Are you enough?


Josie, who had been searching for her next position for over a year was offered a job on Friday, making July 16 a day of celebration! Over 50, the longer her search went on, the more certain she was that she wasn’t enough…young enough, credentialed enough, talented enough, experienced enough, competitive enough, healthy enough, worthy enough…etc. etc.

Note that last enough: “worthy enough.” While you–especially if you’re in the job-hunt, too–may not say this aloud, feeling “worthy enough” is almost sure to be part of your self-talk. Because, if you really were worthy enough (you figure), they would have recognized it and not let you go; or they would have hired you by now.

Backward thinking, hurtful thinking and harmful thinking.

The voice in your head that tells you that you’re “not enough ___” (fill in the blank) is your ego talking. And your ego has been collecting “here’s the right/good/appropriate way to do things” your whole life. It’s there and collecting “how you must be” so that you fit in to your environments, and into society’s expectations. After all, can’t have a school full of children who don’t raise their hands now, can we? On the assembly line, we couldn’t afford to have workers who were creative cogs now, could we? Or people who didn’t work inside their cubicles because, obviously, no work is getting done!

So, the voice in your head collects stuff in an effort to have you fit in and to make sense of things. Now, get this: since your mind has collected these things over years–from others’ comments, statements and actions–your ego is really OPE: Other People’s Expectations. The ego is a reflection of what you believe others want you to be, and all of the experiences you have collected through life as they fit into those expectations. As humans, we like comfort and what we know (we think) is better than what we don’t!

So consider my client who searched for almost a year. Her self-talk about finding a job comes from her job-search experience over the last 20 or so years.

So, Josie, people who are valuable are hired quickly. Well, actually, they don’t lose their jobs in the first place. So, you must not be valuable since it’s taking so long. Your last manager must have said something bad about you. You knew you couldn’t trust her. You shouldn’t have put her name on that employment form. And, you should have submitted your resume faster. You aren’t the spring chicken you used to be–they probably think you’re too old. Your experience gives you away, you know. If you ever get an interview (and you really screwed up that last telephone interview), they’ll ask you about your last two positions that were less than two years each. Even though they were cutting staff, if you were any good you’d still be in those jobs. In fact, remember that article you read only a few weeks ago: hiring managers don’t even want to interview people who are unemployed because they think you have a performance problem. So they are probably right–you do.


So how do you get to being “enough”?

1. Recognize that self-talk is not usually based on fact, or at least the facts of current reality. So the assumptions and beliefs that are driving our thoughts are likely old or outdated.

2. Practice stopping your automatic thinking, the self-talk that is negative. When you catch yourself doing the “not enough” thinking, say to yourself: “I know that’s not true because…” and complete the sentence with as many answers as you can. Even one answer shows you that your initial thinking, the negative self-talk, is only an assumption and not necessarily true.

Since how we think has a direct connection to what we do, it’s worth learning to work around your ego to get to a place where you will be effective–in your job search or any other situation where you want to move forward.

Self-talk keeps us stuck and ego keeps us small. Be intentional about your thinking and step into being enough. I guarantee you’ll like it there.

Meet Bill. And how he became a Career Owner.


Bill is always at the Panera before me; he gets there early, has a coffee and is ready to begin as soon as I arrive. He has his list of items for discussion and we move through it with practiced familiarity.

Bill and I have been coaching together for over a year. At this point, we meet about once a month so Bill can review his work and career activities and accomplishments and realign with his career direction for 2010. When we started, he was frustrated with his employer and uncertain if he was cut out for management: everything about managing seemed lots more challenging than just doing the work himself.

Now, Bill is comfortable in his leadership and knows what he wants to accomplish with his career direction; as his coach, I’m a check-in point along the way. As a Career Owner, Bill’s direction became clear when he focused on his values and began to use them consciously. In his words:

I realized that for most of my career I was doing what I thought I needed to do to get ahead and those things were not the things that I wanted to do. This caused a lot of frustrations between who I was at work and who I was at home, to the point where people would say I have a split (dual) personality. Like a downward spiral, the harder I tried (to do the work things) the farther I deviated from who I really am. Of course it’s not all ‘work’, there’s some personal stuff in there too.

By going through the process of answering a bunch of questions (most of which I though were meaningless at the time) I was able to pick out common themes among my experiences that led me to understand what is truly important to me.

