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  

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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         

The Doorbell is Dead

This blog is an excerpt by Ed Muzio,
Author of Make Work Great: Supercharge Your Team, Reinvent the Culture, and Gain Influence — One Person at a Time

Literally, my doorbell is dead. It’s one of those battery operated wireless ones. I think it got some water in it, and it doesn’t work. Plus, my front door is fifteen feet behind a locked gate, so there’s no way to knock. Conventional wisdom says, if you drop by my house unannounced, you’re not getting in. It’s been this way for over a year and it has yet to be a problem.

I should perhaps be embarrassed by this, but I recently realized why it really doesn’t matter, while giving a friend a ride across town. When my car stopped in front of our destination — a relative’s house — my friend stepped out of the car, thanked me, and immediately initiated a cell phone call. As she was putting her phone away, the front door cracked open and she strolled in, carefree user of the new-age doorbell.

That’s why nobody has yet complained about mine: nobody uses it anyway! Figuratively as well, the doorbell is dead. And its death has bigger implications to our daily lives than many of us care to consider.

There’s a reason we call this the information age, and it’s not because we’re all so much smarter. It’s because we all have access to so much information, at our fingertips, all the time. I can track my package, check the status of my flight, and monitor my stock portfolio or my company’s financial status, all in a second, all with a click. I’m more informed than anyone in my position in history has ever been. And yet, being so informed has not made my life easier. If anything, I think I’m probably busier than a counterpart in my position would have been 20 years ago.

For one thing, I’m constantly doing things like checking the status of my packages and my flights! That didn’t used to be an option, but now that it is, it seems foolish not to avail myself of it. Why in the world would I choose to be uninformed, when it’s so easy to rectify my ignorance by learning exactly which city my all-important box is traversing at the moment?

Worse yet, everyone now has the expectation of immediacy. At times it feels like I’m fielding client questions and queries day and night, all of whom expect an instant answer. I pride myself on customer service, but it can be a challenge! If you supplement “client” with “customer,” “manager,” or “stockholder,” I’ve probably described your job too.

And it’s not just business contacts. Some loved ones have also come to expect an instantaneous reply when they call. I vividly recall a time when I returned calls to friends and family after I got home for the evening, or if it was a particularly long day, the following evening. Now, the calls come into my cell phone at all hours. If I don’t respond within a few hours, I end up on the receiving end of a concerned and vaguely annoyed follow-up call: “didn’t you get my message? I thought you would call me back over lunch.”

The problem is, my capacity for handling information has not expanded commensurately with the information explosion. I still have only two hands, only two ears, only two eyes, and only one brain. I may read a few hundred more emails per day than I used to, but I don’t read them a few hundred times faster. And my decision-making capacities still have limits as to how much information they can incorporate. For better or worse, I’m still just human.

And you, my friend, are in the same boat as I am. Admit it! You haven’t grown four extra hands or two extra brains either.

That’s why it’s crucial for all of us to walk around with a well rehearsed script of what’s we’re trying to do, what I call a Verbalized Summary Objective Statement, or VSO. The VSO is a script that you play to others, and to yourself, as a reminder of what you’re working on.

It’s also a filter that helps you turn on — or turn off — your most important sources of information. And, it’s a statement of your output that you can use at the end of the day to check that you’re making progress. If you are, you can feel satisfaction. If you’re not, you can make an adjustment. Either of those options is preferable to just going home exhausted, vaguely wondering when you started working so hard, and why you can’t seem to stop.

Tomorrow morning, when you first get to your desk and before you start doing anything, see if you can articulate your purpose for the day, or maybe the week, in about 90 seconds. Try writing it down, or better yet, say it to yourself a few times until you’ve memorized it. Then, use your little infomercial as your blueprint for the day. Whenever you’re about to engage with information — either a source of it, or a request for it — first check the contents of your VSO, and see how that source or request aligns with what you really want to be doing. In other words, pay attention to where you invest your mental and physical effort.

Probably, like me, you’ll find that not all of what is clamoring for your attention is in line with your own priorities. Although saying “no” is never easy, it is much easier when you have a burning “yes” to focus upon instead. Now that you know where you’re trying to head, you can begin to make the difficult decisions about what not to do. From here, the rest is up to you.

