30 June 2018

Finders, Minders, & Grinders: Who Are They, and Where Do You Fit In?

*[Photo credits at the end of the post.]

At the downtown law firm where my husband was a partner, there was an informal understanding that people who worked at the firm were one of three basic types: Finders, Minders, or Grinders.

  1. Finders
    The Finders were the people who “found” business and brought it into the firm. They networked. They knew people. They had lots of relationships. They were interested in what was going on with other people. They knew how to open a conversation and how to close business. Many (but not all) of the Finders were extroverts. Certainly there are as many introvert clients as extrovert clients (in any line of work), and many introvert clients prefer to work with other professionals who are also introverts, so there are Introvert Finders. But the typical Finder is an outward-facing person who enjoys being “out there” and knowing what’s going on with others. Finders are highly skilled at seeing and closing business opportunities.  They enjoy being Finders and are generally well rewarded for it.

2. Minders
The Minders were the people who managed the client relationship. When there was active work going on for that client, the Minder either did the work themselves or were the point of contact between the people doing the work and the client.  When there was no active work going on for that client, the Minder stayed in touch in the background, keeping the connection in place, following up on any details pertaining to past work, and generally staying on that person’s radar.  During the active phase of a project, the Minder stays in close touch with the client as the work demands, which at the height of a project can be multiple times throughout the day, or days of ongoing meetings. Happy Minders enjoy the ongoing relationships with clients and their businesses, and are grateful to the Finders for bringing in the business, which Minders may not be that skilled at or interested in learning.

3. Grinders
The Grinders were the people who were “off in the back room” grinding out the analyses and reports, working out calculations, developing projections, and otherwise doing the hard, hands-on number and data work that needs to take place behind the scenes.  They had little direct contact with the client, and their work was coordinated by a Minder.  Most Grinders like being Grinders — they enjoy the focused, direct work and the results they reach, they appreciate not having to prospect for business and learn closing skills, and they also appreciate not having to handle the client through the ups and downs of a project.

Of course many Grinders are also Minders, and many Minders are also Finders, and so forth.  Most professionals wear many hats.

But most of us, whether or not we are lawyers, naturally fall into one of these primary categories.  Do you know which of these roles is particularly compatible with your temperament?  One of these functions is likely to be more ease-full and comfortable for each pf us.  Not that we shouldn’t learn to be effective in all of them, because learning a new way of working can open doors to opportunities and satisfactions unavailable through the other functions. But generally, our inherent, natural temperament will predispose us to one of these three types of roles.

Even in professions that are very different from this business model, these inclinations apply.  For example, if you are a primary care MD, you may find that you particularly enjoy meeting new patients and getting to know them, or you may particularly enjoy the long-term ongoing relationship you are likely to have with a patient over the course of their lifetime.  Or you may be much more engaged by the after-hours research that you do as you investigate treatment options for a new client with a rare syndrome you’ve never run into before, or you may ultimately turn to research full time.

It can be extremely useful to know what you’re best at and what you most enjoy.  This allows you to make decisions that give you more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t enjoy.  It can also help you understand what kinds of work you would be wise to delegate or hire. We can’t all do everything well, and hiring people who are highly skilled at what you are not highly skilled at is a strategy that is at the heart of many people’s personal success formulas.

*Photo Credits:
Blueberries: Photo by Kim Gorga on Unsplash
Grapefruits: Photo by Charles Deluvio 🇵🇭🇨🇦 on Unsplash
Strawberries: Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

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2 April 2018

Write a Self-Review

Take the time to do a self review. Woman self reflecting.

