Part 1: Assess your Career Status–Reflect on Where you are and where you want to go.

Take responsibility for Your Career and Challenge the Myth that “job hopping or explore other opportunities” is bad for your career”

Daily quote: ‘First they welcome you, then expectations are pinched, then they break promises, then they take you for granted, then you assert your rights and ask for fairness, they fight you, and then you leave to find a new challenge and win… Peter Newport, Career Counselor

To keep growing as a professional you must have a clear goal of building your talent and experience portfolio. To be “stuck” in a job that has had broken promises or missed expectations because organization interest come before employees is a missed placed loyalty and potentially damaging to your long-term goal of wanting to run your own company or being a CEO. The quiet loyal workhorse who never makes demands or keeps the organization honest in its broken promises for promotion, bonuses or other perks will get bounced around like a bottle a float in the ocean. You won’t get what you want by just bending to an organization first philosophy. Being out for number one doesn’t mean you are not a team player or disloyal, it means you are engaged in assessing how the present job experience is fulfilling your need to be always growing and learning as a productive person. If you are in charge of your career as everyone has been saying for years, you can’t sit back and wait for the company or your bosses to recognize the contributions you are making because they are usually busy and focused on their own success. To take this career responsibility seriously I recommend a yearly company and job assessment by you just like the company makes annual performance reviews.

You may avoid this personal career review and reflection but do so at your own peril. This self-directed career approach may not always be greeted with enthusiasm by bosses and spouse but to keep fresh and developing as a fully functioning and responsible person you must be clear on what you need and want to do with your life because that is the essence of being responsible.

In this new economy, moving from job to job every 2-3 years means you are being responsible and pro-active in your career. Part of this pro-active approach to career building means you must stay connected to colleagues and keep your network activities vibrant and up to date and in your profession al development you must be visible and attuned to market place opportunities because you never know when they be presented. Don’t get to comfortable making a nice salary or benefits because that made be the wrong focus for expanding your skill set and broaden your experiences to move to a more challenging and rewarding job. This method of career management where you stay alert to opportunities and updating your career portfolio through new experiences has been mislabeled by some career experts self-centered “job hopping”. The fact these days, is that talent is scarce and employees who stay in a job just to be loyal or are worried about their security or that they maybe labeled a “job hoppers” or disgruntled employees is nonsense because surveys report that employees who stay for longer than two years earn 50% less over their lifetimes. So yes, be engaged at your work place and be respectful to each and every one of your employers, but certainly don’t stay in a position for fear of being labeled “a job hopper or an unloyal employee. It is your perfect right and responsibility to manage your own career and life not your employers responsibility.

Daily Quote, Reflection and Self-Coaching Challenge: Sorting Out the Strengths and Blind Spots of Your Leadership Style

Daily Quote: “Leaders are people who do the right things; managers are people who do things right.” Warren Bennis – “The Dean of Leadership Gurus. 

” Leadership is the lifting of a man’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a man’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a man’s personality beyond its normal limitations.” – Peter Drucker

 

Reflection: Searching for answers about Leadership

As an up and coming manager and leader in your organization, you have just received feedback on your leadership style. Some of the feedback rings true for you, while other feedback, especially on your blind spots doesn’t fit the picture you have as yourself as a leader.

Searching the internet and web on Leadership can be confusing because of the large  amount of writing and theorizing on  the concept of leadership. I have found a resource from Korn/Ferry research center that will save you time and money on helping you identify your leadership style. Korn Ferry writers and researchers J. Evelyn Orr and Guangrong Dai found that four primary patterns of leadership account for 70 percent of managers and executives. Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses that play out in different ways on the job. Matching leadership type to job expectations and role assignments can help you make more reflective career planning choices and proactively choose to build a plan for development that is based on increasing self-awareness through self-directed career coaching.

The authors begin their article with these profound questions, that I hope you will answer. will inspire you to explore as you read and reflect on the concept of Leadership Styles. They ask you to reflect on whether you are: “Task-oriented or people-oriented? Democratic or autocratic? Hands-on or laissez-faire?

