Your Life in a Circle

Most people would agree that a career transition is a daunting endeavor.

Yet one of the most challenging aspects of a career transition or a job search is something that most people don’t consider and plan for before I meet with them.

What am I referring to?

Carving out enough time in your life to devote to the process.

I have many clients who come to see me with a great deal of excitement about making a significant career change. They usually have been thinking about it for a while, and have finally made a commitment to themselves to make it happen.

A very important step.

Yet most clients have not yet given any thought to another very important element of the process. Finding and carving out enough time every week to actually devote to the process. (note: this is really crucial no matter what type of change in your life you are considering)

ImageUnfortunately, wanting a career transition doesn’t respond to magic wands. One needs to take many actions: Getting prepared with your career story, identifying potential paths, researching, talking and networking with people numerous times, re-assessing your potential paths, building new alliances, applying to various roles and practicing how you present yourself, etc. etc.

We can come to a decision about changing something about our lives and feel good about it – but nothing will actually change unless we take action. And those actions can’t exist in a vacuum.

Simply charting out your week in a pie-chart format can be very helpful.    Your Life in a Circle

Draw in all the pieces of pie that comprise your life every week.  Do you spend 60% of your time at your current job? 5% at church? 25% with family and friends? 10% at church or community activities?

That’s great – but where are you going to fit in the time to make a career transition (your pie already adds up to 100%+)?

You can’t expect that you will expand the universe and make each day have more than 24 hours. You can try but you will wind up just spinning your wheels and nothing will change. Which is even more frustrating.

That means something has got to go. You will need to make some decisions about what aspects of your daily life you are willing to forego in order to accomplish your goal.

What will you do differently?

  • Awaken an hour earlier each day to get in some morning time for networking
  • Use social media sites to strengthen your network
  • Use your lunchtimes to meet with networking contacts
  • Get to work 60 minutes earlier and use the extra time to research companies and associations online, etc.
  • Stay up an hour later each night to strategize and reach out to your online networks
  • Schedule Saturday mornings for career development activities

What is it?

What are you willing to change in your current daily activities to make room for the actions you must take to make a career transition?     Image

The Twenty Minute Difference: A Case Study in Manager Flexibility

Managers – What are you thinking?

I have a great deal of respect for Managers. I know how tough it is to be one – I was there for many years.  Juggling the pressures of the job and managing people, who all have their own personalities, development desires, work habits, and expectations is one huge difficult task. As rewarding as it can often be, it is a big, big job.

Yet often times I cannot believe how foolish some managers can be, and how inept they are at building an environment of high productivity and trust.

But I have to say that I also am thinking, “Come on, people. Does this really make sense?”

A new client shared with me the primary reason she is looking for another job.

Before I tell you why, let me offer a bit of context.

My client, let’s call her Janice, has been working for EnergyAlive (fictitious name) for over eight years, and has been promoted three times into a Manager position. She is very well-liked, very smart, and has received consistently high performance ratings. (That’s why she was promoted).

So, what’s the problem?   

A new Director (Mason) recently came on board into the company. Within a few weeks, all of a sudden, everything changed. There is a problem.

Janice wants out – NOW.  She is seriously looking for another job.

Why is something that was going so right, all of a sudden going so wrong?

  Janice has a young son, John. John attends kindergarten nearby and goes to   after school care so that Janice can pick him up at 5:00pm every day after she leaves work.

Janice’s previous Director had given her the flexibility to leave 20 minutes early each day so that she could reach the daycare center on time to pick up her son. Janice usually took shorter lunches and was a hard worker so it all worked out.

Janice was grateful because it often took up to an hour, with traffic, to reach the daycare center. She greatly appreciated her Director’s faith in her to get the job done even though she had to leave a little early. She worked hard to show that appreciation.

Mason arrives as the new Director. He is gung-ho to “make his mark”.

Mason has a different idea of what the “rules” are.   

In plain English, Mason doesn’t believe in flexibility. He has laid down the law that Janice must stay at work until 4:30pm just as her hours dictate.

Janice now has a new worry every day – a big one. If she can’t make it to the daycare center by 5:00pm, she gets charged for an extra two hours because the daycare manager wants to close up at 5:00.

So what is happening?  Janice is stressed out every day. She rushes into her car and drives (perhaps a bit too fast) to get to the daycare center as quickly as possible – and rarely makes it on time. So along with the added stress, Janice also now has a much bigger daycare bill.

Janice now has a chip on her shoulder about the company (and Mason).  Are you surprised?

