I attended a task force meeting Friday and there was a lot of inspiration for future blog posts on topics that have and will directly impact both those looking for jobs as well as companies needing talent.
Parties in attendance represented employment news, concerns, and trends from the perspectives of the (Chester) county economic development council, the state (PA) unemployment office, non-profit community outreach, employers, human resources, recruiters, and career and leadership coaching.
Here are a list of the topics discussed that I plan on covering in the coming weeks:
Experiential Recruiting: Evaluating Candidates on a New Level for Better Hires
Emotional Intelligence Training: Solving the Soft Skills Shortage
Don’t Layoff Talent with Obsolete Skills; Train them on the State’s Dime
What Requirements for Years of Experience Really Mean
What Really Increases Employee Engagement; It’s Not Benefits
How Outreach Efforts to Economically Depressed Areas Can Be Augmented
Average Housing Costs Exceed Average Income – Can Employers Solve This Crisis?
The Online Application Process Sucks For Everyone
I would love your input on which of these topics interest you most. Please comment with the number(s) you most want to read about sooner rather than later and follow me if you have not yet already so that you know when it posts.
Also, I know that LinkedIn doesn’t make it easy to search through someone’s previous posts; there’s no effective search feature, and the shelf life of a post is very short, unless engagement somehow spikes after the fact. So, know that you can also subscribe to my blog where you can search by keyword and month and easily see the most previous topics: www.epiccareering.com/blog.
When I speak with leaders who are ready to jump ship, I can’t help but think about those who will be left behind.
Morally, these leaders would love to warn everyone, to tell them to see the writing on the wall. Ethically, that would hinder, if not destroy, any efforts a company may make to stay afloat, even if sinking is inevitable.
The writing on the wall isn’t always obvious, and unless you’re looking for it, you could completely miss it. You may prefer to stay ignorant and oblivious, because it is bliss after all. However, if the writing is on the wall, it would behoove you, for the sake of all who depend on you, to prepare yourself to jump ship.
Take a look at a map and identify potential next destinations, locate your life preserver and lifeboat, jettison extra weight, and stock up on supplies for a journey. If you’re getting the analogy, I’m advising you to start thinking about what an ideal next step would be (if you really want to go for paradise, get Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint Your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days), update your résumé and LinkedIn profile (or, if it’s not your area of strength, delegate it to an expert), start selling extra things around your house, and have at least 8-10 months of savings (though we can help you land much faster if you let us guide you in strategic planning and execution of your campaign).
If the boat is arockin’, here are some signs that you may want to risk a solo journey or else risk going down with the ship and everyone else on it.
An exodus of tenured and/or senior leaders
It seems obvious, right? Leaders have the inside scoop and if they are leaving, they know something you don’t. However, even workforce reductions that shed tenured folks or layers of middle management can leave a company vulnerable.
It’s been my experience, as someone who was blessed to go overboard of a sinking ship well before the voyage got scary, when our company let go of many of its tenured folks, it lost keystone pieces of its identity. If a company cannot reinvent itself to be stronger than before, it remains unstable. Layoffs at my old company were hard-hitting, even though it was an opportunity for me. I rode that opportunity as far as it would take me, but saw it was losing steam. With the help of a coach (hired by my company,) I devised and executed a 6-month plan to start this business. That was 12 years ago. Even though I was out in the middle of the ocean in a dingy, I felt safer there, and watched sadly as the ship sank. Everyone made it to shore and we keep in touch in a Facebook Group called “Remembering Devon Consulting.” True story!
Similarly, if someone in a critical role leaves, whether by choice or by force, and this person is not replaced, conditions will surely only get worse.
When seas are rough, it may be easy to blame the weather. I can recall a couple of news stories in recent years of cruise ships that wound up heading into rough seas. Was the weather blamed? No – the cruise lines, their executives (for unsafe or unclear policies), and the captains were blamed. Unless these parties take accountability for bad decisions made with information that was available, these mistakes will be repeated. So, if your company is undergoing slow sales or worse, like a PR crisis, and no one is taking accountability, or the even if the only one willing to take accountability is merely dismissed and the company changes nothing, get ready for rough seas ahead.
Hiring and budget freezes
Let’s say you know that an investment is necessary to deliver to customers with the quality and speed that they expect, but the focus of leadership has been cost-cutting, so investments will have to “wait.” Another scenario is that you know that you are short-staffed and overextended as it is, but no new people will be added, whether contract or permanent. No matter how good it was in the past, you need to get a contingency plan in place. It will take everything that you have, since you most likely come home exhausted and completely spent.
