become less acceptable for you to not know what you want as years pass.

As you gain professional experience, it is expected that you will discover what you like and do not like in terms of role, culture, boss, structure, and environment. As you gain valuable skills and experience, the investment of hiring you increases, and the stakes for your employer become higher. Retention and engagement determine if a company receives a return on their investment in talent, so they will want to ensure that your intended career path coincide with the current AND future opportunities that they can offer you.

Though it was relatively early in my career when I discovered a field that lit my proverbial fire (coaching), I was also too early to have enough experience to be credible and effective. I had to spend several years learning more about how to make success more likely and failure less likely. Because I knew my ultimate goal and my reasons for staying in recruiting, I was able to ask for greater opportunities to interface with the clients (employers), and ask questions that helped me do my job better, but also learn more about how hiring managers in diverse organizations qualified top contenders and chose which one received the offer.

Then, when I started coaching at age 28, it was challenging to convey that I was senior, mature, experienced, knowledgeable, and credible enough to attract the volume of clients I expected. If I had not been so sure, however, that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, that I had found the career where I could make an optimal contribution, I would have struggled (even more) to survive, and would likely NOT have survived to be celebrating 11 years in business in a couple of weeks.  By the way – I had a coach that helped me maintain my “true north” when challenges threatened to sway me wayward.

I had a nephew that died at 28. I have lost over a dozen classmates. You may feel like you have your whole career to figure out what you want to do, but I urge you to invest time EARLY and OFTEN assessing where you can be the most successful, happy, and effective.

 

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is NOW.  If you are NOT a soon-to-be graduate and you are just now learning these lessons, there is still time to have them make a difference for you.

What lessons would you share with future business rock stars?

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: 5 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To, Part 2

Respect – Undergrad Graduation by m00by of Flickr

 

It probably sounds a bit condescending, this, “Take it from me; this is how the world works” post. You are probably sick of that, huh?

Well, don’t tune out, because this is just what I wish I knew, and if I had, I might be much further along in my mission, which would actually mean that the fixes to what is broken in careering and hiring would be available and applied already. When I put it that way, can you see the butterfly effect of NOT knowing this?

So, here are two more things that, if I would have known then, I would have been much more prepared and confident to confront the “real world,” instead of wasting time avoiding it. And, yes, there are two more tidbits of advice that I will share next week. (Be sure to read the first part of this series, if you missed it.)

 

  1. At this moment, if you make a humble yet concerted attempt, you will find it easy to get advice, find a mentor, get inside information on the workings of companies that can help you get hired and succeed.

When I was advised that networking was the number one way to get a job, I was very discouraged. I did not come from a well-connected family. I did not perceive my inner circle to be influential, and I also did not feel confident that I was anyone who could make a strong enough impression to impress a stranger. That is what I thought networking was, and it seemed so inauthentic to me – shaking hands, schmoozing, BSing, bragging… I was more content to avoid corporate jobs, politics, and bureaucracy. I thought pursuing a career in radio was a way to do that.

I was NAÏVE.

Here is what I wish I had known – People LOVE helping other people! If I had seen it more as asking for advice and mentorship, I would have found that, whether I asked a stranger or an acquaintance, the percentage of the time I asked for help, I would have received it.

See, I thought most people were getting it all WRONG! I thought they were foolish to play along with this “dog and pony show” (the actual words of one of my former interns) only to get STUCK in corporate servitude for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses. So, I did not bother asking for advice.

I was POMPOUS and STUBBORN.

I just had not known many people who were fulfilled and happy in their corporate jobs, but that did not mean they did not exist. I did not know at the time I would even want that someday, but if I had taken the opportunity to sit down with someone in human resources or recruiting (the corporate kind, not the MLM kind – I did that!) to learn about skills required, the challenges, and the triumphs, it would have altered my past, present, and future.

