In his excellent tome “The Passion Plan,” Richard Chang writes of making decisions regarding your life and work from two sources: your Head or your Heart.

IHeart vs. Headf your decisions move from your Head to your Heart (based solely on rational thought, logic, what “makes sense,” etc. and then considering your subjective side), you will ultimately experience Regret“I wonder what might have happened if I had done this or that…?” Or, according to Chang, if you stay with Head decisions, you’re likely experience Sadness, as you realize that you failed to consider your deeper needs and desires before taking action.

Heart decisions can have their pitfalls as well. As Chang notes, if you start from your Heart and stay with your Heart, you are likely to make Risky, totally impractical decisions, placing your future in danger as you never tempered your Heart ideas with logical considerations from your Head.

The best process, he suggests, is the Heart-Head journey. Identify and clarify your Passions, those deeply held beliefs and drives that make you the extraordinary person you are and then evaluate alternatives and drive your actions through your Head to seek out the best path(s) to achieve your Passions.

According to Chang, this Heart-Head process is the ultimate way to achieve what he calls “capital P Profit,” Profit that feeds the soul as well as the body! In the introduction to his book he quotes Benjamin Disraeli- “Man is only truly great when he acts from the passions.”

How about you? Do you know where your passions lie? If not, take action to discover them.

True GritI was introduced to this extraordinary word while listening to an interview with Dan Pink on his manga masterpiece The Adventures of Johnny Bunko. As Dan was recounting the key lessons learned by Johnny through that winsome sprite Diana (no spoilers here, you need to get and read this book!), he introduce me to Rule #4 – Persistence Trumps Talent. Dan went on to describe how the world was littered with competent, talented people who never realized their potential because they simply gave up, while others pressed on (perhaps even with less ability) to excellence.

Enter Angela Duckworth, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and her research on a personality trait she calls “grit.” She describes grit as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” In one paper, she noted that “the gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.”

Her research showed that the West Point cadet’s grit score was the best predictor of success in the rigorous summer training program known as “Beast Barracks.” It eclipsed more obvious traits such as intelligence, leadership ability or even physical fitness. In another example, the grittiest contestants at the Scripps National Spelling Bee were mostly likely to advance at least in part because they studied longer, not because they were smarter or even were better spellers!

As a marathon runner, this reminds me the anonymous paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 9:11 – The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.

How about you? Do you, like Marshall Rooster Cogburn, possess “True Grit?!”

“We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing. “ – Robert E. Lee

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

“Failure is always an option.” – Adam Savage, Mythbuster

“Make excellent mistakes.” – Dan Pink (via Johnny Bunko)

“Oops! I didn’t know THAT would happen!” Have you ever spoken those words after attempting something that “crashed and burned” before your eyes? I know I have.

Here’s another question: Did you learn anything from it? (Hint: The correct answer should always be “Yes.” Some of our best lessons emerge from dismal failure. We all know the story of Edison who supposedly said of his lack of success along way to developing the incandescent light, “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Every “failure” is an opportunity for significant insight, if we will only pay attention.

Please allow me to quote the sprite Diana from Dan Pink’s The Adventures of Johnny Bunko (if you have not read this excellent little tome, you should, it takes only about 15 minutes!!): “the most successful people make spectacular mistakes – huge, honking screwups! …each time they make a mistake, they get a little better and move a little closer to excellence.”

So, get out there and make a mistake! You could LEARN something!

I owe this phrase (and the name of my organization) tImageo an excellent little book by Marsha Sinetar, To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love. In this helpful tome, the author applies the ubiquitous Hierarchy of Needs developed by Abraham Maslow in 1954 (Air, Water, Food, etc. up to Self-actualization) to career development. Her version of Maslow’s pyramid describes the apex as “vocational integration,” a rather abstract appellation to be sure, but she also describes it this way: “Work as Gift of Self.”

I must confess to some professional jealousy. I wish I had coined this rich statement. “Work as Gift of Self” means that, as you describe what are doing, you are not merely recounting a bullet list of tasks and responsibilities that are known as your Job Description. You are describing yourself, your God-given passions, interests, values and most cherished skills. I have added the phrase (OK, this one is mine) “What you do should be who you are” to enhance this brilliant concept.

Does this mean that everything we do must cause us to be deliriously happy, enraptured by our duties, fully consumed in the joy of the responsibilities before us? Oh, please, cut me a break! I have always said that every activity, even those that we cherish most, will often include some of what I have termed “Grown Up Stuff” – duties that are necessary even though we would drop them in a New York minute. But, if most of what you are doing can be categorized as “Grown Up Stuff,” I would respectfully suggest that you should be doing something else!

So as you approach your daily “To Do List”, are you “giving of yourself” or just crossing off items to get to the end of the work day?

In applying to jobs or aspiring to a new position in our organization, we scrutinize the job posting carefully, noting every time we can place a check mark (Hurrah! I’ve got that one!) beside a qualification and every time we have to cross it out (Darn! Missed that one!).

The Perfect Employee will end up with a resume or work history replete with check marks and nothing crossed out, right? So, if you come up short, don’t waste your time. In this competitive job market, they will always be able to get exactly what they want and you aren’t it! Wake up and smell the java!

