Posts Tagged ‘Barry L. Davis’

I recall an insurance company ad where a young lady is bemoaning the accident that totaled her beloved car “Brad.” She and that car had been through so much in the 4 yearsclipboard she owned it…2 boyfriends, 3 JOBS!

Welcome to the new job market, Sports Fans! The Rules have clearly changed!

First, let’s revisit the old Rulebook:

  1. Get training in a field where there is work.
  2. Find a good job with a solid company in that field.
  3. Do what you are told.
  4. Take every promotion they offer you (after all, promotions are always good, right?)
  5. Don’t leave; stay until they present you with the “Gold Watch.”
  6. Retire and then go do what you want!

NOT ANY MORE! I would respectfully suggest that there is a New Rulebook in town!

Be prepared for change at all times.

Only two things don’t change – God and change. As an employer, stay flexible, forward thinking and open to adjustments for you, your industry and your personnel. As an employee, you need not fall in love with change, but you’d better learn how to handle it! Change happens.

Act as if you are self-employed.

I recall reading the following credo on career development: “Because EVERY Job is Temporary.” Well, it is. As an employer, don’t assume that you will be ordering gold watches at a volume discount. Help your employees see themselves as integral parts of the solution. As an employee, take action at work as if your paycheck is directly related to your contribution (because, ultimately, it is!).

Never stop learning.

Employers should provide opportunities for employees to acquire new skills, knowledge, and expertise that enhance them as individuals as well as enabling them to contribute at higher and higher levels. To borrow a title from another one of my blogs, your workers are likely to be thinking “Play Me or Trade Me!” Employees should be seeking opportunities for growth continually, even if they must do it on their own.

Keep adding value to your work.

“What have you done for me lately?” sounds very ungrateful, but it’s a Fact Of Work these days. The best way to stop advancing in your job is to simply do what is expected of you. Employers, create opportunities for the employee to contribute more to the position. Employees, never be completely satisfied with your performance. Always seek to improve. I’ve coined a term to describe this mindset: “Professional Dissatisfaction.”

Take charge of your attitude.

When I’ve been called in to work with employees, it is never on how to use a spreadsheet or fill out a time card. It’s to teach them how to “play well with others!”  Employers should seek to enhance the communication and team building skills of staff through modeling the appropriate behavior as well as providing training and support in these areas. Employees should invest time and energy into enhancing their interpersonal abilities.

Is it a New Workplace? You bet it is!

STOP READING THE OLD RULEBOOK!

According to my yard (AND the dandelions!), Spring is now here. Let’s talk Mystery Gardening(tm)!

I have had myriad conversations with clients, friends, peers, etc. about the seeming lack of progress often present in job search and career development. In ruminating on this ever present phenomenon, I realized that thinking about the process in gardening terms may help resolve this frustrating conundrum.

Allow me, dear reader, to suggest some insights by introducing my Career Development Parable of ImageMystery Gardening™. Basically, here’s how it works:

Let’s suppose you go to the local garden store to buy some packets of seed for planting. On the shelf you discover some discounted containers. The packets are very inexpensive, primarily because they’re old and the labels fell off a long time ago. Oh well, the price is right, so you decide to give them a try. You have very little to lose, after all!

When you arrive home, you dig a furrow in the ground, guessing how deep to go and how far apart to place each seed (you have no clear instructions, remember?). You then cover them up and give them some water (guessing again).

You follow this procedure for each of the packets of “mystery seeds” that you have purchased.

So, what do you have? You don’t really know! Here is what I can say so far about your Mystery Garden(tm):

  • You don’t know if anything will come up at all.
  • You don’t know how long it will take if something does manage to push its way up towards the sunlight.
  • You are unsure if anything you planted will turn into something you’ll like.
  • It’s likely that some of the seeds are completely inert, providing no results at all.
  • Some may have a longer germination period and may appear to be dead but are just working their way towards the surface under their own time frame (a time frame that is frequently not yours!).
  • Some of the seeds may produce plants that hold no interest to you.
  • And, some of them may actually give you excellent results!

Personally, I’m not really much of a gardener, but here is something I do know: if you simply dump the seeds on the ground and walk away, you’re virtually guaranteeing little or no success. Yet, if you take the time to care for these “mystery seeds” by planting, weeding, cultivating and watering, sooner or later something will show up!

In a real sense, this entire process is quite similar to your career development. As you start to plant “seeds” through your various techniques (networking, side bar conversations, social media, research, kibitzing, etc.), you have little or no idea WHAT is going to happen, IF it is going to happen or WHEN it may happen!

You do, however, know three things:

1) You’re “planting seeds” of opportunity and

2) these “seeds” need to be cultivated.

3) In addition, sooner or later, something will come up!

Oh, there is one more thing you should be aware of: if you fail to “cultivate” these “seeds” through continued activity and follow-up, even continuing to add “seeds” to your Mystery Garden(tm), your chance of being able to “pick” the best plants from your vocational harvest is significantly reduced.

The moral of this little parable: Start planting, keep planting, watering and cultivating and don’t stop. It’s the only way to get your best “harvest”!