Though I do feel I am exactly where I am supposed to be and believe that all things happen in their own good time, my curiosity will always lead me to wonder where I would be if…

When you are in college or beginning your career, people see you as very moldable, and will want to help you now more than ever.  As you grow in your career, it’s strange, but not as many people will make the time to help you – some still will, and it is worth asking, but there seems to be a more worthwhile endeavor in helping a young person. Perhaps it seems too hard to change a more experienced person, or perhaps there is an increased perception that you are competition. Either way, obtain as much support and advice as you can right now, and furthermore, FOLLOW UP on that advice. The more you reward people for taking the time by making it pay off, the more people will be willing to help you in the future. Also, pay it forward. In fact, the fastest way to learn is to teach. You do not have to be in a position of power to be in a position to help.

 

  1. No one expects you to know it all, but be prepared to PROVE what you do know.

As I have mentioned before, those that hire a lot tend to be skeptical, if not cynical. If you genuinely do not know an answer, it is best to admit it. There is the famous saying, “fake it till you make it,” and that has paid off for some people, but you should also note that many well-respected leaders do not know the ins and outs of the jobs underneath them, but they know how to hire, trust, nurture and support experts, and can get answers when they are needed. Being resourceful is much more valuable than being all-knowing, and easier to believe, too.

As far as what you do know, that will have to be proven. If you merely state that you have X skill, without a clear demonstration of how you used that skill to add value, you are leaving much to be guessed, and you want them CERTAIN of your skills. So, make sure you explain what you are capable of DOING with that skill to clearly convey your strength.

 

Next week I will share two more wisdom bombs to help graduates accelerate their professional growth. By the time you are 30, the “cool kids” are the ones who are rock stars at their jobs and can afford a great lifestyle.  It is okay to be a late bloomer like I was, but trial and error in your career can have a cost you will NEVER know.

Please share what you want today’s graduates to know.

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: 3 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To

The Graduates by Luftphilia of Flickr

 

I went back to college this weekend. It was horrifying to discover that these girls were born the year I pledged. My sorority invited alumnae back to campus to say farewell to the house that has been ours since my senior year. It was a time to reflect on some of the most impactful years of my life, but also to remember the fear, uncertainty, and sadness that accompanied leaving college, where your best friends were often just a door away. I had no grand plan, like some of my friends, and no full-time salaried job as an aspiring radio personality. I was under the impression that if I could not make it in radio, I would be living in a ditch begging for change to buy a meal.

That never happened, though hard times did follow. When asked, “What’s life like after graduation?” I had to remember that some of the best things in my life happened after college – my band, my husband, my company, my kids, and teaching, in that order.  As my friends now turn 40, (I’m the youngest, so I get to watch them all get there first) I see that for some of them, it means it is all downhill from here. That was an exact quote from a 40th birthday party I went to last night. (Happy 40th, Neal!) Looking back at the last decade, at what I have learned, how I have grown, what I’ve been able to accomplish and contribute, I am excited for the next decade.  I’m looking forward to it, and I think there are amazing things yet to come.

BUT, there are some things that I would have wanted my younger self to know, which I felt compelled to pass on to the graduating seniors in my sorority, and my students, as well as ALL soon-to-be graduates. I feel these things would have potentially catapulted me so much further so much faster if I had known and applied them.

Before I get into the hard truths, I most want ALL people, but particularly young people, to know that there IS a formula for success, and no matter what family structure, social or economic status, education, circumstance, or hardships you are from, they DO NOT limit your future at all. At any time you can improve your life. The tools, technology, and teaching exist – all you have to do is harness them.

Okay, now on with what you may not want to hear, but need to know if you want to make your 30s onward the best years of your life.

  1. Unless you land at Google, Apple, Disney, a Big 4 consulting firm, or a company with a similar colossal reputation, it will not be as easy as it is right now to land a job.