What used to be a very productive and positive relationship between Janice and EnergyAlive, has all of a sudden become a very tense and negative one.

I see this as Penny Wise and Pound Foolish.

No, I take that back. I don’t even see this as Penny WiseIt is just plain foolish.

  • EnergyAlive has already lost an excellent employee. Janice will be gone soon. She has excellent skills and can bring those skills elsewhere.
  • Janice knows the company (and its customers) very well.  She used to have respect for EnergyAlive and its services, and really put in 110% effort to do a good job. Not anymore. Why should she care about them when they don’t care about her?
  • It will cost EnergyAlive several thousand dollars to hire and retrain and onboard a new manager to take Janice’s place. Usually this takes up to 8 months or more. There will be lost time and perhaps a big slip in customer service.
  • Janice’s co-workers know what’s going on and are also ticked off. They feel for Janice and can’t understand why Mason can’t be reasonable. It doesn’t bother them that Janice used to leave 20 minutes early. They like having her as their manager. She treats them with respect.
  • Mason is standing firm, because he doesn’t want to ‘lose face’. (He doesn’t realize he has already lost it)

Have you seen these types of situations arise? Have you been involved in one? It’s quite amazing how a change in the Director position has created such a negative impact on the employees and the company within a few short weeks.

Where is HR? Is anyone paying attention?  Who is coaching Mason that he may be establishing a reputation in the company that might eventually cause his derailment?  What’s fair? What’s reasonable?  What makes sense?

Twenty minutes of flexibility. Is this too much to ask?

Important things to think about.

As a manager and leader – how will YOU handle these issues?

A report by Sodexo (has approximately 125,000 employees in North America alone) in 2012 shows employers need to think beyond the business and outside the traditional office setting to create an engaged, productive workforce*.

*2012 Workplace Trends Report: Integration, Flexibility and Wellness Top Drivers of Employee Engagement *

“…Because recession or not, the U.S. still has a skilled worker shortage.  As the economy picks up and the boomers finally do retire, it is only going to get a whole lot worse.  Companies that get ahead and build real cultures of workplace flexibility are going to have the staffing advantage and the competitive edge.

“Flex is no longer an ‘employee benefit’.  Those days are gone.  Today it is an all-around public policy issue and bottom-line corporate strategy.”

Sodexco’s research predicts continued focus on well-being and the ability to deliver a unique value proposition to business communities that focuses on not only integrated, effective and efficient use of space, but also the performance of human capital. Employees are looking to organizations for tools and resources to help them simplify their lives, stay healthy and balanced, and bring their “whole self” to work as these continue to be top drivers of engagement.”

Terry Del Percio is a Career Transition and Workplace Consultant based out of Beverly, MA. Follow her on Twitter at @WorkIntegrity or visit her website at www.workstrategies.com  

Book Review: Job Searching with Social Media (for dummies)

I’m back. The truth is that I couldn’t keep up with my blogging over the summer. I was too too busy. Okay – I said it. 

I would still be putting it off except for the fact that I made a deal with Joshua Waldman, founder of Career Enlightenment, that I would write a posting on his newly published book Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies (I have always hated the name of these books – couldn’t they just leave off the “for Dummies” part?)  

I admit it – the book is pretty good. How do I measure this? Well, subjectively of course. But I also consider if I’ve learned anything new within the first ten pages. Yes, I did. I also consider whether the majority of my clients could benefit from the book. Yes, they can.

Here are some things to consider:

  • More than 80% of recruiters use LinkedIn.
  • Fifty percent of hiring managers determine whether a particular candidate’s personality might be a good fit for their company just by taking a look at the person’s social media presence.
  • Simply Hired lists not only job openings, but lists who you know on Facebook and LinkedIn from the companies you are interested in.

    Thomas L. Friedman

In the Sunday New York Times on August 13, Thomas L. Friedman wrote a column entitled  A Theory of Everything (Sort of). In it he said

…globalization and the information technology revolution have gone to a whole new level. Thanks to cloud computing, robotics, 3G wireless connectivity, Skype, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, the iPad, and cheap Internet-enabled smartphones, the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected.

This is the single most important trend in the world today.

If you don’t believe this, you are in trouble. Big trouble. Unless, of course, you are independently wealthy and don’t give a dam about what’s going on in the world. Of course, Thomas Friedman’s column has a knack for sounding simple yet touching on very sophisticated concepts.

But let’s get back to simple.

