Friday, May 27, 2011

Motivation: Are you living your life?

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” ~~Judy Garland~~

Being yourself, when you’re not really sure who that is, is not an easy task. I’ve been participating in a lot of conversations around this topic lately. It seems more than worth exploring. Who are you?

Who are you in regard to a role? Who are you in regard to a job? Who are you in regard to your family? Do those things really make up who you are at all? Maybe the better question to ask is, “Who are you in regard to yourself?”

I was finally able to articulate something yesterday that has been on my mind for a while now… Who I am is evolving. Not only do we evolve as a species, but we evolve as individual people. Who I am today is not entirely who I was yesterday, and that’s a good thing. We are “continuous learners”*. We change, adapt, adjust, learn, grow, and do it again. Our dreams change. Our goals change. Our priorities change. And, as a result of all of this change, the lessons we have to share with others become greater, and more helpful.

So many people have been discussing Oprah’s last show. What stands out for me the most is that she gave her viewers a call to action. She challenged us to go do what we were put on this earth to do; to accomplish what we were born to accomplish; to share our knowledge and our passion, and fulfill our purpose; to live our lives.

Are you living yours?

*Great quote attributed to Margo Rose, founder of #HireFriday, and so much more.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Focus: Taking a Targeted Approach

“We have more ability than will power, and it is often an excuse to ourselves that we imagine that things are impossible.” ~~Fran├žois de la Rochefoucauld~~

I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last few weeks talking with job seekers about the importance of being “targeted” in their search. You need to know who your target audience is and tailor your message to them. You need to be targeted in your networking efforts, targeted in your conversations and you need to target your value proposition, your cover letter, and even your resume. Of course, that got me thinking about myself and my approach to my own business and, frankly, my life in general.

I know that staying focused is critical to my success. I know that there are so many things I want to do, and it is so easy to get distracted. I can spend hours on twitter in the name of organizing my lists believing that will help me be more productive later… and while that is absolutely the truth, it is likely not the best use of my time in the middle of my work day… What if, instead, every conversation, every email, every internet search, every Facebook post, every tweet, (read: every effort) was targeted and focused on one single desired outcome?

What if you took a few minutes each morning to decide what you would like to achieve, and then focus all of your efforts for that day on achieving it? That could be really powerful! First step: figuring out what you want to achieve…

Monday, May 23, 2011

Preparation: Choices Made from Lessons Learned

“You may not be able to prepare for everything, but you can certainly be prepared for anything!” Jennifer Scott

I have a shining example of the importance of preparation as evidenced by my 5 year old yesterday morning. He decided he wanted to paint. This was a big decision and required many little decisions to be made before he could begin. First, he needed to have enough forethought about his end product to determine what kind of painting he wanted. Was it to be large, or small? Was he going to use white paper or manila? Was it going to be a gift? Was it to hang on the wall? And, perhaps most importantly, what type of paint was to be used?

You may be wondering why exactly this was all so important. Let me rewind for you… The last time my son decided he wanted to paint he did not think things through. Lessons learned were many. Number one: Poster paint and water colors do not work the same way. Water colors blend and make pretty shades. Mixing poster paint makes mud. Number two: Manila paper holds more paint than white easel paper, which when wet, rips very easily. Number three: You have to be willing to part with a gift, or at least be willing to paint a second masterpiece. Number four: Paint spills easily.

So, choices made from lessons learned, and preparation continued. Next came set up. He decided to paint at the kitchen table. He needed the paper, his paints and brushes, water, and a roll of paper towels. We set him up and off he went. Sort of. My son is very particular... (I wonder where he gets that from…) He wanted to decide what the subject matter was to be before he began (another critical step in preparing for success demonstrated…) I won’t get into the end results in case there are any child psychologists reading… but suffice to say I have a beautiful painting now hanging on my office wall.

What I was reminded of was that preparation for any task, large or small, work or play is an absolute requirement for success. If we hadn’t remembered the paper towels, for example, the blue paint which ultimately colored the river would have been the size of a lake, and on my kitchen floor instead of on the paper. Mental preparation (getting over the fear of the giant mess form last week), careful planning, and physical set up of workspace all came into play. If it’s so helpful to a 5 year old, imagine what it could do for me…

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Focus, Rest and Career Planning

“Don't dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” ~~Denis Waitley~~

It’s incredible what a good night’s sleep can do for you!! Well-rested and focused, we can accomplish anything! With even the best laid plans and preparation, as we know, life happens, and it doesn’t always happen according to our plans… so as soon as you are able, pick up where you left off, and get back on track. And that’s what I’m doing today!

