Posts tagged: Change

Seasick

Embedded image permalink

I visited (helped out) one of my children recently; they just had their first child. Watching your child with their child is one of life’s great joys.  We are fortunate, mom and baby are doing well.

As I watch them learn about their new family member, I am impressed by their calmness. They are both exhausted and yet, they simply go with the flow. They don’t fight against the exhaustion or the baby’s crying; they just accept it. Together they figure out what to do and then they do it. If you were like them as a new parent, then you are probably thinking, what’s the big deal? Well, I applaud you too.

For many of us, being in an overwhelming circumstance is … overwhelming. Small things become big things. Irritability takes over. For those of us with depression, this is, unfortunately, somewhat normal. We are not calm in the face of things we can’t change. We fight, argue, moan, blame… everything but accept.

Leonard Cohen’s quote struck me because when I think back on how many times I did not… “become the ocean,” or surrender to/accept the circumstances, I realize that I could have (perhaps) saved myself some grief.  In those difficult days, the more I fought the ocean waves, the more ‘seasick’ I becameAfter many years, I learned how to surrender with dignity and peace of mind.

One of my favorite sayings is, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Most of the time when I was lost, I thought I was my own teacher. I was wrong.

So if you find yourself in transition, if you are in the middle of a difficult time, I empathize. Ask yourself, am I fighting the waves? In the past when I have been ‘seasick, it’s because I didn’t know how to do anything differently. I didn’t know how to become the ocean. If you don’t know how to become the ocean (and you’re sick and tired of being seasick) ask for help. Start by asking one person. If they can’t help, ask someone else and keep asking until you find, your teacher.

If you don’t know Leonard Cohen, check him out. If you’ve never heard him sing this… you’re in for a treat.

Photo credit: direct current

Key Hiring Question: When & Why Will You Leave?

When you are interviewing for a job… probably one of the last things on your mind… is why and when you might leave. You’re thinking… I don’t even have the job… why would I think about when I might leave?

Great companies make this complex question part of the interview process.

In an insightful article by someone I admire, Charlene Li of Altimeter Group, How I Hire: Figuring Out Fit — And The Exit Strategy… she outlines the criteria and process for assessing candidates based on culture, skills and my favorite and what I consider relatively unique…  sense of purpose.

“As part of the hiring process, I also talk with people about how they will leave Altimeter one day. The idea of lifetime employment is dead, so why not face up to the reality that this person we’re hiring will one day leave? It’s a core part of us living the value of Integrity — that openness and transparency develops trust.” Charlene Li

The last regular, ‘show up in the office’ job I had, I actually negotiated my departure date as part of my hiring package. When they offered me the job, I told them I would stay one year.  It allowed me to focus on getting the job done without worrying about how I’d leave. It was very empowering.

I am not suggesting that every time you take a job, you should negotiate your exit. What I am suggesting is that you think about what you want to get from the assignment… even it it’s just to earn some money or stay for 6 months.  Be conscious of what it will look like when you have reached that goal.

By the way, this takes courage and it puts the responsibility for finding your next ‘step’ right where it belongs; with you.

Image credit: Diane Arbus Moving On

Do You Have B. S. S. ?

My dear, here, we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that,” Alice In Wonderland

BSS = Big Shot Syndrome – Have you got it? Before you say NOooo … Ponder these questions… there are no right or wrong answers.

  1. At work, do you think more about the money you  make or what you’re learning? (You have to pick one, you can’t say both)
  2. How often do you do volunteer work?
  3. Do you regularly work more than 50 hours a week at your job?
  4. Do you have a creative hobby that you actively pursue (have fun with every week)?
  5. How much money is enough? In other words, if you had x dollars, would you stop working and relax?
  6. Do you think about your legacy? (Not the money you might leave but what will you be remembered for?)
  7. Do you shop for recreation?
  8. Do you believe that the car you drive is symbol of your status in society? (Does driving your car make you proud?)

Ok, enough with the questions. The idea is for you to figure out what you are doing with your life. We all have obligations and of course we want to be good providers, but do we sacrifice our well-being, our relationships and our health in order to be a big shot?