Trust me when I tell you that it if you just take 6 hours over a 2-3 week period on the front end to let us help you sharpen your tools (90-minutes for a branding consultation, 90 minutes to gather and compile all the substantiating evidence of your value using our formula, 30 minutes to scrutinize your résumé draft, 60 minutes to share your feedback with me, 30 minutes to scrutinize your LinkedIn profile content, 60 minutes to share your feedback), we can then show you how to spend any amount of time you can spare, even if it’s just 1-2 hours, to build momentum each week and generate 4-5 highly desirable opportunities in 6 weeks.
The alternative is experiencing the trauma of being on the sinking boat and then floating adrift without certainty that you’ll be saved.
Payroll bounces or gets delayed
Do I need to say more about this? I think I do, because I have spoken with far too many people who have tolerated this. I’m not talking about a couple of days. I’m talking about people who go weeks without getting paid, and then are offered no remuneration for essentially lending the company cash flow. Icky, all around.
Annual pay raises or bonuses cut
I recall during the recessions of post 9-11 and the housing crisis many companies having to cut bonuses, pay raises or even moving people backward in salary in order to keep them employed. In a bad economy, where perhaps the weather can be blamed because navigating to quieter, calmer seas just isn’t an option, I can see how this is acceptable. In dying industries, this may become the norm. Sometimes the ship is an industry. Sometimes the weather is literally to blame, such as a natural disaster. These are some conditions where it may just be necessary and acceptable to keep people where they are instead of allowing them to grow. If none of these conditions apply, you are on a sinking ship with a wayward captain.
This is a norm in many companies. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t even call it an open-door policy. We’d just call it normal. Transparent leadership is really now only gaining traction as an attractive cultural quality, so it will take companies much longer to catch on. Closed doors breeds distrust, which has far-reaching trickle-down impacts. If it’s new, however, it may or may not be dangerous, but it certainly means changing tides.
If you trust your leadership, you may be inclined to ride it out. If you trust your leadership, go ahead and ask them what’s up. Let them know that it’s noticed and, if they are in tune, they will find a way to communicate something sooner rather than later. So often there are restrictions on what can be communicated and leadership will make themselves scarce instead of reassuring. Again, it doesn’t always mean the ship is sinking. Sometimes it means an acquisition is pending. Sometimes it means a hostile takeover. Either way, brace yourself for rough seas. It could mean a great opportunity to be an employee of a larger, more nameworthy employer. If this could be a good change, at a minimum, your boss should be able to tell you this. If he or she can’t, it may be time to jump ship.
Your boss hints that it would be smart to start looking
I have worked with both with the boss, who felt a moral obligation to give people a compassionate heads up, and I have worked with the employee who would rather stay with such a great boss, but has to heed this warning because they trust it. Either way, get on it. There’s a high probability your boss was holding out a while with hope that things may turn for the better and waited until the last minute when things are dire to give you this warning.
If this headline jumped out at you, you most likely are seeing some of the writing on the wall. Whether you notice any or all 7 of these things, isn’t it wise to prepare yourself?
We help corporate professionals identify, pursue, and land ideally fulfilling and well-paying opportunities so that they can feel alive, look forward to going to work (YES – it’s REALLY possible) and secure a lifestyle that they love.
If you are on a sinking ship, let us help you land the closest thing to paradise that’s possible so you can turn what could have been a tragedy into a triumph.
top of the pops old grey whistle test 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 funkyboymark rock roll and funk punk new wave blues guitarist riffs riff slide guitar heroes at the bbc
Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play.
While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales.
Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.
She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.
A client of mine is under extreme scrutiny at work. His company is bleeding talent and they are on high alert for critical people that they could lose.
He, like me, has no poker face. He was confronted directly by his boss after we updated his LinkedIn profile. He found out with his answer whether or not he was looking for another opportunity. He wondered what he was justified in telling them, but he still wanted to be honest because that is his nature. He knows the topic will come up again, especially because he will be interviewing soon.
We brainstormed some ways to deal with inquiries about his job seeking activities honestly, but without putting his job at risk.
Realistically, even if they knew that he was looking, they can’t afford to just fire him. But he also can’t afford a ding on his record, nor could he sustain his current standard of living for his family if he had to spend any time unemployed.