The co-op program where I teach is world-renowned. The biggest, most admired companies want these graduates badly. They come out of school not as entry-level workers who were getting coffee and observing leadership, but as junior business stars who have already solved real business problems. By the time they take my mandatory career management class, many of them already have jobs lined up from campus recruitment efforts and co-ops that led to offers. While you may be recruited aggressively if you work for a company with clout for hiring and developing the best talent, the legwork to find your next gig, even internally, if you don’t is on you.  AND, furthermore, even if you are aggressively recruited, you are not necessarily managing your career optimally by being reactive to recruiters’ sales pitches. This is why the class that I teach is not “Get a Job 101,” but Career Management and Professional Development. See your career growth as a trajectory and learn how to course correct early. Learn and master the life skills of personal branding, networking, and career management.

  1. The bottom is often the best place to start if you want to be a great leader.

Many of my clients are influential leaders today because they were once in the trenches. Isn’t that the point of Undercover Boss? Making well-informed business decisions can be easier when you have first-hand knowledge of business from the front-line to the executive office. Those that have been successful in implementing massive change say that they were able to rally the troops because they were once the troops. Empathy, as we have stated before, is quickly gaining popularity as one of the most effective leadership tools.

Also, even for those students who were solving real business problems in their co-ops or internships, it might be worth considering starting even lower if the target role or company is worth it. I can speak from experience here.

While I was on air, reporting news, DJing, producing live talk shows, and operating the board for remote broadcasts at a small community radio station, my fellow Communications majors were putting up flyers at concerts, dressing up in costumes, and handing out chotchkes for the major media radio stations. I figured I had the advantage, but I was wrong. I moved to the Jersey Shore and did get to work producing talk shows for an AM station, while digging into commercial production and more part-time work. I temped to pay the bills. Meanwhile, my fellow classmates went on to full-time jobs eventually at the major media stations. Granted, some of their jobs involved much less glamorous, even undignified tasks, like getting shot from a cannon. Guess what – they are STILL THERE, loving their jobs and making what is probably good money. Casey is the Executive Producer of a VERY popular morning show that is streamed worldwide.  Matt is a Regional Director for Advertising for the conglomerate and Joann is Traffic Manager for a radio station in the same company.

When it came down to it, I had recognized after a year in radio that I was not really willing to continue working awful hours, get paid peanuts, do the boring parts of the work OR keep moving from market to market in order to achieve my ultimate position, but that was what I had learned was necessary from the people who were more senior than I at the station where I worked. At the larger station I would have had a completely different experience, and even though I might not have started out on the air, perhaps I would have found a different niche in radio and stayed there until today, too. Not that I have regrets – I think things worked out just as they were supposed to. However, I’ll always wonder.

  1. In time, you will earn the right to demand certain accommodations IF you are a top performer. But for now, you have to play their game.

Older generations will tell you that they had no illusions – work hard, get a job, work your butt off, save your money, and you’ll be fine. That is not what the younger generations have seen, though, so it is not what they will believe. With diminishing financial security for employees came resentment to employers for taking more than they give. This is what has led to a perceived sense of entitlement.

Even though there are talent gaps, and certain skill sets are very high in demand, most are not. Yes, talent is hard to find, but that does not mean companies are willing to bend over backwards to hire you. Ultimately, there has to be mutual respect and value in the deal.  Many things ARE negotiable, but that depends highly on the company, their policies, their culture and what you have PROVEN you can do to make it worth giving you more than they have given to employees before you.

If you are really that good, get in and prove your worth. You may earn the right to ask for more flexibility, more money, extra vacations, or perks. In the meantime, understand that though your package should remain confidential, IF anyone were to learn of you getting preferential treatment, you would not like the climate that breeds.

 

As graduation month ramps up, I hope this food for thought is helpful, even if it may not be encouraging. In a way, your adult life does not really begin until after college. Adulting is not always fun, but being armed with wisdom and systems for success will make it much more enjoyable.

Follow me and stay tuned for more things you need to know, but may not want to hear.

Share this with graduates you know.

 

The Last 2 of 7 Methods of Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs

Broken Wall by Mike Kruger of Flickr

 

Have you taken the 7-day challenge to identify who is REALLY in control of your career decisions?

Have you tried any of the first 5 methods I shared to overcome self-limiting beliefs?