They go -on to say  that often descriptions like this are artificially dichotomous (black or white, right or wrong). ” These types of classifications do not identify the shades of grey that is the reality for most of us. An analysis of managers’ and executives’ actual skill profiles reveals four real-world leadership types that are not so black-and-white. Seeing the gray is a good thing. Here’s why: People identify their strengths fairly accurately, but gloss over their weaknesses. The four leadership types that Korn/Ferry research has uncovered reflect leaders as they are, warts and all. So those who recognize their strengths in one type can then spot
their probable corresponding weaknesses. Simple self-awareness of the 4 patterns can help leaders improve and
with work on overcoming some of the limits of their leadership type and thus improve their leadership skills and practices.”

Want to read more:

1. http://www.kornferryinstitute.com/sites/all/files//documents/briefings-magazine-download/The%20leadership%20reality%20check%20.pdf

2. A review of the literature on many significant Leadership Theories and Models  http://www.valuesbasedleadershipjournal.com/issues/vol3issue1/gurus_on_leadership.php

 

 Self-Coaching Challenge: 

1. Read the above article written by Korn Ferry researchers and select the one style that fits the image of yourself as a leader.
2. Match-up from data from your 360 feedback or select three colleagues to read the article and provide feedback on which style of leadership fits or describes you the most accurately.
3. Is there a mismatch between you self-perception and how others see you? Reflect on the gaps and determine what needs work to bring your perception and others view of your leadership style into alignment.
4. Develop a thirty-day plan to work on the areas needing improvement or your blind spots.

 

Self-Coaching Challenge–How can you get more engaged in your work this coming Monday

Engagement at work; what does it mean and is it important? My definition is that it is a commitment to invest time in accomplishing something that is meaningful and important to me. It involves expenditure of energy, time and emotional commitment to a cause or issue that matters deeply to your values and purpose in life.  Does the work you do get your juices flowing?

What do surveys mean when they try to measure engagement? After seeing the 2013 Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged in their work. I wondered what that means in regard to employee satisfaction, recruiting and retention of talent in the workplace. Another study the 2014 Deloitte Human Capital Trends research shows that 78% of business leaders rate retention and engagement as important issues to solve in the coming year. These trends by the way have remained essentially unchanged for a decade. So this raises the question of whether the concept of engagement matters when it comes to managing and developing a positive and effective workplace culture that ultimately impacts the “bottom line”  of productivity, profitability and of successful companies. Or does this struggle to measure engagement a windmill that matters but we don’t know how to define it and track its impact on “quality of worklife” and organizational success.

So that led to ask what does engagement really mean to people—commitment, loyalty, max effort, doing your best…or does it mean a willingness to put-in discretionary effort… to go the extra mile… or give 110%.

Challenge: Reflect on what engagement means to you. In the next 24 hours pick an engagement activity to try out at work tomorrow.

What is the new behavior you are going to try out?  What were the effects you experienced in trying out this new behavior?

Daily Quote, Reflection: Belief in Self…Yes, I can.

Daily Quote: “If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” Mahatma Gandhi

Reflection: Support and stability are the corner-stones of self-belief.  Think about the people you know who seem to bring out the best in you whenever you talk to them: You feel comfortable talking to them and could go on talking forever. They could be old friends or someone you just met, but the conversation just seems to flow smoothly and naturally.

If you wish you had the natural ability or strengths to perform at a higher level of excellence, don’t despair. Having meaningful and successful performances is something that can be learned, and with focus and deliberative practice, like the Smart-Steps process you can become better at it. The key is belief in your self to perform in difficult situations.

According to Albert Bandura, self-efficacy is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” In other words, self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation. Bandura described these beliefs as determinants of how people think, behave, and feel (1994).

Self-Coaching Challenge:  The right fit at the right time.

Negative Self-Fulfilling Prophecy– don’t get stuck in a negative environment or pigeon whole as such and such like you are negative person or not strong in task implementation or follow-up through or what ever the negative characteristic that has been put on you by others. The key question is whether you want to try to change that prevailing perception…  Everyone has an opinion, and some of them matter and some are inaccurate. And the moment you start believing and worrying about what other people think about your strengths or potential, you’ll be too caught up in defending yourself to find your strengths and positive energy for being successful and reaching your potential. Of course there is value in feedback and constructive criticism but if the overriding view of you is negative and you start to believe it, then failure is almost guaranteed

Unless someone is giving you feedback that’s going to help you grow, ignore it. Some people give “advice” with the result of causing you to stop believing in yourself this can cause harm and almost impossible obstacles to overcome, whether it’s intentionally or unintentionally. You maybe battling an uphill battle of miss-perceptions. Pick and choose who you listen to very carefully, then create a personal development plan for change in the next thirty days.

