Category: Career Change


                                                Leadership in Chaos                                                                    Photo Credit-courtesy of Scoop.it

Texas Church Shooting Leadership Lessons

As a generation Xer, there used to be a time when as an elementary school girl, I walked 10 miles from home to school, in the busy streets of a major city, walked back home, stopped by on the way home, bought a snack from my favorite snack shop with my money in my pocket for snacks, and got myself home with my own key to the house. I enjoyed the freedom and safety of learning, experiences and autonomy, as I grew in a very metropolitan and crowded city. Now, as a mom, I would not dream of having my children at 8 and 10 walk outside past our own street. We drive to most places during the week for school and extracurricular activities, and on weekends for events and fun outings. Driving, in my car gives me a sense of safety and security. However in reality, this is just an illusion. The truth is, the world has changed. Life has changed.   And in spite of the advents of technology, flooding of products from all over the globe, going well beyond meeting our basic needs, safety is in fact just an illusion.

 

Last weekend, on Sunday Nov. 5th, there was yet another horrific event that took place in our country. A shooting at a Texas church, killing 26 people, as young as 5 years old. That could have been any of us. There was a time where, churches similar to schools, were considered a sanctuary for people. Not anymore. Chaos is all around us, and as much as we want to ignore, blame, and shout at it, it is inevitable. It is in our homes. It is at our place of work. And it is even at our “sanctuaries”.

On a daily basis, the global economy, the growth of the population, and technology among many other variables continue to change the way our daily businesses are conducted.

Evidence of chaos is even more visible in the world of commerce and business as venture capitals, leverage buyouts and government bailouts continue to become the norm and layoffs ensue. There was a time when businesses could succeed as stable, bureaucratic and regulating institutions. The didactic, structure oriented processes were considered a key to performance and success. Involuntary Turnover and job loss were uncommon phenomenon.  In fact, the belief in order and structure crated the false notion that reorganizations were the key to productivity. Up to today, reorganizations are still very popular with the C-Suite. It has been found that nearly half of all CEO’s execute a reorganization within the first two years they join an organization. Regardless of the “reason”, these reorganzations are usually about immense structural changes in hope for better performance. In reality, according to a Bain & Co. study, out of the 57 reorganizations they studied, only one-third produced results; a profound mistake to completely buy-in to the idea that there is a link between structure and performance.

 

Beginnings of Chaos

Chaos Theory, which was most fully explored and recognized during the mid-to-late 1980s, has the premise that systems sometimes reside in chaos, they are constantly moving, but without any predictability or direction. According to Margaret J. Wheatley in Leadership and the New Science, “Chaos is the final state in a system’s movement away from order.” According to her, when a system does reach that point, the parts of a system are manifest as turbulence, totally lacking in direction or meaning.

When Chaos Theory was first implemented in to businesses in various forms, organization management also gave way to organization management. Agile methodologies were introduced as a way for modern corporations to be able to respond as markets expanded and technologies evolved.  And the evolution of high-functioning teams gave life to Members of effective teams to frequently recreate their roles depending on the needs of the team at a given point.

Embracing change therefore does not mean to necessarily try and predict every possibility and structure the organization accordingly to reach order. It is to lead with the idea that change is constant and chaos is the way of life.

Leadership Redone

When it comes to leadership, as a Human Capital Partner to Fortune companies and Leadership Coach to the C-Suite, I have worked with organizations to recognize that leadership in today’s world, is a game of balance between innovation and Emotional Intelligence, not a commandment as many see it. During times of turbulence, change, and chaos, I have often times seen more control, more structure, and more top down decision-making; a very fear-based thought process that usually ends in disengagement by followers. In today’s economy, leadership of organizations is no longer the management of day-to-day operations. It is rather, seeing the functioning of the organization as a unified system. Therefore rather than dissecting for causes in the organization for organizational problems, according to chaos theory, organizational patterns can be studies to find behavior patterns.

In working with organizations and leaders, I first start by having a value-based conversation around respect.  What is respectable to one defines their values, motivations and aspriations.  That provides a muriad of data with the identification of Pillars of Safety which is a guided exercise I practice to get at the heart of many automatic behaviors.  The assessment of  emotional intelligence ; Identifying emotions and uncovering blockages in thinking and behavior. In embracing change and innovation, rather than a hierarchical, process oriented dynamics, I help him or her to view their role as a catalyst and a support, rather than a perfect, all mighty and in control responsible party. We then drive toward allowing talent and employees to lead with their competencies, with autonomy, functionality, support and 360 degree feedback and effective communication. We therefore, allow the system to naturally organize itself.