I would be very interested in hearing if you did, what results you found, and if you have found one that works best for you.

This week I will share two more, but this list is by no means exhaustive. I have learned over 30 methods in the past nine years.

These last two are the methods I learned most recently, and they are extremely powerful. You will have to be brave to try them, and have a strong imagination. You may feel silly, but until you try it, you have no idea how much you had to release, nor how light and free you can feel by releasing it. The point is to make room for new, better things to happen in your life.

 

Re-parenting Yourself

As much as our parents loved us and had good intentions to raise us well, they are human. They come to the parenting job with their own “baggage.” By baggage, I mean belief systems that may have been limiting their own potential. Their world continually proves their beliefs right, and so it is hard to recognize that the belief started with a story, not a fact or a truth. They then pass it on to you, in hopes of saving you from pain, suffering, and disappointment.

Then, of course, now that we are adults, we are more aware of the pressure and stress that comes along with being an adult, and how that can impact our ability to be our highest self, to cope with the needs of others, and to respond instead of react. We do not always say what we mean, and we do not always speak from the heart. Actually, we can be downright hurtful, and in those moments can wound others, just as others wounded us. As I have heard, “Hurt people hurt people,” or, “Those who cause suffering are suffering.”

The way to stop this cycle is to heal your wounds and be the parent to your younger self that you wish your parents could have been for you.

The exercise goes as follows:

  1. First, know what you want to heal. Pick a limiting belief.
  2. Get into your highest self. While sitting, allow source energy to enter your vibration by being mindful of your breath, moving deeply in and out.
  3. Imagine a column of light coming from above entering through the crown of your head while also imagining your body as a conductor of light and energy, sending it down your chakras through your feet into the earth, where deep within it hits a mirror and bounces back up through you, up through your chakras, and back up.
  4. Feel all of your cells humming with the vibration of pure love.
  5. Go to a mirror and look into your left eye, imagining it is the eye of your younger self.
  6. Ask your younger self to tell you what happened – why you started to believe in limits.
  7. ALLOW the pain to surface – DO NOT stifle it. Keep breathing!
  8. Spend 90 seconds fully embracing the pain, breathing through it, looking into your left eye, and empathizing with your younger self.
  9. Breathe until you have shed all signs of the pain from your body, and the child in your eye shows you relief.
  10. Then tell your little one what he or she needs to hear – words of encouragement, unconditional love, the truth of how infinite you are, how powerful you are, and how deserving you are.
  11. Reassure your younger self that all will be okay, that you are there for him or her, and always will be.

Yes, you may feel silly doing this at first, but I am really excited to hear if you felt as I did – lighter, healed, open, expansive, and ready to take on anything! Send me a private message if you care to, but if you are brave enough to share, please do.

 

Sending Monster-sized Love

My first official coach, the one who helped me plan and follow the path to being a coach from my recruiting days, was the first person who shared with me that we have “gremlins.” Gremlins are our inner critics, the voiced that tend to speak up and discourage us from playing big in our life. Gremlins are the spokesmonsters of our limiting beliefs. They represent our fears and insecurities. You may have also heard them referred to as demons or glitches, as though you have a bug in your system that needs fixing.

In this method, you will repeat steps 1 through 4 from above. Then, follow the steps below. Like the method above, you will need to be brave and use your imagination. The objective is to disempower the gremlin, befriend it, and see it for what it really is while you see yourself for what you really are – infinitely powerful.

