Teaching. Teaching is the fastest way to reinforce what you learn. Many branding experts like myself will tell you that the benefit of writing a regular blog, LinkedIn post or even a status update is to help you establish a reputation as a thought leader, to raise your visibility and credibility, to demonstrate that you add value, so that employers come to YOU. That happens.
Right now I am reading a book on neuroscience and it is teaching me dozens of 60-second exercises that help develop and strengthen the parts of the brain responsible for motivation, decision making, creativity, and awareness – the four integral ingredients to building wealth, which as it turns out, does increase happiness (according to scientific studies.)
Rest assured, I will be trying these exercises and re-teaching them so that I remember them. Of course, I want to remember them so that I can continue to re-teach them to my clients in my coaching practice, so that I can continue to increase the value that I bring as an income optimizer, which will increase my own income as a byproduct.
So, even if you aren’t writing a blog or a post, look for opportunities to share what you are learning. This is why book clubs and interest groups (meetups) are great forums.
Since we’re here and I’m still in bed (because it’s 7 AM in California where I am right now,) I’ll share the one simple morning strategy I learned in this book so far:
Take a moment upon waking to stretch slowly and feel the comfort of your sheets. Tune into the sensations in your body. Assess your emotional state. Paying special attention to pleasurable sensations will stimulate the motivational center of your brain. Focus on the pleasurable sensation and imagine it multiplying, as it does the more you focus on it. Then visualize what you WANT to happen that day, overcoming anything that could stand in your way. I have shared this before, because it was previously taught to me, but the science behind it is new – doing this has been proven to improve your potential for success. [Mental contrasting and transfer of energization. Sevincer AT, Busatta PD, Oettingen G. Per Soc Psychol Bull. 2014 Feb;40(2):139-52.]
As a questioner (a la Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies) I need to understand the logic behind any recommendation before I buy into it. Even though I had found the teachers who passed this on credible, knowing the science is proven is reinforcing to me that this is a worthwhile effort to make, especially because I want the outcome for me and for my clients.
So not only am I incentivized to do it, I am incentivized to pass this on to you.
Try this simple exercise every day for 2 weeks and let us know what difference it makes for you.
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.
I went back to college this weekend. It was horrifying to discover that these girls were born the year I pledged. My sorority invited alumnae back to campus to say farewell to the house that has been ours since my senior year. It was a time to reflect on some of the most impactful years of my life, but also to remember the fear, uncertainty, and sadness that accompanied leaving college, where your best friends were often just a door away. I had no grand plan, like some of my friends, and no full-time salaried job as an aspiring radio personality. I was under the impression that if I could not make it in radio, I would be living in a ditch begging for change to buy a meal.
That never happened, though hard times did follow. When asked, “What’s life like after graduation?” I had to remember that some of the best things in my life happened after college – my band, my husband, my company, my kids, and teaching, in that order. As my friends now turn 40, (I’m the youngest, so I get to watch them all get there first) I see that for some of them, it means it is all downhill from here. That was an exact quote from a 40th birthday party I went to last night. (Happy 40th, Neal!) Looking back at the last decade, at what I have learned, how I have grown, what I’ve been able to accomplish and contribute, I am excited for the next decade. I’m looking forward to it, and I think there are amazing things yet to come.
BUT, there are some things that I would have wanted my younger self to know, which I felt compelled to pass on to the graduating seniors in my sorority, and my students, as well as ALL soon-to-be graduates. I feel these things would have potentially catapulted me so much further so much faster if I had known and applied them.
Before I get into the hard truths, I most want ALL people, but particularly young people, to know that there IS a formula for success, and no matter what family structure, social or economic status, education, circumstance, or hardships you are from, they DO NOT limit your future at all. At any time you can improve your life. The tools, technology, and teaching exist – all you have to do is harness them.
Okay, now on with what you may not want to hear, but need to know if you want to make your 30s onward the best years of your life.
Unless you land at Google, Apple, Disney, a Big 4 consulting firm, or a company with a similar colossal reputation, it will not be as easy as it is right now to land a job.
