Archives for meditation

What Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness Training ISN’T

By Bruce Mars

Woman_mirror

Why is emotional intelligence suddenly so touted as a major leadership skill?

Because we know a lot more about what makes people tick, what motivates them, and what inspires top performance than we ever did before. HINT: It’s not the old dominant intimidation model that helped the moguls of the past become monopolists (Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie.)

Industry was built by men during a time when being a man meant being tough, not showing weakness (by ways of emotions,) making decisions and demanding compliance, or else. The line between respect and fear was very thin.

Research done in 2005 proves that greedy entrepreneurs have less customer and employee satisfaction.

The more a leader gives freely, the more they will inspire trust and reciprocated financial and emotional rewards. The more they create a climate of lack, the more survival instincts will lead to cut-throat competitiveness that kills collaboration.

I mean, science does tell us this, but common sense might also tell you that starving people of rest, sleep, joy, living wages, and sometimes actual food will inhibit their performance. But that doesn’t mean that it’s common sense to make sure that your employees get ample rest, sleep, food, vacation time, fun, and money. That sounds like common sense, right?

What about starving people from being heard, having a voice, growing in contribution, having and expressing emotions, and being human?

We are learning more about what it means to be human and what it means to be an optimized human. So much has been discovered about the brain and its relationship with the mind, body, and spirit.

Did you know there actually is a part of your brain related to spirit? The insula and anterior cingulate, which also help you process social dilemmas. These are “newer” parts of our brain, evolutionarily. However, they are also parts of the brain we didn’t know much about, especially the implications of its clinical function, when many of today’s leaders were in college. And, these areas don’t fully develop until well into your third decade of life, unless this is accelerated (and development can be with practices that take mere minutes daily.) In fact, while they are the slowest developing parts of our brain, they are critical to helping us perception, morality, and virtues.

So, it would stand to reason that this type of training certainly benefits everyone, especially younger professionals, and perhaps even students.

However, a major focus is on leaders for obvious top-down reasons, like the fact that a leader is more effective when he or she leads by example, and leaders are expected to set the tone for the culture. But also, science now recognizes that as someone grows in ambition, they may express what is being called dispositional greed. Greed can contribute to amassing wealth, but can also cause people to act unfairly and selfishly, which will inspire altruistic punishment instead of cooperation and collaboration. It can also lead to full-blown crisis, such as the great recession. It needs to be kept in check, and for that, awareness is necessary. So, emotional intelligence and mindfulness training will also prevent leaders from a well-documented inclination that can lead to decisions that inspire low satisfaction, disengagement, and even sabotage.

On the upside…

What would be possible for your company if all of your employees could be trusted to act in the highest good of the company, its people, and its employees?

What would happen if, instead of having leaders who were able to leverage the strengths of his or her team, you have a team that can leverage each others’ strengths?

If this seems like a pie in the sky outcome, you may need to readjust your expectations of what is possible, and even what’s probable when you focus on enhancing individual self-awareness and empathy.

Think about all of the measures you take now to handle conflicts, ensure compliance, and mitigate human-based risks. You’ve been playing defense. I invite you to see what’s possible when you employ EI/MT (Emotional Intelligence/Mindfulness) training and start playing offense.

Small ripples create big, transformative waves.

What is EI/MT NOT?

It’s not just explaining etiquette. It’s not teaching ethics. It’s not a new way to make some people feel inferior or superior. It’s not going to make your employees “soft.” It’s not suppressing or denying emotions or emotional responses. It’s not a way to avoid conflict.

In fact, it’s going to help your employees become more self-sufficient at facilitating non-judgmental communications and consensus building. They will crave collaboration, think more creatively, and have healthier relationships with their emotions.

I have seen mindfulness be misapplied and misused to discourage people from disputing management decisions that seem to not be in the highest good. I have also seen people employ mindfulness and meditation to escape their emotions. These misuses backfire in big ways. The first is really bordering on mental abuse, and the second will lead to physical symptoms and illness. What we resist persists. Emotions need to be embraced and allowed. What the training does is release emotional bottlenecks and give them a more appropriate and healthful way to flow. It also increases awareness of the emotions so that decision making is done in an enhanced state of mind.