If you are unemployed or miserable in your current job, my humble advice is that you need to pay very close attention to social media and start learning how it impacts you as fast as you can.  Jump in. Discover the value of these tools. It’s important.

If you’re feeling a little cocky because you  ‘know how’ to use LinkedIn and are on Facebook, think again. There are ways you could (and should) be utilizing these tools that are changing as we speak. And they can be the difference between landing a job and not landing a job.

Have you used LinkedIn to search for job postings, to follow companies of interest, to research a company you are interviewing with, to request an introduction to someone who works for your target organizations, to learn how many people your target companies have hired in the past three months?

Did you know that Twitter gives you access to people you would never have access to without it?

So back to the book – Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies.

Joshua Waldman

More than likely, you will already know many of the tips in this book. I’m guessing that it’s just as likely that there are more tips that you don’t know yet.

Here is another interesting thing I learned from this book:

  • Plaxo, which has over 20 million users, is not really a social media network, but a venue for managing contact information.

Two very useful chapters, among others, are Uncovering the Hidden Job Market with Twitter and Using Facebook as a Job Hunter.

Note: Parts of the Personal Branding 101 chapter has information that you’ve probably seen a thousand times before (defining your life’s values, what are you most proud of, your 75th birthday toast, identifying your passions and interests) but it never hurts to review those things. Skip over them if you are bored.

Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies costs around $13.00 on amazon.com.

Is it worth this small investment?     Absolutely.

 

 

Terry Del Percio – visit my website at www.workstrategies.com
978.282.8900


Holy Fools’ Day: A Spark of Madness

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” ~Robin Williams  

Lately I’ve been wondering if I still, to a certain degree, live some of my life to satisfy others’ expectations. Of course I like to think that I stopped doing that years ago, but I suspect I still do it often without awareness.

Gail Larsen

The following is an excerpt from Gail Larsen, author  of   “Transformational Speaking”, a book that inspires even if you aren’t a public speaker.

This excerpt, about our tendencies to “tame our madness” and suppress our voices, resonated with me, particularly since I recently visited my 94 year old father, whom I hadn’t seen in approximately 40 years. I still found myself concerned about his expectations of who I was and who I became, and I wonder if he had similar thoughts.

Gail’s e-letter says:

Most of us tame our madness to fit into what other’s expect and never use our inherent spark to become the wildly unforgettable speakers and change artists that are needed in these times of shocking transformation.

How would your life be different if you didn’t care what others think?  I sometimes ask that question in my classes and when an astute participant responded, “What if I didn’t care what I think?”  I realized she was on to something.

So armed with both those questions, and assuming you could give up editing and rehearsing yourself around what others may think, or what you yourself may think just for a moment, how then might you express your spark of madness?  Would you be the first to speak rather than first feeling out whether your listeners would agree?

Would you launch a new movement using social media and organize your own demonstration against injustice or corporate domination or nuclear power?  Whatever you do, don’t get attached to the outcome. Just go for it.

I suggest you no longer try to lose or suppress your spark of madness and instead give it a voice on April 1 [popularly known as April Fool’s Day].  

This festive and often annoying holiday suggests we play tricks on others with a jovial spirit and once we’ve duped them to yell with delight, “April Fools!”

Comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell talked about the archetype of another kind of fool: the Holy Fool.

The Fool is the most dangerous person on earth, Campbell explained, the most threatening to all hierarchical institutions. He has no concern for naysayers, and no one has power over him (or her). She is not limited, not stoppable, nor controllable. She knows what she has to do and is doing it, no matter what.

I think of the Holy Fool as similar to the Court Jester, the only person in the Royal Court who dares to speak truth to the King without consequence.

Or the Koshari of the Hopi and Pueblo peoples of the Southwest, who in the midst of sacred ceremonies makes us laugh at ourselves by mimicking our behavior so we can see ourselves in a new way.  Their role is to create lessons at the expense of another’s seriousness, recognizing that laughter is a great shape shifter of old habits and patterns.

So here’s a suggestion. How about on April 1 we engage in a dialogue with our inner Holy Fool and Spark of Madness and ask what he/she most wants to express, convention be damned.

Ask where you are being duped day in and day out and not shining the light of your truth.

Let’s stop concealing our greatest passions and be willing to say what we love and what we know without editing and rehearsing ourselves into oblivion.  Let’s declare April 1 Holy Fools’ Day and engage the madly passionate part of us that has something important to say – and just say it.

