30 Second Success Strategies: Sometimes you need to just listen.

There are times in life when we are not aware of the things people around us see.  Have you ever had someone close to you at work ask, “Hey, how are you doing?” Sometimes they may say it differently than they normally would. They may even stop you on your way somewhere or invite you in their office. If this happens to you, don’t just brush it off. Instead, find out what others are seeing. It’s important to realize how change induces stress. The lord you are  the more rigid you will likely be towards change.

1) The many variables of life influence us daily. we are not impermeable or omnipotent. Things will get under our skin and we often don’t realize how it’s working its way into everything we do. the explanation for this is very simple. We try to compartmentalize things  thinking we can move ahead, but sometimes the bin is overflowing and things move from our subconscious and into our ability to focus, out mood, or performance. 

2) Remember that all change can induce stress! imagine you just won $10 million! What would you do with people who find out your number and call asking for financial help? Where will you invest it? How will you keep your kids from spending it all? How will you keep your family from fighting over it? How will the news influence your friends? Think everything will stay the same? I doubt it and it’s good news, right? So remember that even the greatest blessings can cause stress, anxiety, fear and worry.

3) We’re not always aware of what’s showing in the mirror. Ever look at yourself in the mirror and *think* that you made sure everything was perfect and in place? There was no missed facial hair during the morning shave. Your belt went through every loop of your pants perfectly. Or how about knowing that your shoes are from the same pair? Well, I definitely remember missing these signs and more! That goes to show that we’re often only looking at around 60% of what’s there. You may think you’re catching on to a higher amount of things than I am. Great! I applaud you! However, you’re still missing something at times. More than likely, your supervisor isn’t and they can sometimes be helpful in creating awareness about the things you have missed.

In Sedona

4) People care for you. A good employer is going to bring things to your attention so  you can address the issue and continue being successful at work. This employer will offer the opportunity to listen to you and determine how they can help you. They will offer  you resources and mentor-ship. They’ll want to know that they aren’t the source of the trouble and definitely how they can be part of the solution. If you’re working for a good employer, sit down and hear what they have to say.

5) The people you work with know you well. Let’s face it. You’re with these people for many hours weekly and you often share about yourself and your life. These people often become close supporters and even friends. They’re going to get to know you well and recognize when something is off. Whenever we are going through a difficult time in our lives, it’s important to let the people closest to us at work in enough so they can share what they see. Spending five minutes over a cup of coffee may open  your eyes to something you need to address that perhaps you’ve put off or minimized.

The workplace is often not thought of as a nurturing and safe place for us, but it often really is. For those of us who do work for an organization that cares about you holistically and is open to helping explore ways for you to be a successful person, then it may not be of a surprise that your employer and colleagues may be key in helping us understand how changes in life may affect us. It’s important to find those trustworthy and quality people who can clue you in on whatever everyone else sees. Once you face reality, you can empower yourself by doing something about the issue. Is it a matter of using resources provided by your Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? Is it a matter of addressing certain issues at home with your significant other? Need to go see the doctor? All of these issues can come up at work in one way or another.

Do you know what services are available at your company’s EAP? Do yourself a favor and investigate! You may be surprise by the extent of services available to you. Your employer pays for these services to help make you the best you can be, so take advantage of them. There are other organizations that don’t invest in their employees that way.

30 Second Success Strategies: Quickie on Leadership.

Leadership is often talked about in our lives. We here about it in politics and in the workplace and it’s usually connected to power and influence. What do you think defines leadership? Who do you think is a leader?

I believe the following applies to all leaders:

1) The role of a leader is not one given to you, it’s one we step into.

2) A leader is not limited to people of certain characteristics, but applies to anyone who demonstrates the characteristics of a leader.

3) A leader may not necessarily be the star or the person in the limelight.

4) A leader may not be popular, well liked or even correct.

5) A leader is someone who embodies the term in the way they treat others, in the way they manage conflict and difficult situations while embracing humility, accountability and integrity.

So what do you think makes someone a leader? My quickie list is not all inclusive, but definitely has some important points to look for.

Do you think you are a leader or have been one? Do you have what it takes?

30 Second Success Strategies: Scratching the grad school itch.

So you’re not sure about applying to grad school for whatever the reason, but you’re having a difficult time dealing with the thought that you’ll end up doing nothing. Look at things closely. Is it really an “all or nothing” issue? I don’t think it is and here is why. There are many activities you can engage in that will fulfill you intellectual, vocational and emotional needs. Read today’s 30 Second Success Strategies on filling the grad school urge and let me know what you think.