 

Importance of Empathy on Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

Empathy is a building block of one’s interpersonal connections.—for people to cultivate empathy skills, it helps if they can stop and take the time to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It is also a key ingredient of successful relationships because it helps us understand the needs, priorities and desires of others. Here are some of the ways that interpersonal communication research has testified to the far-reaching importance of empathy. 

  • Empathy is good for bonding and team development: Managers who demonstrate empathy have employees who report greater job satisfaction and engagement 
  • Tied closely to empathy is the concept worker engagement and positive work climate this  recent trend towards positive psychology, where the concern is positive aspects of employees’ behavior. According to Maslach and Leiter (1997), when there is a person and positive job match, employees experience engagement with their work, characterized by high energy, involvement, and positive efficacy. As per Schaufeli et al. (2002), employee engagement is a positive, work-related state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption. In this regard, attention is paid to human strengths, optimal functioning, and positive experiences at work (Seligmen and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004) not on negative feedback or focus on weaknesses. While, disengaged employees display incomplete role performances and task  behaviors become effortless, automatic or robotic (Hochschild, 1983). According to the author, disengagement may be result of employees who lack positive social interaction and support, who experience little autonomy in work roles, or who feel their work and contribution is unimportant to others.  

So the question is -How often do you stop to listen to and engage your fellow workers? Or Do you focus on the task and getting the job done? 

Want to improve social-emotion connections cultivate empathy in your relationships.

1 Model empathy. Show people what mens to appreciate them. Observe and show interest in the lives of others. Listen to other people’s experience and opinions. Talk about your experiences practicing empathy, and about the times you forgot to act with empathy.

2. Start with safety and security. Fear and self-centeredness interferes with the development of empathy. Learn to stop and demonstrate consideration and toward others.

3. Practice self-regulation skills. Self-regulation skills are the foundation for empathy. By learning to calm yourself, regulate emotions, delay gratification, persevere, and stay focused on the right things, fellow workers and family members develop the skills which allow them to look beyond themselves.

4. Notice other people’s feelings without judgment or put downs. Talk about these feelings and assure the other person they are okay to share and have these inner experiences. Learn to use words that focus on the so-called “soft things” in life and avoid only the “hard stuff” like project schedules, profit, or task activities.

5. Follow the Golden Rule of relationships and empathy  “ Treat others in the same way that they themselves would like to be treated because relationships matter. Relations emphasizing empathy are built on focused attention, active listening and demonstrated caring and trust. For example, most of us would like to be listened to and understood by others.

Daily Quote and Reflecting: Coping with Losses and Transitions in Life.

Daily Quote: ” Chaos is the primal state of pure energy for every true new beginning…living during these turbulent times of rapid and unexpected change is one of the most difficult tasks a person will face in the 21st Century. In adapting to new realities, people need a map  to chart a course through chaos. William Bridges

It  may just mean doing a better job at whatever you’re doing or trying new things that are more fulfilling . There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are –and that too is a strong commitment to living life “on purpose. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It matters very little whether they’re behind the wheel of a truck or a country doctor or bringing up a family.

Interesting discussion about athletes on ESPN sports talk by Mike and Mike a few days ago–They talked about how professional players have an attitude that does not help them get through life transitions. For example, I am going to do this thing I love forever, I don’t need the help, I am bullet proof and  will play forever. These are false ideas and significant obstacles to dealing with reality when it hits and their career is over. They setup a difficult and sometimes painful situation for getting through life’s transitions.