These are questions only you can answer. If you think you’d like to be more aware of your choices, be more conscious of how you spend your precious time — then you might start with this article, “How Much Money is Enough?” If you want something meatier… you might try Rochester’s own, Pam Klainer’s book, “How Much is Enough,” where she helps each of us explore the power of our own ‘money story’ and how to use the story to help us craft the life/legacy we truly want.

Photo Credit: Diamond Age  jurvetson

“Failure is a Process … You Have to Fail Over and Over”

“Failure is a process … you have to fail over and over and over again to get anything that’s worthwhile.” Jules Feiffer cartoonist

Feel like a failure? You’re actually winning. Watch this 40 second video about the power of failure. According to Mr. Feiffer, you need to continuously try new things and fail in order to create anything worthwhile. Think about raising children. If you think you didn’t fail over and over again… I suspect you are kidding yourself.

Think about nature. Evolution is a series of failures in order to find the best way forward: the flower that is drought resistant or the leaf that absorbs water more effectively.

I am teaching a new online course. Learning the software is driving me crazy. Just when I think I have learned something, it appears that I forget it. And this is happening live, in front of my students. Humbling to say the least.

Think of the last time you failed. Did you curl up in a ball? Did you try to deny it? Were you ashamed? This last is the worst of it. Failure is a sign that you are trying. If you can’t think of the last time you failed, then you are either not paying attention or you aren’t trying anything new. The old saying, nothing ventured, nothing gained, warns us to keep trying new things. To live fully we need to fall on faces from time to time.

Photo credit: Fig leaf John Leach

If you are unfamiliar with Jules Feiffer’s delightful cartoons (as well as the rest of his body of work), check him out.

 

 

Growing Old Disgracefully

I hope I am growing old disgracefully.

I know I was a disgrace when I was young. Protesting the war in Vietnam, making too much noise, listening to REALLY loud rock music (which many people liked then and which even more people of all ages LOVE now), hitchhiking (yeah, you could do it in those days), drinking too much, cavorting. All the things that are also described as being young and foolish.

Today, I still protest (in my own way), am too loud, listen to really loud music (yes, I’m partially deaf from listening to all that loud music) and I still cavort. I have danced on a couple of bars in the past 6 months. Yes, I was completely sober when I did it. No one believed I would get up on that bar – haha, I fooled them. I did it just to see the look on all their faces.

Have you done anything disgraceful lately?

I still work a little too much (well, I’m a boomer after all) but my goal of doing less and being more is coming along.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a very responsible adult. Ask anyone who knows me. I just don’t want to be too grown up and one day, maybe the whole idea of permanent ‘grown-up’ status will be obsolete.

Shout out to Shirley Meredeen and the all the wonderful ladies in G. O. D. (disgraceful)

Photo credit: Borf

Image by Banksy (by the way, if you don’t know Banksy, check him out. He’s a terrific role model.

This is Your Life. Do What You Want…

“This is your life. Do what you want and do it often.
 If you don't like something, change it.
 If you don't like your job, quit.
 If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV.
 If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.
 Stop over-analysing, life is simple.
 All emotions are beautiful.
 When you eat, appreciate every last bite.
 Life is simple.
 Open your heart, mind and arms to new things and people, we are united in our differences.
 Ask the next person you see what their passion is and share your inspiring dream with them.
 Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.
 Some opportunities only come once, seize them.
 Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating.
 Life is short, live your dream and wear your passion.”

Holstee Manifesto, The Wedding Day

 

Nothing to add… just do it.

May 2014 be your year to shine and give. We’re in this together folks. Peace.

 

 

Why Grit, Not IQ, Predicts Success

I wish someone had told me this when I was in middle/high school.

I am thinking of two mid-30′s business leaders.

One went to Yale and had a lot of advantages in life. He’s good looking in an Abercrombie kind of way, soccer star… you know the type. The other is also good looking (by that same standard) and athletic. He has a degree from a state school. His parents are teachers.

If IQ or ‘what college you attended’ or grade point average were the measures of success – the Yalie should win. But  something else is really at the heart of  business ‘success’ and it relates to:

– whether you see obstacles as opportunities or things that slow you down.

One way to to learn about obstacles as opportunities — is to grow up WITHOUT advantages. This builds grit and grit builds success. I wrote a post a few year back about people who failed time and again. Michael Jordan and Ulysses S. Grant. I had a college professor tell me I’d never graduate from college. Haha. I showed him.