 

 

Top Ten (10) Tips on Leadership In Times of  Unpredictability and Chaos

 

  1. Check your Emotions at the Door. One of the common misunderstandings about leadership is lack of fear. But if the opposite of fear is courage, we know courage is not the absence of fear, it is choosing to act with love in spite of fear. The reason one of the pillars of Emotional Intelligence is Self-awareness is largely because Emotion Regulation is a must part of not only living a healthy life, but difference making, business leader in the 21st century. Not admitting to fear, means not accepting yourself as a human being and that creates fear in your team. If you acknowledge your fear but show fortitude and strategy you are inviting trust and courage and unity. 
  2. Make aware rather than frighten. Yes, in uncertain times people do need communication of information, otherwise, they will assume and gossip. However, there are two types of information, the kind they can do something about, and the kind they cannot. Using the advents of neuroscience I work with my  leaders to do just that.  Rather than invoking fear, in engaging your team and activating their sense of empowerment, it is pertinent to Ignite the reward centers of the brain by tapping into the belongingness need. As human-beings if we feel scared, and insecure, we will feel hesitant to take action. But if we are made aware, we will be empowered and courageous.
  3. Talk less, do more. Often times, leadership becomes the generator of opinions and not the generator of action. Input that doesn’t add value, is not leadership. Instead it’s best to resort to responsibility. Sometimes resources may not be readily available or training may not be sufficient. Taking ownership and preparing to accept the challenge is a great tool for trust building and encouragement from a leader. Our brain’s frontal cortex associated with problem solving and decision-making has the capability to dissipate fear toward best performance, if we rise above the reptilian and the mammalian parts of the brain associated with survival.
  4. Mobilize and utilize. We have all heard of the phrase “Analysis paralysis”. There are so many different ways we problem-solve, process information, communicate,  etc.  The power of a team is in it’s synergy and ability to utilize all of it diverse talent.  There are the communicators, analyzers, and creatives etc.  For example, creative and analytic types in teams, will feel more energized, hopeful and joyful when they can do just that, analyze. Rather than get busy without knowledge. Utilize this group to team up to gain knowledge and insight quickly.  Google did just that and look where they are today.  Strategize and Make a Move. Different personalities have a propensity for analyzing decisions more than others and prefer to delay decisions as much as possible. Learning when not to postpone decisions, when you are naturally aiming for perfection, and waiting for additional information, could mean failure. It takes an opposite personality or a coach to help you bounce off ideas so you can decide to do what you need to do with what you have, and don’t look back. Indecisiveness is the surest way to undermine credibility. 
  5. Lead with Inclusion, not diversity. During the past centuries, we have gone from segregation, to diversity but not necessarily to inclusion. Diversity seems like a forced mentality. A thought that by its mere existence casts doubt on reality. Diversity is all around us. We need only to learn to be inclusive. Leading with inclusion would invite different thinking, culture, skills, experience and innovation rather than simply standardization of the same old.
  6. Be a Connector. A leader takes the time to get to know the talent in the organization. Walking among the people and learning about their world. Communication failure, is most often the key to organization effectiveness and disengagement. So elimination of silo’s and physical space and internal networking opportunities throughout is they key to building connections among people and leadership. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes connectors as “multipliers who help create relationships between people”.
  7. Innovate, Don’t Dictate.  In uncertain times, arrival of new information often times means a challenge to the previous plan. Keeping an open mind to problem-solve with all levels of the team, encouraging creativity and innovation, rather than added control or measures to increase certainty will allow room for adoption of better solutions as they arise. The goal is to move forward at the best pace possible.
  8. Be an example of team not just a leader of it. During chaos, servant-leadership is the only leadership model that truly inspires a team, because it demonstrates that we are all in it together. To do this, you must stay consistent no matter how big or small the acts or tasks. That means no special treatment.
  9. Be Humble and honest. Much of the old leadership mentality is “no apologies”, “not admitting to mistakes” and certainly no “I don’t knows”. This is not confidence it is actually fear. Fear of not being adequate, not being taken seriously. In truth, people trust those leaders that they can trust, not those who are know it alls. Nobody knows all things, all of the time. So let the ego out the door, and be honest. If you don’t know something, tell them. The thing about ego is it goes both ways. You act with fear, you get fear in return; in reflection, acting based on ego, your team will not come to you with what they know or don’t know.