1) Network! Network! Network! Involve yourself in professional groups throughout your city and state. If you open yourself up to new groups of people in your area of interest, then you’ll benefit from them in many ways. You may be able to develop professional and personal relationships with people are doing what you’re doing, or what you’re interested in doing, and there is no telling what the ultimate benefits may be. However, the closer you get to those involved in what you’re interested in, then you can gain in knowledge and opportunity. Let’s say that you’re currently working somewhere and you’re thinking of going to medical school, which is a very specific area of study and practice that just can’t be replicated by networking alone. Well, determine what you’re ultimate goal is and work backwards. If you’re very passionate about the healthcare industry figure out how you can move laterally or diagonally into a position that puts you in the midst of the areas and topics you’re passionate about. You may determine that you don’t really need to go to medical school to satisfy your urges and then you will be able to build upon your network to reflect everything you’re interested in and potentially give you access into everything you’d like to do. You are the chef, the question is how to get yourself into the right kitchen!

2) Read. Remember how people became lawyers and doctors several generations ago? Until rather recently, most people read and studied under people who already practiced the craft. It wasn’t until the late 1800s or so that many careers became formalized areas of study within universities throughout the world. So my point here is that there are libraries available to you throughout your city and online that can provide you with the information you desire. You don’t need to go to school to learn about political science, trust me. In fact, one of my professors used to encourage us to simply read from as many books as we could because that extension of our education could often be assumed for absolutely free! Not bad.

3) Attend professional trainings. You don’t really often have to have a particular credential to attend trainings, such as continuing education unit (CEU) opportunities. I have had classmates who attended trainings even before we graduated from school. Why would they do this? It never hurts to learn information or get ahead of the game. For the person wanting to scratch the grad school itch, attending CEUs may be the best thing to do. It gets you a day or two away from work, you’re learning new things, and you even have the opportunity to talk to people who are working in the field you’re thinking about. Ultimately, you have the chance to learn something interesting in a fairly painless fashion, give yourself a way to feel invigorated after the training because you’ll feel good about what you did and good about yourself, and you’ll even have the chance to interact with people who are in the field you’re thinking about. Can you think of a better way to stimulate your mind and spend a day away from work?

4) Make a name for yourself. So you already have a degree. You already have a job in the field. You already have a lot, then! Don’t underestimate yourself and what you need to make a name for yourself. Not everyone in the world has graduate degrees. In fact, they are still quite rare. What matters most is what you do with the degrees and credentials you already have. Are you interested in law and think of working with children? Well, instead of jumping in head first into law school, contemplate getting involved in other ways. Think of becoming a court appointed special advocate through your local county court. Join the board of a local nonprofit or try to get a seat at a university panel that works along with the law school. Make good use of your networking, presentation and writing skills. You may not have a particular degree that you feel is a major shortcoming, but you may also be the one to jump to the head of the line because of the intangible skills you have, which includes your passion and dedication. Degrees are ultimately pieces of paper and they are never “everything” when it comes to winning and losing.

5) Go to school. Okay, okay! I know. I’m supposed to be writing about NOT going to school. But did you know that a lot of grad school programs offer brief introductions into their school and the degree? I know of several schools that offer summer programs, or even programs throughout the year, that allow you to take one class or a combination of classes, in order to give you insight into what earning the degree will be like and for them to assess you as a student. It sounds like a winning opportunity because you come out having learned some interesting material that you can always add to your resume and it gives you a real shot at seeing what you’re getting through grad school. You may realize that  you just need to enroll in classes at the local university or online just for your own professional benefit. There are many classes you can take that will give you a great return even if it doesn’t come with credit towards a degree. Exercise your options as you may only really need to dip your feet in the pool and not dive in all the way.

In Sedona

I hope you find yourself breathing a little easier. There are truly many options available for you. Make your own way to your end goal. We all ultimately have our own path.

30 Second Success Strategies: Why connections matter.

AurelioI often hear people talk about development of professional relationships as something negative. Some have told me in no fewer words that anything that goes beyond doing your job and being cordial to someone is “butt kissing”. Unfortunately, I believe people who hold this opinion are being short cited. You’re not kissing anyone or being dishonest. It’s about building relationships or connections that will lead to increased support, opportunity and camaraderie. Here are some 30 Second Success Strategies on how to make the most from your relationship building.

1) You never want to feel alone. If you feel alone at work, you’re going to feel alienated, weak, and it’s going to have consequences on your psyche and the way people think of you. If you feel alone, you’re likely not going to be a part of the sharing of information, opportunities and support that others who are engaged with their colleagues will be. Your perspective on your job, the organization and your willingness to go the extra mile will likely suffer. Your organization may also think differently about you if they need to make difficult decisions about who to let go in tough times. Don’t isolate yourself at work or you may pay.

2) People WANT to help you be successful. Yes, most people who get ahead through professional relationships don’t do so because they are being dishonest, manipulative or fake. They are likely succeeding, in part, because others in the position to help actually want to help! Surprise! There are people who have particular causes of their own that they try to promote within their organization. I’m sure there are people who try to help out other hard-working single mothers succeeding at both life at home and at work. Or perhaps you graduated from someone’s alma mater and they want to help give you an edge. Whatever it is, people in positions of leadership often want to help others succeed. In fact, some believe it is an obligation to take their success and find a way to share the benefits of the success and power they’ve accrued with others climbing up the ladder.

