Taking Your Success to the Next Level

As many of you know, I design and teach leadership development classes and programs.  In these, I stress the importance of reaching beyond the walls of your physical location or company and reaching out to others you could learn from.  This is especially true if you’re involved in the strategic planning of your organization.  Looking to take your success to the next level?  Whether you’re the CEO of a large corporation, run your own business, have your own Etsy site, or are on the board of a non-profit, you should absolutely be part of a “Mastermind Group”. So get your “Einstein” on and let’s plot and plan!

I recently attended a conference where this topic was discussed.  These professional groups conference regularly, (phone, skype, in-person) to discuss ideas, challenges and successes.  In speaking to others, it amazes me how many executives, business owners and directors of non-profits are not taking advantage of this type of strategic exchange of information.

There should be a minimum of 3 members and a maximum of 6.  Unlike traditional networking groups, a Mastermind Group needs full trust from all members. In other words, you probably don’t want to be in a group with any direct competitors.  These groups are tight-knit, bonded teams who are fully committed to their own AND the other members’ success.

Don’t limit members to one industry, geographic location or stage of career.  When discussing strategy, there is much to be learned from others. Someone in Finance could offer insights to an Art Shop owner and vice versa.  Similarly, someone in Melbourne, Australia could have much to offer someone in Boston, Massachusetts. I would encourage a mix of members in varying stages of their careers.  This could offer some very rich discussion and perspectives.

Each member must be fully committed to meeting regularly and participating equally in the discussions. Meetings should include each member sharing a success and a challenge.  Every effort should be made to address each member’s presented challenge and to brainstorm solutions and ideas.  Egos should be left out of these and no single member should dominate.  Ideally, meetings should last between 1-2 hours and be held weekly or monthly.

My leadership development classes have proven time and time again the power of perspective.  Stepping outside the “box” of your company or industry will demonstrate the power of creative solutions. There are universal truths in any business, so share what you know and allow the recipient to translate your knowledge into a language that is applicable to their circumstances.

Now what? Think of others you’d like to collaborate with.  In fact, I challenge you to make a list of professionals you highly respect and trust.  Reach out to them (or even share this post) and tell them you’d like to include them in a Mastermind Group.  Also, don’t wuss out and think “I don’t have anything to offer.”  That’s capital BS!! If that thought even enters your mind, make a list of topics you have some insight on.  Then, comment on your progress.  Are you part of a group already? Share your insights in the comments section below.

Fencing with a Secret Keeper

Last week we talked about that voice in your head not speaking very nicely to you!  This week we are going to talk about the Secret Keepers and how they show their Confidence Deficiency.  While the Self-Saboteurs are usually quite lovable, the Secret Keepers are a little more prickly.  Nothing we can’t handle together, so let’s get to it!

Self-Saboteurs use their sword against themselves, Secret Keepers fence against others.  They are hell-bent on keeping their secrets, and will undermine any potential exposers.  They don’t want you to know that they have flaws.  They will lash out if you do anything to expose them.  These Secret Keepers will verbally attack you and are often blame-avoidant, defensive and tend to deflect negative attention onto others.

Life is viewed skeptically with an eye on the ulterior motive.  It’s difficult to want to help a Secret Keeper as they can cause a lot of stress in our lives, but these people have been hurt, so the idea of being vulnerable is more painful than any guilt they may feel when they hurt someone.  They can justify any action that hurts another by simply believing that person was going to eventually hurt them anyway.

As a coach, I can provide a safe place to feel vulnerable.   If you are a Secret Keeper, it’s important that you connect with someone you trust has no ulterior motives.  This could be a mentor, friend or coach.  I would recommend that you start by acknowledging to yourself, your “secrets”, ie: not smart enough, too sensitive, out of control, etc.  Then, list everything you can think of that “disproves” the claim. For instance, if one “secret” is that you don’t know as much about a topic as you’d like, list all the examples of times you did just fine, like the last project you pulled off, or helping a co-worker who knew even less, etc.

If your chain mail is being yanked by a Secret Keeper, I have a technique you can try.  Keep in mind that the more threatened this person is by you, the more time you’ll need before you’ll see a shift.  If you have felt their wrath, a good approach to try (after settling your own emotions) is to personally approach them and privately tell them how their action affected you.

Heather: “Hi SK, I’m hoping you can help me with something, do you have a minute?” 

SK: (defensive, but less so since you’re looking for help) “What’s up?” 

Heather: “Yesterday you made that comment about how I ‘always seem to have time to chat everybody up’, so maybe I could use some more to do.  Initially that really hurt me because I try to do my best and felt like you were calling me out in front of others, but then I thought maybe you were trying to help me.  Do you really believe that I don’t work as hard as everyone else?”

The key here is to cool their jets (by asking for their help), show your vulnerability (by showing how you perceived their comment, while being cautious of how much you share for your own protection.)  Following this up with the idea that perhaps they were trying to help you gives them an “out” for their behavior.  Calmly and sincerely asking if they really feel that way is where the rubber meets the road.  You have acted unexpectedly, likely confusing them.  Being confronted like this may cause them to back down and rephrase what they “meant” by their remark.  Regardless of their response, don’t get defensive.  Say you’ll have to give it some thought, and thank them for their feedback.  This approach doesn’t attack them.  The key is to get them to drop their guard bit by bit.

The problem with Confidence Deficiencies is that the sufferers (and they really do suffer) rely so heavily on external validation.  Because both types allow that negative chatter to continually play in their head, they don’t have the confidence within, so they seek it from others.  Unfortunately, these comments just go into the Ego Jar, which has no bottom, resulting in an insatiable need.

Whether a Self-Saboteur or Secret Keeper, these people just need a helping hand from us.  Being kind to the nice ones is easy.  Being kind to the not-so-nice ones is much harder.  Show some love and patience with others and remember we all have demons we are battling.  Use your sword to help someone fight their demon.  Be nice to yourself, talk nice to yourself and most of all love yourself!  I’d love your comments, but if you’re too busy lovin on you, that’s cool too!!

Is Career Suicide a Result of a Common Parental Mistake?

As parents, we all do the best we can.  Could we have done better? Probably, but that’s just the snotty little voice of retrospect talking. I was raised, and raised my children, to be leaders not followers.  This has proven very effective thus far against the evils of youth: drugs, drinking, sex, peer pressure, bullying, etc.   I have repeatedly heard and said, “Be a LEADER, not a follower!”   So, you ask, what is this HUGE mistake you speak of?   Being the Leader is only half the lesson.  The other half of the lesson is to be a good Follower.  What you talkin’ ‘bout Willis?

Allow me to explain.  It’s great that we teach our children to be leaders and take charge and be assertive and not concede to popular belief simply because it’s popular belief.  However, it’s a bit short-sighted.  Let’s break this down.   Fast forward to your child’s first job or new job. While leadership skills may be admired by employers, followership skills are equally as important.   There are times we need to take charge and times we need to assist and support.

We all have a boss.  This includes CEO’s, business owners and entrepreneurs.  Leadership ability is important to grow and develop, and Followership ability is important for exactly the same reasons.  We need to teach our children, youth and next generation workers, how to follow.  I don’t mean of the “sheep” or “suck up” variety, I mean actively, knowledgeably, passionately, PROUDLY, follow.

One of the most common struggles I see in today’s up-and-comers’ is their drive for big things. Big titles, big money, big life.  Those goals are great, however, in order to achieve them (and sustain them eventually) they need to learn how to be great at small titles, work efficiently with small monies and lead a satisfying life of simplicity, at least temporarily.  Living and learning all there is at these ‘follower’ levels will make these up-and-comer’s better leaders.

Ever work in a company where there were too many Chiefs and not enough Indians?  It ain’t pretty!  It’s like professional “Lord of the Flies”.  Following is allowing someone else to “drive” while you assist in any way that makes their job as “driver” easier and succeeds in getting to the desired destination in an efficient manner.  Take the Daytona 500, the race car driver is the Leader and the pit crew are the Followers.  And before you use this term interchangeably with “Team Player” let me explain the difference.  In a team-player scenario, the entire team would be in the vehicle as they cross the finish line.

As parents, we obviously want our children to be successful in all of their jobs and professional pursuits.  Our kids, like ourselves, have worked for or will likely work for an incompetent leader, but that need not be an excuse for being an incompetent follower.  The lessons that come from that experience will only serve to provide another accomplishment.  While a Leader should be judged on how they develop their Followers, a Follower should be judged on how well they develop their Leader.  Both roles serve the other.

What examples do YOU have that show how balancing Leadership skills and Followership skills have assisted in job or career success?

Five Languages in Five Weeks – Lay It On Me

We are now in our 5th and Final Week of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks. Let’s review:
These are the Five Languages:

• Words of Affirmation
• Quality Time
• Acts of Service
• Gifts
• Touch

Week one talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers. These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why. Week two covered Quality Time which is based on focused attention on, or with, the other person. Week three we discussed Acts of Service which is all about action and doing something the recipient would greatly appreciate. Last week we went over Gifts, which are those tangible “things” that let a person know they are loved and appreciated. This week we will close out the series with Touch. If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit Week One’s post – “Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words”. Again, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal and business life, so view all the languages from those two perspectives. If you’re the huggin’, kissin’, high-fivin’ and fist bumpin’ kind, then this is all about you!