I have also seen those who have the training make others who are struggling emotionally feel like they need fixing. If you have been playing defense, the introduction of these trainings risks imposing these feelings. There is a way to introduce these trainings to your workforce that will help them embrace the changes and get excited about all that is possible for them rather than making them feel like they are joining a woo woo club of spiritual elitists.

Finally, these practices may produce a flow state, but that doesn’t mean that your workforce will suddenly become “soft” and unable or unwilling to deal with pressure. In fact, mindfulness has been proven to increase resilience.

I know a lot has been floating around about trainings of this type, which are not new, but have now at least been proven by small and large organizations to have a positive impact. If your interest is piqued, reach out to schedule a consultation and learn how EI and Mindfulness training can enhance your work experience and outcomes and those of your team.

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – What I Am

Music video by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians performing What I Am. (C) 1988 Geffen Records

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.

I Gave Myself The Gift of Space

Cleaning by Duane Storey on Flickr

I just celebrated a milestone birthday, and while some people dread these milestones, I’m actually very optimistic about the decade ahead. There is a ritual I do every year on my birthday that makes me look forward to it every year, even as my age climbs.

Traditionally, I put up the Christmas tree, decorations, and lights on my brother’s birthday, December 3rd. There has always been a mild day approaching this date to be outside putting lights up, and a cold day or snowy/rainy where we (my kids and I – this is my husband’s busy season, so the holiday preparations are on me) move the toys, sort some into a donation pile to make room, and assemble our fake, but beautiful, Christmas tree. Every year, without fail, there are either extra branches or missing branches. I’ll never understand how that happens but accept it, just like socks disappearing in the wash.

Then from December 3rd on, I may add some accouterments, but we’re well decorated for a good three weeks before Christmas and by my daughter’s birthday, December 10th. With her birthday and then Christmas, space is difficult to find. We live in a small rancher (with a full basement – full in that it is the size of the first floor, but also full in that there isn’t much space down there.) By the time my birthday hits, I’m anxious to have more space. I at least need to do yoga without stuff invading my peace of mind.

While I appreciate white wall space and clear counters and tables, my husband is an accumulator. He’s one of 10 kids, and it never fails when I clear a space, he tends to fill it. We have accumulated a lot over the past 17 years in our house, and even though I started to get much better at cycling more out than in, we still have a LOT of stuff.

For my birthday every year, I make sure the outside decorations come down and get put away, the tree comes down, and the inside decorations go back down in the basement. We manage to find places to put some of the toys the girls received, and get a good idea of what still needs to be donated, which is my Martin Luther King, Jr. project.

I have heard, even recently when reading a blog about the secrets of tidy people, that some people attribute a clean home and empty space to a high-functioning mind, a moral person, or even a “good” family. I don’t make that connection. That seems very superficial and arbitrary to me.

My reality is, I don’t always have space. It feels like an everyday struggle to create space. I value empty space, organization, and order. At the same time, I love my husband, my kids, and my pets and I have had to compromise. My threshold for what I can tolerate in chaos an disorder is much higher than it used to be and probably higher than most. While the life I love to live doesn’t always afford me the time to create or maintain order among my things, I give myself the gift of space every year for my birthday, and it’s a ritual that makes my birthday something to look forward to even as I get older.

When I can’t create order and space in my physical space throughout the year, I meditate to create order and space in my mind. Sometimes this is a ridiculous endeavor – I mean, I do work at home with my kids. This means I have to take time out of my workday while they are in school to meditate, get up before they do (which does not always work out,) do it after they go to bed when I’m sure to fall asleep early and then wake up at 3 AM, or attempt meditating with them at home, or with them. I know meditation is great for them, but I don’t get the benefit of meditation when I do it with them; they can’t sit still, not just because one daughter has ADHD, but because they’re kids. I find if I can manage to take a shower without interruption, it has a meditating effect. I tend to come up with the best ideas in the shower. I’ve even written songs in the shower.