Below are things that you could say to minimize concerns while still being able to deliver a genuine answer.
Reasons why you need time off of work:
“I have an appointment.” This may or may not be sufficient for some employers. Technically, they are not allowed to inquire about anything medical. Keeping it vague may not alleviate concerns completely, but you may at least escape further inquiry for the moment. If pressed further, or to be preemptive, choose the next option.
“I have to resolve a matter.” This me, again, be too vague to alleviate concerns, but it may change the perception from you interviewing, to perhaps a legal matter.
“There is an event that I’m hoping will make me a better performer.” This doesn’t immediately sound like an interview, but it is the truth in cases of when you are feeling inhibited in your performance by the conditions of your current employment. If you are asked more about this event, tell your boss that you are uncertain how valuable it will be, so you will let him or her know afterward. Then, if asked afterward, you may be able to share some insight or intelligence you learned in your interview.
“I have to tend to a personal matter.” This could be a stretch for us types. You would have to genuinely change your perception of a career from something professional to something that’s truly personal to you. Considering how much our career impacts other realms of our lives, this isn’t too far of a stretch. Most bosses back off from inquiring further about personal matters, unless they feel it is something that is impacting your performance.
When asked flat out if you are seeking another job, here are some answers that allow you to be honest while still securing your current position:
“Let me ask you – can you assure me that my job is 100% secure and that you can accommodate the growth that I seek in responsibility and income?” This is potentially adversarial, and only works in situations where your reasons for seeking other employment is an uncertainty around the security of your future at your company. Everyone has the right to protect their source of income. This can open up good conversation between you and your boss around improvements and conditions that would make staying at your current employer better.
“Well, you know. Everybody wants me. I am a top commodity.” When I envision delivering this answer, I envision it to be delivered in a humorous manner, but you have to keep your audience in mind, and it has to feel natural to you. You may expect further inquiry. The facts are, that if you are valuable talent, your bosses should always expect that you are being recruited and do everything possible to retain you.
“I have met with other companies to discuss opportunities, but I intend to stay.” What you are not saying, is how long you intend to stay. Again, this could feel like a stretch of the truth, and you may ultimately feel worse when you do have to give your notice and it comes as a shock.
If you have not yet tried to address with your boss the conditions that inspire you to want to seek another opportunity, I recommend that you try that first. I don’t necessarily recommend that you tell your boss that you have thought about looking elsewhere, but instead to approach your boss from a place of wanting to make things better for the whole team. As in, “these are things that I have noticed.” And you will also want to come to the conversation with a list of possible solutions. If your concerns and solutions are not heard, considered, or implemented, any good boss would expect you to be looking elsewhere. Then again, any good boss would hear, considerate, and implement some of your solutions, given that they are reasonable. Also, most good bosses will be proactive about making sure that they know where you stand and what they can do to make you the leader you want to be.
Chances are good that you have had to take off of work for an interview. What have you said to your boss about where you were going?
A lot of people do not follow step five to happiness, asking for help, because they assume that the reasons they are not able to land the job that they want after making a concerted effort are beyond their control, or worse, that the problem is them. In other words, they feel beyond help. This is a dangerous and wildly inaccurate perspective, because it can lead to hopelessness and depression.
There has been a trend in the past year on LinkedIn I have been watching with concern. Against personal branding best practices, people are pouring their heart out about their despair in their status updates, as comments on other viral status updates, or even calling out people that they blame for their situation.
The advice that can be most damaging is that it is a numbers game. By the time someone has gone seeking advice online, they have usually already exhausted themselves replying to anything and everything for which they could possibly be a fit.
To hear that they just have to sustain that somehow can be very daunting. And, I do not think I need to repeat the definition of insanity.
What they really need to hear is that some of their activities are going to produce really great results, and when they discover what that is they do not have to spend nearly as much time and effort getting those results.
To be clear, the results you want to see in your job transition of course are interviews, but not just any interviews. Interviews are a big expenditure of our effort and energy. To do them right you have to do a lot of research, practicing and mentally practicing, making yourself look and feel professional, and then there is the adrenaline needed to just travel there and get through the interview. Then, of course, there is the energy that you spend after the interview wondering how you did, when you will hear something, when the appropriate time to follow up is, do you even want this opportunity, did they like you… On and on.
While momentum in your job transition does look like multiple viable opportunities in play at the same time, the key is “viable.” Judiciously give time and energy for opportunities that are a good fit for you and you for them.
