How Power, Kindness & Veggies Can Help Your Career

In a recent Wall Street Journal Article, “How to Fix a Career in the Dumps”, writer Grace L. Williams interviewed Michelle DeAngelis, the author of “Get a Life That Doesn’t Suck”.

Aside from these two provocative titles, Michelle had some interesting and noteworthy things to say. I would recommend taking a look at the article.

What struck me was that she hit on what I believe is a critical career issue that isn’t discussed very often. That is, the issue of personal power.

Grace asks Michelle, “Where do you think people’s power has gone?” Michelle answers;

It has been sucked into the vortex of job insecurity, mergers, upheaval of people at work, reduced income, [and] lost 401(k)s. Where it needs to reside is within each of us internally.

People tend to think their work is their identity. It’s normal and human to do that, but [it’s] tying your identity to external circumstances. Anything people can do to maintain an identity that is based on their internal self allows them to keep their power.

Wow. Strong stuff. In my mind, this is right on the money. (no pun intended) Often I wind up spending a lot of time with my clients reshaping how they view themselves and thus how they approach networking and interviewing.

If you have given up your personal power – or just put it in the attic for a while – your career is going to suffer. (More importantly, your life is going to suffer.)

You know who you are.

You go to networking meetings feeling like this person might have the key to your future, so you had better approach them with deference. After all, they’re the ones with the power, right? When nothing profound comes from the conversation, you go home dejected.

If you’re currently working and the CEO leads the organization with less than honorable intentions, you feel trapped but have resigned yourself to this horrible fate because the economy is bad. (You might even have a little pity party for yourself on Friday nights.) In this case I guess it’s the economy that has the power. Or maybe your just bored out of your mind, but because you need the money, you keep up the routine.

Because I think it’s so important, I’m going to repeat one of the lines from Michelle’s interview.

Anything people can do to maintain an identity that is based on their internal self allows them to keep their power.

So what can people do to maintain an identify that is based on their internal self? That’s the big question that wasn’t addressed in the article. (I’m not sure if it’s addressed in her book either)

A few suggestions.

1. LEARN TO MEDITATE. If you have never learned how to meditate, give it a try. I don’t mean sit down once and try to calm down your mind – that won’t do the trick. True meditation takes a long time and dedicated practice. If you are willing to make a long-term commitment, I can almost guarantee that you that your personal power will strengthen from within. [A book you might want to check out is “Hurry Up & Meditate”]

2. LIVE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. There is nothing more empowering than taking control over your health. I know it’s easy to say but not always easy to do. Start small and build momentum. Eat good food (more local vegetables). Move your body more often. Drink good water. Take time for a healthy lunch even when you are busy.

3. FIND OUT WHAT MAKES YOU GROUNDED. This is different for different people. For many it is a spiritual connection, or getting close to nature or spending quality time with loved ones. As corny as it may sound, feeding your soul matters. Do it.

4. BE KINDER. I have a theory that kindness strengthens our personal power. It aligns us with everything that is good about ourselves. Kindness has a way of sustaining and healing. Feeling sorry for yourself because you didn’t land that job? Get out there and do something to help someone else who is looking.

You may be wondering why I am talking about these types of things in the context of careers. Your inner strength will have a tremendous positive impact on your external life in every way, including your career. People who are grounded and safe within themselves hold great appeal to others.

The truth is, everything really is connected.

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