The co-op program where I teach is world-renowned. The biggest, most admired companies want these graduates badly. They come out of school not as entry-level workers who were getting coffee and observing leadership, but as junior business stars who have already solved real business problems. By the time they take my mandatory career management class, many of them already have jobs lined up from campus recruitment efforts and co-ops that led to offers. While you may be recruited aggressively if you work for a company with clout for hiring and developing the best talent, the legwork to find your next gig, even internally, if you don’t is on you. AND, furthermore, even if you are aggressively recruited, you are not necessarily managing your career optimally by being reactive to recruiters’ sales pitches. This is why the class that I teach is not “Get a Job 101,” but Career Management and Professional Development. See your career growth as a trajectory and learn how to course correct early. Learn and master the life skills of personal branding, networking, and career management.
The bottom is often the best place to start if you want to be a great leader.
Many of my clients are influential leaders today because they were once in the trenches. Isn’t that the point of Undercover Boss? Making well-informed business decisions can be easier when you have first-hand knowledge of business from the front-line to the executive office. Those that have been successful in implementing massive change say that they were able to rally the troops because they were once the troops. Empathy, as we have stated before, is quickly gaining popularity as one of the most effective leadership tools.
Also, even for those students who were solving real business problems in their co-ops or internships, it might be worth considering starting even lower if the target role or company is worth it. I can speak from experience here.
While I was on air, reporting news, DJing, producing live talk shows, and operating the board for remote broadcasts at a small community radio station, my fellow Communications majors were putting up flyers at concerts, dressing up in costumes, and handing out chotchkes for the major media radio stations. I figured I had the advantage, but I was wrong. I moved to the Jersey Shore and did get to work producing talk shows for an AM station, while digging into commercial production and more part-time work. I temped to pay the bills. Meanwhile, my fellow classmates went on to full-time jobs eventually at the major media stations. Granted, some of their jobs involved much less glamorous, even undignified tasks, like getting shot from a cannon. Guess what – they are STILL THERE, loving their jobs and making what is probably good money. Casey is the Executive Producer of a VERY popular morning show that is streamed worldwide. Matt is a Regional Director for Advertising for the conglomerate and Joann is Traffic Manager for a radio station in the same company.
When it came down to it, I had recognized after a year in radio that I was not really willing to continue working awful hours, get paid peanuts, do the boring parts of the work OR keep moving from market to market in order to achieve my ultimate position, but that was what I had learned was necessary from the people who were more senior than I at the station where I worked. At the larger station I would have had a completely different experience, and even though I might not have started out on the air, perhaps I would have found a different niche in radio and stayed there until today, too. Not that I have regrets – I think things worked out just as they were supposed to. However, I’ll always wonder.
In time, you will earn the right to demand certain accommodations IF you are a top performer. But for now, you have to play their game.
Older generations will tell you that they had no illusions – work hard, get a job, work your butt off, save your money, and you’ll be fine. That is not what the younger generations have seen, though, so it is not what they will believe. With diminishing financial security for employees came resentment to employers for taking more than they give. This is what has led to a perceived sense of entitlement.
Even though there are talent gaps, and certain skill sets are very high in demand, most are not. Yes, talent is hard to find, but that does not mean companies are willing to bend over backwards to hire you. Ultimately, there has to be mutual respect and value in the deal. Many things ARE negotiable, but that depends highly on the company, their policies, their culture and what you have PROVEN you can do to make it worth giving you more than they have given to employees before you.
If you are really that good, get in and prove your worth. You may earn the right to ask for more flexibility, more money, extra vacations, or perks. In the meantime, understand that though your package should remain confidential, IF anyone were to learn of you getting preferential treatment, you would not like the climate that breeds.
As graduation month ramps up, I hope this food for thought is helpful, even if it may not be encouraging. In a way, your adult life does not really begin until after college. Adulting is not always fun, but being armed with wisdom and systems for success will make it much more enjoyable.
Follow me and stay tuned for more things you need to know, but may not want to hear.
I would be very interested in hearing if you did, what results you found, and if you have found one that works best for you.
This week I will share two more, but this list is by no means exhaustive. I have learned over 30 methods in the past nine years.
These last two are the methods I learned most recently, and they are extremely powerful. You will have to be brave to try them, and have a strong imagination. You may feel silly, but until you try it, you have no idea how much you had to release, nor how light and free you can feel by releasing it. The point is to make room for new, better things to happen in your life.
As much as our parents loved us and had good intentions to raise us well, they are human. They come to the parenting job with their own “baggage.” By baggage, I mean belief systems that may have been limiting their own potential. Their world continually proves their beliefs right, and so it is hard to recognize that the belief started with a story, not a fact or a truth. They then pass it on to you, in hopes of saving you from pain, suffering, and disappointment.