  1. Close your eyes and imagine there is a knock at your door.
  2. When you open your door, you see a monster, and this monster represents the thing that you fear, hate, resent – the thing you feel holds you back. It could be money, it could be career success, or it could be love.
  3. It is trying its best to scare you – showing you teeth and claws, making scary sounds, and seeming very angry. Don’t let it. Invite it inside to sit down.
  4. As before, focus on your breath, but also check in on your heartbeat, temperature, and muscle tension.
  5. While looking this monster in the eye, mentally manipulate your breath to be slow and deep, will your heartbeat to slow down and release all tension in your muscles.
  6. Reconnect with the light flowing through your cells, imagining a ball of light and love forming in front of your heart.
  7. Physically hold your hands around this imaginary ball in front of your heart. You may even slowly and slightly move your hands together and apart until you sense the energy of the ball.
  8. Draw even more light and love in to your body, filling all of your cells to overflow into the ball.
  9. When it feels full, send the ball to your monster and notice the surprise on your monster’s face. You can sense that it is starting to give up trying to scare you and is feeling love, while at the same time you are feeling happy to be with your monster, spending time getting to know each other.
  10. Imagine now how your monster feels, and empathize with how long your monster went without feeling love.
  11. If your monster could talk, what would it tell you?
  12. Reassure your monster that from now on, you are on the same team.
  13. Allow yourself to feel proud for confronting and converting your monster.

My coach had shared that she had her clients blow up balloons and draw their monster on it. Then they would yell at the balloon, tell it who was boss, and pop it. I once fell into an arrow on the soft part of my neck to break the arrow that represented a self-limiting belief of unworthiness. I have also burned the list of 20 self-limiting money beliefs that I had about money during a full moon ceremony.

 

There are a lot of things that you can do to break through barriers to a better life, and taking action to do so is almost always rewarded somehow.

Not all of these methods may resonate with you. Some are certainly more scientific, while some are more cognitive or spiritual.

I am indifferent as to which methods you try, but I encourage you to try at least one, and share with me what difference it made to you.

 

5 of 7 Methods of Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs for Career Breakthrough, Part 2

Stella 4 by Abir Anwar of Flickr

 

Don’t be too surprised to discover that there have been deep-seated beliefs that have been making decisions for you. This is a blessing and a curse of our brain. The most important thing to realize is if these beliefs are serving our optimal growth or inhibiting it.

I shared 20 limiting beliefs that I discovered about money, wealth, abundance and worthiness. This was critical for me to uncover, because while I had a record year last year and feel I turned a corner in my business that will enable me to bring game-changing solutions into the world, I would have already liked to have these solutions into the hands of the people who need them to move forward in their career. Then they would already be making a bigger, more meaningful difference to the people they lead and the causes they move forward.

I also shared 3 of 7 methods I have learned from mentors, coaches, and even healers from over the past nine years to overcome limiting beliefs that direct our actions and become habits that run on autopilot unless we interrupt and replace them. We might as well start there:

 

Interrupt, replace, reinforce

Like a couple of the methods I shared last week, Dr. David Bach’s simple yet effective method incorporates the mind-body connection, but starts first with an awareness and manipulation of your physiology, rather than your mindset. His objective is to help us stay in the “zone,” or “flow” of high performance consistently, but it will start very gradually as you practice and become more mindful, building good habits as you go.

As his first volunteer, I was skeptical that I would find it so easy. I came to an event where he was speaking in a state of frustration and disappointment with me. At the time my daughters were three and four, and had tested my patience prior to leaving, making me late, which always makes me frazzled. My patience failed. I absolutely hate leaving my girls on bad terms. I was less interested in how to be a business superstar, and more concerned about being a nurturing, patient mom who did not inadvertently instill limiting beliefs in my daughters (though I feel at some level I am bound to – I already teach many of these methods to them).

He had me come up and reenact what I was like when I was the “ugly” mom, as I called it. There, in front of mostly strangers, I had to reveal how I am that makes me the most ashamed. For the sake of my daughters, and science, I bent over at the waist, pretending my knee and thigh high daughters were standing in front of me. My lips pursed, my eyebrows narrowed toward my nose, my pointer finger shook, and with a raised voice I asked a common question, “How many times do I have to tell you to do XYZ before you actually do it?!” I looked up at the 45-50 or so people there to find that they were looking at me just as my daughters do, a bit frozen and afraid. Face flushed and hoping for some mercy, I was very anxious to put an end to this horrifying display and be told the solution. First, he pointed out my body language, how I was standing, and my closed off, jerky movement. Then he asked everyone to notice my strenuous facial expression and tone of voice.