Backing up a few steps, other results that indicate that you are doing the right activities, are introductions to other people relevant to your goals, whether they be in a target company or not. Even one introduction to someone who is well-connected can lead to multiple high-quality leads, if you can teach them how to develop those leads for you.
That is the other key – not only do you have to do the right activities, but you have to do them in the right way.
Though many people do not know what the right activities are and what the right way to engage and execute is, anyone can learn them. It is also true that this can differ from person-to-person based on individual goals, challenges, and strengths.
You can discover these on your own, which means instituting a good activity tracking system that also tracks your results, evaluating that on a regular basis, and experimenting with and tweaking your activities.
I estimate that if you were disciplined with inputting your activities, strong with data analysis, and bold enough to try various activities, that with some trial and error, you could be much more productive and efficient by week five or six.
If you do not have five or six weeks for trial and error, you do not consider yourself disciplined, strong in analysis, or bold by nature, but you are coachable, you can be more productive and efficient in half the time by engaging a career coach like me who has the systems, tools, expertise, and a strong track record of results.
Besides the pragmatics of your activities and what you do, there is also another how that must be addressed, because some people are doing the right activities, but who they are does not inspire the action of others. I’m not trying to say that people are being wrong, but what I am saying is that some people are not being their full, complete selves. Before you invest in a coach, you have to find one with whom you can be completely open and vulnerable, otherwise your investment could be in vain. A coach worthy of your investment will be able to identify and promptly, compassionately share with you when you are not thinking or acting in your highest good. Furthermore, besides tools and systems to help you and your activities, they will also offer tools and systems to help you heal and restore so you show up as a person that you would hire.
So, while you know you are doing the right things in the right ways from the right frame of mind when you have multiple viable opportunities in play, the key is to getting there is not to continue activities at a high volume for the sake of activity.
If you have come to an unfortunate and inaccurate conclusion based on lack of results that you are the problem, please have a free consultation with me. You are actually whole, complete, and perfect by nature, though you may have been taught and believe otherwise. You do enough, you have enough, and you are enough. You may need some help accepting that, or you may not have answered the call to adventure that is true to you.
Success and happiness is yours for the taking.
This is the final part of my six-part series. If you have missed previous entries please see steps one, two, three, four, and five.
When you visualize yourself in your ideal future, is there dissonance that makes you resentful, fearful, or even guilty?
Does it make sense that if you experience these emotions, you are not able to fully go for it?
Actually, you can, but you have to acknowledge these emotions, confront them, and overcome them first. You have to dis-empower them, or they stand to call the shots without you even realizing it.
They may prevent you from reaching out to a VIP.
They could make other things more important than attending that event or filling out that application (which, as you know by now is your last resort, Plan D, but still sometimes necessary).
They could keep you from articulately and powerfully promoting yourself when you do get the chance to interact with potential game-changing contacts.
They could stop you from stepping up in a meeting to share your idea.
They can keep you from trying at all, even just doing online research.
How do you dis-empower them?
The first step you did last week. You noticed them. You have no chance of stopping them if you do not even realize they are there, and tuning in to how you feel when you really put yourself in the place of having your ideal future is a great way to initially notice them. However, the next step is to catch them while they are operating in your life.
Mel Robbins talks about this phenomenon called activation energy – it is a natural occurrence when you have an inkling to take action, but it dissipates after five seconds if you do nothing (what she calls the five-second rule).
She is pretty clear about this – fail to take advantage of activation energy, and you are sabotaging yourself. Why do we do that? These automatic thoughts that manifest as negative emotions are the reason.
So, next time you have an idea to do something that could potentially bring you closer to your future, be mindful of your decision.
Do you decide that you’ll do it later? Do you really ever do it later?
Do you not only add it to your list of things to do, do you add it to your calendar?
Or, do you take care of it right away?
According to Mel, you do not have to necessarily take care of it right away, but you if you take a baby step, you will experience all the good feelings, such as pride and optimism, that can lead you to forming good action-taking habits faster. You can become addicted to these good feelings, and that will lead you to take immediate action more frequently. This immediate action will compound toward momentum that gets you ever closer to your ideal situation.
If, however, you do none of these things, really look at why. By really, I do not mean what was your excuse. In most cases your excuse is just how you justified it to yourself to ease the negative feelings of inaction – further guilt, shame, etc. that can compound instead toward depression and anxiety, which further hampers your ability to take action on your own behalf. By really look at why I mean, what was the automatic thought and corresponding emotion that led you to do nothing. Allow these thoughts to surface. You could have been suppressing them so long you have tuned them out. It could take some time for you to fully take notice of them.