3) Exercise humility and modesty, not excessive pride. If you put yourself in the position to learn from others, then you’ll most likely find that people will open that door for you to learn from it. If you come with the attitude that you’re going to accomplish everything on your own and that you don’t need anyone, then you’ll be right. You’ll be on your own because you’re shutting the door on others who may have otherwise helped. So be humble. There are likely people who have been in your position before and you will one day leave the organization, too, so you will be replaced. However, make the need for your replacement one where people wonder who will fit in your shoes rather than simply filling your chair.

4) You need to have a good attitude. I’m sorry, but if you think you need to just do your job, you don’t need others and you’ll be fine by yourself, I don’t think anyone is going to want to spend time with you anyways. Perhaps only those who, too, only punch in and out every day for themselves and not for the organization, it’s mission and vision. I believe that if you have a good attitude, you’re going to attract others who  have a good attitude, who love their jobs, who are passionate, who are also developing inroads into the path of success within the organization, and who also will be up for promotions, special projects and other fun things. If you don’t think this sounds like fun, then perhaps you need to think about your current job or career. Sure, it may not necessarily be easier and you may not necessarily be financially compensated right this minute, but it will come down the road.

5) Doing more, even more than you’re expected to do, leads to greater trust from others. This one hits me personally. Know that often times people may try to task you with more work and responsibilities than you may be thinking of doing, prepared to do at the moment, or even responsible for in your job description. However, keep in mind that people may offer you these opportunities because they have started seeing you as a leader! If you pull our your job description and simply decline the chance of getting involved because the particular task is not listed, remember that your behavior and actions will also be looked upon with the same spirit. Having more responsibilities means that you have the opportunity to establish greater trust, a better reputation and attain greater knowledge. Unless you aspire to stay exactly where you are in your career and not grow in any skills, find the way to make room for the occasional unexpected assignment. Step up when you know there is a void because you are helping lift the entire organization.

Developing professional relationships goes beyond saying your “hellos” and “goodbyes”. It’s about letting others know you’re a leader, giving them the chance to learn more about you, and giving those in power the ability to exercise their influence in ways that can benefit you. Frankly, if you’re working anywhere in 2014, much will be expected of you. Your decision is to be among those who will be rising to the top just a bit sooner, or sometimes, if at all. There is nothing guaranteed in life and at work. However, you have a lot of influence and much has to do with your attitude, your work ethic and the core values you exercise in how you treat others and address your obligations. Where do you want to go? What ideas do you have about developing professional relationships?

30 Seconds Success Strategies: Success for the high school student looking ahead..

In SedonaHaving success in high school is an easy plan to configure. Putting it into action is a little more difficult. However, with dedication, hard work, and consistency, anything can be accomplished. Today I’m thinking about those high school students who are driven to do well and think ahead into the future. Here are some basic success strategies I recommend.

1) Create your own opportunities to get involved. Apart from just seeing what activities have already been created to suit high school students wanting to get involved, there is no shame in thinking about what you’d like to create if it doesn’t exist. Create the Young Democrats or Young Republican club. Volunteer at your congressman’s office. Take the time to figure out what you’re passionate about and see if you can somehow fill a need.

2) Expose yourself to further learning. With all the avenues of technology available to us for the price of a computer and an internet connection, there is almost no excuse from learning and exploring the topics that interest us. In addition, there are many different ways to explore those topics we’re not too crazy about. Aren’t too crazy about history? Well get online and see if there is someone talking about what you’re learning in a way that you find more appealing. You’re not just stuck to your teacher and his or her ability to tap into your preferred learning method. You have lots of power accessible to your finger tips.

3) Investigate what you think you’d like to do in the future. There are many resources available now to help people learn about different available career paths. Have you ever looked at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website and looked at the Occupational Outlook Handbook (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/)? Do it. Become familiarized now with what is out there. In most instances, people are often not practicing what they studied in college. However, that’s okay. Being a well-rounded person will help you be more successful and appealing. However, there are some career paths that require a lot of preparation to get into, such medical school and the science requirements imposed on students since they are freshman. I’d recommend you start studying the sciences early on so you’ve developed comfort and ability with the various science subjects ahead of you.

4) Become a well-rounded person. I have always prided myself on being able to talk to people about most subjects. It doesn’t mean that I know everything, far from it! However, I can say that I’m curious and interested about learning about things other people do. For example, I’d love to learn how to make a fine piece of furniture from wood or learn about electronics. My curiosity has often led to my exploration of various subjects online or in books I find. If you’re able to speak with others comfortably and relate to them, you’ll likely benefit from making more personal and professional connections. Success is largely contingent now on the circle of people you know, so grow beyond the niche you have found for yourself.