Giving yourself an annual review can be an extremely valuable and motivating process.  When you review yourself, you are both the reviewer and the one receiving the review, and the dual perspective leads to useful insights, powerful, granular acknowledgments, and strategic goal-setting.  You can do this whether or not you get formally reviewed at your place of work. Here are some ideas for questions to ask yourself, but feel free to substitute or add your own  questions:

  • What did you learn in the last year?
    • About yourself (any aspect of yourself, including new aspects or nuances of your talents/brilliance/sharpness/gifts that you witnessed or even glimpsed, your grit, your patience/compassion/tolerance, your emotional intelligence, things that trigger anger or upset, any new self-management tactics, better ways of taking care of yourself in any way, new skills including endurance, patience, tact, and any skills pertaining to your content or process expertise.
    • About the organization you’re part of, any of the people you work with, any aspect of the content you work with, your job and the professional world it’s part of, etc
    • What else did you learn in the last year, in your professional life or in the other parts of your life?  Did your golf game improve? Did you expand your relational skills, or become stronger at taking a stand? How else did you become stronger?
    • What things came up in the last year that will you do differently the next time a similar situation arises?
  • What did you pull off, accomplish, DO, achieve, make happen, what crises/calamities did you avoid, what did you salvage/save (relationships, funding, etc).  These things might or might not be visible to the outside world — but you know they happened and it’s important to own them.   Many of our most important achievements are often invisible to others – all the more reason to acknowledge them.  Did you plan and take that trip to the Azores you’ve been wanting to do for the last 10 years?  Did you make peace with your ex (and if so, what insights came of that process)?
  • What are you proud of?
  • What challenges did you weather/survive/endure and how did you pull that off?  What did you have to bring forth from yourself in order to survive/endure?
  • What setbacks or disappointments did you recover from, and how did you recover?
  • Did you play more, or take better care of yourself in some other way?

Given all of the above, what would you like to take on as next year’s challenges?

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20 February 2018

Using Your Time More Effectively

Using Your Time More Effectively - humming bird collecting nectar

 Photo by Andrea Reiman on Unsplash

Clients often ask, “Can you help me use my time more effectively?” These tools have helped my clients boost their efficiency.  Maybe they can help you too. I didn’t invent any of them: I just recommend them.


Time blocking
The idea here is to schedule into your daily calendar how long you want to spend on your various priorities. For example, if you want to wrap up a project that requires about 10 more hours of work, you might want to schedule a 2-hour block into each of the next 5 workdays, where you can fit it in.  When that day comes around, you’ll need to honor the implicit commitment you’re making to put in 2 hours on that project at the time it’s blocked in.

Yes, of course crazy things happen and things come up and all of that. But if you want to finish that project, time-block it into your calendar and get it done!  Some of my clients now block out all of their workdays, finding that they lose less time, spin their wheels less frequently, and are generally more productive and efficient.  They also do more of the work they don’t love when they use time blocking, which can counter the impulse to say, “Oh, I’ll do that later.” One person reports that time blocking “helps me feel less directionless trying to pick through the endless to do list.” In short, time blocking increases efficiency.

Getting things onto the calendar
Do you have items on your to do list that are just not getting done?  Or worse, do you have important tasks that are not even on your list?  In my world, if an item isn’t on my list, it just doesn’t happen. I’m not talking about things that I do automatically: respond to email, stay in touch with clients, etc. It’s the non-daily ones that can get lost: get quotes for the work we want done on our basement or write my blog post every month. Many of my clients have the same issue.  What works for some of us is to get it into the calendar. I’m writing this blog post now because it’s in my calendar to work on it today.  Writing is hard for me and I’d rather not do it at all.  I’m a big fan of what Virginia Woolf once said when asked if she liked writing.  She said, “I like to have written.”

If you have tasks you don’t do automatically, and especially for tasks that you don’t love doing, get them into your calendar like appointments, even if you have to schedule them some weeks (or months!) out. Not only does this increase the chance they’ll get done, it also takes them off your mind — you no longer have to hold onto them — which frees up your brain for more creative work.

Managing Decision Fatigue
Highly productive people limit the number of decisions they make in order to save their decision-making energy (which is finite!) for important decisions.  They often have the same  breakfast every day or wear the same “uniform” to work (Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama during his presidency) so as not to squander limited discriminatory powers on trivia. They save those powers for higher level decisions. Eventually, decision fatigue sets in, and they’re just not as sharp.  My clients have gotten good results from making some of their daily decisions automatic ones: what time they leave for work, what they have for breakfast, what time of day they return routine phone calls, etc, which lets them stave off decision fatigue.