Actually, I do have one more suggestion. As you go through the day sorting through information, take a moment to check your calendar. If your evening plans include a visit to my house, be sure to take my cell phone number with you.
© 2010 Ed Muzio, author of Make Work Great: Supercharge Your Team, Reinvent the Culture, and Gain Influence — One Person at a Time

Author Bio
Edward G. Muzio
is president and CEO of Group Harmonics and is the award-winning author of Four Secrets to Liking Your Work: You May Not Need to Quit to Get the Job You Want. An expert in workplace improvement and its relationship to individual enjoyment, Muzio has been featured on Fox Business Network, CBS, and other national media, and he has been cited in many publications including the New York Post, the Austin American Statesman, and Spirit magazine. He lives in Albuquerque, NM.

For more information visit www.makeworkgreat.com and follow the author on Facebook.

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Is Overcommitment the New Badge of Honor?

When was the last time you laid in the grass on a beautiful summer day and looked up at the clouds?

I attended a lecture tonight. The speaker was an American monk – Sumati Marut (aka Brian Smith). It was sponsored by the Asian Classics Institute on Cape Ann.

Guess what the Honorable Marut talked about?  (He’s a very practical guy)  

Problems and solutions.

What’s the problem? We want to be happy, yet our lives are consumed with work, stress, and overcommitment.

Our lives are consumed by ‘busy-ness’ (sounds like business, eh?)

Marut shared statistics with us that you have probably heard before:

  • 80% of workers are stressed on the job
  • 34% of employees rush eating their lunch – if they have lunch at all
  • 460 Million vacation days per year are turned back in and not used

How did American society get to the point where it is prestigious to be so busy?When did it start being okay to expect that workers should work 50, 60, 70 hours per week?

When did it become acceptable to push people to be so “productive” on the job that they suffer from exponential amounts of stress related illnesses – mental and physical?  

Where did we acquire this compulsion of having to do something every minute of the day? Is it socially desirable to be so busy and stressed?

Has our self worth become so attached to our ‘busy-ness’ that we are afraid to stop the insanity?

Do we keep so busy so we don’t have to look at the meaninglessness of what we are doing? Do we even notice how busy we are?

When did we start the habit of coming home from work only to begin turning everyone “on” around us (again)?  We walk in the door only to turn on our computer, our televisions, iPods, iPads, Wii, etc. These are all stimulants.

We’re exhausted, fall into bed later than we should and then begin it all again. Is that happiness?

When does it all stop? When do we make different choices?

How do we find happiness?

Some of these can be tough questions if you want to dig into them. A happier life requires some radical shifts, yet Marut offers us some suggestions that don’t seem so radical at all.

Will we stop to listen or relinquish the joy of our lives to busy-ness?

  • Get enough sleep. There is medical evidence that less than 8 hours sleep impacts our health negatively. How much sleep do you get each night?
  • Don’t wake up to a jarring alarm clock sound. This is not a peaceful way to start your day.
  • Stop the cycle of buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff. Simplify your life, reduce the need to earn more and more money. Stop.
  • Practice this mantra. “I have enough”. Repeat. “I have enough”.
  • Stop thinking about yourself and focus on helping someone else.

If you are unhappy, you cannot blame the job or your boss or the bills or your kids. The responsibility and the power to be happy is yours, and yours alone.

Take one step towards creating a discipline for a simple meditation practice every day. Meditation is actually quite simple and there are many different ways to practice it. The key is the word “practice”.

Are you committed to your own happiness?

Your Mobile Phone: A Tool for Mindfulness

I am sure you have heard the term ‘mindfulness’. It is tossed about frequently these days. I’m glad of that, since it seems the idea is making its way into the mainstream. That’s a good thing, in my humble eyes.

Mindfulness refers to being completely in touch with the present moment, as well as taking a non-evaluative and non-judgmental approach to your inner experience.

For example, a mindful approach to one’s inner experience is simply viewing “thoughts as thoughts” as opposed to evaluating thoughts as positive or negative. http://bit.ly/9rxspw

Mindfulness plays a central role in the teaching of Buddhist meditation. Buddhism is a philosophy that began in India in the 6th century and is becoming increasingly accepted in western culture.