5) Take pride in yourself and try to cast a good first impression. People are busy and there are times when you are blessed if people give you more than 30 seconds before they make their determination about you and whether or not they’ll take you seriously, hire you or want to spend time getting to know you better. Now some people you’ll just never be able to win over. That’s okay. This is about showing people who you are a quality, educated and well-mannered person. Lean how to shake someone’s hand appropriately. Practice looking people in the eye. Learn appropriate etiquette. Not sure if these things are important? Imagine you had to hire someone to provide a very important service for someone you love deeply in your life. What kind of person would you want to hire? Similarly, you have to be that person, too, if you want to get ahead. Those first 30 seconds could pave the way to the next interview, the offer to meet in person or other opportunities you can’t yet imagine.

Remember that your firs impression are lasting impressions. People will not remember specifically how good you are at certain things or necessarily care that  you’re a complete genius. But they will remember if they believe you are a good, decent person and professional. Although you are in high school, think of yourself as a professional. Be respectful. Be courteous. Again, who would you hire? I know who I would hire and so does your future boss.

30 Second Success Strategies: Five reasons for not going to graduate school.

The allure of graduate school is typically a fragrance no one can resist. However, there lately seems to be a little resistance to using graduate school as an option during difficult economic and employment situations. People are starting to think more about their options and I think it’s a very realistic and sound practice in this day.SedonaCropped

1) You’re not really sure of what you will do once you have the degree. You don’t really have the luxury of going to graduate school and not knowing what you’ll end up doing. This will lend itself to creating a difficult and regretful situation because you may realize down the road that you made a huge mistake somewhere. You find out it’s not what you really wanted or the degree won’t really take you were you thought. There are so many differences between what people with social work degrees can do in comparison to counseling degrees. Many people don’t factor in those differences, or learn of them, until it’s too late. However, if you want to work in a hospital setting, social work is the way to go. Don’t make the big investment without knowing what you’re truly getting.

2) You have no money. Most people are graduating from college with debt. To enter graduate school you’re usually going to assume more debt, unless you have grants, scholarships, and other ways of securing the money. If you work a few years and save up some money or find a way to work through school, then you’ll have greater stability during school and more options at the end. Having money will provide you with options because you won’t HAVE to take the high paying job that you believe will kill your soul or bore you beyond belief. Having some money or avoiding debt will give you the opportunity to graduate and do what your mind and heart want to do. That’s power you can’t buy.

3) The cost of education outweighs what you’ll ever make. The world today isn’t just for the highly educated. In fact, I’m more convinced every day that it belongs to the people who are intelligent, but also self-motivated, creative and possess great people skills. However, when you look at it again, that means nothing has changed. People have always had to be intelligent, self-motivated, creative and good people skills to some degree in order to make it to the top. Perhaps these things just matter more now? Word is that many degrees are saturating the market so people have to compete in other ways as the degree is no longer any form of guarantee. Instead of mindlessly filling out your application and sending your first tuition payment, figure out how else to invest in yourself in ways that can set you apart from others. Will a certificate do the trick? How about other forms of training? Don’t limit yourself to the one way approach.

4) You’re unemployed. Okay, so you see yourself not having much to do, worrying about mounting bills and think of the first place to run and seek refuge: grad school! No. That’s not a good idea. Grad school, like marriage, should be something you do that’s  intentional, purpose-driven and outcome based. If you’re unemployed, you have the job of finding your next opportunity, taking classes, volunteering, networking, creating your own business or something else while the real job you want comes to you. Getting into school will largely change your life, add stress to you and may significantly alter your current relationships and experiences. Give education that role in your life when you’re satisfactorily answered the What? Why? Where? Who? and How? of your life.

5) You don’t know what else to do. I fear this one is very common. I went to law school at 24 years of age and I didn’t like it right away. I think there were many reasons why I didn’t like it, but one major reason was that I didn’t really know what to do with my career. I had planned on going into law because many of my relatives are in law and my parents always expected me to achieve a profession. I knew medicine was out of the picture because I’d here my dad get calls and leave to the hospital at all hours of the night and I wanted a much different life. So I found myself in school and really had no idea what my goal was other than to study and pass tests for three years. Ultimately, reason overcome my sense of obligation and I found my way to what my true calling is. Making huge commitments without knowing the reasons behind it can be very costly and painful.

My perspective is that people have many more tools and strengths than they realize for themselves. Take some time in making your choice. An employer of mine once told me a story about his father getting his PhD at the age of 77. He ended up teaching at a university for eleven years after that. It’s never too late to get that degree for the schools will always be there. However, it’s important to take a few significant and influential steps in life because that can set the tone for your career and the evolution of others facets of life. Take it seriously and dive in when you’re done your homework. Make the most of your opportunities and believe in  yourself; that will take you a long way.

So what are your thoughts and experiences on grad school? Did you go and regret it or do you think people should go precisely when they are trying to answer things for themselves? Let me know!

30 Second Success Strategies: So you’re 30 and living in your parent’s basement.

How have others managed to pick themselves up and get back to living “the dream”? Okay, so it’s not pretty and definitely not fun watching others find success while you’re questioning everything you’ve ever believed about setting yourself up for success. It’s likely definitely not where you imagined you’d find yourself. So you finished college? Have a master’s degree, too? You say you haven’t found a job and can’t get any luck? So what can you do?  I imagine the dream appears like it’s something far, far away at this moment. However, don’t get too disillusioned. Well, really try to avoid it if you can  because you’re dream isn’t too far away. I think it’s just not quite where you expect to find it.