 

Conclusion

Following the Sunday mass shooting at the church, in response to President Trump’s tweet in that the shooting is a “mental health problem”, Puente said firearms restrictions for people with a history of domestic violence, substance abuse disorders and other high-risk groups have been shown to reduce gun violence. He went on to say that “Calling this shooting a ‘mental health problem’ distracts our nation’s leaders from developing policies and legislation that would focus on preventing gun violence through a scientific, public health approach.” Both suggesting point to control, regulation and division. Neither is actionable. Neither is working with chaos. Both comments are divisive as one blames the mentally ill, and the other Gun owners. Meanwhile the chaos continues to consistently move forward. Don’t we owe the victims and their loved ones more than simple statements of “the problem”?

One of the most influential business writers of the 1980s and 1990s, Tom Peters in his book Thriving on Chaos wrote “we live in a world turned upside down, and survival depends on embracing revolution.”

The most successful leaders understand that it is not the organization or the individual who is most important, but the relationship between the two. Guns are not going anywhere and neither is mental illness. Working as a society to accept both entities and learn to innovatively work with both is going with the times. Rather than constant blaming, accusing, and attacking, we can begin by accepting diversity of thought, culture, skills, experience and yes mental health. Design conversations around all layers of the population, and all groups. In truth, by doubting, blaming, and assuming members of society, we are creating more of the same and manifesting more fear, more pain and more threat. Hope is only in acceptance and in inclusion and that is what a leader brings to the table.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Naional Geographic Kids

We all know that negative thoughts directly impact our happiness.  But did you know that negative thoughts are actually literally poisonous to our psychological and emotional health?

Case in Point

 Let’s imagine you are sitting in your family room after having watched the news on TV regarding the much anticipated hurricane Irma. You are by yourself and go to bed immediately after, with thoughts of worry and concern. Am I prepared? Did I buy what we needed? Is our home insulated well? Then all of a sudden, the rain starts outside and you hear drops of rain tapping on the window. Before you realize it, the sound magnifies and all you can hear are the water droplets on the window. You start by thinking “oh my gosh, what if that leaky faucet we’ve had in the kids bathroom doesn’t handle the pressure? “ “What if the pool overflows into the house? “What if Katie accidentally falls in the pool when she is out doing her business?” And on and on and on, your thoughts are racing. You have to wake up early the next day and you have now spent over an hour tossing and turning in bed, flooded with so many negative thoughts about a hurricane that has not even been determined to effect your area.

How Did You Get Here?   

All of this was triggered by the sound of rain. Something simple, was transformed into something very hazardous by your thoughts. Automatic Negative Thoughts are just exactly that. Slow, but consistent at first, and then turn by turn, they have the potential to form in to a category 5 hurricane if we allow them. Its possible to stop them, but very difficult.   Why? Because they have literally gotten your mind sick!

Here’s how thoughts grow into a phenomenon in our brain within the Limbic System. The two very serious illnesses of depression and anxiety are heavily caused by rumination, obsessions and the elaborate need for control of people and our environment. The need for control first begins with a single thought “what is going to happen?” Then it begins to take hold of our psyche and quickly turns in to fear, if it is not reasoned with. Why fear? Because the answer to “what is going to happen?” will always be “I don’t know”. If voluntarily stopped right away with a statement such as “I guess we will have to see” or “god knows” or “no one knows” or my personal favorite “let the chips fall where they may” we will ride through a few seconds of concern and then the gateway to fear will close. Otherwise, if the gate is opened and we answer “gosh, what if ….”, or “this is not good” , or “why did he say that and not …’, or “is it because I said,,,,”, we have now entered the land of chaos, despair, hopelessness, and self-doubt. There is a Liberian proverb that says: “ Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.”

What Are you Thinking?

Every time you have an angry, scary, sad or happy thought, your body releases chemicals that activate your brain’s limbic system. Dr. Mark George, M.D., from the National Institutes of Mental Health, demonstrated this in a significant study. He studied brain activity in 10 healthy women under three different laboratory conditions. Through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), their brains were viewed as these women were illicitted to think happy, neutral and sad thoughts. During the happy thoughts, the women’s brains demonstrated a cooling of the deep limbic system. During the sad thoughts, there was a significant increase in deep limbic system activity. This is evidence that our thoughts tell our bodies what to do and hence we can tell our thoughts what to think. Polygraph and Lie detector tests, or what we actually believe to be most accurate here at the Center for Work Life, through Credibility assessment and Facial Action Coding, are based on this Limbic System response algorithm.