Although Dr. David Rock wrote in Psychology Today that he has a problem with mindfulness being linked to any religion, because he worries that people will ignore it simply for that reason, his piece is full of useful information and I encourage you to take a peek.

Dr. Rock believes that as we get older, we resist learning new things. I’m not sure I agree, but his blog is definitely worth reading, especially if you are interested in the health benefits of mindfulness.

The best statement in Dr. Rock’s post is that ‘even the most cynical, anti-self-awareness agitator can’t help but see that they will be better off practicing this skill (mindfulness)’.

Okay – since I believe that we become more open-minded as we get older, let me briefly introduce the idea of Buddhism. Are you with me?

The Buddha, many centuries ago, identified Four Noble Truths as the foundation of this spiritual practice.

See if you can relate to any of these Four Noble Truths.

1. Life is full of suffering

2. Craving and desire is the cause of suffering.

3. Craving and desire can come to an end, therefore ending our suffering

4. The way to end suffering is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path: Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration

This is a lot to digest at one sitting. So let’s just focus on one small aspect.

To practice Right Livelihood means to use the practice of mindfulness to address the problems of daily life, including work.

Take telephone meditation, for example.  This can be a very important practice for you, if you’ll try it.

When the phone rings (yes, even your mobile phone), try hearing it as a bell of mindfulness. Are you giggling yet? Experiencing some discomfort at the thought of a new perspective?

Stop what you are doing and breathe in and out deeply and consciously three times before you pick up the phone.

Alert: I bet this will be very difficult for you to do. Please tell me if you can do it the next time the phone rings.

If you choose to practice this, I wonder if your phone calls will take on a different tone. What do you think?

I’m curious to hear how you do.

From Our Point of View

A guest blogpost about how to keep high achieving women engaged & on the move, published with permission. You might want to share this with the CEO or your boss, whoever that might be.                                                  

From Our Point of View: How to Engage and Retain High-Achieving Women
by Marcia Reynolds,
Author of Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction

1. Provide Developmental Opportunities

One of our greatest passions is to resolve complex challenges, yet we need our managers to provide the resources for learning so we can be continually successful. We are top talent because we are committed to being the best. We come to you with experiences and degrees. To continue on our path to excellence, we need you to support the continuation of our development by offering ample tuition reimbursement and encouragement to further our learning. We want you to treat training and coaching programs not as perks but as a part of your overall business strategy. Frankly, to stay innovative and progressive, all employees should be trained in communication skills, managing change, dealing with their emotions, and building strong relationships with their peers within and across divisional borders. This is especially true in tough economic times when you need everyone to stay on top of their game. The last thing you want to do is cut funding for training and coaching when we are facing major difficulties. Give us more opportunities to learn and grow so we can help you take the company to the top faster than our competition. We would love for you to engage us in that challenge.

Also, provide us with mentors who are passionate about what they do so we are inspired to stay and learn more. We like to feel that we are in the company of smart and spirited people. We like to connect with leaders in other areas. We want breadth as well as depth of knowledge. If possible, create a platform where the most successful women in the company can network with and develop the younger female talent so the pipeline grows. Also, we are not always politically astute, so a good mentor can help us put our energies in the right places and see opportunities that we might miss that best use our talents.

2. Make Our Mission Meaningful

We want to be a part of something that feels bigger than ourselves. Even if our products are not that meaningful in the bigger scheme of life, we want to work for companies that care for their employees, respect the environment, and support their local communities. We will eventually disengage if we don’t see how our work fits into a broader, more significant context. We struggle with committing to, a monetary goal or a drive solely focused on beating our competitors. We don’t just work to make a living. We work to make life better. We will align our energies with your penchant for profit when we can see the evidence of our good work in the world, even if that means we are simply helping people to feel more safe and happy. We know in our hearts we can make a significant difference on this planet. If we are doing that in our jobs, we are likely to stick around and share with the world how excited we are about our work.

3. Continually Affirm Our Contribution and Value

Our sense of contribution and value to the organization is as important to us as our paycheck, but we can’t always see the larger effect of our work. We need to know how well we did in relation to the people we touch, whether it’s our peers or our customers. It’s not enough for us to know we have great knowledge and ability. We need to know if we have made an impact and that others value our involvement.