Then, of course, now that we are adults, we are more aware of the pressure and stress that comes along with being an adult, and how that can impact our ability to be our highest self, to cope with the needs of others, and to respond instead of react. We do not always say what we mean, and we do not always speak from the heart. Actually, we can be downright hurtful, and in those moments can wound others, just as others wounded us. As I have heard, “Hurt people hurt people,” or, “Those who cause suffering are suffering.”
The way to stop this cycle is to heal your wounds and be the parent to your younger self that you wish your parents could have been for you.
The exercise goes as follows:
First, know what you want to heal. Pick a limiting belief.
Get into your highest self. While sitting, allow source energy to enter your vibration by being mindful of your breath, moving deeply in and out.
Imagine a column of light coming from above entering through the crown of your head while also imagining your body as a conductor of light and energy, sending it down your chakras through your feet into the earth, where deep within it hits a mirror and bounces back up through you, up through your chakras, and back up.
Feel all of your cells humming with the vibration of pure love.
Go to a mirror and look into your left eye, imagining it is the eye of your younger self.
Ask your younger self to tell you what happened – why you started to believe in limits.
ALLOW the pain to surface – DO NOT stifle it. Keep breathing!
Spend 90 seconds fully embracing the pain, breathing through it, looking into your left eye, and empathizing with your younger self.
Breathe until you have shed all signs of the pain from your body, and the child in your eye shows you relief.
Then tell your little one what he or she needs to hear – words of encouragement, unconditional love, the truth of how infinite you are, how powerful you are, and how deserving you are.
Reassure your younger self that all will be okay, that you are there for him or her, and always will be.
Yes, you may feel silly doing this at first, but I am really excited to hear if you felt as I did – lighter, healed, open, expansive, and ready to take on anything! Send me a private message if you care to, but if you are brave enough to share, please do.
Sending Monster-sized Love
My first official coach, the one who helped me plan and follow the path to being a coach from my recruiting days, was the first person who shared with me that we have “gremlins.” Gremlins are our inner critics, the voiced that tend to speak up and discourage us from playing big in our life. Gremlins are the spokesmonsters of our limiting beliefs. They represent our fears and insecurities. You may have also heard them referred to as demons or glitches, as though you have a bug in your system that needs fixing.
In this method, you will repeat steps 1 through 4 from above. Then, follow the steps below. Like the method above, you will need to be brave and use your imagination. The objective is to disempower the gremlin, befriend it, and see it for what it really is while you see yourself for what you really are – infinitely powerful.
Close your eyes and imagine there is a knock at your door.
When you open your door, you see a monster, and this monster represents the thing that you fear, hate, resent – the thing you feel holds you back. It could be money, it could be career success, or it could be love.
It is trying its best to scare you – showing you teeth and claws, making scary sounds, and seeming very angry. Don’t let it. Invite it inside to sit down.
As before, focus on your breath, but also check in on your heartbeat, temperature, and muscle tension.
While looking this monster in the eye, mentally manipulate your breath to be slow and deep, will your heartbeat to slow down and release all tension in your muscles.
Reconnect with the light flowing through your cells, imagining a ball of light and love forming in front of your heart.
Physically hold your hands around this imaginary ball in front of your heart. You may even slowly and slightly move your hands together and apart until you sense the energy of the ball.
Draw even more light and love in to your body, filling all of your cells to overflow into the ball.
When it feels full, send the ball to your monster and notice the surprise on your monster’s face. You can sense that it is starting to give up trying to scare you and is feeling love, while at the same time you are feeling happy to be with your monster, spending time getting to know each other.
Imagine now how your monster feels, and empathize with how long your monster went without feeling love.
If your monster could talk, what would it tell you?
Reassure your monster that from now on, you are on the same team.
Allow yourself to feel proud for confronting and converting your monster.
My coach had shared that she had her clients blow up balloons and draw their monster on it. Then they would yell at the balloon, tell it who was boss, and pop it. I once fell into an arrow on the soft part of my neck to break the arrow that represented a self-limiting belief of unworthiness. I have also burned the list of 20 self-limiting money beliefs that I had about money during a full moon ceremony.
There are a lot of things that you can do to break through barriers to a better life, and taking action to do so is almost always rewarded somehow.
Not all of these methods may resonate with you. Some are certainly more scientific, while some are more cognitive or spiritual.
I am indifferent as to which methods you try, but I encourage you to try at least one, and share with me what difference it made to you.
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