Conversations with students this week reminded me of this pithy wisdom:

“… le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.”

In Italian “Il meglio è nemico del bene” (The better is enemy of the good), this phrase is initially credited to Orlando Pescetti and was later popularized by Voltaire, who used the saying in Italian in the article “Art Dramatique” in the 1770 edition of the Dictionnaire philosophique. It eventually appeared in French in “La Bégueule” in 1772, ascribing it to an anonymous “wise Italian”…

“Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien

Dit que le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.”

(In his writings, a wise Italian says that the better is the enemy of good.)

The moral: In insisting on delivering only the best, you may end up accomplishing nothing!

I’m compulsive when it comes to correct grammar. Disagreement between subjects and verbs feels to me like fingernails on a blackboard. I ALWAYS use all of the letters on my phone when emailing, even when Tweeting! (I’m not bragging or complaining; I just want you to know how challenging it is for me to break my grammar rules in using the following “double negative!) Are you ready? Here it is:

CAN’T NOT!

How does this relate to you and your career development? When you think through your life experiences, the talents you have, your deepest held values, the themes that “haunt” you day and night, here’s my question:

WHAT ARE THE THINGS IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU “CAN’T NOT” DO?

In other words, what activities, involvements, thoughts, principles, etc. do you find yourself inexorably drawn toward, either in the way you do your work or how you “back fill” your time when not working? These CAN’T NOT’s keep showing up, even when you have difficulty putting them in words!

Over my years in career coaching and counseling, I have discovered the following fact: Even though a significant number of individuals never discover what they should be “when they grow up,” they are constantly trying to do it!

Allow me to share an example. I had a client whose job was to assemble complex systems on which to suspend large lighting and sound systems for entertainment venues. His work was something like putting together full scale Lego™ structures according to specific diagrams. It was important and intricate work. In session, I asked him to describe something he had done that caused him to feel proud, accomplished, something that he thought was “worth doing.” His response to me spoke volumes: “Does it have to be at work?” (Of course, it did not have to be at work, but at least some of it should be!). His answer: he shared a time when he worked with a friend on the design, selection of material, and construction of a customized kitchen system. His eyes lit up as he shared this adventure with me (not unlike the phenomenon of Flow, as developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – great stuff, you should look it up!). Clearly, this gentleman’s CAN’T NOT should embody creativity, design, and the hands-on manufacture of unique “works of art” – like a custom kitchen! Here’s a fact for us all: if it doesn’t happen at work, it must happen somewhere!

I often use carefully selected assessments with individuals to aid them in identifying these themes, discovering that the best of these instruments seldom “inform” the individual of new personal information as much as they “affirm” for them of where their CAN’T NOT’s lie.

How about you? Can you articulate your CAN’T NOT’s? Are you practicing them? If not, everyone loses! Take action to make it happen.

One side note, some of your CAN’T NOT’s may be too important to do as a living, but still belong in your life…

Trust me…You CAN’T NOT do this!

Early in my career I spent years working in fitness centers, both as a sales consultant and aNew Year Resolutions trainer. The die-hard “gym rats” (not a term of derision, to my way of thinking) always dreaded the first couple of months of the New Year. Scores of “newbies” would descend on the equipment, monopolizing the machines while grunting and groaning, often in poor form with little chance of success, in search of that elusive, fit individual hiding deep within them. By the end of February, however, most of the smoke had cleared, and we were back to the “old faithful” regulars at the gym.

You can also observe this fanaticism for resolutions in the ads on TV and the blogs/posts/tweets/updates on the Internet. Lose weight, transform your business, embrace success, take charge, be all you can be, etc. And you are all but guaranteed success in any of your endeavors as, after all, it is the New Year! It’s all New! You can have a Fresh Start! It’s bound to work this time, right?!

Well, yes and no. Bless those dear souls who, with all the integrity and resolve they can muster, make these Resolutions. I read a tweet from someone just before the arrival of a New Year that noted they had just 2 days left to achieve the results they had committed to 363 days before! Well intentioned, yet not likely to be realized in the next 48 hours!

So, you may well ask, what’s my point?! (Go ahead, ask!) Simply this: To borrow a well-known phrase from Madison Avenue that originated in 1988, “Just Do It!” Start right away, whether in the shadow of the New Year’s fireworks, the excitement of spring blossoms, the oppressive heat of the dog days of summer, the panoply of fall colors or the grey skies in the dead of winter. To quote the title of one of my favorite books by Barbara Sher, “It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now!”

And, once you’ve started, stay with it! I recently encountered a T-shirt emblazoned with this pithy phrase“Just Doing It.” Two steps forward and one step back (the way I typically advance) is still a net gain of one step. Remember that success is more often the result of “grit” than anything else. To quote another favorite author of mine, Dan Pink (in the persona of Johnny Bunko), “Persistence trumps talent!”

Make your resolutions, whenever and however you can and, once you have done so, get caught “JUST DOING IT!”

First of all, WHAT is it?