Then he had me reenact what I’m like when I am in the flow with my daughters. I had to remember a time when I felt like I was “winning” at parenting. Sadly, I realized that these moments were few and far between. I did recall, however, a time in the past week when I figured out how to inspire my girls to cooperate and complete a task joyfully by turning it into a game. I stood up straight, even leaning slightly back, I was talking with a smile, and my eyes, also smiling, were wide with excitement as I explained the rules of the game, as well as the prize, in a higher pitched, but softer voice. Again, he pointed out my body language, facial expression and tone. It was the same posture that I tend to embody when I am speaking, singing, or teaching – tasks that I enjoy and when I feel most in the flow.

For one last demonstration, he asked me to ask the same question of my daughters, with the same tone of voice, but while I was maintaining the body language and facial expression of the second reenactment. It made me giggle. It felt so unnatural. He pointed out that it was impossible to be both at the same time. I have since learned from other teachers that you cannot be in a positive state of mind and at the same time be in a negative state of mind. You can switch back and forth, but this is why when you are scared, if you think of something that makes you happy, the fear disappears, at least temporarily while you hold the happy thought.

So his technique is to notice and manipulate your physicality to mimic the same physicality you embody when you are in the flow, every time you notice you are not in the flow. Just like any new habit, it will take repetition to reinforce, and you may find it harder to practice under times of stress. You may even choose NOT to practice at times. Be forgiving of yourself, as feeling bad about relapses does not at all contribute to improvement in any way, but forgiving yourself (and others) has been scientifically proven to improve your body and mind chemistry.

The point is to gradually increase your awareness and practice until it becomes automatic. New habits will seem impossible at first, as your brain resists change, and there will be a stage where you will question your desire to continue, even as you start to see benefits. If you persist, however, you will eventually reach a stage where it just feels natural, and you no longer have to work to perform your habit. Hal Elrod broke habit forming into three stages – unbearable, uncomfortable, and unstoppable.

If you have anxiety or depression, while this is not a cure by any means, it is an exercise that will help minimize the secondary and tertiary physical repercussions of those conditions.

 

Timeline Therapy

If you identified beliefs, but have struggled to remember the moments and events that generated them, or you remember the moments, but they cause you great grief, trauma, or fear, you will want to find a certified or licensed practitioner of this approach (I am not, yet). There have even been successes using this method to alleviate and eliminate allergies.

Like I shared last week, many human performance optimization professionals insist that you have to confront the source of pain before you can really move forward and create a new future. Timeline therapy is like mental laser surgery where, while in a trance state, you float backward through your timeline to hone in on those moments you may have buried or find hard to confront to reframe the event and create a new belief that services your highest good.

Again, you will want to engage a licensed professional, especially if these moments are traumatic. Be under someone’s care. I will just outline some of the steps involved in timeline therapy.

  1. Close your eyes and, with eyes closed, look up slightly (this induces an alpha brain wave state)
  2. Take a deep breath in; without breath, visualize 3 three times; Repeat with 2, then 1
  3. Count down from X to 1 (depending on your experience with meditation)
  4. Without analyzing, imagine you are flying above your timeline and you have located the moment this anomaly was born
  5. Move to the time 15-minutes before it happened
  6. Think of three OTHER possible meanings or causes this event could have
  7. Choose one that serves you best and drop it, as if you are downloading it, into the timeline in place of the event that caused the anomaly
  8. TEST: Does this anomaly still resonate as true?

 

Next week I will share the two final methods of this series, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, I have a list of 30+ different exercises, some of which are meant to activate the Law of Attraction, though all are intended to help you achieve breakthroughs in your performance and results. I will eventually share them all, and I am currently deciding if I will share these in a second 30-day transformation e-book, if I will include them in a 30-day or 3-month online group course, or if I will hold local live events and focus on one method per event. I may wind up doing a combination. If this interests you, please share which venue you prefer.  Also share if you try any of these methods and your results or lack thereof.