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.

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Steve Jobs: Career Advice for Tough Times (Guest Blog)

This is a guest post by Carmine Gallo, Author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success. It offers interesting insights into Steve Jobs’ history of success and new ideas about how you can approach your own career.

The global recession has forced many people to reconsider their careers and life choices. In these turbulent times, where does one turn for career advice? As I was researching the material for my new book, The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs (McGraw Hill) I realized that many of the principles behind Jobs’ breakthrough success at Apple apply equally to the management of one’s career.

Jobs has had his share of setbacks and skeptics. He started what would become a multi-billion dollar brand by sharing his parents’ kitchen table, he was fired from the company he started, and he rebounded from two near-death experiences to become one of the most iconic business leaders in corporate history. He’s learned a lot along the way and he has a lot to teach the rest of us. Here are just a few ways Jobs can teach you to ‘think differently’ about professional and career success.

Put a dent in the universe. Steve Jobs has never underestimated the power of vision to move a brand forward. Vision inspires new ideas and attracts evangelists to your cause. In 1976, Steve Wozniak was captivated by Jobs’ vision to “put a computer in the hands of everyday people.” Wozniak was the engineering genius behind the Apple I and the Apple II, but it was Jobs’ vision that inspired Wozniak to focus his skills on building a computer for the masses.

Jobs’ vision was intoxicating because it had four components that all inspiring visions share: It was 1) bold, 2) specific, 3) concise and 4) consistently communicated.

In 1979, Jobs took a tour of the Xerox research facility in Palo Alto, California. There he saw a new technology that let users interact with the computer via graphical icons on the screen instead of entering complex line commands. It was called a “graphical user interface.”

In that moment, Jobs knew that this technology would allow him to fulfill his vision of putting a computer in the hands of everyday people. He went back to Apple and refocused his team’s effort on building the computer that would eventually become the Macintosh and forever change the way we talked to computers. Jobs later said that Xerox could have “dominated” the computer industry but instead its ‘vision’ was limited to building another copier.

Innovation — the kind with a big “I” that moves society forward — doesn’t happen without a bold vision.

Just as Jobs had a vision for his brand, you must have a vision for the most important brand of all — yourself. What vision do you have for your company or your career? Yes, you need to follow your gut and do something you are passionate about — doing what you love is Steve Jobs’ first principle for breakthrough success — but while passion gives you energy to overcome skeptics and obstacles, vision points you in the ultimate direction.

Kick-start your brain. There’s no dispute that Steve Jobs thinks differently than the rest of us. His creative ideas have transformed not one industry, but four — computing, music, entertainment, and telecommunications. 

Innovation — in products or careers — requires creativity and creativity requires that you think differently about…the way you think. Scientists who study the way the brain works have discovered that innovators like Steve Jobs do think differently but they use a technique available to all of us — they seek out “diverse experiences.”

This reminds me of the story behind Apple’s name. The idea fell from a tree, literally. Steve Jobs had returned from visiting a commune-like place in Oregon located in an apple orchard. Apple co-founder and Jobs’ pal, Steve Wozniak, picked him up from the airport. On the drive home, Jobs simply said, “I came up with a name for our company — Apple.” Wozniak said they could have tried to come up with more technical sounding names but their vision was to make computers approachable. Apple fit nicely. 

Steve Jobs creates new ideas precisely because he has spent a lifetime exploring new and unrelated things — seeking out diverse experiences. Jobs hired people from outside the computing profession, he studied the art of calligraphy in college (a study that found its way into the first Macintosh), meditated in an Indian ashram, and evaluated The Four Seasons hotel chain as he developed the customer service model for the Apple Stores.

Look outside your industry for inspiration. Bombard the brain with new experiences. Remove the shackles of past experiences.

Say no to 1,000 things. Steve Jobs once said the secret to innovation comes from “saying no to 1,000 things.” Steve Jobs is as proud of what Apple chooses not to do as he is about what Apple chooses to focus on. The lesson — don’t spread yourself too thin. 

Find the career that intersects your passion, skill and the ability to make money doing it. Once you find it, focus on it, work at it, and dedicate yourself to excellence in that area. Say “no” to anything else that will distract you from pursuing that career.

If you are looking for a work or frustrated with your current job, there will be plenty of friends, families and colleagues who offer unsolicited advice on what’s best for you. Filter out the ideas that might derail you from the career best matching your strengths and passion.

Master presentation skills. Steve Jobs is considered one of the greatest corporate storytellers in the world. His presentations inform, educate and entertain. By giving extraordinary presentations, Steve Jobs stands out as a leader and communicator.

You are being judged to a large degree on your ability to communicate what you do. The big difference between extraordinary communicators like Steve Jobs and the average leader is that people like Jobs use presentations to complement the message. The speaker is the storyteller; PowerPoint slides serve as a backdrop to the story. That means you must learn to avoid bullet points and to think visually about bringing a story to life. Read The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs (McGraw Hill, October 2009), for tips and techniques.

Don’t let bozos get you down. Steve Jobs knew he had the skills to build a computer that would be simple enough for the average person to enjoy. Few others shared his vision.

Ken Olsen, the founder of Digital Equipment, once told Jobs “There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home.” Thank goodness Jobs didn’t listen.

When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 after a 12-year absence from the company he started, Apple was close to bankruptcy but Jobs rallied his employees, customers, and investors with the vision of what Apple could become. Millions of Apple fans have Jobs to thank for not listening to critics who believed Apple was destined to fail. If he had, consumers would not be enjoying Macs, iPods, iPads, and iPhones which popularized touch-screen technology.

Many people around you think they know what’s best for you. Only you can be true to your own heart and intuition.