Fuzzy Logic is an approach to computing based on “degrees of truth” rather than the usual “true or false” (1 or 0, on or off) Boolean logic on which the modern computer is based. It was first advanced by Dr. Lotfi Zadeh of the University of California at Berkeley in the 1960’s as he was working on the problem of computer’s understanding natural language. Generally speaking, most computers are literal – they always do what we ask, not what we mean – while human beings are a bit “Fuzzier” in our ways of communicating and interacting.

Fuzzy Job Hunting implies that there is No One Distinct, Guaranteed, Always Successful Method for achieving meaningful employment. Employment search and career development is a moving target, requiring continuous action, adjustment, revision, sometimes even radical change in what you do and how you do it! This “Fuzzy” approach may relate to your vocational targets, your actions, your thought processes – everything involved in the career development and job-search process.

Let’s take a look at WHY you should employ Fuzzy Job Hunting.

1.   It will increase activity.

That old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is quite true. There is however, another phrase: “paralysis by analysis.” In a desire to have your act completely together, your resume absolutely perfect, your career target razor sharp, your employment search plan mapped out in 15-minute increments, you may never get started. Fuzzy Job Hunting encourages you to get an inkling of what and where and start moving. Laser-guided job search can create strategic and efficient action, if you ever come up with “The Target!” In the meantime, you are mired in the morass of planning the best course of action and end up going nowhere.

I like to think of this as selecting a basic direction for movement – Northerly, for example. As you move ahead, keep your eyes open. Maybe you’ll end up going Northeast or North / Northwest, but at least you’ll be moving in a direction that is generally correct! If you never strike out in a direction, you’ll never see any sights at all!

2.   It will create opportunities.

I once heard that “If you aim at nothing, you will surely hit the mark.” Well said! As noted above, pick a direction and start moving. Fuzzy Job Hunting creates the potential for Serendipity, “the faculty of making fortunate and unexpected discoveries by accident” (The American Heritage Dictionary). Things happen when you are in action.

As Barbara Sher said in I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, “The amount of good luck that comes your way depends on your willingness to act.” When your job hunt is “Fuzzy,” you tend to move more, get more visible, interact with more people, create more networking opportunities. Oh, sure, some of this may appear to be a waste of time, but how do you decide where the best contacts should be made? Many of my clients have found the most productive contacts they ever made came from the most unlikely of sources. Fuzzy Job Hunting gives you the chance to discover and be discovered.

3.   It will introduce new perspectives.

As open-minded as you are, there is no way to have much of a viewpoint on reality other than your own. As you employ your Fuzzy Tactics, you will get introduced to new ideas, new alternatives and other ways to look at things. Do you remember the story of the four blind men and the elephant? They each approached the animal from a different vantage point. One touched the elephant’s side and declared, “An elephant is like a wall.” The second reached out to the animal’s leg and said, “No, an elephant is like a tree.” The third tugged on the elephant’s tail and stated, “You are both wrong. An elephant is like a rope.” Finally, the forth reached out and touched the beast’s trunk, declaring, “None of you knows what you are talking about! An elephant is exactly like a snake!”

Who was right? They all were, each from their distinct perspective! The Fuzzy Job Hunt works much the same way by allowing you to benefit from the views of others. Each person you meet will have a slightly different slant, evaluating things from another side. Take advantage of their perspective.

4.   It will provide results.

Fuzzy Job Hunting increases activity, visibility and alternatives. I’ve said it before and will say it again: the traditional approach to the job market is chaotic and ineffective. It does not work particularly well, either for employers or for job seekers. The vast majority of job-search success (at least 85%) is through “nontraditional” methods, such as research, networking, social media, volunteering, etc. There is no better way to tap into the “hidden job market” than by thinking and acting “Fuzzily.”

So sharpen up your career development to be more “fuzzy!”

In his excellent book Go Put Your Strengths to Work, Marcus Buckingham introdbicepuced what he describes as 3 critical myths regarding strengths. Whether you agree with his premises or not, they are certainly worth considering.

Ready? Here they are:

Myth #1: As you grow, your personality changes. Individuals certainly make adjustments, have new experiences, mature, acquire new skills and knowledge, etc., but the core of the person stays pretty much the same. You should become intimate with what I like to call “Your Best Stuff,” because that’s where you will be the most accomplished and satisfied. This is why I chose the name “Gift of Self Career Services” to describe what I do. What you do should be who you are!

Myth #2: You will grow the most in your areas of greatest weakness. I can remember naively uttering the statement, “It’s not a weakness, it’s an opportunity for development.” True, to some degree, but it’s still a weakness! Spending an inordinate amount of time seeking to cobble a weakness into an ability that is barely adequate cannot begin to match the contribution when one is using their strengths to contribute to the organization. This does not mean, by the way, that you get a pass on your weak areas, just that most time should be spent on growing “Your Best Stuff.”

Myth #3: A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team. If this means finding the areas in the task, project, assignment, etc. where each team member’s strengths can contribute the most, this is a true statement. If, however, it means that individuals who are less talented in certain areas should step into these tasks, both the team and the individuals suffer. A good team member will help the entire team to identify and assign duties to match the strengths of each member for the task before them. That’s when the true ROI (Return On Investment) can take place!

Interesting take on strengths and weaknesses, is it not?