Another difficult area in losses or transitions is whether the unfortunate event is an on time and off time loss–I am 65 and it is time to retire (on time) or I am 25-year-old soldier and I loss both of my legs or a rookie all-star football athlete who sustains a career ending injury, or you are 44 and get fired because of circumstances or incompetence…etc. If you want more information on how to handle these situations see the National Best selling book called  Transitions by William Bridges. This book discusses the many scenarios and struggles people confront when facing loses or in the need to start over in life because of tragedies or just circumstances.   Finding one’s way is difficult so we need support and education to cope with losses and find new opportunities for creating a stable life and new identity.

Let me summarize some of the questions that Bridges and others have raised that you might ask yourself  that you can face the many transitions life:

  1. Are you being honest with yourself about the situation or circumstances you are facing?
  2. What challenges does this life transition present? What is changing? What are up and downsides to this change?
  3. What will actually be different because of this challenging situation?
  4. What losses might I experience? How can I prepare or get out ahead of these possible changes?
  5. What strengths do I have and what are my weaknesses or voids that have been created by this loss?
  6. What does success look like once I have confronted and overcome this transition or loss?

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living or don’t ask for help when we need it. We are all dreaming of some magical time over the horizon instead of enjoying the moment and using the time right in front of us to prepare for the expected or unexpected events that confront us all at some point in life.

Part III: Overcoming Negative Thinking: Case Study On Pete Carroll of Seattle Seahawks

Daily Quote: “Treat each day as if something positive were about to happen”. Pete Carroll’s Mom  

Why I am pulling for the Seattle Seahawks to win the Super Bowl. They are are already winners. Pete Carroll has instilled a philosophy based on John Wooden’s theory of Leadership called The Pyramid for Success. 

During his year out of football the following year, Carroll did some serious self-reflecting. He asked himself what he could do better and how he could successful use his positive philosophy work in the ultra competitive world of pro football. He would often repeat and reflect on the words of his mother, who often told him to “treat each day as if something positive were about to happen”. This mindset and mental toughness was considered nonsense and  “too soft” for the tough guy culture of the NFL, where people tend to focus on things that could go wrong. Carroll would no longer focus on the negative. He would create a culture of respect and “positivity” by focusing on the unique strengths and contributions of everyone in the organization.

He also read Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, the powerful memoir by the former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. It resonated with Carroll not only because Wooden needed 17 years before winning his first national championship, but also because he believed in being positive and nurturing.

Ultimately he formulated a blueprint based on Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. He simplified Wooden’s approach by focusing on fun, fundamentals, positivity, team caring and competition. Carroll’s approach was underpinned by taking advantage of the uniqueness of each individual and challenging them to be more than they thought they could be. He would have themes for each day of the week—Tell the Truth Monday, Competition Wednesday, Turnover Thursday. He would have the first-string offense and defense face off in brief unscripted scrimmages so they would be ready for things they hadn’t prepared for. He would blare music throughout practice to raise the energy level and force his players to focus and refocus to eliminate distractions and focus on the “here and Now” moment.

“I didn’t know I’d get another chance in the NFL—I didn’t think that—so that’s why I went the college route, to try to see what would happen if we applied these philosophies,” Carroll says. “Fortunately, going into SC, I was so ready to go in there. I had had a big change in my thinking and had adjusted things, so that was like the proving ground, and it worked out great. We’ve come here to Seattle and we haven’t done one thing different. It basically comes down to taking care of the people in your program and making them the best they can be—not giving up on them and never failing to be there for them. They don’t even totally know that’s how we are with them, because we do it so completely.”

Self-Coaching Challenge: I challenge you to read more about both Coach Wooden’s and Carroll’s philosophy and develop over the next month your personal Philosophy for Living a More Meaningful and Fulling Life.  

Self-Doubt –Learn to Use the Challenge Response of Self-Efficacy

” Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the sources of action required to manage prospective situations…remember self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure…People who regard themselves as highly efficacious act, think, and feel differently from those who perceive themselves as in-efficacious. They produce their own future, rather than simply foretell it…People with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided.” Dr. Albert Bandura 
From Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory., 1986.

A concise summary by psychology.about.com describes why the theory of self-efficacy is so important in the psychology of self is because  self-efficacy can have an impact on everything from psychological states to behavior to motivation. Most people can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change in their behavior, and things they would like to achieve. However, most people also realize that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple. Bandura and others have found that an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached.