This acknowledgment needs to be continual because our sense of contribution is fleeting. Once we finish a task, we are quickly on to the next. There’s always another project to master and another crisis for us to resolve. You need to remind us of our impact because we tend to lose this sense while swimming in the sea of our assignments.

However, don’t overload us because you can count on us for results. We love to give outstanding performances. We love that you trust us. Yet if you rely on us too much, we would rather look for another job than face failure. Make sure to regularly ask us how we are feeling about our work and if we need any resources to get our work done. We often struggle with asking for help. Even when we ask to figure out a problem on our own, we still appreciate that you check in to see if we need any additional support.

4. Design and Foster a Creative and Collaborative Environment

We love to work for leaders who create environments that provide an open flow of communication in all directions. Let us talk freely, whether it’s around the real water cooler or the virtual water cooler using social media. Environments that support collaboration foster rapid innovations. We want easy access to tools and resources. We want our leaders to be visionaries and catalysts who transfer decision-making to us and allow us to choose how we want to work. Instead of managing people from a top-down position, leaders should see themselves as the “spokesperson” in the middle of the wheel with employees in motion around them. They should inspire more than enforce. Cooperative cultures represent the future of management. We want to help you make this significant change.

5. Delegate Clear Expectations and Then Let Go

If you give us what we need to do a great job on work that is meaningful to us and valuable to the organization, we won’t disappoint you. Give us control over the processes and decisions related to our tasks as much as possible. We love figuring out the best solutions. We need to feel we have the power to implement what we plan. If you think we need a more strategic perspective, coach us to see other possibilities instead of telling us what to do. When you delegate a project to us, give us the authority to talk to all stakeholders to negotiate actions. We will report our progress to you on a schedule we agree to and respond to issues promptly. We learn fast from our mistakes.

Let us know early on when changes will affect our work and share with us the reasons for the change. These days, those kinds of changes happen daily. We need to know about a shift in direction as soon as you do. If something comes up and you have to make a decision that goes counter to what we had hoped for, tell us why you made the decision so we can develop our business acumen. We want to grow beyond our technical capability. Letting us see through your eyes gives us what we need to succeed in our future positions.

6. Recognize Outstanding Performance

We like working for companies that have a culture of recognition. You may think that we are just doing our jobs, but we need to be recognized for our hard work even when it becomes the norm. Your recognition can be as simple as a personal comment or written note praising something we specifically did and the impact it had. We also like public recognition. When you visibly recognize our continual peak performance you demonstrate to everyone that you value this behavior. And don’t just recognize results; show appreciation for our creativity, inclusiveness, optimism, and determination even if the results did not turn out as expected. When you honor our efforts, you help us to feel proud. We need help when it comes to stopping and admiring our work. If you give us this gift, we will repeat the behavior you reward.

Also, please recognize us by knowing us. We are staunchly loyal to the people who show they care about us now and in the future. Know our talents, goals, and dreams. If you were called by HR today and asked what you thought were my strengths, frustrations, and aspirations, could you answer these questions? Know who we are today and what we want for tomorrow. If we aren’t clear about what we want for our careers, help us envision our future. Then offer to support us as we move forward on this path.

7. Give Us Flexible Work Schedules

We need help in managing our energy more than our time. We will work obsessively to complete important projects. Yet we need to renew our energy so we don’t burn out. Therefore, we want flexible schedules based on meeting goals instead of wasting time in traffic or on “who can stay the latest” contests. We recognize the need to be present for important meetings, but on days we can get more work done from home, trust us. We have become comfortable with technology and will use it to communicate. Because we always produce results, let us figure out how we will get the work done. If you want to know more about setting up work cultures that are flexible and successful as a result, look at what these companies are doing: Capitol One, Deloitte & Touche, Best Buy, Marriott, Patagonia, AES Corporation, Sun Microsystems, IBM, PepsiCo, and Wal-Mart. At the Brazilian company Semco, employees choose their own salaries, set their own hours, and have no job titles, yet the profits keep growing and there is practically no employee turnover. By the time you read this, more companies will have followed suit. We’re hoping you want to stay ahead of the pack with these progressive companies.