Rumi said (paraphrased):     

I used to be like you.

Calm, rational, controlled.

Now I am seized by passion.

Watch out

No one’s safe!

Our world is changing, one voice at a time, and yours is needed. I’d love to hear what happens when you connect with your Holy Fool and say what is yours to say. Speaking your truth, especially when convention is expected, opens the door to your liberation.  You might just find you want to be a Holy Fool and reveal your spark of madness every day.

© Gail Larsen 2011

Reprinted from “Real Speaking Power Points” a free e-letter by Gail Larsen, author of Transformational Speaking.  To subscribe and receive occasional insights and ideas to enhance your public speaking and communications, go to http://www.realspeaking.net

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Can you see how this is connected to your career choices and your leadership approach?

Happy Holy Fools’ Day to you all.

For more information about Terry Del Percio’s Career Transition Services, please visit http://www.workstrategies.com or call to schedule a free phone consultation at 978.282.8900

A Rhetorical Question About Work

Peter Bregman recently wrote a post entitled “A Life-or-Death Question to Start Your Day”. He tells the story of how, during a long-ago trip with his wife to the wilderness for kayaking, they assessed the risks they were taking each morning. Every day before they left shore, they asked themselves: “If we died today, what mistake could have done us in?”

Years later, Peter still thinks of that approach to each day, except the questions (and the risks) are quite different. Peter’s take on the new questions is: “Am I prepared for this day? For the meetings I have planned? Have I anticipated the risks that might take me off track from achieving my goals?” Ultimately, Peter realized that if not prepared, each precious day could be withered away.

It’s a great story and a very meaningful lesson.

Yet I am thinking that the most important lesson for me might be to take it one more step.

Should my questions be:

  • If this were the last day of my life, how would I treat each person I come in contact with?
  • What would I appreciate most about life in each moment that I have left?
  • Would achievement and power, or collaboration and compromise be my approach to whatever has to be done?
  • Would I be concerned about my title or my salary – or would I recognize the opportunity I have, every moment, to be a thoughtful, kind and useful person?

These might be rhetorical questions, but I feel good about the perspective they push me to understand about life and work.  

Terry Del Percio. www.workstrategies.com

978.282.8900

You Gotta Believe

Why do people make the choices they do throughout their careers?   What makes one person persevere and take risks to achieve their goals while others can’t seem to get unstuck and find themselves locked into an unfulfilling job for years? In this article we are suggesting that the critical factor is belief. Belief is ultimately what determines how successful you are.  

Essentially, beliefs are your unconscious patterns of thinking. Core beliefs are the foundation of your personality. They describe you as worthy of respect or worthless, competent or incompetent, fairly treated or victimized, independent or helpless.

Individual belief systems are an incredibly powerful influence on the choices people make. We observed people who said they wanted to make positive change, but struggled to take concrete actions to accomplish their goals. Many intelligent and motivated people become paralyzed by intangible inner obstacles.

The Source of Your Beliefs

Where do our beliefs come from? There is no simple answer because several factors need to be considered.

  1. Personality – Obviously, not everyone holds the same beliefs. Our fundamental personality has a tremendous impact on the beliefs that we assume through our formative years and how we view the world in general.
  2. Family and Role Models – There is no question that our environment plays a significant role in who we become. Our families and role models send us very powerful messages about who we are and how the world operates. These messages become the foundation of many of our beliefs into adulthood.
  3. Cultural and Ethnic Values – Many of us are raised within certain cultural environments that provide us with feedback about what’s right/what’s wrong and what’s true/what’s false. It may sound like stereotyping, but cultural and ethnic values still have a strong impact on what we believe.
  4. Spiritual Orientation –Beliefs around faith, destiny and god have a tremendous influence on the choices we each make about work throughout our lives. This might include traditional religious values that we learned as children.

Belief Imprisonment   

When you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
– Dakota Tribal Saying

Your beliefs shape your life and your behavior. This, of course, is a good thing if your beliefs are accurate and affirming. However, limiting beliefs get in the way of positive change. They restrict what you can achieve. Beliefs are often referred to as “childhood tapes” that play over and over in our heads and often dictate our behavior. Do any of these tapes sound familiar?

  • I’m really not smart enough to run a company, am I?
  • I want this promotion, but I don’t think I have what it takes to do the job
  • I’m too old to go back to school and start a new career – it’s too late
  • It would be irresponsible to pursue my passions now because I have a family
  • Better stick with this job – it’s all I know
  • I should never quit my job without having another one

In our consulting practice, we have coined the phrase “belief imprisonment” to describe being stuck in your limiting beliefs. Since many beliefs operate outside of your awareness, their influence on your daily choices may be invisible yet profound.