The Make Up of the Limbic System

The various parts of the the Limbic System, the Hypothalamus, the Amygdala, the Hippocampus, and the Cingulate Cortex all have different functions and hence different hormones associated. The hormones are impacted by our thoughts and set the tone for our emotional wellbeing. The more unhappy, fearful, anxious thoughts we have the more sick our brain will get and the more those thoughts will form within us.   The same way, our immune system weakens with lack of sleep, alcohol, poor diet etc. Happy, positive experiences and thoughts are like boosters and vitamins for the Limbic System.

Photo Credit: Think Tank Centre

 

 

To Be or Not to Be Following our Thoughts

Just the same way as our thoughts can work for us during a speaking presentation, when we are excited and a surge of adrenaline allows our brain to give the best performance, or when we meet someone, and know we are attracted to them because, butterflies form in our stomach and think we want to have a meaningful relationship with them, it can work against us. Many people believe just because it is a thought, it must be true. Well, that is not correct! Unless you consciously think about your thoughts, they can form pretty automatically. We can think of them as pimples. Yes, your skin can automatically form pimples, but with a good skincare regimen coupled with the proper water intake, and diet and exercise, your skin is constantly resurfaced and cleansed, training everyday to not have pimples.

Socio-cultural Influences

Our culture is one of future planning. College savings, Life Insurance Policies, 401K plans, Saving’s Bonds, Mutual Funds, and even Home Mortgages etc. are all designed tools for the future. Forget about the concept of Capitalism and who profits here, and let’s stay with the “what” part of it. As human beings, were we meant to be future oriented? Or did we become conditioned somewhere along the way to become that way? Well, looking at Research in to other mammalian species, the dog for example, could help us realize that, we could be perfectly content living in the moment. Now, we are not advocating going out and maxing out credit cards, and forgetting about saving for our future, but we are saying, we can plan for tomorrow but live for today. In other words, when we think about happenings around us, we can use our Emotional Intelligence and divide them in to three categories easily: 1. the plannable, 2. The unplannable, 3. Somewhere in between.

 Whether we are working a full-time job out there, or working full-time at home, as a home maker or parent, our work week is in The Somewhere in Between category. We can plan what activities we want to be engaged in, whom those activities will be involving, and even times those activities can be scheduled for. However, the outcomes of those activities, the length in real time it will take to complete the actitivities, the propellers vs. the hinderers will not be plannable. If you try to plan or analyze, or predict outcomes, you will spin yourself in to anxiety. The trick: You have to stop any future oriented, uncontrollable outcome related thoughts right away before they get hold of your brain. In other words, if they have already gotten to the 3rd scenario or “what if,” in this case, they are way too powerful to stop.

8 Everyday Exercises for a Healthy and Happy Brain at Work or in Life

  1. I am not in control; a power greater than me is.
  2. I surrender and accept whatever comes my way
  3. Uncertainty is a part of being alive
  4. When I am faced with an activity that worries me, I will imagine my favorite beach and I will get in, prepared but free to experience every wave.
  5. I will cross bridges as I arrive at them, and enjoy the process no matter what
  6. As soon as a negative thought enters my head, I treat it like a hurricane warning, I prepare, stay alert but calm, and use my support system.
  7. Keep record of my past trials and accomplishments and send empowering messages to my psyche
  8. I push myself to stay present in every task circumstance and tribulation.

 

 A very powerful quote by one of the most celebrated Persian Sufi Poets of the 14th Century Mahmud Shabistari said: “The past has flown away. The coming month and year do not exist. Ours only is the present’s tiny Point.”

 

Executive Time Performance Management

The culture of quick riches, and success by how much you own and how many people you know, has given life to a “more is better” mentality. Movie such as Equilibrium, and Limitless have portrayed the transformation of the human capacity with “miracle” prescription drugs that allow one to do more with their time; and without care.