So things have changed and the last 15 years have done a lot to transform the job market in the United States and beyond! We’re now in the place where everything will “help”, but I don’t think there are any guarantees any more. There is no field that is without scrutiny and has been free from being turned over on its head. There is an over abundance of attorneys, tons of people have MBAs, doctorate degrees aren’t quite what they used to be and, oh, if you have a graduate degree you also run the risk of looking too expensive to hire or like a flight risk the first moment you get a better job. Now let’s think about how everything is being outsourced, well almost everything, but I won’t bet against ingenuity and the desire to cut costs. So where is the good news….where is the dream? Lunch in Sedona

I think the good news is that it appears to me that there has been a greater trend to open employment opportunities to not just those with the right degrees or perfect pedigree, but to anyone who is truly willing to set themselves apart and is really willing to work hard. So employers are expecting more from their employees and this expectation starts from the beginning, before they’ve even been hired. Employers are looking for applicants who are truly motivated to set themselves apart from the rest. You’ve got to bring your perfect resume with you, but you also have to have good people skills, you’ve got to give evidence of your passion through your resume and CV and you’ve got to take hold of the interview as much as you can.

Simply put, there are almost no rules any more. Before we’d all just hand in the resume and get called for an interview. Now it’s all computerized and you can quickly find yourself losing out on the perfect job because your resume doesn’t reflect the right keywords. We also hear stories every day about the whiz kid who learned programming in his high school class and is CEO of his own company or making millions giving the digital market what it craves. Gone are the days that a diploma provided security. Now we’ve got to reinvent the rules and that’s all about tapping into your desire to realize change in your life. Have you thought about how you’re spending your time? Are you volunteering? Are you reading? Are you even thinking of part-time employment or self-employment? Are you trying to learn skills that could help you even land a job in a different industry? These days are ripe with opportunity for the renaissance man or woman who takes it upon himself to learn new skills and carve out a niche for herself. We must exercise curiosity and desire for learning. We must learn how to parlay these new skills into opportunities. Traditional means of establishing a career still work, but you can’t rely on that alone. Ask the number of lawyers in America who are working part-time or contract jobs when they expected to be sitting pretty at the helm of what once was a sure thing.

Perhaps my perspective on the traditional path is somewhat more bleak than it should be, but I have no reservations about professing my belief in the common person and the equation between the expansion of the mind with expansion of opportunity. If you surround yourself with people who emulate growth, success and progress, you will soon be on their side of the fence. Take hold of this opportunity for you have nothing to lose by being creative and packaging your gifts and abilities in a way unique to you. Create  your vision board and go after it. Make it happen. 

30 Second Success Strategies: Leaving yourself options.

Yes, leaving yourself options is a way to empower yourself and help yourself be successful. What does it mean to have options? Well, options allow you to exercise alternative choices. It provides you with freedom, power and choice. What are some ways to give yourself options? Here are some of my most preferred!

1) Don’t burn bridges. No matter how you feel about your prior employers, always leave under the best circumstances possible. Leave on a good note, if you can. Even if you get fired, people will always remember the way you leave an organization and you don’t want to run the risk of someone’s reach into your new career life to spoil some opportunities. In addition, you never know if you’ll actually need to work with the people you used to work with while employed in a different organization, once you’ve graduated from school or in some other unexpected way. I’ve come to learn that the people I used to work with have been some of my greatest assets in positions I’ve held later.

2) Always be selling. What I mean here is to always be promoting yourself, your work and your organization. This is not only a great way to treat an organization that has been good to you, but it is also a good way to transition into your next opportunity. It is ideal to not have to transition out of need, but to do so because you’ve grown and the next sensible transition in your career has presented itself.

3) Don’t react to situations out of fear. Always remember that no matter the crisis, there will be a moment in which you will find yourself back on your feet, ready to resume the path you were once following. Things happen and are often beyond our control, so take care of your immediate needs however you need to, such as finding a part-time job in your field or creating your own opportunities for generating income, but always keep the look out on the next solid opportunity that you’ll need to get back on track. React with confidence and don’t bundle yourself into the collective “everyone”. You’re not everyone. You’re “you” and people through the toughest transitions in this country’s history have found the way to survive, persevere, and even get ahead. React with confidence and keep your chin up.

In Sedona

4) Continue growing. Continue learning. Read new material. Explore new things. Don’t allow yourself to remain stagnant. Under the best or worst of circumstances, you should always dedicate some time to building your present skill set or knowledge base. Times change and so do most fields. They are living, breathing entities that will leave you behind if you’re not paying attention or overestimate your need to continue growing.