Now that I have a clear understanding of what my core values are and why, I can apply them to any decision or situation that comes down the pipe. I can process everything according to my core values and then I will know the right thing to for me to do. Sometimes the answer is not an easy one and can lead to life changing decisions, but I at least know that I’m being true to myself regardless of the consequences.

Using his values, Bill will find his next position with an organization that mirrors those values and that provides challenges to grow him as a leader. He is deliberately meeting with other C-level leaders in his industry in order to learn from them and to grow those professional connections.

How do your values drive your career?

Getting your Career Sea Legs


Getting your sea legs on any boat entails practice, patience and belief—that you will eventually be able to move with the boat and not get tossed overboard. While ‘sea legs’ refers to being on a moving vessel in the water, it transfers to getting used to any new situation.

(c) 2008 sea legs an boat feet by matty!

Sea legs are not tough to get when you’re riding on a boat down a lazy river that’s being piloted by an experienced captain. Both the river and the expertise of the pilot make the journey a calm one. And this is how careers used to be.

In the relative calm of the 20th’s century’s Industrial economy, when competitors were domestic and business growth was defined by long term goals, career paths were defined by politics, experience level and dues paid. Someone else in the organization—usually a manager in conjunction with the leaders—defined where and when you took another career step: it was a planned, defined journey that was easy to ride.

20th Century Careers

That’s how careers were.

Having a career path and getting continual learning upgrades in today’s world entails riding river rapids, rather than cruising on a river boat. Today’s Service and Information economy has little certainty and even less calm.

21st Century Careers

Businesses competitors criss-cross the globe, and the traditional ways of being competitive no longer work. The only way to win in today’s competitive market is for organizations to get all brains on deck: to have employees constantly focused on innovative ideas that delight customers and keep them coming back. The chaotic environment of constant innovation and change creates whitewater rapids in place of the customary calm sea, and riding rapids requires a whole new skill set and mindset, at least for those workers who want to come through the trip intact.

The skill set and mindset of riding rapids

People who raft rivers seem to be so much more adventurous than many of us: thrill seekers who enjoy testing their strength, endurance, reflex time and ability to think on their feet (so to speak). While rafters may in fact test all of these things, the biggest difference is that they welcome the responsibility of taking an active part in the journey. They learn and take the right equipment, skills and mindset. With these things, folks who ride rapids get their sea legs through practice and experience and the wisdom of a great guide.

They are along for much more than the ride. They are along to learn, to participate and to actively take part in the adventure: to get their sea legs and be on the team that guides the raft to its successful end. Dead weight has no place in a whitewater raft, and the same is true for today’s organizations.

The skill set and mindset of whitewater careers

Career success in today’s organizations requires the same things: learning, active partnering in the mission and direction, teamwork, and a mindset that is open to possibilities v. set on a single path.
When your path is the whitewater route, then you must have the knowledge, skills, and mindset to navigate it successfully. Without these, your career route will be disappointing, scary and wet!

1. Learning is the basis of today’s career skills. You must know yourself and your organization inside out: your missions, your strengths and your needs. You must learn how to respond to unexpected turns, to dance as the music changes, and to develop resilience to the stress of the uncertain. You must learn to look several steps ahead and to define possibilities and workable responses to them. What you don’t use today is useful for another time.

2. Active partnering makes you an indispensable member of the team and shows your commitment to the work of the organization, its customers and your team members. Razor-thin margins require that all investments get maximum return, and workers are a business investment. If you’re not partnering, you’re riding on the work of someone else’s paddle, and you’ll soon be dumped from the raft. Active partnering takes initiative, energy, commitment to the cause and skill at strengthening relationships…the currency of today’s economy.

3. Teamwork requires competency in function and content as well as for inspiring and challenging others. Some days you may be a strong paddler but on others you may need to take over as guide…your communication and process skills must be sharpened and ready to do both as the river shifts.

4. A mindset open to possibilities requires you to recognize that the control you have is only as strong as the opportunities you’re open to meet. Business reality requires that your work views are more kaleidoscopic than picture window. Staying stuck in how things have been or what’s in your job description makes you deadwood, unable to shift or solve or allow for any of the challenges and changes that stir-up chaos in today’s workplaces. An open mindset ensures that you can respond to crags, river turns and unexpected boulders and not just the gentle sway of a lazy river.