Do your hardest / most important work when you’re at your sharpest.  When are you at your sharpest?  One of my super-productive clients is, in her words, “not at all a morning person.”  She starts warming up around noon, and by late afternoon (and sometimes into the evening) she is on fire. She has become very strategic about how to use different parts of her day, using her “slow brain” time to do the more routine and low-level tasks that are part of her business: filing, data entry and certain calls. As the day goes on, she moves into higher gear and does her most strategic and high level work. Maybe you’re the opposite. Plan your work accordingly so you leverage your best work time on your most important or complex projects.  Do your dull, lower level work during your off part of the day.  Better yet . . . consider outsourcing those dull, lower level tasks!  Strategically leveraging your best work energy can boost your overall efficiency.

Notice when you’re wasting time or spinning your wheels and do something else.  Take a look at the image at the top of this post. Notice the intensity of the hummingbird. That’s what we’re looking for.  If you’re meandering rather than working, call yourself on the time-wasting behavior, and stop pretending to work. Instead, ask yourself what’s going on, and then deal with it.

  • Are you completely fried from one thing or another? Then take a break, re-charge your batteries, and either get back to work, or be done for the day.  Know when you’re just done. Sometimes I don’t know that I’m done until I find myself sitting at my keyboard being basically useless. Learning to recognize when I’m “basically useless” has given me a lot more free time than I thought I had and made my work more satisfying overall.
  • Do you know how to do what you’re trying to do?  If not, figure out where/how you can get some help and then get it.
  • Are you paralyzed by indecision? Talk it thru with someone if that might help. Give yourself a deadline and meet it.
  • Are you bored by the task? Think creatively about delegating it. Tasks the bore you are great candidates for outsourcing.

Whatever is going on, address it.  You don’t have the luxury of wasting your time.  If you can’t fix it, at least stop trying to work and instead do something that will nourish you in healthy ways so that you can hit the ground running again next time you get to work.

Of course these are not the only tools that can increase your efficiency.  Find and leverage the ones that work for you.

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13 November 2017

Getting Angry At Work

Angry Tigers Fighting

How do you handle yourself when you get angry at work?

My client Candace recognizes when she’s getting angry — she feels her face get hot, she’s aware of something that feels almost physical rising within her body, and she has the urge to erupt in some way. To blow up at someone, to pound something, to yell.  But she doesn’t do any of those things she has the urge to do.  Here’s what she does instead.  She says to herself, “Candace, you’re being hijacked by an emotion. DON’T DO ANYTHING at the moment, because it will be your physiology doing it, not YOU, the larger person who actually owns the physiology. So just hold your horses.”

When she was a moody teenager she was taught to “count to three before you blow up.”  But counting to 3 isn’t a good enough strategy if your mind is still seething from what set you off.  If you’re still telling yourself the story in which you are entitled to be outraged, to speak your mind and set the other person(s) straight.

But the problem with blowing up at work or verbally swatting someone is that it doesn’t really work. It doesn’t contribute to your overall effectiveness or your being seen as an effective person. It doesn’t result in a good correction, if a correction is what’s needed. And if you’re a leader or an emerging leader, it doesn’t contribute to the evolution of your team; in fact it’s more likely to fracture any sense of connection that exists among your team.

So Candace does not swat, yell, or express. She’s actually fully deployed internally, working with herself. She knows her most immediate job is to somehow get herself grounded and centered.To get BACK into a frame of mind that’s not laced with stress hormones and the other chemicals of anger. Back to a simpler, calmer place — not in order to be “nice,” not because the anger is wrong, but simply in order to be the most effective she can be in addressing what needs to be addressed.

She’s had a learning curve with her anger. She’s learned that her anger response is a reliable prompt to pay attention: a boundary has been crossed, an agreement has been broken, something important has gone down. And after she recovers from the physiology — which can be a matter of moments — she can use her many resources — mental and otherwise — to respond in a smart and useful way. NOT with a swat.