Without putting too fine a point on this, can I just say “Balderdash!”? (A great word, look it up if you have to). Stated simply, the Imagepanoply (another great word) of qualifications listed is, indeed, the ideal candidate, but it’s not fixed in stone. If you are able to match a significant number of the qualifications and don’t come up short on any of the “Deal Breakers” (like a holding a CDL, legal certification, own your own X-ray machine, etc.), my counsel is to “Go for it!”

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by throwing your hat in the candidate ring. I once challenged a group of HR types on a panel I moderated: “Do you really need all of the qualifications cited in your ad and, if you don’t, why are they there?” The answer I received was the one I expected. As HR representatives (a noble and challenging profession, to my way of thinking), they are tasked with the responsibility of finding the best candidate they can for their organization. This list of skills, experiences, aptitudes, etc. is designed to seek out the best possible fit between the person and the position. They may or may not get all they want, but they must ask!

Presenting yourself as a qualified applicant who meets a number of the qualifications (even though you may not knock it out of the ballpark) allows them to consider you, something they cannot do if you don’t apply!

So, to revisit my question – “How do you become the perfect employee?” – I must respectfully respond, “I’m not sure you can!”

I am sure, however, that you may become an excellent candidate when you make your strongest case for getting the job done!

I can see it now…an emotionally charged court room. A deafening hush has fallen over the entire spectacle, from the anxious, restless jury to the thrill-seeking spectators.Image

The Prosecuting attorney strides up to the accused perpetrator, extends a critical finger in his direction and almost screams: “Isn’t it true that you and the victim were involved in a Ponzi scheme some 10 years ago?!”

Defense bolts out of her seat. “Objection, your Honor! That question is irrelevant and immaterial!”

The wizened old judge responds. “Objection sustained. The jury will disregard that question.”

Oh, REALLY?! (We’ve now left the courtroom, by the way) Do you really think that, as a result of the judge’s directive, the jury will now totally ignore the question, not even considering the possibility that the victim and the accused had a history of illegitimate dealings?!

Of course, forgetting the question is exactly what each and every juror must do, but here’s the sticky bit: They all just heard it! Of course, they can (and should) consciously seek to ignore this potential bit of “evidence,” but the seed has now been planted by the wily Prosecuting attorney.

THIS is why you should never say “Quote – Unquote.” Once it’s been heard (or read), it’s too late. Oh, you can back pedal a bit, work up some reasonable explanation, provide some additional information to soften the blow or assuage the damage that’s been rendered, perhaps even recover somewhat from your verbal (or written) faux pas…

But wouldn’t it have been better if you’d taken a little more time before you opened your mouth or started typing? I sometimes think we should invoke the “7 second delay” used by radio stations to allow time to expunge inappropriate words, etc. before they get on the air.

Years ago, I had a college professor, Dr. Carl Cassell, who admonished us to “never say ‘Unquote,’ only say ‘End quote’,” since once it’s out there, you can’t make it go away!” It’s simply not possible to “unquote” something that you just “quoted.”

This sage advice can apply to all communications, from phone conversations, tweets, blogs, online posts and emails to networking meetings, presentations and interviews. As I have tweeted, “Measure twice, cut once” is not only good advice for carpentry. How about this? “Think twice, speak (or type) once.”

I even found corroborating evidence from the Apostle in James 1:19: “Be quick to hear, slow to speak.”

Good advice. And you can quote me on it!

Another fascinating book by Dr. Richard Wiseman, the author of “The Luck Factor,” a great treatise on harnessing cognitive therapy techniques to increase serendipity (my review is on shelfari.com and Amazon, if you’re interested) crossed my desk some time ago. This new work, “59 Seconds,” offers a myriad of suggestions on happiness, motivation, relationships, decision making, et al, all of which can be accomplished in under a minute (do you get the title now?!).

One chapter, Persuasion, includes some fascinating insights on how to have your best performance in a job interview. As is always the case with Wiseman, the three suggestions offered are backed by empirical research. While admitting that virtually all interviewers are seeking to select the candidate who best matches the requirements of the position, there are clearly significant subjective factors that all interviewees should consider to stand out from the crowd (as opposed to comeing to the interview in an orange jump suit).

Ready? Here they are . . .

Be likeable. Take the time to learn things you like about the organization, products, services, etc. and share them in the interview. Seek to connect with the interviewer in areas of related interest. Feel free to be complimentary to both the individual and the company. Show enthusiasm. Smile frequently and maintain appropriate eye contact.

Be honest. Research seems to bear out that you are better sharing any shortcomings you may have early in the interview, not near the end. This type of open, up front communication tends to boost credibility. Also, save some of your strongest qualifications for the finish. It not only demonstrates modesty, it provides a strong close to the interview.

Don’t panic. Do your best not to overreact if you feel you’ve really made a major mistake. In most cases it is likely more noticeable to you than to the interviewer. Apologizing extensively or focusing on a faux pas tends to accentuate, not correct the mistake. Simply acknowledge it and move on. For example, one of the experiments cited under this theme involved individuals wearing Barry Manilow T-shirts on a college campus. As embarrassed as the the test subjects were, only 20% on average of the people who saw them even noticed what they were wearing!

As important as qualifications are, research consistently highlighted the following question, per Wiseman: “Did the candidate appear to be a pleasant person?”

See, your mother was right when she told you to “Be nice!”


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