 

What came to life as of lack of concerntration, possibly due to exposure to too much stimulation such as gaming and televion in the 70’s quickly transformed in to the labeling of ADHD in children. Since the diagnosis was first introduced, the use and prescription of stimulant drugs has overshadowed what in actuality was a result of proper time management. Today, there are millions and millions of Americans using and abusing and becoming addicted to drugs such as Adderall and Concerta because they feel they need a boost in their energy and performance and the nonmedical use of Adderall is a large part of what this accounts for. Since 2012, for the first time doctors have been writing more prescriptions for stimulants for adults than for children and one of the greatest at risk populations for Adderall use are professionals ages 25-44.

 

Executives and entrepreneurs often feel trapped because they are feeling overly stressed, or are faced with some realities that are alarming to them. May be they feel their job has no future, or that they simply are not able to do the things that are meaningful to them in the time they have. They feel their passion and drive for life and their work is not where it used to be. This is usually a precursor for high levels of stress, bodily symptoms, chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression.

 

Executives are often times perfectionist. They usually push themselves to the limit; racing against the clock with a thousand things to do in one day. It is very typical for them to plan too much in one day and feel exhausted and unsatisfied with their day’s accomplishments. Feeling dissatisfied, agitated, an run down is the breathing ground for a spiral of anxiety and depression.

 

A large part of Emotional Intelligence Training is self-management. Learning to say “No” and knowing when to give yourself a break is easier said than done. At the Center For Work Life, one of the first steps we introduce in the coaching process for stress and time management is the discovery of purpose and spirituality. We don’t call it Time Management, but Energy and Performance Management. Replacing old behaviors with new ones requires open space; open space to allow introspection and reality checking and questioning some of the programmed patterns that have become engrained in our psyche. Here, we start by thought provoking questions such as What am I all about? What in my life gives meaning to my existence? What are my passions and how am I feeding those today? Am I fulfilled in my career? Taking the time to answer these questions will open the door to nurturing your spirit and you then begin the healing and growth process.

 

So what about Time Management? At this point, it is “time” to note that in our book, time is not in our control.   It cannot be stopped or pushed around. So it isn’t time per say that we need to learn and focus on managing, but rather ourselves. Have you ever asked yourself “Am I allowing others to manage and direct my life or am I living My Life?

 

Here are ten questions you can answer to find out:

 

  1. Do you take on tasks as they come your way?
  2. Do you plan your day according to a set number of tasks ?
  3. Do you use caffeine, sugar and other stimulants throughout the day to keep alert and get through the day?
  1. Do you feel guilty saying “no” to other people’s demands on your time?
  2. Do you take on highly demanding days with rigor and push yourself?
  3. Do you feel you have to get through your list and do everything yourself?
  4. Do you have negative and irritating people around you that demand you  attention?
  1. When you feel tired, do you talk yourself through it and keep going?
  2. Do you constantly respond to emails, messages, calls, visits, and family without me time?
  1. Do you have a difficult time relaxing and feel guilty when you do nothing?

 

If you answered yes to at least four of these questions, you would be happy to know that you have lots of room for growth and recalibration of your stress management and time satisfaction techniques. You are probably someone who is not quite comfortable spending time with or on yourself. Performing at your best, does not mean running on high horsepower, 100 miles an hour. Learning to recognize your body signals, including your brains processing ability, and compassionately nurturing your inner learner to utilize your problem solving skills and critical thinking, will enable you confront something that none of us truly have control over; Time.

For more free tips and techniques for a better work life, visit our website at www.centerforworklife.com.

images-8The unreliable economy and the changes in the job market have certainly impacted the hiring the process negatively. There are now more applicants applying for the same position and applicants are expanding their search to larger geographical distances. Needless to say, the hiring organizations are becoming more selective because they know there many more applicants available to them. The smart applicant has to not only spend the proper time to brush up their resume and cover letter, revamp their social media reach, and prepare for the interview, but they have to prepare for the 2nd, third and possibly fourth interview.

The first interview, is now mostly done by phone as a screening process. In order to save the recruiter time and effort. The good news is, if you make it past the first interview, it will probably mean you will be interviewing with the hiring manager who has better insight about the role for which you’re being considered. We are taught oftentimes that impression making is all about listening, but as someone that has been involved in the HR arena for over 15 years, I always advocate for two way interviewing. Just because the market is not as upward as we want it to be, we don’t have to settle. An individual who is asking the right questions during the interview can make a well-informed choice if and when they receive the job offer and if they don’t receive the offer, at least they know parts of the job that didn’t fit well within their schema of the right job. Job-hunting is an emotionally challenging task and we can’t possibly receive all yes’s. To stay feeling emotionally positive, and cognitively ready and up for the challenge it’s best to be in the pilot seat than the passenger. If you ask more questions now, rather than later, then the hiring manager will not wonder where your heart and intentions are and whether you were even paying attention.