She now has a track record (with herself) of turning this situation around. “I know it’s actually not about me, and it’s not about the other person. It’s all about the work we do. If I can re-focus on the work — our mission, the purpose of our work — then I know I’ll find a way to say what needs to be said in terms of the work. That’s my ticket to losing the red face and becoming my larger, more competent self again.” She’s also learned to say, in the heat of the moment, “Give me a minute,” or “Let me get back to you.” This buys her some breathing room. Literally.

Curious to know more about how to interrupt the anger response?  This article has some great ideas. So does this one. (Don’t be confused, in this second article, by the use of the word “reactionary” at the end of the second paragraph. They mean “reactive.”)

Does Candace’s story sound like a fairy tale to you?  This is how one person is working more effectively with anger at work.  It may not be the right way for you to work with your anger at work — you may have to find a different way.  Could you use some help managing your emotions at work?  I encourage you to schedule an initial meeting with me to tell me about your situation and find out what I can offer you. Email me to get started.

 

[*Photo by Frida Bredesen on Unsplash]

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17 October 2017

Body Language, Cortisol, and Confidence

Wonder woman power pose

Your Mom was right when she repeatedly told you to “Stand up straight!”  Here’s why — and  it’s not just about your appearance.

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy’s extensive research reveals that changing our body posture — in the moment — changes our mental state. Check out her Ted Talk if you haven’t already.

Think of the body posture of someone who has just scored a touchdown or won an Olympic gold medal event: arms outstretched or raised above the head or hands on hips, back straight, head high, shoulders back.  We associate this body language with the experience of winning, understanding on some level that the win produces the body language.

But Cuddy has discovered that the process can be reversed.  When you assume a victory pose (or “power pose,” as Cuddy calls them) and sustain it for a full minute or two . . . your body chemistry assumes the body chemistry of someone who has just won Wimbledon — or at least of someone with great self-confidence and sense of personal power.  For more descriptions of power poses, see this transcript of an NPR podcast with her.

But that’s not all it does, as one of my Linked In connections reminded me in a response to my blog post, You and Your Lizard Brain. Body language also impacts the level of cortisol — the stress hormone — in your body.  When you spend as little as two minutes in a power pose, your stress level (cortisol level) decreases. High stress levels have been shown to impede work: we work more effectively without high levels of cortisol coursing through us. And we certainly feel better.

As Amy Cuddy herself says in this NY Times article, “Let your body tell you you’re powerful and deserving, and you become more present, enthusiastic and authentically yourself.”

A Huffington Post article sums it up nicely: “Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shares an easy way that anyone can change not only others’ perceptions of them, but the way they feel about themselves — spending two minutes ‘power posing’ with their arms or elbows out, their chin lifted and their posture expansive. Cuddy’s research, done in collaboration with Dana Carney, has shown that adopting the body language associated with dominance for just 120 seconds is enough to create a 20 percent increase in testosterone and a 25 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. In other words, adopting these postures makes a person feel more powerful.”

Full disclosure, there’s also evidence that her findings are based on flawed research, and that power poses do not deliver these results.  See what you think.

But here’s what I suggest: try it for yourself.

The next time you’re about to have a difficult conversation, present to an audience, or do something else that’s a challenge think about your body posture. Before you pick up the phone, walk into the meeting, or walk out on stage, spend 2 minutes in a power pose.  Do it somewhere private so you don’t have to explain it to anyone —  even a stall in a bathroom will do.  It may feel ridiculous but it will send “good chemicals” coursing through your body — chemicals that are your friend for the next challenge.

Or better yet, start your day with a power pose every day for a week and see what happens. I promise it will not turn you into a jerk.  But it’s likely to reduce your stress levels and allow you to experience more self-confidence.

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21 June 2017

Resilience: Part of Your Job

Woman working shows resilience, works to recover professional miss-steps.