My daughter’s doctor, upon her diagnosis of ADHD, actually suggested that, when they weren’t looking, we get rid of ALL toys in our house, leaving them with wooden spoons and pots and pans. It’s some school of thought she subscribes that associates toys with the death of creativity or the birth of consumerism. I have tried to have my kids participate in the project. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. One daughter can function at a very high level in the middle of chaos, and while I’m sure this will serve her well someday, she tends to not notice the mess, even when she is expected to help clean it. The ADHD daughter doesn’t love to clean, sort and organize, but does get a sense of joy when we are able to achieve it, however how long it lasts. I have learned that they are much more engaged in tidying when there’s something in it for them, like a play date.

I won’t deny them toys – I have uncovered beliefs around worthiness in myself stemming from not having the same toys as my peers and being treated poorly by said peers. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that they aren’t worthy of good things, as in objects. I have faith that they have very strong imaginations and make sure they spend time creating, not just consuming. One of my common questions to them, however, is, “What’s more important, people or things?” I say this a lot when they fight over things. I always want them to value people over things. My ADHD daughter will sometimes play with a new friends’ toys rather than the friend. I watch and manage this thoughtfully.

 

I’m not sure how I’ll manage it with all of my other priorities, but I have created an intention and vision of more space in my home, and believe that by making more space, I am making room for new good things to come into our lives. While I can tolerate a mess and function just fine, I recognize how much better I feel when I can close my drawers without grunting, locate my brush on the bureau, just push play on the yoga video without taking an extra 20 minutes to tidy up, and have room to chop vegetables on my counter and a place to craft and create. Of course, there’s having a home where other people feel comfortable, too.

the space between by dave matthews band lyrics

i do not own. all rights go to dave matthews band. with lyrics

Top 5 Reasons Why All of Your Efforts to Land a Job Are Failing

Business woman working on laptop in her office by perzon seo on Flickr

This is going to sound backwards, and I don’t blame you if you find it hard to believe at first, but give me a chance and I will prove that there is a way to do LESS, have MORE FUN, and get the BEST job possible, in spite of the fact that you have been doing everything possible, perhaps even everything you have been advised to do, and have not enjoyed or sustained momentum in your job search.

There is a huge misconception out there that if you are out of work, you need to HUSTLE. And yet, so many job seekers feel as though they are doing everything right, but not being offered the jobs that they feel are the best suited for them. Some receive offers they know are not the best suited, but accept them anyway. This is the cause for the 69% disengagement rate that causes US companies to lose over $400B annually.

If you have applied to over 100, even 50 jobs, and have yet to receive an offer, one of the following, or a combination of the following, are most likely the reason:

  1. Your efforts are not the right efforts

It never fails when I speak to a group of job seekers. I ask the question, “How many of you have heard that networking is the #1 way to find a job?” and everyone raises their hands.  Then I ask, “How many of you are spending at least 50% of your job search on job board or filling out online applications?” and 75-100% of the room raise their hands.

Even when they know that networking is the most effective way to find a job, they spend a small percentage of their time networking and a majority of the time on resources that only have a 5-10% chance of turning into an opportunity. And, even if they are networking, most are doing that ineffectively, either meekly asking for favors instead of boldly articulating their value, or collecting and distributing cards to essentially spam people, instead of asking rapport-building questions, nurturing their networks by providing value, and then inspiring contacts to generate leads based on the value to the employer.

I also think that many people have an inflated idea of how much time effective networking takes and that it has to look a certain way, for instance like schmoozing with people you wouldn’t normally associate with, or sucking up to people for whom you don’t have any respect or admiration. While it is outside of many people’s comfort zone, it can look a lot more like you engaging in fun and/or purposeful activities, even unrelated to your profession, and in small groups versus big events.

Spend over 60% of your time on people, who will always be much more powerful advocates than technology. Also, be proactive in your pursuit of a job over 60% of the time rather than passively filling out online applications and hitting buttons. You get what you give.

  1. Your goal is not the right goal

People are not as good actors as they imagine themselves to be. People can also genuinely believe that they are pursuing a noble goal, even if it is not the right goal for them. If you experience challenges pursuing a particular position, ask yourself if you are targeting the right position. You may have decided that something else you really wanted to do wasn’t viable, it would take too long to land or wouldn’t pay enough, but it’s actually the right thing, the thing you will attract like a magnet, and your best chance of increasing your income trajectory in the long-term. A job that utilizes your strengths and allows you to pursue a passion represents your best chances at success, but also happiness and fulfillment. Sometimes things don’t just happen TO us, they happen FOR us.  No good company wants to hire you for a consolation career.