I am NOT intending for you to feel bad about your inaction. As I explained, this is of little value and can actually be a hindrance. The intention is for you to find the lesson; identify the thought, acknowledge it, listen to it. Give it a chance to make a case for truth. Act as the judge and jury, weighing the veracity of this thought.
Will your friends and family really ostracize you for achieving something great in your life?
Will you change for the worse by being successful?
Will you be a hypocrite?
You may find, actually, that there is truth to these statements, in which case you now have to make an empowered choice to either accept mediocrity for the sake of integrity, love, and acceptance, or you can decide that achieving a more ideal version of your life is worth risking love and acceptance. You may also decide that it is ultimately up to you whether you maintain good character or not (which it is). Perhaps your ideal future is not as ideal as you thought, and you can create a new vision of an ideal future that would not have you risking so much.
On the other hand, you may adopt a “make it work” attitude. If your neighbors, friends, or families really cannot accept a more successful you, they will learn to. You can reassure them. Love is stronger than judgment.
You may also find none of these things are truth – just fears, perhaps even fears that were someone else’s originally – not yours. You adopted them, but you can now reject them.
Before you do, though, thank them. Be grateful for your new awareness of these thoughts. Either accept them or release them, and then feel the sense of peace that you have with your decision.
Whether you decide that your ideal vision of the future is not worth what you think you could lose, or you decide to adopt a new way of thinking about having an ideal future, you get to be the architect of change in your own life.
Are the people you deem as successful really free?
The answer may surprise you.
Freedom, by definition, means unrestrained, able to do as one chooses.
Some of the most successful people are severely accountable to many people, and while they may have power to make decisions, they have to make them under heavy constraints with serious consequences.
Success, as in career achievement, does not equal happiness.
Do you look at other people and think they have it easier than you? Do you resent them, even just a little bit?
Not everyone strives for success. Few people strive for a simple life – just enough to get by. Are they happier? Not always. Do they have fewer problems? Not necessarily.
So if you aren’t striving for success, but you aren’t striving for simplicity, are you striving for balance? Is it working? Are you happy?
While happiness and striving are contradictory forces, freedom is elusive to most of us. Some may enjoy certain kinds of freedom, such as the ability to work from anywhere, or to be able to afford travelling to exotic places, but still are on some level enslaved by the need to please others, to be accepted, to be understood, or to be loved, even.
Before you reject this, think about what you learned at a young age about what it took to be loved and accepted.
Many people spend their lives pursuing achievement because at some level they feel that it is what they need to do to feel like they are worthy of love. Many others gave up a long time ago and settled for that which they felt was worthy. Some were taught that successful people were unethical, and therefore being successful was undesirable.
Are you resisting success, even though it is what you “want?” You’ve heard the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for.”
One of my Facebook friends who recently graduated law school shared that one of her professors taught her a theory that all millionaires – every single one on the planet – at some time took advantage of someone else, and that is how they were able to become millionaires.
“No one ever *earned* a million dollars… Someone, somewhere was taken advantage of. Someone, somewhere lost in order for the millionaire to gain.”
Wow! This post caused much debate on both sides, and revealed how differently we can think about financial success, corporate success, and what is fair, especially when it comes to compensation. What did I think? I thought the poster was sure to never become a millionaire with that belief, or if she did she would feel such shame and guilt that she could not enjoy it, though I hope she proves me very wrong and, therefore, proves the theory wrong and obliterates the belief that wealth equals greed for all who hold that as truth.
Last week, I challenged you to vividly visualize the career circumstances that you consider to be ideal. This week, I want you to dig deep into your feelings to see if, upon achieving this ideal future, you will be free from experiencing anything negative that could keep these circumstances from really making you happy.
It may be easy to say, “Of course, I’ll be happy!” However, if you need circumstances to change in order to be happy, you are not really free. You are enslaved to those circumstances. You would be dependent on those circumstances to make you happy.
You may also notice that there are resistant thoughts – the dissonance between your current world and that future world is too extreme, and, therefore the feat is overwhelming; you would be resented by your family/friends/neighbors/community; you would become someone you don’t like; you will contradict things that you have said and believed.