5) Exercise your options. Doing any of these four things will always provide you with options that you can exercise at some point when you think you are ready for the next challenge. Feeling that you HAVE to take a job instead of feeling that you have the OPTION to take a job are two completely different things. Feeling that you are STUCK will only lead to resentment and poor performance. Set yourself up in such a way that you always have a few moves available on the chess table. Use the resources available to you to their maximum, use your time wisely and continue developing into the great employee you will one day be for an organization out in the future.

I would be interested in seeing what thoughts you have about providing yourself with options that can give leverage and opportunity in your career.  Also, if you have any questions or other comments, please let me know. Thanks for reading this 30 Second Success Strategies submission.

30 Second Success Strategies: Knowing your X-Factor

Enjoying Sedona, Arizona
Enjoying Sedona, Arizona

The X-Factor is something sometimes discussed among sports enthusiasts in regards to a particular player or situation that bears great influence over the results of a game. For example, if Michael Jordan of the famous championship winning Chicago Bulls will always be considered a human X-Factor. If he is in the game, the Bulls almost always had a shot at winning. If the game came between winning another championship ring or going fishing until the next season, there was no doubt that Michael Jordan would will a victory if he had to. Now I think of the X-Factor in our own lives and wonder what frees us from the guilt many experience while trying to thrive in the workplace.

I encounter many friends, especially female, who push themselves incredibly hard to succeed, to do their best and to give back to their team. However, sometimes I get the feeling that the push to success almost becomes an overwhelming pursuit for survival in light of heaping expectations that I have already been told are truly unrealistic at times. My dear friends who are women are obviously fighting against several influences and fighting for many other positive causes. But my question is, how does someone who may realistically need to push themselves and work literally twice as hard as the next person ever find the point where they are happy with what they’ve achieved? Where do they draw the line from setting high standards to crossing into a somewhat antagonistic force questioning their thoughts, judgements and motives for things, such as the desire to smell the roses and enjoy the fruits of their labor. So when is it enough?

I think about these things a lot. I currently work as a child therapist, but I spend my free time thinking about how people can be at their best and win in all areas of life, such as work, love, personal growth and finances, for example. What is it that can make one person be at their best, or I guess the correct way to say it is how can one truly achieve “work-life balance” in today’s workplace? We still  haven’t gained back the jobs we lost in the great recession and I dare argue that many of the ones we have gained aren’t the type of jobs most of us in the professional arena are looking for. So employers typically expect more and more, Americans are working more and more, and many hard-working people are thinking that their contribution means less and less? Something is off.

I kind of think that our own little X-Factor is that voice in the back of our minds that tells us we aren’t enough. It tells us that we’ve failed. It tells us that we may as well give up. But what if we change that voice to a protagonist voice that cheers us on, that accepts us for what we are, that embraces our limitations and that helps encourage us to will our way to victory again the next day? What do you think that voice should say? I think it should say, “Hey, I am a good person. I do ______ very well and try to do better everyday. One thing I can do tomorrow to improve is this ________. And above all else, I have to love and appreciate myself.” I think our own X-Factor is self-acceptance. Self-love. Self-Yes I’m a human being and may make mistakes, may feel bad one day, but on most days I’m running on all 8 cylinders here, and at home, and at school, and at church and everywhere else I go. I’m a leader. I’m leaving a legacy that goes beyond what I did this last-minute. I’m leaving the legacy of my life.

So I offer this. Let’s focus on the legacy we are leaving. Maya Angelou correctly said that people will remember most how we make them feel. So let’s focus on how we will leave our station in the office or in life by thinking first of how we are planning on leaving others feeling. That, in some respects, is a legacy. It’s the guttural response to how a person touches our life. So perhaps we should think more about the day-to-day steps we are taking towards leaving our legacy. We don’t create it in one day, after all. Instead of dying a death by one thousand cuts, lets heal our wounds and strengthen our hearts by acknowledging and accepting where we are, develop a plan about where we want to go, and intentionally bridge that connection every day. Michael Jordan missed thousands of shots, along with several last second shots that could have won the game. But he focused on how he could do better next time.  Every mistake gave way to improvement. Every failure pushed him to tying on those shoe laces with the intent to do his best and to approach it with tenacity and determination. When I talk to young people about failure, I always look to some of the best and brightest who have failed on far greater stages than I’ve ever stood and who’s strength carried them to even greater heights.

So find your X-Factor. How can you determine if your day will be mindful, intentional and opportunity seeking rather than punitive, belittling, and antagonistic? What do you consider your X-Factor?

30 Second Strategies: Having a conversation over the interview

Interview
Interview (Photo credit: Dice.com)

Having an interview can be an anxiety inducing experience. What will they think of you? Will you say the right things? Are you dressed appropriately? Will they like you? Unfortunately, we forget that an interview is just a conversation. It is a conversation to help people on two sides determine if they make a good fit. There can be lots of pressure to do well on an interview, however, you’ll likely do your best if you’re feeling calm, confident and comfortable in your own skin. Anxiety, fear and self-doubt will only help sabotage a real opportunity to shine.

1) Remember who you are. It’s difficult to remember everything on your resume and even more difficult to remember years worth of accomplishments at the drop of a hat. Review your path of success, whatever it may be, and be ready to speak about your path to success, present and future.

