Archives for Epic Career Tales

It takes courage to follow your dream. How courageous are you?

Dream by EvelynGiggles on Flickr

Last month for our podcast, Epic Career Tales, my assistant, Syndie, interviewed a professional artist, Jessica Serran, who has successfully made not just a great career of being an artist, but a great living. Truly epic, right?

Many of my clients have Epic, yet very conventional corporate careers, in that they started out as an entry-level employee and worked their way up the corporate ladder.

Then there are those who ventured off the corporate ladder. Of those clients, some of them really hedged their risk, and saved up 18 months of income as their safety net before they jumped off. Yet others answered the call to adventure in a moment. That moment could have been inspired by a straw that broke the camel’s back, which is the more common. But there are a couple of clients, I recall vividly, who just had an epiphany inspired by something that they witnessed, or watched, or learned, or read. Those clients inspired the idea for the Epic Career Tales podcast.

I wanted to nudge, or even catapult, people toward their dreams by telling the stories of people who successfully climbed the ladder, jumped off the ladder, or never bothered to climb in the first place, even though it seems that the infrastructure of our world promotes a corporate career as the ultimate path to financial security.

That was not my point of view, actually. My dad’s corporate career provided a good stable living for my family and I when I was young, but the divorce decimated financial resources, and when I was in 9th grade, my dad was forced into early retirement and he had to sell the home I grew up in. While my mom’s job in a small company (it was small then, but grew tremendously during her time there and since) provided her with enough for us to live, eat, and stay clothed, but there never seemed to be enough for anything extra, or extra nice. Plus, she was pretty miserable and complained a lot about her job. She came home exhausted. Her pay raises, even after 10 years, were less than a dollar an hour. I was getting better pay raises at my food service job at 15 years old.

For me, the safer path to financial security seemed to be achieving semi-celebrity status in media. When I realized a year into that career that I really wasn’t willing to do what it took to get to semicelebrity status in media, because it wasn’t really what I wanted, it took courage to realize that I really loved my temp assignment in a corporate recruiting office. And, it took courage to follow that path in consideration of the fact that I was going to take a door-to-door job first to learn sales, and in spite of how I thought it probably would wind up – giving more to a company than they were giving back to me and resenting them for that.

Wow, my outlook was pretty bleak back then.

I know there is a population of people who do not see a corporate career as one that will be financially fulfilling. These people are entrepreneurial and usually seek out multiple streams of income. Some people don’t believe corporations have any honest employees or leaders. Certainly our beliefs shape our decisions, for better or worse and whether they are based on truths or not.

It doesn’t really matter what your dreams are. I don’t see a large percentage of the population following dreams. Why is that?

One revelation that I have stated before was that there is an epidemic, a very pervasive belief among people that we are not worthy of our dreams – that happiness is for other people.

People think they are protecting themselves by not pursuing their dreams; they’ll never have to find out if they weren’t good enough. They’ll never have to fail at making their dream come true. They’ll never have to mourn their dream.

This is tragic because they also never get to find out how brilliant they have the potential to be and how beautiful life can be when you are aligned in your career with your purpose, talent, and interests.

We all have to decide for ourselves what level of risk we are willing to take in order to have what we really want. In a lot of cases people decide what they really want, over having a career that makes them happy, is financial stability.

If that is your empowered choice, I have no qualms. Even though, I still believe that you have disqualified the idea that you can have a career that you love and that provides you with financial stability. That bothers me, and it bothers me more when people decide that what they really wanted to do wasn’t viable for them because they felt unworthy. They may not even realize that this belief was influential in their decision.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

I believe that if you decided that anything was more important than having a career that you love, then you never even tasted what it’s like to have a career that you love. You don’t know what you’re missing. You don’t know how incredible and meaningful life can be when you have a career that feeds your soul.

We interview these Epic Career Tales guests because we want listeners and readers to awaken to their own potential to have a similar tale. I want them to be clear that no career path is going to be without its challenges, and we wouldn’t want that, because then we wouldn’t grow. There are ways to overcome these challenges, and these peoples’ stories demonstrate what it took as well as how amazing it is to be on the other side of those challenges, and to be in a place of knowing you are exactly where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

It’s OK to be afraid, and it’s OK to be terrified.

According to Jack Canfield, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

And according to Will Smith, “God placed the best things in life on the other side of terror.

And FDR said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”

If a professional goal scares and excites you, it probably represents your highest probability of having an epic career and life. Commit to it; give it everything that you got. If you do find out that it’s not the right goal, or that you don’t want it enough to overcome the challenges, it won’t kill you, but I promise you, you are more capable and worthy than you realize!

Shoot for something Epic

Exhilarating

Purposeful

Intentional

Conscious

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Aaliyah – Journey To The Past

ATLANTIC RECORDS 1997. “Anastasia” Soundtrack.

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.

 

Pay Attention: 7-Day Challenge to Find Out Who is REALLY in Control of Your Career Decisions

Control by Faramarz Hashemi of Flickr

 

The simple answer is that you are in control of your career decisions, but it does not always feel like that.

You may be one of the people who feel stuck where you are, with little time to tend to a job search, and feel like you are victim to someone else’s whims, waiting and hoping to be identified as a good catch. You feel as though you are not in control because other people you do not know on the other side of a computer screen appear to have power over whether you get the call back or make the cut.