These are real obstacles to your ideal vision. You will ultimately find at some point the efforts to achieve your ideal future will cease, and you will lose momentum because these thoughts are essentially inertia.
Exercise your freedom by choosing to make decisions without the restrictions of these beliefs.
Some people grow up believing that they can do anything. Some people have parents that reinforce this belief. When you grow up under these conditions, you develop a very friendly perception of the world. You perceive very few limits and are attuned to identifying and leveraging resources to achieve goals. You are apt to try things that other people would never attempt, simply because you have an ingrown faith that success is inevitable.
Many would consider you blessed, even charmed, and they may be resentful. Just as it is hard for them to understand why you are so lucky, it can be more difficult for you to empathize with people who suffer from career and financial shortcomings. To you, it looks like a choice.
You are not wrong, however the choice is not a conscious one.
We all run on programming that we developed at critical, impressionable stages growing up. Even two people growing up in the same household can develop very different beliefs with a different meaning they ascribe to the same event.
Last week, my challenge to those who identify a recurring, automatic belief that success is for others was to imagine yourself in your current circumstances, but in the flow. The flow is a state of being in which you feel that just by being your fabulous, highest self, things are working out perfectly.
Perhaps your commute to work has green lights all the way. There is a parking spot right up close. Nobody comes to talk to you for 15 minutes while you evaluate and plan out your day. The meeting you dreaded has been rescheduled. That person you’ve been trying to reach has returned your message. The challenge that you were working through last week has a viable solution. The week you requested off has been approved. The project you and your team successfully completed has received high accolades and has been noticed by key players in your organization. Your boss now wants to talk to you about growth opportunities. Everyone you speak with is picking up on your positive vibes and returning them with friendly gestures and offers to help. You end your day having satisfied your list of tasks, and even made headway on some strategic initiatives that will help you gain even more visibility and credibility. On your commute home, your favorite song comes on the radio, and you sing like no one is watching, even though they are. You get home to a peaceful, clean house or apartment and your favorite meal, courtesy of someone you love. After spending some time engaging in a favorite pastime, you excitedly take a look at your day ahead, and rest easy knowing everything is as it should be.
Have you ever had a day like this?
If not, or if it has been a while, the first step is visualizing your day to go exactly as you want it to.
Practice it every night and or morning for a week, and then start this new exercise:
Visualize your ideal day with the circumstances you perceive to be ideal.
Perhaps you no longer commute, and instead work from home or from anywhere. Perhaps instead of speaking with grumpy customers all day who complain about a poor product your company makes, you are onboard and supporting clients who love what your company has helped them do. Perhaps instead of having a boss who rarely offers support and guidance, you are working underneath one of the most brilliant minds in business and she invests an hour or two each week to coach you on how to get to the next level. Maybe instead of following someone else’s rules that do not make any sense, you are architecting the best practices and standard operating procedures that are helping your organization run über efficiently and effectively.
Sometimes we think that we envy someone else’s situation, and then we put ourselves in it and realize there are things about their situation that we would not want.
I have a client who thought his ideal employers were in the city, which would have been an hour or longer commute every day, after running a company from home for many years. He took a job in the interim that was still a significant commute, but much shorter than the city. He realized in the first week of having that job, and not having seen his three-year-old for several days in a row, that working for those employers in the city would not have made him happy.
Now that he knows this, he has a greater peace and empowerment around his choices. He can more confidently invest his time and energy into a next step that will make him happy at home and at work.
His homework is the same as yours – once you have spent a week visualizing yourself in your current circumstances in the flow, spend a week visualizing ideal circumstances, from wake up time to sleep time.
The best time to do this is in the morning when your conscious and subconscious mind are still closely connected. You may also choose to do this as you go to bed, though sometimes I can get myself so excited that I do not sleep as well.
This exercise alone does not stop those recurring beliefs that success is for other people. You will still want to notice them, and when you do, go back into your visualization, but affirm for yourself that this is possible for you.
If that feat is very challenging, ask yourself why it isn’t possible for you.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.)
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.
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.
☞ Make more money
☞ Help me find me a job
☞ Help me find me a career
☞ Show me how to make my dream come true
☞ I want more interviews
☞ I want more confidence in interviews
☞ I want better results in less time
☞ I need more job leads
☞ I need more client leads
☞ To learn how social media can accelerate me toward my goals
☞ A more professional image
☞ I need help finding focus
☞ I want to upgrade my IT career
☞ I want to explore jobs and careers in X
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