Identifying your core beliefs and bringing them into your conscious mind is crucial for making positive change.

If you don’t expect to get well when you are diagnosed with a health problem, you won’t do all the things that can help you get better – especially those things that may be difficult. In the same way, if you don’t expect that you can successfully make a career change or get that promotion, you won’t do all the things than can ensure you succeed.

Consider Lisa. She is bright, personable and very capable. Lisa holds a position as a Senior Manager in a large multi-national organization. She is thought of as an extremely competent and valuable employee. Yet Lisa is miserable because of unreasonable expectations around volume of work that are standard in her company. Her boss’s lack of follow- through and consistency also continually frustrate her.

Lisa first came to us because she decided it was time to move on. She had been putting up with the frustration of her current environment for two years and was very unhappy. More importantly, the stress of her job was making her physically ill.

But it isn’t so easy to change things when you are conducting your life based on inaccurate beliefs that have accumulated over a lifetime. Lisa is still struggling with strong internal contradictions and is continuously questioning her ability to ‘succeed’ in another company or another role. Since she hasn’t mastered every aspect of her current job, she believes she is incompetent. This prevents her from applying for new positions. A great burden of guilt prevents her from taking time to go on interviews or network.

“I know intellectually that I deserve to find a position that suits me better, but this inner voice keeps telling me that I should be in my office ten hours a day – and I should stay here longer to learn more – I can’t seem to break free”. In her mind, if she goes on an interview, she is not being responsible or loyal.  

Lisa is stuck because of her limiting beliefs and fears about not measuring up and not being viewed as a responsible person.

We identified three limiting beliefs. Lisa has agreed to take simple concrete actions so that she can move forward and is trying to push through her fears by looking at her limiting beliefs square in the eye. She’ll get there, but it’s natural for her resistance to be high.

Breaking Through Limiting Beliefs

To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.
– Katherine Patterson

We look for evidence that supports what we believe and ignore contrary evidence. This reinforces our inaccurate beliefs about ourselves and makes it difficult to change.

Alvah Parker, a coach that works predominantly with attorneys, identifies 10 common beliefs on career change that can derail your desire for change. If the belief is making you unhappy or feeling stuck, now is the time to change it. It will help to free you to make a change in your life.

How do you break through?

  1. Understand your basic personality – This will give you insight into the type of beliefs you have a tendency to hold onto.
  2. Identify your limiting beliefs –Write them down and bring them into your consciousness.
  3. Question your beliefs – Especially those that are limiting or inducing fear. Be aggressive about this. Only you can create your own future.
  4. Behave differently – Your behavior drives and reinforces your beliefs. Start behaving differently (even if it is uncomfortable) and eventually you will believe differently.
  5. Change one behavior at a time – Don’t think you can change everything at once. Establish realistic goals. Get focused.
  6. Push through your fears – There are always fears associated with limiting beliefs. The fear that someone you love will not approve if you change, the fear that you won’t live up expectations, the fear of failure (you know the list).
  7. Seek professional help – It is tough to change beliefs without objective feedback. Deeper issues need to be addressed with a trained psychologist.

Learning how to alter your limiting beliefs is a skill. It’s hard work, but the potential rewards are huge. Doing this can bring you a new sense of freedom. Don’t be a victim of your own limiting beliefs – seek out help to reshape your beliefs about who you are and what you can do. You have the capability to achieve everything you want to. You just gotta believe.

Terry Del Percio is a Career and Workplace Consultant. She manages a private practice called The Work Strategies Company located in Beverly, Massachusetts. Visit her website at http://www.workstrategies.com or you can contact Terry by phone at 978.282.8900.                         Twitter @WorkIntegrity

References:

McKay, Ph.D., Matthew and Fanning, Patrick. Prisoners of Belief. California: New Harbinger Publications, 1991.

O’Hanlon, Bill. Do One Thing Different. New York. William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1999.

Fear: Our Biggest Obstacle

What would you do with your life if fear didn’t play a role?

“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear.   She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly.    But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle.   

The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons.

The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?”

Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.”

Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?”

Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”

In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. “

— Pema Chödrön (When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times)

Entering into a Career Transition?  We can help you jump the chasm and beat the fear.  WorkStrategies.com Terry Del Percio | 978.282.8900         

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