Finding the ins and outs of the company and the job, doesn’t have to come after six months into the job. There are a lot of questions that can quickly get at the heart of the “True Side” of the job rather than what is portrayed as the “Perfect Side” .

Leader vs. Follower Role

Emotionally intelligent applicants know who they are; their personality, their work style and communication style. Before even applying to the position, the applicant would need to know that the position they are applying to is within the ream of their knowledge skills and abilities. Experience doesn’t necessarily guarantee ability, neither does education and training. Our genetic make-up generally defines our personality and knowing that make-up is very insightful in all aspects of life in dealing with others, but especially in career planning. If you’re interviewing for a leadership position, it is crucial to know you that, that interests you. Plenty of individuals are in follower positions and have less of a headache and more flexibility and their income is not necessarily capped either. On the other hand, a position could be posed as a leadership position, but once on-board, there is not a lot of latitude. If you enjoy and are good at understanding and withstanding subordinates and delegate work to them, you would want to ask that. Asking the right question regarding this in the 2nd interview will lead the hiring manager to explain where you stand in the company’s hierarchy as well as specifc decision-making capabilities of the role.

 

Norms, Expectations and Performance

The culture of an organization speaks volumes to how the everyday gets done. Walking in to an interview, the applicant needs to have already done their homework as to what type of culture the organization has. The 2nd interview will allow the applicant to ask questions pertaining to communication guidelines, work product reviews, valued actions, and rewarded behaviors. There are two sides to a job, the social aspects and hard skills. I always advocate that if the player doesn’t learn the rules governing the game early on, they are just throwing darts in the dark, hoping it will hit the board. The game is half branding, and reputation building, and half performance as generally defined by fulfilling the job description. All companies want their employees to meet their performance expectations. Its important to ask the hiring manager to explain to you through scenarios, “right” and “wrong” behaviors. Something as simple as resources (staff, copier, paper and ink) can cause conflict. Can you imagine miscommunications? Discussing scenarios and finding out how they are perceived or timelines are played, will not only speak to performance appraisals but also to the underlying rules that govern everyday actions before and after the reviews.

Career Path

I am always amazed to find out how many individuals fall in to the trap of taking a job that pays higher over a job that pays a little less but has a clearly defined path for growth. During the 2nd job interview, it is wise for the applicant to ask about the training and advancement process. Finding out what your role is and what the company’s role is, is very important. The employee contract is very employee driven now and if an applicant wants to succeed, he or she must clearly know what the unspoken rules of that contract are. A position may be on a basic tier level, meaning within a number of years or experiences the next position would be within access to the applicant. On the other hand, the position could be on a partnership track, meaning, a certain group would need to provide a positive evaluation for the individual to go up the ladder. So on and so forth. Asking that the hiring manager to simply provide examples of career advanacement within the company would be a great way to learn the process.

Network Building Opportunities

Social media has amazingly taken over the work culture. Employers not only use social media to make hiring decisions now, but also look at your network to see contacts that you will potentially bring with you. Furthermore, who you’ll be working with is just as important as what you will be working on. It is very typical for managers to invite you to take a tour of the office and meet some of the people with whom you’ll be working. Although this may be a good opener, it will not shed any light on the dynamics you may be walking into. Finding out names and doing a background search on the individuals would be a lot more useful. Again social media is great for that. You can also ask how the organization incorporates team work, how teams are formed, who and what determines which teams get what projects and how is the team evaluated. Knowing how messages are transmitted in an organization speaks volumes to how you will spend your day. The people you work with, ultimately become your second family. The difference is you have a chance at picking your second family.

 

All and all, finding the right position means whether there is a good fit within you and the organization. This goes far beyond pay, titles and perks. It means value alignment, and introspective knowledge about your individual goals, strengths and challenges as well as your cause. Your work is one of the various areas of your life and if the fit is right it will compliment the other aspects of your life. If it’s the wrong fit, it will take away from the other areas.