2) Remember what you have to offer. Be confident in yourself. If you don’t believe what you’re saying, why should they? Reviewing your past history and history of accomplishments will help bolster your self-confidence and help them feed off of your confidence. The more naturally you convey your ideas, beliefs and vision to an interviewer, the better the conversation will go. It’s about being natural and familiar with the ideas you wish to share with others.

3) Practice makes perfect. Practice answering the “Why?” and the “What?”.  If you can answer “Why should we consider you?” and “What can you bring to the table?” then you’re ready for every question they can ask. Use every interview as an opportunity to get better at interviewing.

4) Practice good observation skills. It’s a conversation. Listen. Watch. Get a sense for the people interviewing you. Don’t be afraid about your ability to “Wow” them. Instead, get a sense about whether they are a good fit for you. You don’t know them and they don’t know you. They are also people, so be present like you would during any conversation.

5) Interviews serve a mutual purpose. It is just as important for you to determine if the organization fits you as it is to figure out if you’re good for them. A good match will lead to chemistry, harmony and the benefits of great compatibility. To be successful, you’re going to want to make sure that you enjoy rubbing elbows with the people across the table from you.

Remember to focus on the “big picture”. No matter the purpose for your interview, all you need is one person to say “yes”. You’ll get that if you keep trying, are preparing as best as you can, and continue learning from each opportunity. Each interview will bring you closer to your ultimate goal. Enjoy the process and remember the many things you bring to the table. Whether you’re a teenager or a 60-year-old recently laid off by the company you served for thirty years, interviews are an opportunity to highlight your strengths and build professional relationships.

30 Second Success Strategies: Opportunity through rapport, trust and communication.

Organization Keeps you moving-Vin
Organization Keeps you moving-Vin (Photo credit: nist6ss)

Let’s face it. Most people enjoy challenges that keep them moving, growing and having worthwhile experiences. People who perform at a high level have a great appetite to learn, perform and meet the next challenge. So what to do if you feel your movement is stalling?

Every job should have a job description or a Key Results Areas (KRA) description that pins down what is expected of you. From that, you can challenge yourself to go above and beyond what is expected. You can work on providing successful daily results. However, there comes a point where the job description has become stale. Maybe you’ve grown  and are no longer challenged by what is expected but now do not know HOW to take the next step in your development. When you get to this point, it is time to talk to your employer about the next challenge ahead.

Every employer wants their team to lead and do well. Employers want people to fulfill their obligations and make significant contributions to the organization. Unfortunately, it does not imply that we are always encouraged or capable of getting a promotion. During tough economic times, people hold on to jobs longer and longer. Organizations are also equally unable to expand because resources are tight and the particular market you serve may not be experiencing much growth. However, don’t let that discourage you. There is tremendous opportunity and the following 30 Second Success Strategies may give you the right approach to clue your employer into your needs while keeping an eye on the organization’s welfare.

1) Document, track and compile and convey information that demonstrates how you are contributing to the organization. Ask for face time. Build the relationship and trust. Come to the table prepared to talk about your success and leadership. Don’t always assume your supervisor has a finger on your pulse. In fact, your awareness of your supervisor’s personality and workplace tendencies should influence your approach. Do they like a lot of detail? Would they prefer you leaving information for them to review? Will they force you to speak on the way to the elevator? Whatever it is you have to share, learn to adapt and meet their needs.

2) Review what is expected of you. Sit down with your supervisor and demonstrate how you have already surpassed what is expected and that you are ready for a fresh, more ambitious perspective on what responsibilities and opportunities your position requires. They may rely upon your insight and feedback to connect the pieces of the puzzle and brainstorm great ideas for you to continue growing and learning. You’ve most likely already created a vision of where you would like to go with your position, so ask to share it. Share how you see your position evolving. Again, come prepared to discuss your ideas with the organization’s welfare being front of mind. If something you pitch is good for the organization, then there will be fewer obstacles in your way. If your proposal is critical in meeting the organization’s goals, then you may find a lot of support for your ideas.

3) Share your observations of what tools and leadership would make your position more effective. You may possibly be better acquainted with the day-to-day needs and demands of your position than your supervisor. Sharing information about what is needed to make your position most effective may help organizational leaders who are stretched thin or busy putting out fires. In fact, the light you help shed on what NEEDS to be done WILL result in several benefits for you and the organization. Your insight is extremely valuable and can make the job of others around you better, so don’t be shy.

4) Share your observations of how learning and professional development opportunities would enhance your ability to contribute. Smart organizations and intelligent leaders value good personnel and want to gain their loyalty and keep them happy. If you have good rapport with your supervisor, inform them of opportunities you believe are critical in helping advance your skills to the next level. Brainstorm with them how continued investment in you, whether it take the form of money, flexibility or something else would heighten your skill level and contribution.