Getting your career sea legs is a challenge that you may or may not be ready for, but today’s organizations won’t see your value without them. They don’t have the time or resources to pull you out of the river. They have commitments to those workers who are willing to take responsibility for paddling their own canoes and not being a risk to other travelers.

So, how are your career sea legs?

Transition


Thanks to today’s Guest Blogger, Ray Taylor, whose take on transition is fresh and timely. Look for his suggestions to go after new opportunities while you’re in transition or just because…you’ll see the value!

Ray Taylor


In earlier times being out of work was referred to as being layed off, downsized, unemployed or even the dreaded, fired. Since there are so many of us who have lost jobs, we seek more palatable terms that allow us to explain our current state of unemployment. The latest words we use to convey our career status is “in transition.”

Webster’s dictionary defines transition as “a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another”. Many (including the owner of this blog) have written that the whole concept of employment is changing – permanently. On that basis this term, transition, makes sense.

With that in mind, if you are one of those describing your current situation as “in transition”, consider what you are doing during this time. If you are focused on replacing the job you had with one very nearly the same as the one you lost, that might work for you but, it’s not transition.

Now, I’m not trying to pick on you for not complying with Webster’s definition. What I am asking you to do is realize that the demand for many positions is not coming back to pre-2008 levels – ever. That means the competition will be stiffer, the compensation will be lower and the time to land will be longer. Are you prepared for that?

Let me ask you another question. Did you really love that old job? I mean “wake up in the morning and can’t wait to get after it” love? Right, I didn’t think so.

Kevin Cashman starts his book Leadership from the Inside Out with a story about choice. He asks you to imagine being stranded in a snowstorm and missing that important meeting that you are rushing to. Do you rant about it and let it raise your blood pressure? Or do you realize that one of the things you often say you’d love to have, is just a few hours alone to think? Do you let this event derail you or, do you choose to see it as a wish that has just been granted? You choose.

You can also choose to live the definition of transition during this challenging time. Instead of the old school job search, engage in transition. Reinvent yourself. Learn.

In It’s What Inside that Counts, Janine discussed ideas to help us connect with our internal motivations. The three ideas revolved around seeking autonomy, mastery and purpose. Think of these three concepts during your transition.

Autonomy: Rather than submitting hundreds of resumes blindly and hoping for a call, look around. What problems could you solve for a friend starting a business? She might love to have the professionalism you offer, but never thought she could afford your price tag. So, help her. Help her first and then let the financials work themselves out (they will, trust me).

Volunteer for charitable organizations or non-profits that are struggling. If you can make a difference people will notice. People you have helped will be looking for ways to help you. You won’t be going in, with hat in hand, asking for referrals. You will have an ally who has seen you in action and would be glad to recommend you.

Don’t even think of telling me you don’t have time. If you want to do the traditional job search, it’s going to take you 6 – 9 months to find a job you don’t really like. Consider this activity your part-time job and, more importantly, part of your journey to fulfillment.

Mastery:
For the new role you would really love, you might need to master some new skills. Let’s say your friend with the startup can afford to pay you half what you are used to. But, you will learn some new skills. Add the cost of tuition at a business school to your pay and you might find you didn’t take a pay cut at all.

Join groups and pay attention to the events they host. Many are low or no-cost events. Offer to help with the planning. Being a planner is like a backstage pass. You may be able to meet a knowledgeable and influential keynote speaker in the field you are pursuing. How much would that be worth?

Eleanor RooseveltPurpose: Having a purpose is uniquely human. Finding it isn’t a journey you have to make alone. Your coaches might be right in front of you. Instead of asking people how they can help you find a job, ask them if they know their purpose. When you find the ones who know their purpose, find out how they learned what it was.

Find out who you are and what you are here to do. Learn what skills you need to master to fulfill your purpose.

Taking ownership doesn’t mean going solo. Seeking guidance can be an important step to transition. Not transition as a euphemism for joblessness, transition as Webster defines it.

About: Ray Taylor is an accomplished sales and customer service leader focused on innovation. Ray also serves on the executive committee of Ohio University’s Sales Centre. Write to him at raytaylor@choice32.com.