Innovation sits in a lonely place because very, very few people have their courage of their convictions and the self-confidence to tune out negative voices. Perhaps the greatest lesson Steve Jobs teaches us is that risk-taking requires courage. Believe in yourself and your vision and be prepared to constantly defend those beliefs. Only then will you be able to lead an “insanely great” life and career.

© 2010 Carmine Gallo, author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success

Author Bio
Carmine Gallo, author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success, is a presentation, media-training, and communication-skills coach for the world’s most admired brands. He is an author and columnist for Businessweek.com and and a keynote speaker and seminar leader who has appeared on CNBC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC.com, BNET, RedBook, Forbes.com, and in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily, as well as many other media outlets. Gallo lives in the San Francisco Bay area and is a former vice president for a global, top-ten public relations firm.

For more information please visit www.carminegallo.com

Posted by Terry Del Percio, Career Transition Consultant: www.workstrategies.com

Follow me on Twitter: @WorkIntegrity

Making Space for Change

Some things are so simple that we overlook them. In the fifteen years that I have been working with clients who are working towards a Career Transition or Reinvention, one very simple issue comes up over and over again – the need to make space for change.

We tend to assume that if we want to change something, and we learn the tools to make progress, it will just happen. Nope.

Clients put lots of energy into learning techniques of self-marketing, repositioning themselves and gaining expertise in various areas and even forcing themselves to learn how to be comfortable network. It takes a lot of emotional and practical energy to build and polish all the skills necessary to make significant career change – even if the desired goal is another job in a similar role, it’s not easy, especially in the current job market.

Why do clients come to me every week and express frustration because they feel like they are spinning their wheels and not making enough progress to believe they can actually make this happen?

Simple. They don’t make make space for change.

If your days are already filled to 120% capacity of what one human being is capable of doing, what makes you think you can add more? You can’t.

If you work 10 hours per day, eat dinner and take care of the kids (or grandchildren), go to the board meeting, fix the doghouse, work on the budget spreadsheet before you go to bed and get up at 6:00am to start all over again, what makes you think that you can recreate your professional identity, and explore other career opportunities? You can’t.

That is, you CAN, but you must make space for change.

Probably the most important thing you need to do in order for your life to be different is to make space for change. That means you have to make some tough choices about what you are going to STOP doing, so that you can do something different. (make sense?)

What will you say “no” to? What are you willing to postpone? What do you have to communicate to your loved ones to help you make space for change? What will you give up in your life so that new good stuff can come in?

There are many good reasons for realizing that it’s time for change in your life. Dawn Rosenberg McKay lists several good reasons to consider a job change in her blog “Six Reasons To Make a Career Change“. In my opinion, the best test is if your gut keeps nagging you that it’s time.

I propose that the most important gift you will ever give yourself is to make space for change. Not only for career transition, but for just about anything you want your life to become.

Are you willing to make space for change?

Breaking the Spell of Fear

I think about fear a lot.

For years I have been exploring the depths of the human experience and all of the surprises it holds – to me, this is great fun!

Having trained myself to be highly tuned into the process of making decisions based on fear, I try to ‘catch myself’ and change the course of events towards a more positive path.

I have always been intrigued by Buddhism and other far eastern philosophies. I still am.  The Scream by Edward Munch

But that’s a huge peek inside my personal life. For now, I want to share a couple of thoughts I had about a topic that (I believe) is closely connected to reinventing ourselves and career transition.

On the Tricycle Magazine website, I found an article about fear and how important it is for us to ‘invite fear in’. If  you are familiar with the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn, you may remember that he reminds us to invite the fear in for tea and welcome it warmly. He says, “Hello my friend, fear. Please come and share tea with me. Let me understand you better. I’m happy to see you”.

Seems ridiculous upon first glance, doesn’t it?

But if you think about it, there could be a very profound message here. When we stop resisting, life usually becomes less of a struggle. When we stop fighting and accept things on a moment to moment basis, our breath calms down and we feel more centered.

You probably see how this can relate to the process of reinventing ourselves and career transition. When reshaping our work identity, it is very common to feel lost, confused, anxious and even angry. I’ve heard many consultants tell their clients that it is very much a roller coaster ride. I have also witnessed clients’ frustration and declarations of “giving up on this because it’s not going anywhere”.

Do you think these feelings and reactions could stem from fear?

Are we worried that we will lose our place in the world as we know it? Are we afraid that we won’t be able to find another identity; to feel needed and be part of a group? Are we afraid that we will whither away into nothingness and be failures in the eyes of our loved ones or colleagues?

Ezra Bayda, the author of the Tricycle article, suggests that

When we can feel fear within the spaciousness of the breath and heart, we may even come to see it more as an adventure than a nightmare. To see it as an adventure means being willing to take the ride with curiosity, even with its inevitable ups and downs.

How great would it be if we could learn to think of the journey of career transition as a great adventure and ride the process with excitement and curiosity?

Our physical health would prosper, no doubt, and I imagine that the people we meet along the way would find us much more interesting as we approach them with excitement and exploration rather than desperation and impatience.

Give it a try. Invite your fear in for tea, and offer it an olive branch.  black-teapot.preview



Outside the Circle

As strange as it may sound, when it comes to reinventing ourselves, sometimes our friends and colleagues are likely to put up obstacles rather than help us move towards change. They usually don’t do it intentionally, but they tend to reinforce and preserve our “old” identity. This very identity might be the one we are trying to leave behind.

Changing the nature of our work is also about changing the relationships that are front and center in our professional lives. Although we may hang on to very close relationships with a few colleagues and friends, we need to find people who will help us see and grow into our new selves.  Every career change requires social support.  New and even distant acquaintances will help us push off in a new direction.  Look for these people on the outer edges or outside of your existing networks.

Have you reached out to anyone outside your safe network this week?  Have you had a conversation with someone who has made a similar transition to what you are thinking about?

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