This applies not only for pursuing the wrong position, but also the wrong employer. You don’t need to appeal to all companies in an industry if only a few of them would recognize you as a fit for their culture. Decide ahead of time what cultures you fit into and be proactive in pursuing them.

  1. Your brand is stale

So many people stop short of distinguishing themselves from their competition, feeling as though their qualifications are strong enough to make them an obvious choice. If you were on the hiring end, though, you would realize that there are a good crop of people with the qualifications to do the job. The one that gets the furthest the fastest, and ultimately the offer, is the one who can create excitement and a sense of urgency based on what they bring above and beyond meeting the requirements of the job. Your brand needs to be genuine and distinct.

It can be challenging to be objective about whether you are distinguishing yourself or not. So many people think if they call themselves “driven,” “a team player,” “passionate,” “a leader,” or “creative” that this is adequate branding. It isn’t. It’s probably true, but it isn’t distinct.

I have found that there are 4-6 major distinctions every person has that will help them rise above the rest. It’s frequently not WHAT they do, but HOW or even WHY. Everyone has his or her own unique set of experiences. This is where you have to dig to find the artifacts and evidence of your unique value.

  1. You are being perceived as a risky candidate

How critical, skeptical, even cynical recruiters and hiring managers are is vastly underestimated by job seekers. There are often more risk signals between a job seeker’s résumé and social media than there are value signals. As soon as the scale tips more toward risk, the job seeker gets passed over. What also gets underestimated is how clued in recruiters are to the tactics people use to hide risk factors. Instead of sweeping a risk factor under a rug, they often put bright red tape right on it.

Look, no candidate is going to be perfect, but the riskier candidate is the one that can’t admit where the imperfections are/were. If you can’t admit it, you can’t demonstrate your ability to learn from mistakes and even help companies prevent them.

You want MOST of the focus on value, but if there is a risk factor, such as being fired, having a visible project fail, experiencing long-term unemployment, or even having personal events interfere with work, then you need to craft a simple, relatable story based on facts that is appropriate to tell in various media, such as in your résumé (perhaps), your LinkedIn profile, or when networking or interviewing.

While some risks are common, how you might address them is very particular to your circumstances and target employer. If you want specific advice, I recommend a complimentary 40-minute consultation and some one-on-one branding and campaign assistance.

  1. Your mindset is out of alignment

We give off vibes. We pick up vibes. Even the most scientific, empirical people among us will admit that we get vibes from people. In fact, as I demonstrated in a previous post, science can actually explain why this is.  Maya Angelou said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Positive psychologist Shawn Achor proved that negativity and stress are contagious with an experiment at an airport. I don’t spend a lot of time talking to my clients about non-verbal communication tactics or things that they can do to manipulate the interviewer into alignment. None of these things has to be manufactured when there is real alignment, so that is what I coach my clients on. This is not “positive thinking,” which doesn’t fool anyone, including yourself. This is learning how to accept what is, truly appreciate yourself and know your own value, genuinely connect and empathize with the other person, trust in God (or the Universe, or whatever you believe is operating in your world,) and inspiring the support of others. You can’t put a band-aid on stress and anxiety and expect that no one will know it’s there. Others can feel it. And even if you walk in to an interview fully confident, there could be that one question you dread, and it can all go downhill from there. Your stress responses will take over and even if you learned how to tactically shift your non-verbal communication, you will forget or execute poorly.

If you network or interview without a fortified mindset, it can not only sabotage the results you want, but it can be a big waste of time and can make you feel worse, making it that much harder to get into a state of mind that lubricates your efforts and creates ease in getting results.

 

There are things that can be done just prior to an event or interview to help with mindset, but even the things you do behind a computer can be much more effective if you do them with a fortified mindset. Another Shawn Achor study proved that investing 10 minutes in meditation actually creates 62 minutes of productivity.  Exercising prior to doing work is another hack to improve your mindset, make you less vulnerable to getting thrown off your game, and boost your IQ.

Bananarama-It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)

The band’s 1982 release with Fun Boy Three

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.