” People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered
  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments

People with a weak sense of self-efficacy:

  • Avoid challenging tasks
  • Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities
  • Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes
  • Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities”
Self-Doubt is a difficult burden to carry around everyday. The next time you have self-doubt challenge this negative thought or opinion about you. To survive and thrive in this life means that you need to find your own inner compass of strength and build unshakable confidence and BELIEF about who you are and what your strengths are for building a fulfilling and meaningful life. Don’t let other people define who you are and how you need to live your life.

MISTAKE #1: Accepting Other People’s  “Wrong Opinion” of You

In our desire to please people and get along, most people early in life decide it is more to their benefit to accept a bad opinion of themselves from a  parent, peer or teacher. – even if it’s not true, so as to be accepted and stay out of trouble.

“You’re terrible at sports because your feet are too big.”
“You don’t have the creativity to be an artist.”
“Your too weak to get stay the course and make a living as an actor.”
“Just give up the this dream of being a musician you don’t have a good ear and are tone-deaf. Find something more practical to do.”

I’ve noticed that many people accept these statements even when they don’t agree with them.

Then they go out and do something they don’t believe in and try to live the life set-out for them or encouraged by others. They do this even if they are not interested or passionate about the suggestions. Living a life chosen by others is a terrible choice because it makes you feel dependent and reduces your ability to live an autonomous and responsible life. You always have the excuse “I am just doing what you recommended for me to do.” I am sure these advice givers had good intentions but they robbed you of learning first hand what was best for you to do given your strengths and self-desires. This backdoor excuse reduces your ability to make decisions and reduces your ability to take ownership for your life.

This approach can will crush your confidence instantly.Why? Because to be confident, you need to trust yourself to make decisions and be able to tell yourself the truth. This dependency approach thus limits self-awareness and self efficacy. This approach of dismissing responsibility for choices is the root cause of self-doubt. This decision to believe others can do major damage to your confidence and emotion health and the ability to life an independent and reality based life.

Case in point: An employee I worked with was disappointed and upset about her lack of promotion to Supervisor on an important audit for the firm. She just wasn’t getting the best assignments because the Manager’s had decided she didn’t have the experience and ability to hand supervision of others. (yet).

What’s the message you think the Manager on the Furr’s audit is sending?” I asked her.

That I’m not good enough or smart enough to supervise others,” she said.

And how ARE you perceiving your skills and abilities to handle this assignment?” I asked her.

I’m not myself at all. I’m always nervous when interacting with others I am not trusting my training or instincts and I’m messing up even the simplest work papers and discussions with other colleagues or the client.” she said.

So what is the issue self-doubt, lack of communication or lack of training to learn the way to do these things – guess what?

This employee came from one of the best accounting schools in the country where she obtained B grades. She didn’t lose confidence because her manager didn’t allow her to supervise others or get good assignments. She lost it because she KNOWS she is a smart and competent auditor, but decided to believe and buy-in to a different view of herself by managers in her firm. When you lose self-belief or buy-in do other viewpoints about your abilities its ‘game over’ for your motivation and confidence.

Your self-belief or self-efficacy is your basic tool for success and overcoming barriers in your life.Question what you KNOW to be true, and you’ll do terrible damage to your career and your self belief. Now I know what you’re thinking.

“Mark, if I have a boss who thinks I’m not smart or experienced enough to be included as the supervisor on a project, then how dare I second-guess him or convince him I am ready. “

Easy. Ask him what he needs to see from her to show him she is ready to supervise this audit assignment. After he responds, set-up a mutual agreed to performance and training plan to get the experiences and training needed for your success. Be more assertive about your skills and abilities. That’s what your manager is hoping for, and anything less is a disservice to both of you. Your boss may be the smartest person alive, but even he doesn’t have a crystal ball and cannot predict the future. Heck, even Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team.

Remember, human beings are not built to persist and their belief in themselves and be crushed very easily by people they respect and look-up to. Unfortunately, many of us give up at the first sign of struggle, and the biggest struggle of all is believing in yourself even when no one else does.