One plug for planning, and then I’m off to focus on today’s tasks…

If you are a job seeker in the NYC Metro area, please check out Career Planning on a Napkin! HireEffect is co-hosting (with My ExecutiveCareerCoach.com) a spectacular day of job search strategy sessions, networking tips, stress management tools, and some of the best career advice around. I’ll be speaking about the job search / corporate marketing connection! I hope to see you Thursday!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Goals Don’t Operate in Isolation

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~~Larry Elder~~

During a recent strategy session for a new business venture something wonderful occurred to me. Well, really several things were brought to my attention that made this “occurrence” sort of hit me in the head! Goals don’t operate in isolation!

Let’s assume for example’s sake that you have a desired outcome about something. You care enough about how this something is going to play out, so you write down your desired outcome. It becomes a goal. Achieving the goal should bring reward. Not achieving the goal will likely bring consequences. There likely exist some obstacles to achieving that goal, or you would have done it already. You need to identify at least those obstacles that you can see or predict. Then you need to determine several possible solutions to overcoming those obstacles. Once you actually identify both the obstacles and possible solutions, the obstacles themselves won’t seem so “obstacle-like.” Then you can take it even further. You can develop actual steps, tasks, to-do’s, whatever you want to call them that will help you reach the solutions, which will ultimately help you achieve your goals, get your desired outcomes and reap the rewards!

Goals are not the end. They are a means to an end. And, while that may seem obvious to you, breaking it down like this has really helped me to feel good about the choices I make about on what to focus and on which steps to take first in order to reach the end.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Attitude: Your Public Face

“Well we all have a face
That we hide away forever
And we take them out and
Show ourselves
When everyone has gone
Some are satin some are steel
Some are silk and some are leather
They're the faces of the stranger
But we love to try them on.”

~~Billy Joel, “The Stranger”~~

Have you thought about who you are in public? Are you different at home with your family than you are “in business”? Have you considered your online persona? Are you the same? As I talk to more people about the importance of an online presence in today’s marketplace I encounter many who don’t understand who they “should be” online. A few tips: 1. Be yourself. 2. Listen first to what’s going on around you, and then engage in conversation. 3. Add value and insight. And 4, which is the most important advice I can offer, stay positive. No.Matter.What.

It is becoming more and more apparent as online social networking tools increase in popularity that too many people still don’t understand the impact of negativity in public. Say whatever you want to at home behind closed doors, but when you’re out there, whether in person or behind a computer screen, please, I beg you, stay positive. Airing dirty laundry, complaining about your job (or lack of one), dissing the guy you just interviewed with in front of MILLIONS of people online, or otherwise being negative and whiny is just not going to help you. Not in any way.

If you really can’t think of a way to spin it so it’s positive, if you simply cannot find that silver lining, just stay off the computer. You’ll be glad later that you made that choice.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where Priority Meets Focus

“I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the years'.” ~~Henry Moore~~

It’s not always easy to determine priorities. Sometimes you need to make tough decisions about what you’re NOT going to do. I was part of an interesting conversation recently about planning and focus that centered on people being prepared for the wrong thing or planning for something that never ended up happening. These were being presented as negative; as people wasting time or effort. I agreed to an extent at the time, but then I started to think about when it had happened to me. I’ve certainly had times that I prepared for something diligently that never came to pass. I’ve certainly experienced focusing a lot of energy and effort on what turned out to be less important than other things on which I could have focused. But each of those things helps make up who I am, what I know, and how I go into my next action. While I certainly could have been better served doing something else, I don’t believe that time was wasted. I believe there is a reason for everything even when we don’t know or see what that reason is.

On the other hand, when you make those tough decisions, when you examine your goals carefully and plan specific action steps to achieve those goals, and then focus intently on those action steps, you are certain to succeed. When you can focus on the positive and not allow self-doubt or negativity creep in; when you can focus on the priorities and not let yourself get sidetracked; when you can focus on what you’re doing right now and not on what you need to do later, you’ve got a winning combination.

On what will you choose to focus today?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Attitude: More Lessons From My Son

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." ~~Antonio Smith~~

Do you remember when something as simple as getting to use an electric mixer was sure to be the start of an awesome day? How about when eating pancakes for breakfast was the Best. Thing. Ever. Or, when waiting a WHOLE WEEK until your birthday seemed like an eternity, and you couldn’t think of anything more important than who was coming to your party? Was life simpler then? I don’t think so. 5 year olds struggle enormously with peer pressure (yes, even at that age!), fears, uncertainty, and setting boundaries… That sounds a lot like what most adults suffer from too… so, what’s changed? Personally, I think it’s nothing more than attitude. Sure, the pressure is about more significant things, as are the fears and uncertainty, but you would think that since our power of deduction is also more significant, and our experiences are certainly much more vast, we would be able to handle the pressure as well as the little ones do…

I want to go back to getting excited about the “small stuff”. (And, I’d go as far as arguing that these things really are NOT the “small stuff”!) So, here’s my Attitude Adjustment for today: I will rejoice in what’s REALLY important in my life! I know my day will be awesome because I made pancakes with my son this morning, and we had fun! I’m celebrating the fact that there’s a smile on my face, and one on his too.