5) Ask about their “no limits” vision for you and the position. Give them the opportunity to collect their thoughts and think about the goals and hopes they see for your position, you and even themselves. If you’re a leader and good team worker, they will likely associate how your success translates into their own accomplishment. There is nothing wrong in sharing commitment to winning. This exercise may get them to think out of the box, or at least without the limitations that guide the day-to-day work. While putting these ideas into practice may not all work out, some things will stick and become very real.

I hope you enjoyed the 30 Second Success Strategies to help you open the discussion about what else you can do to benefit your organization and help you continue moving forward. Remember that you have great value and a lot to offer. Go for what you believe is just and with an open mind to discuss, collaborate and lead. Good luck! I’d love to hear about your stories related to this blog!

30 Second Success Strategies: Attitude can add new life to your job!

Employment Exhibition
Employment Exhibition (Photo credit: Modern_Language_Center)

 Ever found yourself sitting at your desk not knowing if you’re in the right position for you? I think most people do find themselves in such a dilemma and it can be quite uncomfortable. On the one hand, you are weighing the risk of leaving your  position. On the other hand, the promise of unknown opportunity is difficult to pass up. As you create the endless checklist of “pros” and “cons”, let’s think about what’s really happening.

Identify what issue, problem, experience and moment in time first led you to contemplate leaving your position.

I believe the internal struggle is about a need to satisfy certain desires, such as having greater influence or control. Wanting greater power or control is never a bad thing. Such a desire conveys a desire for greater leadership, influence and accountability. However, while you may be struggling between a difficult decision to stay or leave, the answer may be far more simple. It is of critical importance that you first make sure you have the right attitude. What are your beliefs about the position? Are you “too good” for it? Is the position not quite where you imagined you’d be at this point in your career? At this point in your life?

Explore the internal beliefs or automatic thoughts that guide the uncomfortable struggle to leave or do something impulsive.

If your employer has provided you with a thorough job description and desired outcomes, then you should know from day one whether you and the job are a good match. If that’s not the case, then plan on when to walk away. It’s sometimes hard to do that when you need a job or are looking for stability, but your compatibility with your job is just as important as your compatibility with your mate. After all, you’re going to spend a great portion of your life there and your dissatisfaction will become increasingly more difficult to hide. If you’re uncertain about whether you should stay or go, consider the following Key Attitude Evaluation Areas:

1. If I like what I see in my job description and what is expected of me, then am I doing my best to meet my employer’s expectations? Am I earning my compensation and benefits?

2. If I am comfortable working with my particular colleagues and serving our particular clientele, then am I providing the best internal and external customer service possible? Am I making the organization better for everyone around me?

3. If I believe that this job is only a short-term proposition, how do I believe it will contribute to my personal and professional development? Am I making the most of the intangible benefits of working in this position or within this organization?

Based on your answers, you have a choice to make. If you can’t change or are unwilling to try, then you will have to leave, which will be good for you and your current organization. Your employer cannot be a mind reader and is not responsible for motivating you. Before you believe the job has failed you, make sure you have done everything to serve your employer and honor the opportunity you have available. If you realize that you could still do more to make the most of the opportunity, then give it a shot and be aware of how the rewards and benefits reveal themselves.

Reflect on the emotions and physical cues you experience during this time of stress and uncertainty. Let them guide you in understanding what is happening and what you need to do.

If you are confident that you are doing your very best and fulfilling your role, then that requires a different step which involves talking to  your employer. We will look into that on the next 30 Second Success Strategies. However, first look at yourself and pay attention to the connection between the events of your life, the automatic thoughts and beliefs you hold and the resulting feelings and emotions. The greater awareness you develop, the more grounded you will feel and the more confidence you will gain in deciding how to navigate your career.

Welcome to the Core Positive Coaching & Consulting Blog!

Do yourself a favor and answer the following questions…

Do you work so hard that you find yourself having difficulty maintaining proper balance with your work and personal life? How would your team perform if they had improved self-care skills?

Would learning how to take better care of yourself help you feel better and be more successful? How would your team benefit from improved focus and communication?

Have you put off major goals for “tomorrow’ that would contribute to your success? How about the success of the team you lead?

Are you a young adult, or young professional, looking to improve upon your leadership skills?

Would you like to begin living a life filled with gratitude and learn how to ride the wave of team leadership successfully?

I am a genuine, intelligent and compassionate coach dedicated to building positive communities by working with motivated individuals interested in living their purpose, giving back to those around them, leading at high levels and living a high quality of life. I focus on helping leaders within organizations learn new skills and make the most of existing organizational strengths.

My name is Aurelio, a Life Skills, Leadership and Professional Performance Coach, and I have launched Core Positive Coaching & Consulting, LLC. I do not provide counseling or therapy. What I do is help professionals learn how to make the most of their strengths, their team and current circumstances. While I am not taking clients at this time, please do check my blog and let me know if there is anything that seems particularly interesting.

Interested in learning more? If so, follow my website, blog, Facebook and Twitter feeds to learn what I have to offer.

Looking forward to the journey!

Aurelio Duarte-Encinas, MC

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill