What Am I Going To Do When I Grow Up?

Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

As you think options through, I really want to underline the importance of writing it down.

Take out blank paper and engage in brainstorming.  If you have questions or stray thoughts or ideas that keep spinning in your mind… it’s important to the process to engage them through or they will just keep floating in your brain interfering with productivity and focus.

So, here are some options:

  1. sometimes when I’m trying to figure out an idea it helps to draw.  I might draw circles that overlap and think about what one thing related to another would make…. sometimes it’s about relationship and sometimes it’s about proportion.    often it is both.
  2. sometimes it helps to make lists.   here are some questions I ask myself and clients:
    • what are as many of my options (even silly or stupid ones) as I can think of?
    • what would someone I like and trust think or say?
    • what are the costs/benefits of each idea I’m considering?
    • what’s another perspective I could choose?
    • how important will this be in 5-10 years?
  3. sometimes it helps to just to start typing or writing around the idea… no one else ever has to see what you write, but just getting the ideas out there and following where them gets you unstuck.

You see, if you only think about things or “I have it ALLLLLLL up here” is your philosophy, think again.  Your brain can’t get traction on ideas and fully process them if all you do is process things internally.

To grow, change, and fully engage in exploring your options, it’s very important that you physically get them outside of yourself, so you can truly visualize, prioritize,  and organize.   Here are some key brainstorming options:

  • talking it over with a supportive friend, mentor, or coach.
  • drawing
  • free-writing
  • blogging
  • list-making
  • using pictures or clippings, collage with them to create a vision board

So, explore your options….using whichever tools work best for you.  If you want more ideas, just ask.

Sending fabulous energy!

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If you’ve been reading along in my series on going to graduate school, you might at some point in the process get overwhelmed.  That’s totally normal.

If it’s helpful, I get overwhelmed as much as the next person.  Thinking about life… career options… relationships… from the big picture to the smallest pixel… there are moments when it can all become too much.

From questioning where one might to live, work, study, or raise a family?  to considering what others might think?  how it might work?  or even what might happen if…? Sometimes, it can be good to pause, take a minute to breathe, and consider the larger purpose of why we are heading off to do something.

Just like anyone, I can get caught up in exploring the enormity of options, unknown variables, quantity of elements to coordinate, etc…that it’s just a seemingly never-ending pointless laundry list of tasks and duties and responsibilities…and it’s at that moment, especially if I find myself discouraged, frustrated, or wanting to just quit, one of the most powerful things I’ve found I can do for myself and others is to ask “What’s the Point?”

Try it.  Take a deeeeeeep to-the-belly-kind-of-breathe…hold in and sloooowwwwwlyyy–as slowly as you possibly can– but evenly…let your breath out.  Gather your focus in doing so.   Slow your heart rate by slowly breathing in and out.  Ask yourself: “What’s the Point?”

When I’m asking “What’s the Point?” it’s not typically in a despairingly dramatic “ohhhhhh woe is me….what is the point of living…” while swooning, gnashing my teeth, and falling on my heroic but trite sword of death, while whining that “it’s not faaaairrrr.”  Not typically.   but you know everyone has their moments.  😉

More helpful in asking “What’s the Point”, I’ve found, is that it calls for a focus on purpose or mission.  In  Breaking the Rules, A Visionary’s Guide to Effortless High Performance, Kurt Wright examines the difference between a goal and a purpose.  For example, going to graduate school or getting a job is a goal.  It is a specific (albeit large) task that can be accomplished.   Goals are great.  But, a goal without a reason is hollow, demotivating, and unlikely to be successful.

Consider any time someone orders you to do something.  It really typically doesn’t matter who it is doing the ordering: it could be your mom, your boss, your significant other or roommate; it could even be yourself, but almost every time, our natural response is “Why?”  Often that “why” question is a way to resist…or contest power…but that’s deeply understandable.  Anytime we commit our time, energy, and resources to a task, it it is more helpful to know why we are doing so, than to simply march forward with a 1000-yard stare into meaningless action.

So, in someways whenever we get overwhelmed, frustrated, or otherwise feeling grumpy about something, it can be useful to take a moment to consider that core “Why” questions because the answer is central to providing a motivating reason to each goal.  Providing context and purpose is key to swift action and to meaningful results.

“What is the Point?” is another way of asking “Why?’ and gets at the central motivating reason or purpose of the goal.    Knowing the purpose of a goal is much more likely to move me into action.  Simply telling myself “I have to do this or that” makes me actually resist or procrastinate action.  When, we know why we are doing something, we have the power of choice.

Yet, if it’s helpful for me to share, sometimes that all important “why?” question can simply be too confrontational, too personal, too combative, or too philosophical to be helpful in asking ourselves and others.  It’s a crucially important question to ask, but because it’s the most core question,it can be too much for us to address, especially at stressful moments in life.

For example, even people close to us…even when we mean no confrontation…even when we ask a simple curious “so, why’d you park out front, honey?”…and it’s not a deep philosophical issue that requires soul searching…people can snap at you when you ask “why?”

So, here are ways to ask “why” in more effective frames:

  • What’s the larger mission?  What’s the central purpose?
  • Where does the mission point?
  • How does the larger purpose or mission frame options?
  • When does the mission connect?
  • Who benefits?

Ask yourself these questions at any point along the way.  Asking and answering these can keep you going, as well as keep you focused and motivated.

It can also be a great tool in crisis.

  • So, if you haven’t yet articulated a specific mission and find yourself adrift, unfocused or unmotivated, this can be a great jump start.
  • Or, if you at one point were on a mission and then started to forget to keep checking in with your mission and begin to get frustrated and overwhelmed, this can knock you out of your rut.
  • Or perhaps like all of us, even when you are clear on a mission, certain days and experiences are just hell.   Being able to not get stuck there is key.

Asking great questions, creating mission statements, or reciting inspiring quotations  and the like are a powerful tools in controlling our thoughts, beliefs, motivations, actions, and are a few of the key elements of transforming our lives on our terms.

Sending fabulous energy!

From:  Moltz, B.J. (2008).  Bounce! Failure, resiliency, and confidence to achieve your next great success.  Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

There are a lot of misconceptions about humility.  Most of us become familiar with the term through the idiom ‘to eat humble pie’ when we need to apologize for an error.  But true humility isn’t groveling or even being fearful, shy, or retiring.  It doesn’t mean always putting the other guy ahead of you.  Humility isn’t something you decide you want and then develop it overnight.  Humility requires experience, openness, and a willingness to take chances and to make mistakes – and sometimes to even look publicly dull.

As real businesspeople experience a veritable roller coaster ride of failures, bankruptcies, and breakdowns, they begin to discover the profoundly curvy and unpredictable lines of all these business lives.  Those messy lines help create humility (Moltz, 2008, p. 54-55).

From:  Marston, C. (2007). Motivating the ‘what’s in it for me? Workforce: manage across the generational divide and increase profits.  Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

So what will it take to harness the skills of a multigenerational workforce?  What are today’s requirements for leading young people who see Baby Boomers as outdated and out of touch?  It will take:

·         A new understanding of what employees want from their jobs, their bosses, and their workplace experience.

·         A new understanding of loyalty – how the word has changed, why it changed, and why pay benefits, and opportunities for promotion are not nearly as important in creating job loyalty as they used to be.

·         A new definition of ‘self’ – that young employees today define themselves by who they are outside the job, not by what they do for a living, which is a departure from senior generations.

·         A new behavior from leaders in the workplace who must realize that younger generations enter the workplace seeing self-fulfillment from the get-go and aren’t interested in paying their dues for an unknown period of time.

·         A new comprehension that youth today remain in their youth much longer than ever before, being able to live at home longer, stay in school longer, get married later, and have children later, which dramatically affects their commitment to the workplace (Marston, 2007, p.10).

From:  Marston, C. (2007). Motivating the ‘what’s in it for me? Workforce: manage across the generational divide and increase profits.  Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

So what will it take to harness the skills of a multigenerational workforce?  What are today’s requirements for leading young people who see Baby Boomers as outdated and out of touch?  It will take:

·         A new understanding of what employees want from their jobs, their bosses, and their workplace experience.

·         A new understanding of loyalty – how the word has changed, why it changed, and why pay benefits, and opportunities for promotion are not nearly as important in creating job loyalty as they used to be.

·         A new definition of ‘self’ – that young employees today define themselves by who they are outside the job, not by what they do for a living, which is a departure from senior generations.

·         A new behavior from leaders in the workplace who must realize that younger generations enter the workplace seeing self-fulfillment from the get-go and aren’t interested in paying their dues for an unknown period of time.

·         A new comprehension that youth today remain in their youth much longer than ever before, being able to live at home longer, stay in school longer, get married later, and have children later, which dramatically affects their commitment to the workplace (Marston, 2007, p.10).

From:  Howatt, W. A., (2008).  Leadership vs. management.  Kentville, Nova Scotia: Howatt HR Consulting Inc.

1.      “Create constancy and purpose on an on-going basis so everyone knows why and what they are doing.

2.      Teach all to adapt to change, and work to keep ahead of change, because change needs to happen to ensure quality.

3.      Stop micro managing quality; instead, build quality self-assessment into the process and company culture.

4.      Build on long term relationships vs. going with the lowest priced person.

5.      Commit to daily improvement, with an understanding that this is an on-going process that never ends.

6.      Institute job training and on-going professional development.

7.      Offer leadership development; do not assume promotions make leaders.

8.      Remove all fear from the organization.

9.      Remove and break down any barriers between groups within the company.

10. Eliminate targets from the workforce; they need to be driven by the employees, not management.

11. Eliminate numerical goals for production; instead, work on developing methods for improving production and quality.

12. Eliminate barriers that removed workmanship pride.

13. Institute a program of company-wide self improvement and development.

14. Develop company-wide action plans that involve every employee, with the goal of creating a company-wide transformation to quality.

These are the fourteen critical factors that W. Edwards Deming created (professionally accepted philosopher and process developer) (Howatt, 2008, p.14).”

From: Riffenbary, J. (2007). No excuse! incorporating core values, accountability, and balance into our life and career. Possibility Press.

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out to another is to risk exposing your true self. To place your ideas, your dreams, before the crowd, is to risk their loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure. But risks need to be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love…live. Chained by his beliefs, he is a slave; he has forfeited freedom. Only a person who risks is free. – Edwin Land (Riffenbary, 2007, p. 18).