Picture the scene. You have a client who’s so upset with you, she’s taking her business elsewhere.  You’ve tried your best to work it out with her, but you just can’t seem to make it right and she’s gone. You’ve never lost a client before. You’re horrified, you go into an emotional tailspin, your self esteem plummets, you feel shame, and you start seeing yourself as a failure.  There’s a voice in your head that’s saying something along the lines of, “You’re a loser.”   The voice then goes on to document every mistake or instance of bad judgment you’ve ever made.

You may be someone for whom this tailspin can last weeks and weeks, decimating your productivity and making you miserable the whole time.  Or perhaps it’s only hours.  However much or little productive time you lose to emotional nosedives, it’s more time than you can afford to lose. That’s why it’s essential that you know how to recover quickly from the painful things that can happen in the course of an ordinary workday.  Skills that support resilience are enormously important!  AND THEY ARE LEARNABLE.

In the case of the departing client, you need to first see if this incident has anything to teach you. Knowing what you know now, would you do anything differently with this client if you had it to do again?  Is there something new you would like to implement going forward, to be used with at least some clients?  Identify what (if anything) there is to learn from this, implement whatever changes that result from this learning, and MOVE ON. If there’s nothing to be learned from this, just MOVE ON.

For some people, this mental exercise is enough to pull them out of their emotional tailspin and return them to a state of being balanced and grounded.  For others, additional work is required to shift the mood.

Here are some of the tactics that can help get you to a more “grounded and balanced” state of mind:

  • Do something physical like:
    • 20 jumping jacks
    • leave the room
    • go for a walk — outside is best, but if that’s not a good option, walk wherever you can — inside your building is fine.
    • take a couple of deep breaths
    • try a one of the ancient yogic breathing technique for quieting the mind. Try this before you need it.
  • Get in touch with something you’re grateful for, and FEEL the gratitude. It doesn’t work to just think it or say it or make a list of the things you’re grateful for.  You have to actually FEEL the gratitude.
  • Don’t engage with the voice inside your head that’s telling you want a failure you are — you can’t quiet that voice by arguing with it. Arguing just makes the blaming voice get louder.
  • Do something completely distracting or delightful such as: watching cat videos or a Seinfeld episode, or whatever lightens your heart and mind.
  • Talk to a very trusted friend who knows how to “talk you down” from the place of “I’m such a loser.”

I recommend trying each of these until you find one that works for you. Then use that one relentlessly every time that state of mind occurs.  If none of these work, find something that does. You really only need one. And you have to really work it.

The thing to remember is that when this state of mind hits, it feels like the content of it is true and that’s what you have to wrestle to the ground.  But really what you need to deal with is the state of mind So find ways to change that state of mind and get back to being grounded and centered.

Does recovery sometimes elude you? Could you use some help developing more resilience skills?  Consider working with me in a focused way to address that?  Contact me to schedule an initial meeting, and let’s see if we’re a good fit to work together.

*Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam

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16 May 2017

Six Useful Strategies for Navigating Career or Job Change: #4, 5, & 6

In a previous post I covered the first 3 strategies for navigating a successful career or job change.  In this post I will cover the last 3.  Here are all 6 of them:

  1. Know this: IT’S NOT A LINEAR PROCESS!
  2. Network, Network, Network!
  3. Be Generous With Self-Acknowledgement and Self-Care
  4. Choose Expansive vs. Limiting Beliefs
  5. Build and Use Support Systems
  6. Stay on the Plus Side

Let’s look at the last three in more detail.

  1. Choose Expansive vs. Limiting Beliefs

We love to be right. We love to see our beliefs proven true. Those of us who think that people are basically good tend to see the world through that filter. Take a good hard look at the beliefs that are your filter.  Particularly where they pertain to work, money and opportunity.  Do you believe you’re too old to get hired?  Or that as a woman, the odds are against you in your profession?   If so, then you are stacking the deck against yourself. You actually won’t recognize some of the opportunities out there for you. Instead you’ll be proving that you’re right (in your belief).