 

What’s Missing When You Pray to Discover Your Purpose

Kirtomy View Point by Paul Wordingham of Flickr

Kirtomy View Point by Paul Wordingham of Flickr

 

Not all of my clients are religious, though most would claim to be spiritual. I am constantly working on procuring and presenting the scientific studies that continue to emerge to promote the benefits of ritualized higher communication, which I will define as an attempt to connect with any nonphysical entity perceived to have power. This can take many forms, including most commonly prayer and meditation. I have covered in previous blogs the scientific implications of meditation without fully realizing that some of my religious clients believe that praying is meditating. There is a very clear distinction between prayer and meditation; with prayer, you are TALKING and with MEDITATION you are SENSING.

Discovering your purpose can be a very confronting process where limiting beliefs about yourself and the world inevitably surface. The services that I provide that to help facilitate this process can be very challenging to answer, because it requires my clients to see themselves in a way they may not have been willing to or needed to in the past. It hurts their brain, and they are brilliant – it has nothing to do with intelligence. I encourage them to rely upon multiple methods and tools that have helped them increase self-awareness in the past, and provide them with new tools and methods that enable them to answer these questions as comprehensively as possible so that we can arrive at optimal conclusions about their future faster.

After all, a ship captain does not rely solely on his cutting edge navigation system; it could fail at any moment. He needs maps, and perhaps would even be wise to learn the age-old system of using the stars to navigate the seas in the case that his maps are lost or thrown overboard.

Meditation is one of many tools that have proven to be very effective at helping my clients, and myself, gain more clarity on meaningful questions about how to achieve the life we want.

I have no intentions of minimizing the power of prayer, as it too has been scientifically proven to cause results and I have seen it work in my own life. However, the shortcoming of relying on this method alone is that the answers to your prayers can come in so many different ways, and they can be easy to mistake as insignificant coincidences. In order for this to be an effective method, you also have to attune yourself to be completely receptive to your answer and have unwavering faith that the answer will appear without using reason or logic to question that answer. You have to LISTEN for something beyond yourself.

Have you heard the story of the man who was warned by all of his town officials to evacuate to a shelter due to expected flooding? The sheriff came and knocked on his door personally after the rest of the town had already found safety and he refused, insistent that God will save him. As the floodwaters started to rise, a boat came by to take him to safety, but the man insisted that God will save him, and so he stayed, moving to the second floor. The floodwaters continued to rise until the only place the man had left to be safe was on his own roof. A chopper flew by and sent a rope down. The man refused this last attempt of human help. The waters continued to rise and in desperation the man cried out to God, “Why didn’t you come save me? I had faith that you would get me to safety.” God replied, “I sent the sheriff, I sent a boat, and I sent a chopper. What else did you want from me?”

What did the man think the help was going to look like? Perhaps he thought God Himself would come and raise him up to the heavens.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we have a lot of noise to sort through in order to hear or see the answers and resources that are truly all around us. Besides needing the faith to know that the answers are really there, you need to create quiet in the noise in order to notice the answers.

Meditation is a practice, albeit challenging for most, that requires us to be still, eliminate self-talk, and sense, as opposed to thinking. The best answer does not always come from our logical brain. Our logical brain will provide us with valuable input, but just like relying upon one form of increasing self-awareness limits how self-aware you will become, not consulting your intuition and your subconscious will narrow your spectrum of possibilities, risking that you will dismiss a very viable future as too far-fetched. We often focus prematurely on the HOW before we are clear on the WHAT. Another risk is that you simply will not be able to bring to light the things you don’t even know are possible.

Meditation is one of many powerful ways to attune yourself to be more receptive to the answers to your prayers, and I’m sure you have already heard about the studies that link meditation to other health benefits, including stress management.

Stress management is critical when you are in a state of flux in your life. The things that life throws at us can be that much more difficult to gain a sense of control over when we feel our future is out of control. The fear and anxiety that problems in life cause can be that much more of an inhibitor to our ability to be attuned and awakened to how to create alignment between our reality and our vision of an ideal future.

 

Meditation and prayer, as well as engaging experts in the job market like me, can all be powerful tools to help you accelerate what is usually the very uncomfortable stage of career discovery. When you are in flux, you don’t have a destination, and therefore are unable to gain control of your vocation navigation. Not everyone minds drifting aimlessly from port to port, but it will make some sea sick, and you eventually need to reach port to acquire the food and resources you need to live.  Wouldn’t you agree that it would be even better if that port has the potential to provide you with the resources for a fulfilled, happy life that you might even call home?

