Take a Look at Yourself… Is It Time For A Change?

“If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change…” Man in the Mirror, M. Jackson

When we’re employed, we get up, drive to our jobs, interact with our colleagues and go home. We enjoy our work (or not) and put in long hours. We meet our commitments and take pride in providing for our families. We know we “should” network, join that professional society or help on that committee but somehow, we just can’t find the time.

Then “BLAM” –we find ourselves out of work. We ride the emotional wave and try to find a new groove. If you find yourself out of work, pay attention! You have been given the gift of time. You have every day, all day to do the things you didn’t have time for professionally when you had to go to work everyday.

Take Action: Find what you love and then chip away at the obstacles that are stopping you from being successful.

  • Make a list of the things you are doing to grow your skills. Are you satisfied?
  • Write down 3 things that you always wanted to do professionally.
  • Talk with someone you like and respect about how to begin to do any of them.
  • Commit to doing something everyday that challenges you.

I love to make presentations. I get energized when I’m sharing in front of a crowd. I used to hate to network but then I figured out, the only way to do what I really love is to talk to lots of people and work to get opportunities to do what I want.

What are you doing today to change yourself? Are you getting what you want? Is it time for a change? Confide your dreams to someone. Reflect on what’s good. Take action.

Don’t Try Harder, Try Different

“Don’t try harder, try different” is one of my favorite sayings. I remind myself of this thought often. The saying used to be “work smarter, not harder” but when I’m stuck, I’m not always sure what would be ‘smarter’. This saying reminds me  to ASK someone for their ideas so I can get unstuck.

I don’t often write here about my own work but I have to brag about my colleagues from the Philipson Group. Michael Philipson had an idea to create banners for the East End section of Rochester.  These colorful and engaging banners hang from the light poles throughout the part of town that will soon host the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Michael wanted to draw attention to one of the vibrant parts of our city. Creating yet another plain graphic banner was not going to garner much attention. Beyond the fun photos (shot by Rochester photographer Walter Colley)of local citizens, sponsorships were sold. I encourage you to drive or walk around the east end and see all the banners.

I also encourage you to try different. Be sure to ask people unfamiliar with your project what they might try. Look for inspiration in unexpected places. Read a poem, go to the art museum, listen to music with the express purpose of freeing your mind. Let me know how trying different is working for you.

What? I Can’t Hear You (I’m Not Listening)

I learned this week that the number one skill that the worker of the future will need is active listening.  You know, the skill where you actually pay attention to what the other person says.

It’s says a lot about modern living that the number one skill we’ll need is something “soft”, not technological and I think it’s a good thing. So how can we improve this essential life skill?

1.  Listen with your eyes – Eye contact can help you pay attention and has the added benefit of making the speaker feel special. This is especially important in coaching, mentoring or leadership.

2. Summarize – when the person is finished, repeat back what you heard. When you know you are going to do that, you will pay more attention and stop thinking about what you are going to say next.

3.  Pay attention to you own body language -  Are your shoulders square to the person speaking? Are your arms uncrossed? Are you leaning forward slightly? These are all signs that you are listening.

I like to practice these skills on the people who mean the most to me; my children, my family, my friends,  my co-workers. I also make a conscious effort to practice this everyday with the people that I meet. You’ll have to ask them, but I hope they’ll tell you that after we’re done talking; they feel good because they know I’ve heard them. This is probably one of the most important things I do everyday.  I am interested in stories about how better listening is changing your life.

If you’re looking for a little more information, try this article called, “Now Pay Attention.”