Archives for alter-ego

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

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Having Trouble Promoting Yourself? Try an Alter-Ego to Land a Job

Photo courtesy of Gwenael Piaser from flickr open source (NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic: http://bit.ly/1AQcsqF).

Photo courtesy of Gwenael Piaser from flickr open source (NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic: http://bit.ly/1AQcsqF).

Chuck Lorre is a television producer who struck gold as the writer and creator of Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. Despite his overwhelming career success, the 62-year-old producer suffers from “imposter syndrome,” a psychological phenomenon where people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. In a 2012 interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, Lorre admitted when he writes a script that “stinks” he feels like a fraud, and needs to go and hide. The phenomenon is prevalent among high achievers. Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg even discusses the problem with Oprah.

If we turn the imposter syndrome around for the purpose of job seeking, we have the idea of building up confidence. It is a way to mentally push past the hesitancy of many job seekers to fully promote themselves during the job search. When it comes to searching for a job, many candidates don’t promote themselves nearly enough. Many people balk at the idea self-promotion, and it is easier to talk about the value someone else brings to a future employer than it is to talk about oneself.

As a career coach, I see the connection between people who fail to portray their value as an employee and their lack of career advancements. I also saw as a recruiter that the job didn’t always go the highest qualified candidate. It went to the candidate who was able to build rapport and promote their value. These candidates often negotiated a salary higher than what we were told was “possible.” The prevalent tendency of job seekers is to shy away from self-promotion. It becomes much more difficult to advance your career, or make a job transition if recruiters don’t know about your skills or how you could bring value to their company. Learning to promote yourself means that employers will know the potential value you bring to their organization. Self-promoters understand being able to communicate their abilities, skills, and value as a worker are essential to taking their career to the next level. If you are feeling uncomfortable with the idea of self-promotion, perhaps just consider it a change in your promotional tactics. The trick: create an alter-ego that is your agent and will promote your value.

Consider this 2014 report on NPR: Emily Amanatullah, an assistant professor at the University of Texas, realized negotiation tactics were a difficult subject for women to master. She ran an experiment where she had both men and women negotiate starting salaries for themselves and on behalf of someone else. The results were telling. The women who negotiated salaries for themselves asked for an average of $7000 less than the men. However, the women often negotiated for better starting salaries if they did so on behalf of a friend. Creating an alter-ego to self-promote during a career transition could go a long way toward getting that advancement. If it is easier to advocate for a friend, then why not become that friend?

An alter-ego, or second self has been used by figures throughout history. Many people have used alter-egos to keep their true identities secret, or to compartmentalize difficult opinions or actions. One of the most famous alter-egos of today is Stephen Colbert. In the satirical The Colbert Report, he is an outspoken rightwing pundit. The real Stephen Colbert is very private, claims to be less political and his true personality isn’t very well known. For our purposes an alter-ego would be an idealized version of yourself who constantly promotes your skills and value during the job seeking process.

Self-Promotion Matters:

In my article, “Why some people never get ahead” I wrote about why the lack of self-promotion can cause people to stagnate in their careers. If you’re uncomfortable with letting others know about your tremendous value as an employee, your professional network won’t take notice. The way you portray yourself to your networks can inspire people to make introductions that may lead to enticing job offers. For employers, you could be the solution to their problems. If you’re not out there promoting yourself, not only do you miss an opportunity to advance, but the employer misses an opportunity to secure great talent.

Avoid the mindset that simply keeping your head down and working hard will bring you the advancements you seek. Michael Cruse’s article “The importance of self-promotion in your career,” points out that employees seeking a promotion must act on their own behalf. It is rare that someone in a position to promote you will act as a personal champion for you, especially if they don’t know you’re seeking a promotion. Millionaire author T. Harv Eker writes about the people who believe talent alone is enough to bring them success in his book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. Here is a very poignant excerpt: “You’re probably familiar with the saying ‘Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.’ Well, that’s only true if you add five words: ‘if they know about it.’” Sheryl Sandberg has stated in her book, Lean In, that an internal sponsor is critical to success. It is great to have someone willing to vouch for you, but you also have to be your own sponsor.

In short, self-promotion is the life blood of career advancement.

Creating a self-promoting alter-ego:

How do you create an alter-ego that is your agent? Imagine that it’s not you you’re promoting, but the solution that you provide, on behalf of someone else. That “someone else” could be your child, spouse, other family member, or a friend. Think of your best qualities, skills and talents as theirs, and formulate a plan to promote them. For example, if you’re a project manager, imagine talking up those achievements to get your friend promoted. If the idea of being a family member or friend is too abstract, try simple role-playing. Create an idealized version of yourself, freed from the shackles of your own limitations. You want to come as close to perfection as possible, and you are brimming with endless possibilities. Nothing is beyond your reach. You want everyone to know great this person is, and how they are the solution to employer’s problem. Even the greatest performers have created alter-egos for themselves!

When it comes to the job transition you first have to become your own best advocate. Sometimes it is necessary to create an alter-ego in order to promote yourself. Friends, family and professionals in your network may recommend you, but those introductions will only go so far. And while they love you and want what’s best for you, they won’t even know what to say about you to help you in an optimal way until you can articulate even to them what value you present to your future employer. No one can demonstrate your value to employers, except for you. Self-promotion is the key to moving forward in your career and your finances. Imagine the ultimate version of YOU. The rock star you. The version of you interviewed by Katie Couric. The version of you who travels to exotic places and can make heads turn at a gala. You ARE the center of attention and everyone wants you as the solution to their problems.

Get into the groove of your alter-ego:

Here’s an exercise for you after you’ve created an alter-ego. Create a list of five people who fascinate you and embody the qualities that you most admire. Now, share some of the characteristics of your alter-ego. Does your alter-ego have high energy? Could he or she get a crowd to clap along with you? Is your alter-ego the cool and mysterious type? And most importantly, how do you get into your alter-ego state before show time?

Ziggy Stardust | David Bowie

Song: Ziggy Stardust / David Bowie Footage taken from BBC 4’s documentary, The Story of Ziggy Stardust