Be Successful: Allow Yourself to Grow
There's an old adage, No Pain, No Gain. I've used this frequently throughout my life, whether during physical, professional, or academic training. You see, I've always believed good things come through hard work. If something comes too easily, you're not stretching and therefore, you are likely not reaching your full potential. You've felt it; that anxiety when you are about to start something new - a job, school, parenthood! That old imposter complex creeps up on you. So, how do you get beyond this? How do you grow and allow yourself to push beyond the limits you have set for yourself? I've thought long and hard about this and here are a few things that have worked for me.
1. Recognize that most of the things we learn in life take time. We didn't learn to walk in a day. We didn't earn our degrees in one day. So why do we expect ourselves to reach perfection immediately on the job? It takes time.
2. Allow that you will make mistakes. You're human, and as we said in #1, it takes time. Most of the really great lessons I've learned in my life came through mistakes. There is NOTHING that will make me stop and learn faster than doing something wrong. The more public, the better the lesson.
3. Don't be afraid. Would you rather be afraid and not try, or try and succeed? Two and a half years ago, I took the biggest leap of faith in my life by giving up a secure life in Washington, D.C. to return to Seattle. And guess what? It all worked out perfectly! I achieved every goal I set for myself. Sure, I had some doubts. Sure, there were times I second guessed. But I would rather have tried and failed, than not to have tried at all, living with the big question all my life. "Could I do it"? I took the risk and I have my answer. YES!
4. Accept feedback. Find one or two trusted advisors who will be honest with you. Many friends will placate you with atta boys, but what you really need is people who will be honest with you and give you the feedback you really need to keep growing. I remember with gratitude every time someone has given me tough feedback. It stung at the time, but it left me with the awareness I needed to grow, and the knowledge that someone cared enough about me to provide it.
5. Don't be afraid! Fear does nothing for you, but inhibit you and your growth. Sure, a little humility goes a long way and I believe in it, but don't let your fear paralyze you. Go for it! Fake it 'til you make it. You might just surprise yourself!
I believe we have just this one life to live on this journey. And that final destination? It's a glorious place where you can look back on your life, know that you never gave up, kept reaching for your dreams and maybe, just maybe, you allowed them to come true!
Is your job search stalled? Have you applied for job after job online and heard crickets? It happens in many cases, especially when you haven't approached it strategically. Simply sitting at your computer, scanning the online job boards and applying then and there is not going to gain you much traction. When planning for college, you don't just go to the first one you see. Or house hunting. No, you do your homework. You conduct research on what each has to offer, speak to people who are familiar with it to glean what it's really like without relying on its own press. You visit and get to know its culture. Just like a relationship, the right job for you will match not only your profession, but your personal values. So how do you do this? What's involved?
I work with clients to develop marketing plans. This is my favorite tool for the job search and I rank it right up there with LinkedIn in proactively landing your next job.This tool allows you to clearly define the value you bring to your work and to define the attributes of the organizations you want to pursue, yes PURSUE! Don't sit and wait for companies to come to you. Get out there and find them.
The first step is defining your value add. What are the competencies you have? These include technical skills, experience, and soft skills to name a few. You may be skilled in management or technology or accounting. Next, for each of these competencies, what individual skills do you have? If you're a talented manager, you probably have good communication skills, and good coaching skills. You start to see the pattern here. Identify your most valuable skills and list them.
I remember one client coming to me after I 'forced' her to build her marketing plan. She was amazed at how enlightening the process was for her! Having worked for years, she had built skills on the job without realizing them. This process forced her to slow down and take a good hard look at what she has to offer. This subsequently allows you to speak to your strengths with others.
With YOUR value add defined, the next thing is to identify the value your target companies have. Just like a relationship, it's important to share the same values as your organization. Nothing makes for an unhappier, and less successful, career than to be in a company that is not the right fit for you. Is work/life balance important to you because you have young children? Then you undoubtedly want to work for a company that allows for that. Are you highly creative and thrive best in a flexible environment? Then you most likely want to avoid a very bureaucratic and structured organization. And so the list goes on. Really think hard and identify those qualities that resonate most with you. When were you happiest in your previous work? Where were you most successful? These are all clues to help you draw up this list. Along with this, what are the demographic and geographic attributes you seek? Local companies only, or are you open to relocation? Large established companies, or small start ups? Spend the time to identify these items.
The final step is to identify industries where you would like to work along with the companies that fall into that category. You may enjoy software development, leadership, and project management in a fast-paced high technology company. Ok! You can start your list. There are many resources for this part of the search: glassdoor.com, linkedin.com, friends, neighbors, family. In the Puget Sound area, you can look at the Puget Sound Business Journal Book of Lists that provides a myriad of lists of companies in the Puget Sound by industry. Build your list with controlled abandon! Once you've got a healthy start, begin your research. Talk to people who've worked there. Read reviews on glassdoor.com. Seek informational interviews with current and past employees. And finally, check the media. What's been in the news recently? Is it relevant to your search?
Do these three simple steps to create your marketing plan and your search will be elevated! You'll be strategically targeting only those companies where you will be happy and flourish, both personally and professionally.