 

Be the Rock Star

Photo courtesy of Meditation by Alice Popkorn on Flickr Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). http://bit.ly/1A0Vapa.

Photo courtesy of Meditation by Alice Popkorn on Flickr Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). http://bit.ly/1A0Vapa.

If you are like most job seekers, interviewing makes you nervous. Job and interview coaching experts, like me, all agree that preparation is the best prescription for performing your best at an interview. There are some great tips on common sense and “extra mile” steps you can take to ensure that you put your best foot forward, like how to be calm, confident, and on time. However, even the most prepared interviewers may not be using the most proven techniques for top interview performance – meditation, visualization and mental practice.

None of these techniques are new. In fact, I’ll bet someone you admire has been applying one or all of these techniques already.  Meditation has been known to curb tobacco cravings, improve test performance, and shorten reaction time. Top athletes use it to enhance their performance. Coach Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks implements meditation into his program for its ability to develop grit, a known key ingredient for success.

Last week I introduced the concept of creating an alter-ego as a tactic for overcoming your hesitancy to or fear of promoting your value and negotiating the salary you deserve. I outlined the first few steps to creating your alter-ego, but then, the big question remains:

How do you use an alter-ego to get job offers?

Once you develop a good idea of the ideal version of you, a gap remains between the consciously manifested version of you and your subconscious identity. The key to bridging this gap lies in an activity, better recognized as a discipline, that provides your conscious mind greater access to your subconscious mind.

Meditation

Meditation traditionally occurs through a biofeedback type of exercise, where you focus on your breath and relaxing your whole body one part at a time. There are many techniques to achieve desirable results. Some require that you breathe in for so many seconds and out for so many seconds. Some want you to imagine yourself from above, or sense that you are connecting to a higher energy. It is sometimes recommended that you hold your hand on your heart and feel your heartbeat slow down, or rather will it to slow down. Whatever way you arrive at a meditative state, there is one major ingredient that you use if your intention is to tap into this super version of you.

Visualization

Once in a meditative state, characterized by theta brain waves, which are usually associated with light sleep and drowsiness, start by recalling an emotion – pride.

Remember a time when you felt proud of yourself. It could have been a major accomplishment, or something as minor as keeping your cool during a time of chaos, or having a witty comeback that made everyone laugh. Whatever it is, focus on the emotion and let other details filter in. Notice your posture. Notice where you feel the pride in your body. Is your chest high? Your head tall? Are you smiling? Is it a big smile or a slight smile? Once you go through the sensations in your body, notice with your other senses what is around you.  What can you smell? Is it warm or cold? Who is there? What is the light like? What are people wearing?

Now that you have fully tapped into a point in time where you were an ideal and authentic version of yourself, you can add more depth and dimension to your alter-ego version of you and imagine what happens next. Imagine that this version of you immediately leaves this scene to go to a prospective employer’s office. During the commute in your ideal car, the traits of your alter-ego become enhanced, kind of like a hulk effect, only you are transformed optimally by these ultimate positive traits. You can even use the commute to visualize what traveling to your ideal employer would be like. Perhaps you would prefer to bike to work through a park. Use all of your senses and be as descriptive as possible. Is there a stream in the park? Who do you pass in the park? What reaction to you do they have?

A powerful technique to enhancing your ability to embody this alter-ego is using “I am” statements. In the present tense, as you imagine you are traveling to meet your ideal employer, repeat to yourself that you possess the traits of your alter-ego. For example, “I am incredibly charismatic.” Take the opportunity to take that a step further and describe what it looks like to possess that trait. “People are intrigued by me and hang on my every word.”

Now, you have arrived at your destination, your ideal employer. Visualize what the building looks like. Is this a large campus, or a work-share space?  How is it decorated? How does it smell? Who greets you?

Now that you are there, it is time to use one more technique to make sure that all of your preparations lead you to optimal performance in the interview and the ultimate outcome – an enthusiastic job offer with a very pleasing compensation package.