Bottom line is — if you think that people who went to Ivy League schools are automatically successful, I ask you to think again.

As a country, we are suffering from ‘elitism fever’ (we think we’re better than others) – but deep in our hearts we know – the American spirit is grounded in pure grit. So next time you go to hire someone, why not ask… what obstacles have you overcome to be here? That might tell you everything you need to know.

Image credit: Elia Locardi

Tuko Pajoma

The word for the glimmering, roadlike reflection that the moon creates on water.

I have one special gift, I have a good ‘ear’…I can’t sing …but I can recognize and imitate sounds. This is why I studied languages in college. I started taking French in 3rd grade and then studied German and Spanish in college. I loved learning about culture through understanding the language. I had a chance to read Victor Hugo, Franz Kafka and Gabriel Garcia Marquez in their original languages. Let me assure you that there are MANY things that don’t translate from one language to another. We Americans think our language is sophisticated– in the sense that we accommodate words from all kinds of other languages. However, just like us as a nation, it is young and immature — with all the good and bad things that flow from that.

When I came across this article: How Do You Say…? For Some Words There is No Translation – I loved the idea and examples. I especially appreciated…

Swahili: Tuko pajoma -Denotes a shared sense of purpose and motivation in a group. It transcends mere agreement and implies empathetic understanding, or “We are together.”

As we move forward into this unknown and unknowable future.. let us remember Tuko pajoma. We have a shared sense of purpose and motivation… and that is to help one another, to find our way together and to learn and grow. This takes a conscious effort and I am glad you’re on this journey with me. I couldn’t do it without you.

Heiwa no tabi suru  May peace be your journey.

Image credit: How do you say…

Build A Good Name…

“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful – be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, that name will be its own currency.”

Who wrote this? Take a guess. (play Jeopardy theme song here).

If you guessed someone famous.. you were right, almost. Patti Smith is a musician, poet, visual artist. She co-wrote “Because the Night” with Bruce Springsteen. (You’ve probably heard of him… do you think the boss subscribes to Patti’s philosophy? – I do.)

So what is Patti encouraging us to do?

  1. Build and protect your brand (name). Think of this in Patti’s context.. a woman in rock in 1975. Imagine how immensely talented and strong she is and what decisions both personal and artistic she needed to make to stand by this.
  2. Do good work. Yeah, that means working hard, taking risks, being bold when you may not want to.
  3. Protect your work. For the non-artist, I take this to mean be conscious of your work product and own it with pride.
  4. Make the right choices. “Right” choices tend to be harder and require thought and effort. That’s why so many of us make ‘wrong’ ones.
  5. Your name will be its own currency. In the new world of social… you can control/influence the value of your name tremendously. But you need to pay attention. It does not happen by accident.

For all of you saying, my name will never be ‘currency’ – I feel sorry for you. The ship has sailed and you missed it.

By the way, if you judge this book by it’s cover… you’re missing something great.

 

Because Every Job is “Temporary”…Confidence is Key

Confidence is defined as “belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities.” Where does your confidence come from?

If it’s from your work and you’ve been forced to make job changes then your confidence might be rocky. But if your confidence comes from self-awareness and continuously updated skills… then you might be feeling ok.. no matter what your employment circumstances are.

An author I admire, Darmesh Shah, wrote an excellent article titled,  “Nine Qualities of Truly Confident People.”  He describes confidence as, “quiet: a natural expression of ability, expertise, and self-regard.” Note that the article doesn’t describe confidence as bravado or swagger; but the ability to listen, to be wrong in front of others, to freely ask for help and shine the spotlight on others.

I would add two things to his list: knowledge and discipline. People who are confident usually are disciplined. They get more done than other people because they understand what’s important. In addition, they keep their skills updated. They don’t make excuses for why they don’t know things… they work hard.

If you are looking for a new resource to help you in your journey to career confidence.. check out CareerRealism - their tag line.. “because every job is temporary” … speaks to the modern condition. Most of us don’t like change, but there is one way to be sure that you can cope and that is to create it.

Be confident. Be happy and go with the flow. Change is good, timing is everything, patience is the key.

Photo credit:  3 WCAP boxers medal  photographer