If we have children to take care of, don’t put us on a “mommy track” that doesn’t have access to promotions and plum assignments. Let us decide what we can handle. If you allow us the flexibility to meet the goals on our own terms, we will in turn be honest with you about what is possible. If we decide we need to step back because our home-life challenges need our attention, welcome us back when we are ready and we will amaze you with the results we produce.
The above is an excerpt from the book Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction by Marcia Reynolds. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2010 Marcia Reynolds, author of Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction

Author Bio
Marcia Reynolds
, PsyD, organizational psychologist and Master Certified Coach, is author of Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction is president of Covisioning, a training and coaching firm helping companies worldwide unleash the brilliance in their people.

For more information please visit wanderwomanbook.com and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

Please note: The opinions and ideas expressed by guest writers are not necessarily the opinions of the site owner.

Career Fear: Breaking Free

Buddhist philosophy.                  

Some people smirk at it; more and more people are embracing it.

Can it teach us anything about work and career?

I think so.

Do you ever feel uncertain about where your career is going or where it has been? Do you ever question whether you are on the right path? Do you ever feel discouraged about your work?

Most of us feel this way at one point or another. Sometimes we feel this way quite often.

It is uncomfortable. It can be scary. It is a feeling of uneasiness.

In the Buddha’s first teaching he talked about what he called ‘the four noble truths’.

The first noble truth says that it’s part of being human to feel discomfort.

Why?

Nothing in life is really one way or another. Whether we like it or not, life is not black or white.

Everything around us; the wind, the fire, the earth, the water are always changing; like magicians. Let’s face it, nothing stays the same.

Inside of us also changes just like the weather, like the waxing and waning of the moon.

It is so hard for us to see that just like the weather, we are fluid, not solid. We change, just like everything else does.

We have a tendency to seek out what feels secure, to look for comfort and avoid discomfort. We want our lives to be solid. So we try to build a cocoon of safety around us.

It feels good to have our lives be safe and predictable. Unfortunately our cocoons often fall apart (because things always change). And then we feel uncomfortable again.

We often fall into this cycle with our careers. We get settled into a role and it seems good for a while. Then our personal goals change, and we scramble again to build another safe cocoon.

The new zone of safety feels good until oh…let’s say we get a new boss who is a tyrant…or our family moves to another town and the commute is now tripled…or we have children…or the company changes its direction and it has no meaning for us anymore…and on and on.

It’s natural for everything to change. It’s the process of life.

But we don’t like it to change. We want things to stay the same. We want to be secure.

We become fearful. We resist the changes. We wish it were easier to find what we want – at least what we want right now.

And because of this, we suffer. We fret. We become uncomfortable. We resist the process of uncovering the next step in our career.

How can Buddhist philosophy help?  By listening to what it teaches with an open mind and heart, it can give us guidance in approaching our career journeys in a different way… it can open us to a new way of seeing things.

It takes time, sometimes months, years, a lifetime (or more)… yet isn’t it worth it to ease our suffering on this journey?

Here are some very simple ways to begin:

  • Give yourself the gift of 15 minutes each day to stop, to breathe and let go of the rush to achieve your daily goals. Focus only on the process of breathing for these 15 minutes. Get distracted? (you will) … it’s okay- just come back to breathing. Remember that thoughts are just thoughts. They, too, will pass. Observe them, and let them go.

If you find yourself in that mind trap of thinking obsessively that things are not going your way or that it’s too hard to find a career path that feels right, etc.  Stop and observe your thoughts. Say “hey – here come those crazy thoughts again and they are trying to swing me around. I’ll just watch them leave with the wind.”

  • Recognize that everything will always change, and that all of life is fluid – including us. It’s okay. Have faith that you will find your path (in fact, you are already on it).
  • Cultivate an unconditional friendliness towards yourself – flaws and all. Did you say something that sounded mean? Did you flub an interview? Were you rude to someone?  It’s okay. Mistakes are part of living. They help us grow and become more aware.
  • Begin your day with a sense of gentleness – for yourself and others. Compassion can replace fear and anxiety. Welcome compassion for yourself and others. People will be drawn to you. Some of those people will help guide you to your “right path”. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day – you will get there.

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Can you share ways that you ease your discomfort during a job search or career transition?