Mental Rehearsal

I first became aware of mental rehearsal while reading The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggart. A follow up to her book, The Field, this book chronicles many amazing scientific discoveries that substantiate the effectiveness of all of these techniques, but the results she cited actually prove that not only is mental rehearsal a powerful supplement to physical training, but it is almost as effective BY ITSELF! It turns out, you CAN actually think yourself thin, strong, fit, pretty, etc.

I recommend that you use mental rehearsal to apply what you have already learned about promoting your value in an interview.  As you progress through the interview as your alter-ego, picture the interviewer asking exactly what you want them to ask, and answering exactly as you have been instructed, advised or coached. Imagine the interviewer’s excitement and interest building as you lay out what hiring you will look like, how you plan to offer your highest professional contribution, and what impact that will have on your boss and the company. Since we are imagining the ideal interview, make sure the person with whom you are interviewing is your ideal version of a boss and has ultimate authority to hire you on the spot.

Making it easier every time

As I stated earlier, meditation is considered a discipline. It takes practice to learn how to quiet your mind if you are not accustomed to doing so. Start small, with five minutes, and build up to a good hour on a regular basis. This may seem like a large investment of time, but the results are the return on your investment, and if the results come with a large salary, I think you’ll agree that it’s quite worth it. Plus, once you have practiced your visualization multiple times, you can condense it to a 15-minute exercise that you can do right before each interview, or even just a meeting. Set your intention and imagine it playing out just as you would want it to.

Record yourself (or someone else) describing this scene for you, bringing you through an optimal hypothetical outcome that would be probable if you were to embody all of the characteristics of your alter-ego.

The point of this is not to be someone different than who you are. If you admire these qualities, you already ARE those qualities. But your every day experiences, failures, etc. result in you unlearning who you are intrinsically. It is often unintentional, but our self-esteem and self-worth is sometimes sacrificed in the wake of self-improvement, just when we need it most. Even those with thick skin who recognize the need for constructive criticism can feel degraded by a delivery that lacks compassion.  Little by little, these conscious efforts will bleed into your subconscious and you will start to embody these characteristics with littler effort each time.  Use these techniques to reclaim your highest self and achieve the ultimate EPIC career path and package.

Please share with us if you use these techniques AND what they have helped you create.

Bad Company – Shooting Star

I DO NOT OWN THIS SONG BAD COMPANY DOES. If you like rock and want more of it, i have all songs from various bands on my channel!!! Please check out my channel, subscribe, rate, and comment =)

Wisdom from beyond

Saturday I was blessed to attend an Abraham Hicks event. It was amazing. I had so many questions answered. Even though I wasn’t chosen to sit in the hot seat and have my questions answered, those that were chosen were divinely chosen to answer my questions – except for one, which I will keep to myself for now.

 

Many, many nuggets of wisdom were dropped on the crowd of about 400, a lot of whom had travelled as far as from Connecticut to Virginia.  Rather than using this post to talk about the revelations I received for my life, though, I’m going to share the ones that I recorded because they have universal appeal.

 

Enjoy! (BTW – follow me on twitter  – @EpicCareering so you, too, can get the benefit of the many speakers that I see and events that I attend.)

AbeHickstweets AbeHickstweets2 AbeHickstweets3

Top 5 Secret Weapons in Mission-driven Careering

How this mining thing stays in the side of the mountain is beyond me.

How this mining thing stays in the side of the mountain is beyond me.

“You may be right. I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.”

~ Billy Joel

 

The fall is coming, and that means that my freedom will soon be limited. Soon my husband’s busy work season and his swim season will start simultaneously, leaving me once again to feel like a single work-at-home mom of two spunky toddlers. While most parents enjoy the freedom that they gain when their kids return to school, I will be readjusting, adapting and experimenting with new regimens that enable me to fulfill my personal and professional missions while enjoying some sanity with my new time restrictions.

My missions?

#1 – Watch my kids grow up.  Be there while they are little. Witness all of their “firsts.” Be the one that raises them.

#2 – Revolutionize job seeking into Epic Careering.  Empower one million people to discover, pursue and promote their passions and achieve their ideal quality of life.

#3 – Reduce the time and distance between talent and the companies that need it. Optimize productivity for organizations in the process, so that they can expand and create even more jobs – 1 million of them, as a goal.