How do you change a belief? A belief is a lot like a habit. The first step is to recognize that you have it, and for many of us, this is the hardest part. You can develop awareness of your beliefs by noticing when you’re feeling bad, when you’re feeling good, and when you’re feeling neutral.  When you’re feeling either bad or good, stop for a moment and write down what you believe about yourself in that moment. These are your beliefs in that moment.  Most of us have a different set of beliefs depending on how we feel.  The way to change a belief is not to talk yourself out of it, but rather to replace it with a more constructive one.  You’ll need to practice, practice, practice the replacement action — but it really can be done. Over time, the new habit/belief will take hold.

  1. Build and Use Support Systems

Don’t do this alone. Hire a coach, join or form a group, find a success buddy, create a structured arrangement with a friend. Here are the important elements you want in your support structure: you want people who will believe in you and in your quest.  And you want something structured, so that there is a routine to the support.

In a structured arrangement with a friend for example, you could set it up so each of you gets a 10-minute check-in to report on what you have accomplished since the last time you spoke. And you need to end with each of you getting clear on what your next steps are for today and until the next time you meet and when you will take those steps.

If you live in a large metropolitan area, it’s possible there are job-seeker support groups that you can visit and see if you like them.  In the greater Boston area, there is an organization called WIND, which sponsors regular meetings every other week at three different locations.  I was the guest speaker at one of those meetings earlier this month.  I recommend WIND meetings to my job-seeking clients who are not currently working.  It can be so extremely helpful and validating to look around the room at other smart, capable professionals who are in the same boat.  The networking can be very powerful.  Someone in the room may know someone at a company you are interested in.  Even getting one new idea from the meeting can make a difference for you. Plus, it gets you away from your screen.

  1. Stay on the Plus Side

If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Then start climbing out.

There will be some days you feel inspired, excited, and pumped. There may be other days you feel discouraged, tired, even depressed. You need to develop a strong witness to these ups and downs: develop a part of you that is able to stand outside the feelings and simply observe. When you can observe your feelings as well as experience them, you have power and options.

When you’re “up,” use the time constructively – this is a great time to take risks, talk with people, or be bold. Leverage this time shamelessly!  If you are feeling low, it is critical that you recognize it for what it is – a feeling – and use your skills to get yourself into a more constructive and energetic space. Start developing an inventory of activities and strategies that get you out of these low places. Everyone’s inventory will be a little different. Some people can pull themselves out of a slump by an immediate change of scene: go out for a run in the park or take your laptop to Starbucks. Others get lifted out of discouragement by sharing with friends what’s going on for them and letting the friends help them. And even when you’re feeling low, you can stay in action. It may not be the time to make phone calls, but it can be a great time to do research on the internet, or pick up your suits at the cleaners.

In summary, job and career changes are challenging life events. Take very good care of yourself during this process – don’t take yourself for granted. Let others contribute to your quest in a variety of ways.

If you’re considering hiring a coach to help you with challenges like these, or if there’s a habit you really want to replace with a better one, contact me for an initial consultation at no charge.

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20 April 2017

Six Useful Strategies for Navigating Career or Job Change, Part 1: Strategies 1, 2, & 3

Chess strategy board - career change

Photo by Michal Parzuchowski

Through my own two major career changes, and after coaching many people through successful job and career change, I’ve found six useful strategies  for navigating this challenging life passage with self-compassion and patience.  Both of these support a successful outcome.

I will cover the first 3 of these strategies in this post, and the last 3 in next month’s post.

First of all, know up front that few people feel skilled at figuring out a career or job change. Most people find the task daunting. If you are someone who is used to feeling on top of your game, be willing to be out of your comfort zone on this one – chances are, this is not your game. And if you are usually a not-too-confident person, know that in this context, you are not alone in feeling unsure of yourself.

These are the first three strategies:

  1. Know this: IT’S NOT A LINEAR PROCESS.
  2. Network, Network, Network!
  3. Be Generous With Self-Acknowledgement and Self-Care.

Now let’s look at each of these in more detail.