Andrea Cole is a coach for individuals seeking to achieve their goals, both personally and professionally. She offers career search coaching on resumes, LinkedIn profiles and usage, networking and interviewing to those in the job search, and life coaching to those wishing to elevate the quality of their life. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many articles about leadership, and leader as coach. I recently became curious as to how the term coach came about, and in particular, how it was first applied to leaders. I started where I start all of my research, with the dictionary, to discover the root of the word. The word 'coach' is derived from the French word coche, which means a carriage that transports people from one location to another. Coach was first applied in a new way to mean teacher, or educator; one who helps move people from one state to another through education. The sports use of the word came later as a means of describing how one helps a sports team perform and raise their level of performance to a new place. Coach, in the sense that we use it today is a fairly recent evolution where the coach is the means by which people move from one state to another. I love this, and what it means to the coaching profession. As someone trained as an adult educator and having spent a good portion of my career in learning and development, this latest use of the word has particular meaning for me. I firmly believe in the power of education and outside of the classroom, most of my learning has come from the mentors and coaches I have been fortunate to have in my life. They have inspired me to mentor, and ultimately to become a coach.
But let's look a little more closely at leader as coach. Gone are the days when a leader sat in the corner office and spewed commands at his staff, expecting them to simply do their jobs forever. With the advent of servant leadership, and other less dictatorial leadership styles, leaders have recognized the advantage of developing those who work on their teams. A culture of organizational learning, a term coined by Peter Senge, has become the standard. With the pace of change in today's world, it is imperative that a company continually grow and evolve to keep pace. And a company cannot grow if it does not grow its members. After all, a company is made up of teams, which are made up of individuals. The concept of organizational learning is founded on this belief. Organizations don't learn. Teams don't learn. Individuals are the ones who learn. They then share that learning with the team, and ultimately the organization, benefiting all and taking the organization to the next level.
If a leader wishes for her organization to grow, it is essential they invest the time and capital required to facilitate learning at the individual level. Show me an organization that invests in its people, and I'll show you an organization that grows and stands the test of time. There are far-reaching benefits of this practice. Many employees seek organizations willing to invest in them, so you become an employer of choice, or one of those organizations winning the "Best Places to Work" list. It shows value and respect for the individual. If an organization fails to invest in its employees, it can expect to see a steady stream of people leaving its doors for those organizations that will. I was one of those employees at one point, in a position, that while the work was fine, made absolutely no investment in my further development. I was stunned that an organization would expect more of me without making the investment required. So, I did what many do. I sought a new job; one that would make the investment in my professional growth. And what happened? I learned, I grew, and my contribution to the organization grew along with it.
At a more granular level, and really to the point of this article, a leader needs to know the capacity of all his team members. He needs to know where they can develop and then working with them to find ways to make that happen. It may not be formal education. It may simply be coaching them as individuals to help them reach stretch goals, or giving them new responsibility to take on. Coaching can take many faces in this context. But, it all comes down to one thing: a personal and professional investment in the people who work on your team and helping them achieve greatness. You will help transport them to a new place, and your team and organization will as well.
You've been thinking about it for a while now, haven't you? All summer, while you've been enjoying the beach, barbeques, and holiday fun, it's been nagging at you. It's time for a change. Those last few days of vacation, you were dreading heading back to reality and that job that no longer feeds your juices. Yes! It's time to start that job search.
Believe it or not, the perfect job is out for you, for everyone. I see it all the time. I'm talking to someone who's done with their current job. They may feel burned out, taken advantage of, unappreciated, or they've simply outgrown the position and there's nowhere to go within their organization. But, moving on is scary, risky, and a lot of work. Isn't it just easier to stay put, in a job you believe is secure? Decidedly not! Life is short. You have skills and dreams. Go on out there and find that next new job that will have all your cylinders firing on high!
And, the good news is, it's a great time to be looking! Recruiters and hiring managers are back from their vacations, rested and ready to start filling those vacancies that were put off during summer. They're eager to get people onboard. Many organizations are starting to budget for next year, so they are evaluating staffing needs. And aren't you just the person to fill that gap? Yes you are!
There's no need to jump in with both feet if you're hesitant and not in a hurry. Take it a step at a time.
1. Polish up that resume. You haven't done anything with it since you took your current position 6 years ago? Well, there's work to be done. Update it with your current position. Identify your accomplishment stories and add them. Be bold! Briefly highlight all the work you've done in your career.
2. Update your LinkedIn profile. With an updated profile that you are ACTIVELY using, you might start garnering the attention of recruiters looking for someone with your skills. This is passive job searching. You're putting your best foot forward and getting noticed without having to do much proactive work. This can work for a while and let you test the waters while you get mentally prepared for a full fledged job search. Check my previous blog on best practices for LinkedIn. It's my favorite tool for job searching and where I spend a good majority of my consulting time with clients.
3. Develop a marketing plan. What are the skills you have that you most want to utilize in your next job? What kind of organization do you want to work in? Large? Small? Start up? High tech, Retail, Non-profit? The more you build your target list, the more you focus on what you want, the quicker you'll find it.
Go ahead. Take these quick and easy steps to start getting your feet wet. Your future awaits you, but just like that lottery, you can't win unless you buy the ticket.
Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your professional dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking guidance in building your career or preparing for retirement, she will coach you to success.