You can change and in changing prove to others your competence and confidence to succeed where they thought you couldn’t. You can persevere and believe and with belief comes confidence and a positive self-fulfilling prophecy can be set in motion to change other people’s view and opinion of your abilities.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Are “SOFT SKILLS” and Emotional Intelligence the Missing Link for Your Life and Job Success in 2014?

Daily Quote:  “In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships.” —Dr. John Gottman–From the book:  Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

“Let’s say you work at a place that’s saturated with smarts. If all of your colleagues were always the brightest person in the room growing up, then what makes you stand out? One of the key factors for differentiating yourself from others in the workplace is the concept of emotional intelligence and self-awareness”. Drake Baer,  from Fast Company 

Reflection: Many studies are now pointing to emotional intelligence as a strong predictor of  productivity, effectiveness and success for people and the companies they work for.

To be emotionally intelligent, Goleman and other researchers say, you need to have confidence. To have confidence, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses. Yet what does it mean to have confidence? It means to understand and believe you have the ability and belief that you can do the things that produce positive results. When faced with a decision or choice of what to do to be successful at a task or activity you believe you have the wherewithal to use your focused concentration, experiences and talents to complete the job successfully. This underlining insight is based on what Arthur Bandura calls self-efficacy. Working from a basis of belief in yourself provides a behavioral framework or platform of “I can do this”.

Self-Coaching Challenge: So your challenge for the New Year is to assess where you are on the Emotional Intelligence scale and then put together a plan for personal and emotional intelligence. Remember you can change your level of emotional intelligence because unlike IQ and other fixed variables our EQ is malleable but it will take more self-awareness and deliberative practice to improve you EQ level.

Want to learn more about EQ read this powerful article in Fast Company called: Emotional Intelligence predicts Job Success Do You Have It?  by Drake Baer.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3023335/leadership-now/emotional-intelligence-predicts-job-success-do-you-have-it#

 

4 Critical and Must Have Skills to Succeed in 21st Century Market Place

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Gandhi

Many of you have asked me why I keep saying learning to communicate and present to others in public are so important for career advancement. I have posted many ideas about how to overcome your fears and anxiety about speaking in public and now I was sent an article from Fast Company that lays out why this skill and a few others are critical for your success.  Checkout the ideas of founders of a few reputable companies have to say:  Let’s start with Presentations–

1) LEARN TO TALK IN FRONT OF PEOPLE

“Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren, who pitched his idea 348 times before securing crucial funding, reports that public speaking is one of the most universally useful skills. Why?

“Whether you’re pitching a group of investors, rallying your employees, selling a customer, recruiting talent, addressing consumers, or doing a press tour, the ability to deliver a great talk is absolutely invaluable,” he says.

And if you’d rather eat a microphone than have to speak into one, fret not: Quiet author Susan Cain is here to help cure your oratory woes”.

If you want to learn more checkout this article by Drake Baer in Fast Company magazine — http://www.fastcompany.com/3015338/leadership-now/successful-founders-share-4-must-have-skills-to-bolster-any-career

New Self-Directed Coaching Workbook: Module#1-Exploring Strengths

Self-Directed Coaching Workbook: I have designed the Self-Directed Learning guide for you to use over 90 days but in fact you can use it in any manner you choose that’s the beauty of self-directed coaching – Workbook contains 10  Self-directed Modules and over 50 different self-awareness and experiential activities and exercises.  On each day, I’ll present a new activity, tell you which ability it’s aimed at boosting, and explain its purpose. The rest is up to you.

Exercise #1 Exploring Strengths: Open Chair

Instructions:

1. Place two empty chairs facing each other about two feet a part.

2. Imagine you are interviewing for a very important job.

3. Sit-in one of the chairs and imagine you are the interviewer and ask out loud looking directly at the empty chair what are the five strengths this person will bring to the company?