Jumping_Salmon_PD_credit-Jerome_CharaouiIt’s summer and the glowing sun outside coupled with the ocean breeze remind me of renewal and introspection. Are you with me?

New eating habits, a good workout regimen, and new favorite restaurant. New career may be? Many individuals I come in to contact with contemplate their career. They are satisfied with their existing role, and they are successful, their organization is successful and they have a sturdy title, relatively large staff and job security. Yet may be that’s the problem. Too much satisfaction is the enemy of innovation and growth. They tell me they have an aching within that desires change. They don’t feel challenged anymore. That feeling of confidence is making them feel almost bored. They yearn for excitement, intimidation and that adrenalin rush of sink or swim.

 

I tell them, your instincts are telling you its time to swim, so swim. To them and to you, who are even considering the possibility of a career change, or position change for that matter, I offer the following:

 

  1. Are you ready to hit the waves?

Start by weighing the risks. Know that there always will be that. Family, your identity, and financial responsibilities will always be there, but so will fear. The fear of change and the fear of the unknown. At some point you would have to push away the fear and swim with the waves. Once you accept that reality, your mind and heart will unite and you will be ready to make the proper recourse to weight the real costs and benefits for your decision, without the common denominator of fear.

 

  1. Go for the plunge!

At some point the weighting would need to stop. The decision must be made. Plan your course with plan B’s along the way and start what will undoubtedly feel like an uphill or upstream swim.

 

  1. Enroll an Audience and Cheerleaders

You ‘re going to need all the emotional support you can get. Set yourself up to be around supportive, calm and clear people. Your network will help you get the position you want, but your support system is the one that will get you through this phase of the game. The AA mentality applies here. The buddy system is meant to create accountability. When you share what you are doing with an invested person, you are more likely to persevere. We all like to achieve and part of achievement is the reinforcements we get along the way. Stay on course and celebrate small wins.

 

  1. Assess the Course and foresee Obstacles

Get a clear assessment of your knowledge, skills, abilities and network. It doesn’t mean you can’t expand on them, but you want to be realistic in setting your goals. Many people assume that because they like a type of job, they have to bend backwards to fit themselves within its walls. Think about industry, and organization type, the everyday nuances, and the type of people you want to be working with, the key players and whom you are already connected to. When I do career assessments with my clients, we do a lot of work together. It is deep. Often times, they themselves are shocked at how far they were from their vision, by the time we complete and interpret all the quantitative and qualitative data. The research is imperative. Let me say that again: the research is imperative. The reality is we are all born with certain traits that make us who we are, are family and upbringing solidify them as well. So I always recommend going after something you know you are good and knowledgeable at, rather than going after something you think you like. The other neat thing is that we get attracted to people whom we can relate to, so your network of people will serve you better being that you have built them through “connections” rather than ambiguity. At least that’s the network that we need to be making. Not random and without follow-up. Challenge is good, complication not so much.

 

  1. Get on the Diving Board and Jump. I like the analogy of the diving board because when you get on a diving board, it means three things: 1. You are making the conscious effort to jump and you know it’s going to be a high jump, 2. You are letting the world know you are jumping, and 3. When you are up in the air, there is no way going back. When you started this journey, you had internal conversations about it. May be you discussed it with a significant other, a colleague or a family member. But your paradigm is still the same. You are in comfort zone. You get the paycheck and the boss still assumes you will be at the next monthly meeting. If you stop here, you don’t have to fear. You are not committed to anything. You didn’t loose anything, but you also didn’t gain anything. Half the battle is the mental decision, but the other half is get on that diving board. You have to make the decision irrevocable.   Our brains are trained to form habits. We are creatures of repetition. So unless the walls of the maze are reset, our brains will command us to repeat the past and to not rock the boat. Pull the anchor and let the ship sail where it needs to and don’t look back.

 

Fear is a defense mechanism to protect us in life. But it’s also there to motivate us and propel us forward. I am not saying live life in fear. But I am saying don’t expect fear to ever disappear. It’s through fear that your interests get peaked and you search for that truth and possibility. Fight fear and it will haunt you, look at it in the eye and it will guide you. Life is a raft, not a ship. Life of Pi was the perfect demonstration of that.   Ships have navigation system, propellers, and radars. Your career is one aspect of your life, and just like any other, demands determination, patience and exploration. There are no guarantees, you have to do your due diligence, and take a leap of faith. Let the waves take you where they may.

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