  1. Know this: IT’S NOT A LINEAR PROCESS!

You will experience less frustration and waste less time if you accept this and don’t expect your left-brain (your analytic, linear, spreadsheet mind) to figure out the whole thing in advance. You can’t just think your way to a solution. Allow for surprises, serendipitous connections, and intuitive hits.  Learn to tolerate the state of not-knowing.

Be very clear on your intention, stay in action, and listen to the feedback. By “listen to the feedback,” I mean observe your results. Notice what’s working and what isn’t. Keep doing what’s working. Stop doing what’s not working — but get some help with it.  Try to figure out WHY it’s not working, and fix it if it’s fixable. Some things are not fixable — let them go.  And continue with the activities that produce some movement.

Did you ever play the board game Clue? Remember the secret passage from the Kitchen to the Ballroom? In a career process, you never know when or where you’ll find a secret passage!

  1. Network, Network, Network!

Let everyone know what you are up to, and let them know how they can help you. I mean everyone. Not just your closest friends and your siblings, everyone! That means the people you run into, your neighbors, your hairdresser, your colleagues, your doctor, dentist, accountant, attorney, the folks who service your car, and so forth.

Have you ever been able to be helpful to someone who wanted to make a connection of some sort? Have you, for example, ever been able to give someone the name of a great house painter (electrician, accountant, chiropractor) when they asked? It’s an easy and delightful thing to do for another person. Let the people in your life have that opportunity with you. Let them know how they can help you. Is there a company or an industry you wish you knew somebody in so you could talk to them? Ask around.

During my own career exploration that eventually led me to coaching, there was a point at which I wanted to deliver some corporate training on issues pertaining to personal and organizational change. Although I knocked directly on corporate doors, my breakthrough opportunity came from a student in one of the music classes I was teaching at the time. She asked me to do training for her multiple staffs on “Managing Change.” She knew of my interest because I had told the class what I was up to.

Of course, if your exploration needs to be confidential, you’ll need to be discrete in the way that you do it. Do your networking quietly, but do your networking.

  1. Be Generous With Self-Acknowledgement and Self-Care

Two kinds of self-acknowledgement are required during a career or job change process.

First, you must regularly acknowledge yourself for the hard work you are doing.  There’s a 4-part cycle that your work is part of:

1. Set a goal.

2. Do the work.

3. Meet the goal.

4. Acknowledge and celebrate. This fourth part is equivalent to a paycheck and a boss saying to you, “Good job. I appreciate the work you’re doing!”    Your self-acknowledgement can be simple and sweet.  Keep it private — from you to you.

The second kind of self-acknowledgement involves getting very clear on as many of your skills and gifts as you can and taking full ownership of them. You really need to be in full command of what it is you have to offer “out there” in the marketplace. Many people have a hard time owning and claiming their expertise, but it’s essential that you know who you are and what you have to offer – not inflated, not deflated, but accurate.

In addition, extreme self-care is called for, above and beyond the usual level. Career change and job search are hard work, which can be very depleting. You need to keep yourself nourished.  Do more of the things that fuel you. Be sure that there are no places where energy is leaking – you need all your energy for this work.

In summary, job and career changes are challenging life events. Take very good care of yourself during this process – don’t take yourself for granted. Let others contribute to your quest in a variety of ways. And whenever possible, enjoy the sheer adventure of it.

If you’re considering hiring a coach to help you with challenges like these, contact me for an initial consultation at no charge.

In next month’s blog post, I’ll discuss the last three of the six strategies.

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30 January 2017

Helping People Know What They Do

acknowledging others traits to discover your own

Photo by Jeremy Beck

Sometimes a client asks for help in developing his or her own coaching skills. One of the skills that’s part of the coaching skills set is acknowledging.  By that I mean identifying in specific ways exactly what the people they manage, their colleagues, or their family, friends, and others bring to the table. This is not a blanket, cheesy, “You’re wonderful, and what would we ever do without you?” This is much more powerful, meaningful, and difficult, and it asks a lot from you.  It’s also not simply the recognition of the results that people produce, though recognizing results is important too.