Or, you may not even realize that you are in control, but you are in your own way. You may feel as though there are limits to your success imposed by invisible forces, long-established systems, or other people. Essentially, you stop yourself before you even try. YOU surrender your power, viewing attempts at changing your life as futile. This is harder to recognize, because the thoughts are automatic, based on deep beliefs formed long ago.

Amazingly, not everyone has experienced this. I have interviewed over two dozen people who have achieved EPIC career success for the Epic Career Tales podcast and have found that many of them grew up with few doubts about their success, and a lot of support to follow their dreams. If you are among this crew, it would be challenging to empathize with people who do not just make the changes they need to make in order to achieve happiness, wealth, a better schedule, etc.

This is where I feel most divisions occur. It isn’t easy to walk in someone else’s shoes. It is nearly impossible to say with any degree of accuracy what we would do if we found ourselves mentally bound by our own self-limiting beliefs.

Did you know that if you put chains on an elephant, limiting its mobility, even after the chains are removed that elephant will remain within the limits of the chain anyway? This is proven by circus trainers, who eventually replace metal stakes with wooden pegs. Coincidentally, once the elephant grows big enough and strong enough to rip the tether from the ground, it never even tries, so the metal chains and stakes are overkill.

Last week, LinkedIn founder and CEO Jeff Weiner posted this message, “It’s not so much that people can’t change; they’d prefer not to (change is hard) and we’re rarely in circumstances where it’s truly required.”

It generated quite a bit of quality engagement on the subject of change.

This was my reply:

“The brain actually sabotages most efforts to change, sending our body stress signals to warn of us of ‘danger.’ We have to override it. If you really want to change, create a discipline of recognizing these signals and overriding them. Mel Robbins and John Assaraf are good resources to learn more about the neuroscience around change, and Gretchen Rubin has shared some great insights on habits in Better Than Before.”

If you just said to yourself, “Who’s ‘we?’ Speak for yourself. Change is absolutely required! I need change NOW, thank you very much!”

Then I am giving you an assignment that takes less than five minutes, so that you can test to see why change hasn’t happened yet – is it some awesome force, be it human, systemic, or supernatural, beyond your own power, or is it a belief formed long ago that you have accepted as truth, when it is really a brule (bullshit rule, a la Vishen Lakhiani)?

Your assignment is to take 17 seconds every day for the next week to visualize yourself in the perfect job. I mean PERFECT. DO NOT impose any “reality” on this job. The visualization is just part of the assignment, though. The more critical component of this assignment is to be mindful of your thoughts. Even with just 17 seconds your brain, running on autopilot, will have plenty of time to kick in and start talking to you. Open up a journal and spend two minutes writing down the thoughts you recognized.

Then, spend another two minutes assessing if these thoughts are based on beliefs, and if these beliefs are true. If they are true, then they would essentially have to be true for everyone. If they are not, then they are not true.

These beliefs produce thoughts at every decision point that you may find sabotage you from creating meaningful change in your life, but you take their power away once you recognize them.

A few weeks ago I shared a post, Pro Hacks to Get In Front of Your Future Boss, and made a short list of some of the thoughts that can occur as you have to decide how proactive and assertive you are going to be, which are critical ingredients to landing what you want:

“I don’t want to bother anyone.”

“I don’t have time for that; I need a J-O-B!”

“They’re not going to like me.”

“What if I fail?”

“What if I embarrass myself?”

While you can take their power away by recognizing them, eliminating them is the trickier part. They have been running on automatic for a very long time. Look for an upcoming post on different methods to overriding self-limiting beliefs.

 

In the meantime, please share any revelations resulting from this very short, very do-able assignment.

 

Really – You Are NEVER Too Old To Make a Career Change

Mayor Richard Stewart gives a speech by teens4unity of Flickr.jpg

Mayor Richard Stewart gives a speech by teens4unity of Flickr.jpg

 

I’m never one to say “never.”  But I’ve said it.

At the end of this month’s Epic Career Tale (subscribe HERE for the monthly podcast), coming out this week (get on the mailing list now!), I make the claim that you are never too old to find and pursue a new passion. It does not have to be a political career.

The main reason that I interviewed a state senator this month was because I was concerned that kids may decide NOT to pursue a political career due to all of the negative ad campaigns and hate-charged dialogue from both sides of the conversation. Kids know they are going to make mistakes, so what they may learn is that you cannot be someone who makes mistakes and be a successful politician. Or they may learn that when you are a politician and you make mistakes, the world will watch.

Really, it takes a special breed of human to be able to shrug off the naysayers while still actively listening to the needs of the community he or she serves.

I had been focused on kids with political aspirations, but wanted to assure the audience, who most assuredly would not be kids, that no matter what age you are, it is never too late to identify and pursue a new passion.

At that, the senator, who has been known to draw a chuckle, chimed in to say, “If you’re 95, that’s probably too late.”

Challenge accepted, Senator.

Here are two stories of 95-year-olds who took on a whole new career:

95-year-old James Nedley ran for mayor after serving as a motorcycle policeman and spending 26 years as a contractor. His reasons? “This town is going to hell.” That might put a little spark back in your plug.

The name of this man is never revealed in the article, but he is LITERALLY writing the book on career reinvention. He has changed careers multiple times. He was respectively a pilot, corporate executive, loan officer, and then went to law school at age 51 to reinvent himself as a successful lawyer. Finally, this nameless man at 95-years-old took on the feat of “author.”

 

It’s never too late…

 

Drops the mic…

 

Picks the mic back up…

 

…unless you’re dead.