4. Now move to the other chair and answer the strengths question? What strengths will you bring to the company?

5. Continue the conversation moving back and forth playing both roles until you have finished the interview.

Reflection:

Stop the interaction and reflect on what you learned about yourself and preparation for the interview by considering the following questions:

  •  What was challenging about identifying and explaining your strengths to the interviewer?
  • How comfortable on a 1-10 scale did you feel at the start, in the middle and at the end of the interview?
  • As the Interviewer–How did you feel and what did you think about the candidate’s ability to identify in clear way their strengths?
  • What was you first impression of the interviewee as the interviewer and vice-versa?
  • What assumptions did you make during about the interview about the candidate and their  explanation of their strengths?
  • Did you feel stuck during the interview? What role were you playing when this happened?  How did you get through this stuck time?
  • What examples or stories did you use to explain your strengths ?
  • Do you think you convinced the interviewer that you well suited for the job? Why? Why Not?
  • How did taking the role and talking from the interviewer’s point of view and then answering from interviewee’s position — help enlighten or block you from proceeding in the conversation.
  • Did taking the interviwer’s role help you clarify and attune your message?
  • What lessons can you apply to your own present-day interviewing situations?

6. Now create a list of 5 strengths that make you the best candidate for this job.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Are you engaged at work?

Daily Quote: “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” –Theodore Roosevelt

Reflection:

Many studies are reporting the American workforce is not engaged at work. Although, there can be many good reasons for this problem I am convinced that the one place we don’t look is at our ourselves. We externalize the issue by blaming the “bad and insensitive boss”, boring work, work that doesn’t match our skills or strengths, greedy CEO’s, poor products and services, difficult customer, too little pay or benefits, etc.   We can go on and list many more issues for disengagement.

Recently, I came across a message from United Technologies Corporation published in the Wall Street Journal ( part of a series) back in the 1980’s that highlights one of the many issues we forget to mention when talking about “job engagement: “taking pride in our work”.

I take Pride In My Work–author unknown    

I’m a little fed up with the constant criticism of American workmanship.

How other people do their jobs is their business.

But I do good work and I know it.

I have perfected my skills.

I make each minute count.

When I make a mistake I correct it.

I would gladly sign my name to every piece of work I do.

I going to hang this message over my work area to let

my employer, my customers, my co-workers

know that—

I take pride in my work, I take pride…I take pride… 

Self-Coaching Challenge: How engaged are you at work? What are the reasons for your non-engagement?  What are you willing to do to change the situation?

Daily Quote and Wisdom of Dr. Seuss

Daily Quote:

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.  Dr. Seuss

Reflection:

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go”.
~Dr. Seuss

Self-Coaching Challenge: You are the person who can start to change things in your life, if you pay attention to opportunities, know your strengths and are willing to take risks even if failure is a possibility. With that in mind take some time to read the popular graduation gift book of Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Suess. 

This wonderful book highlights that success in life requires curiosity, experimentation, and the courage to do what you think is right for you. The key point is that you must try to overcome personal fears and be persevering in seeking your dreams.  The world is open to you just try to make it a great adventure and never, never, give-up. So your task is to identify one important dream that you have been putting-off and develop a plan to accomplish it in the next three months. Keep us informed of your self-renewal progress and if you get “stuck” try reading this post from Coach Mark.

Daily Quote/ Reflection: Begin You Legacy Today by Leaving “footprints in the sand of time.”

Daily Quotes : “Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime and departing leave behind us FOOTPRINTS on the sands of time”. Longfellow

“While it is well enough to leave footprints on the sands of time, it is even more important to make sure you make choices that lead along the path in a direction that provides meaning and keeps you focused on your purpose for living. MWH

Reflection: 

As I am about to turn 70 and I look at the world around us, I find hope in the young people.  Even though the world they face is more complex, confusing it is still  full of opportunity. The work place has changed dramatically and what they expect out of work has changed. As I continue my own learning, I have realized that I continue to come back to this notion of creating a ” life of meaning and living on purpose” And with fifty years of hindsight and hundreds of career counseling sessions for my sons, their friends and colleagues, I decided it was time to pass along some thoughts to the people entering one of the most intimidating but exciting decades of their lives.  And my hope is they will find some ideas here that will help them make good decisions and lay a foundation for the life of meaning they are seeking. Remember that daily life is made-up of choices and not just luck or chance. Sure there are events and things that happen to us which we are powerless to influence. In these situations the most we can do is hope that the hurricane, flood or accident misses us. Yet in many situations it is important to realize that we have  something to do with what happens to us, we have choices and make decisions. When we make choices we gain control and influence over our lives.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Stop Being the “victim” 

Write down 1 skill you’d like to improve that can help you take control of your career or family life. Create the Improvement Goal. Lay out the plan for achieving it step by step and commit to start implementing the plan tomorrow.