But most people, possibly including you, have only a vague idea of the personal qualities (hardworking, personable, upbeat, tenacious, thorough, meticulous, quick, sense of humor) they bring to bear in any part of their lives. Or the skills they bring to table. Do they have the gift of being able to put anyone at ease? Do they remember details from projects they worked on years ago? Are they great problem-solvers?  If you, as a manager or colleague or friend, can help someone understand more fully what their particular strengths are, you are contributing meaningfully to their development, empowerment, and well-being. It’s a very constructive thing to do for someone and all it takes is awareness and the time to communicate it.

None of us fully gets what our particular gifts are: dolphins don’t necessarily get what graceful, beautiful swimmers they are. Your teenage son doesn’t know that the profound, big-picture questions he comes up with sometimes blow you out of the water. Your meticulous colleague doesn’t necessarily know that you have come to rely on her ability and willingness to think through a project to its logical implications in all the 55 different ways it could turn out. Your manager may not know how grateful you are for her regular reminders of the bigger picture you are all working toward and the values that support it. It keeps you inspired even from within the day-to-day, on-the-ground work you do. Your spouse might be surprised to hear how much you appreciate his even-keeled, steady disposition day in and day out. Even in your crazy household.

It is a great gift to others to let them know in a granular, nuanced way the details of what you appreciate about them — about how they work, or communicate, or relate. It is also a great gift to yourself, because it immediately puts you into the mindset of appreciation and gratitude, which, according to current research, creates a very happy and lasting brain-state in you, the giver of this gift, as well as in the recipient.

Here’s a way to practice this. Make a list of 5 important people in your life. For each, list a few of their qualities or skills that you benefit from. For each, pick one that you think they just might not be fully aware of. Find a way, in the next 2 weeks, to tell them about it. If it feels awkward, it doesn’t mean it was a mistake to do it — it just means you’re new at this.

And for yourself, what is one quality you think YOU bring to the table that you would (if you could honestly admit it, confidentially) love to be acknowledged for? And by whom?

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12 July 2016

Learning New Things Requires Being A Beginner

Always Growing

If you’re a professional who’s essentially “doing well” in your work, you’ve probably become accustomed to feeling on top of your game, at least on some levels. But if you get too attached to this feeling, it can work against you.

Some of my brightest and most accomplished clients sometimes make trouble for themselves by not seeing this. When they find that their work requires them to learn a whole new set of skills, some of them think, “I should know this already. Now I have to do remedial work to catch up to where I should be.” This is a trap!  It’s not a constructive way to approach the new material, whatever it is.  And who says you “should know this already”?

I don’t know about you, but I am constantly having to learn new things — new apps, new protocols, new tools, new coaching techniques and new science that impacts my work.  Our world is changing so fast — there are always new products, concepts, technologies, and best practices to learn.  This is just the way our lives and our careers ARE and will continue to be.  The best we can do is to notice what our work is asking us to learn next, and then to learn it, without a lot of drama.

As you move forward in your professional life, it’s only natural that you will regularly need to learn new skills. In fact, you’d probably be bored if you didn’t.  Don’t beat yourself up about it — just embrace it.  Say to yourself, “What an interesting life I have, that even this I get to learn.”

What are you in the midst of learning right now?

  • How to delegate more effectively?
  • How to be less of a perfectionist?
  • How to streamline your business for greater profitability?
  • How to manage having more on your plate without getting more stressed?
  • Are you learning something technical?

Whatever it is you’re learning, don’t add to your challenge by making yourself wrong for needing to learn it.

In her excellent book, It’s Only Too Late if You Don’t Start, Barbara Sher writes, “You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.”  I completely agree with her perspective.  Ongoing growth and learning are inevitable – we might as well embrace it.

There’s nothing wrong with learning new skills, at any stage in your life. In fact, it’s the only way to keep growing. Next time you feel like a beginner, congratulate yourself: you’re expanding.

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