#4 – I guess I also want a clean, orderly house and office, but I’ll settle for sanitary at a minimum.

 

This is pretty crazy, right? It’s certainly unreasonable to think that I could have it all.  Well, you can call me unreasonable. I’ve been called many things – tenacious, an idealist, a dreamer. You’re all right! I do believe that I can have it all. It requires a lot of expansion (which is code for inner conflict.) But know that if I’m asking you to take a leap of faith in your dreams and fill crevices of time with activities and resources that move you toward that, I am damn sure going to be doing it myself.

What may surprise you are my secret weapons for achieving all of this.

  1. Meetup.com
  2. Brain training
  3. Overdrive media console
  4. Social media
  5. My team

I have referred before to brain training, and I can tell you that meditation and hypnotherapy are also part of my regular routine. I will share more about these in a future blog.

This week, to take full advantage of the time that I have, I filled up my evenings with activities, events, and opportunities for learning and networking. Want to know what that looks like?

Here’s a peak:

 

Monday –

My client call in the evening was postponed, so I spent time reaching out to other thought leaders on social media, such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Simultaneously, I listened to an e-book on Overdrive Media Console that I downloaded from my local library – The Most Successful Small Business in the World, by Michael Gerber (author of the e-Myth.) I am learning how to multiply my business by 10,000 to achieve mission #2.  I also listened to this while driving to and from events and preparing meals.

 

Tuesday –

I had a mommy meetup at 6, and met two other work-at-home moms. I thought everyone in the meetup worked a 9-5, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that we could trade sentiments and tips about working from home and addressing some usual toddler behavior. My girls and I made a couple new friends. Then at 8 I attended a webinar on “Accelerated Goal Achievement” by John Assaraf (brain training) while getting my kids to bed. Even while my neighbor stopped by for some goodnight hugs from my girls, I learned how to confront the fears that stand to hold me back in missions #2 and #3. Then I worked on a cover letter for a friend and client who believes that this one particular company is the place that he can achieve Epic Careering.  Send him your most positive thoughts for a prompt, enthusiastic reply.

 

Wednesday –

I attended a webinar while playing with my niece and nephew and daughters in the pool, “Profiting from the Positive,” sponsored by Peoplefluent. I learned about this from a LinkedIn HR group. It was probably more appropriate for those in a larger corporate environment, but I got some great insight on how I can use positive psychology to provide my intern with the most beneficial feedback to conclude her summer internship and how I can elicit optimized performance from my clients as well. I finished that cover letter, updated a résumé, and flew home to get dressed for a meetup. Though I was late, I wouldn’t miss Gloria Bell speak at AWeber on “Building Business One Story at a Time.” I may have found the speaker I was seeking for my social media sub-group (hopefully, if Gloria is interested – fingers crossed) and I became aware of a greater opportunity in my social media outreach to connect with my audience in a more profound and powerful way.  Too, boot, I caught up with one contact I knew from another networking group, DIG. I learned so much more about what he does for small businesses. I may just have some leads for him. I also met another gentleman who shares my passion for non-toxic home products. If we hadn’t stayed late to chat, I might have only learned about his association with a bakery I used to live near and frequent (pre-gluten-free days.)

 

Tonight, though I would love it if I could meet with my client and attend the DIG monthly meeting, I can only meet with my new client, but I am so grateful to be able to do so.

I left a lot of my daytime activities out because, well, you don’t have all day to read this. My intern did spend a day with me at home to see how it get’s done, as well as what sometimes doesn’t get done, like laundry and dishes. I thought it would give her some insight as to how time can be optimized and how some challenges (not all – I mean they are kids who have accidents and make messes) to time management can be overcome.

You don’t have to be a lunatic like me. Your missions may be much more reasonable. Still, my secret weapons can do just as much for you, so take a little time to define your missions (if you haven’t already) and explore how my secret weapons can help you.

Teaching people the tidbits, nuggets and diamonds of wisdom that I gather through these resources and activities is what drives the services and products that we offer.  I am always looking for ways to be valuable to you, and I hope you know that you can let me know if there is something that we can do additionally.

 

What are your secret weapons?

 

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

~ Henry Ford