How to get going?

Think about your personal goals, you are now a college graduate and have been seeking a meaningful job in your field of study for 6-9 months. You have been frustrated, unlucky and even some days lazy about your search. You have now decide to be more accountability for finding a job.  Realizing that nothing happens without you having something to do with it.  What’s one thing you’d like to improve in order to pick-up your job hunting success? When thinking about this new approach what have you done or not done to create or allow the situation you now find yourself in? Write down your thoughts about these questions.

Why all this matters?

Too often we get into a rut, performing the same repetitive tasks and doing only what’s required like bar-tending to pay the bills until something better comes around. This sitting and waiting for inspiration or something better won’t work. TRUST ME. You need to something proactive if you want to move ahead – both professionally and personally – it’s important to step back. By thinking and reflecting about what you’re doing and how you can do it better, you open yourself up to new learning opportunities and experiences.

Goal 1. What Do I need to START DOING?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Goal 2 What Do I need to STOP DOING? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Goal 3. What do I need to CONTINUE DOING that is working ?

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hate Performance Reviews? Here is a Process that works.

The Boss has an Issue: Framework for an Effective Coaching Session.

1. Challenge your assumptions about the person’s ability and shortcomings, gather data and information on both sides of an issue. Thus, avoiding the “confirmation bias” villain that undermines open communication  Be matter of fact in presenting information and ask open-ended questions to find-out other person’s concerns and story about a situation.

2.    Explore Differences and Perceptions about what happened or isn’t happening. Before moving on —Identify Problem to be discussed in this session.

3.   Sharpen the Difference or Agreement–establish priorities for change

4.    Identifying and Exploring– making the relationship a personal win solution for other person

5.   Get Commitment – Identify Action Plan – Follow-Up by using Smart-steps for change

6.   Follow-up with Continuous Improvement checkpoints and Feedback Loops to support change and open communication.

Try this structure for your next difficult performance review, I promise it will provide a powerful and effective way to create a positive climate and promote behavior change.

Generalist vs Specialist which Path is for You? Argument for Generalist

Daily Quote : “Approximately 2,700 years ago, the Greek poet Archilochus wrote that “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Isaiah Berlin’s 1953 essay “The Fox and the Hedgehog” contrasts hedgehogs that “relate everything to a single, central vision” with foxes who “pursue many ends connected…if at all, only in some de facto way.” It’s really a story of specialists vs. generalists. Don’t miss this important article on career changes and what corporations are looking for when hiring.

Two Different Paths for Success and Personal Fulfillment in Life: Expert or Generalist–Your Choice.

Let me share two different strategies for personal success: you can either choose to specialize and become an expert in your field by creating one central vision by aiming to be the best in the world at doing one very specific thing (expert) for example specializing in only knee replacements and reconstruction, or you can try to become very good in as many different areas as possible (generalist) for example, by being an internist or primary care physician, which you then can use in combination to become a medical researcher or a professor in Primary Care. Now days, the Generalist strategy is gaining more desirable and popularity from the individual preference “point of view” and corporate recruiters because in a rapidly changing world it provides many more options and career paths (portfolio approach to skill acquisition). You are required to gather many experiences in different fields thus eliminating the potential disaster of choosing to be an expert in a field where you are bored or dislike the daily work or the people you work with. In being a generalist you have the ability to combine related areas of experience, you increase your versatility and flexibility to apply your large skill set in many different fields, making your particular combination of skills more uniquely valuable. The biggest issue for you is in making a choice of where you want to land and then very aware when opportunities present themselves.

If you’re interested in improving the quality of your life and work as a Generalist research shows us a few of the core areas of skill you need to focus on for personal and career development. Take a moment to imagine what skills and areas of skill development you would need to enhance to become a sought after generalist. Once you have your list of the things you want to improve rate yourself 0n a 1-(low ) to 10(high) so you have a base line to measure against as you work to improve. Then send me your email at mwhardwick44@gmail.com and get your FREE report highlighting what behavioral research says you need to develop to become a Generalist-Leader