These language speakers are all about touch. Nothing communicates like person to person connection. Touch rewards, soothes and, of course, loves.

Personally, this language speaker likes the obvious like hugging and holding hands. But more subtle signs include when they are listening to a heartfelt story, they may touch the hand of the speaker to soothe or to soften a difficult, yet honest discussion. These lovers are often eye-gazers as well. Touching with their eyes, so to speak. They also tend to be very comfortable being up close and personal with others they know and like, as in ‘intruding-on-their-personal-space’ comfortable. So identifying these language speakers is relatively easy. Some find this a difficult and uncomfortable method of communicating. To the recipient however, this is as necessary as oxygen. Find your most bearable level of comfort and lay it on ‘em. Like the other languages though, remember not just any touch will do. You have to determine their preferences. As they are often so sensitive to touch, doing it “wrong” can have a negative effect. When in doubt, ask.

Professionally, there is not a lot of room for these language speakers, as most touch acceptable in the personal arena, is unacceptable in the workplace. Likewise, even those who prefer the language of touch in their personal lives to feel loved, likely do not prefer it in the workplace to feel appreciated. Although you’ll see snippets of them as they tend to be the high-fiving, fist-bumping, pat on the back, handshaking folk. Those are pretty much the only acceptable forms of touch in the workplace and even the pat on the back can be annoying to some, so use with caution, always considering how the other person may perceive it, regardless of how you intend it.

These touchy-feely types love affection and being affectionate. If you identify with this language, remember it can also be off-putting to others at times, so pay attention to the signs others are giving to you. If you’re approaching someone and they take a step back, you likely just barged into their personal space, so be respectful of other’s needs. If you’ve got something to share about Touch, please do so in the comments section below.

Hopefully, you’ve identified your own primary “language” and those that play a significant part in your life, both personally and professionally. Understanding your own languages in those environments can help you communicate your needs better and be aware of how this differs from others. Understanding the language of others will help you show love and appreciation to them in a way that’s meaningful for them. As always, I hope this, and all preceding posts, gave you a new perspective to consider. Perhaps that person who frequently doles out compliments at work would like to receive some Words of Affirmation themselves. Maybe Mom’s complaints about how you never visit, is a sign that she needs Quality Time with you. Seeing your spouse’s face light up because you surprised them with a five-course homemade meal will indicate their need for Acts of Service. The employee who tears up after you present them with a small engraved plaque thanking them for being the Official Morale Booster of 2013 appreciates Gifts like nothing else. And of course, the ever-ready-with-a-hug, lover of Touch, who gets as much as she gives, in every embrace.

All of us need love and appreciation. We may need varying levels of it, but we all need it. Understanding how you need to receive it and how others need you to give it, and acting on that knowledge, will guarantee improved relationships. If you’re still unsure of your language or would like to invite someone else to learn theirs, here are the sites and info to take the online assessments: For the free personal assessment, go to www.5lovelanguages.com/profile . For the professional version, there is a $15 charge, but can be found at www.mbainventory.com .

You are now empowered to make a difference and communicate more effectively with someone. So go Love on that person you love and get Appreciating those people you work with. Watch how it will ripple through every aspect of your life. Please know, with as much sincerity as I can convey in a blog, how much I truly Love and Appreciate my readers. Your support has spoken to me in every ‘language’ and hopefully I’ve spoken my thanks in yours! Comment on any experiences you have had based on use of any of the languages, ‘cause sharing is caring! Until next week…

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

Five Languages in Five Weeks – Ooohh, For Me?

We are now at Week 4 of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks. Let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

• Words of Affirmation
• Quality Time
• Acts of Service
• Gifts
• Touch

Week one talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers. These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why. Week two covered Quality Time which is focused attention on, or with, the other person. Last week we discussed Acts of Service which is all about action and doing something the recipient would greatly appreciate. If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit Week One’s post – “Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words”. Again, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal and business life, so view all the languages from those two perspectives. If the idea of a little something special topped with a bow just for you sounds perfect-o, read on.

Gift lovers are all about the tangible. Price isn’t (always) important. Often, it’s just getting a thoughtful “thing”.
Personally, this could be the newest BMW or a six month cruise around the world. But often, this is simply a bunch of handpicked wildflowers, a box of chocolates or the latest suspense novel. Those child drawings and driveway stones that have a little sparkle? Yeah, those too! These language speakers love to look at and touch these expressions of love. Like all the other languages, pay attention to clues that would help you determine just the right gift.

Professionally, while the BMW or cruise would be great, these aren’t likely. Gift lovers get excited over the certificates, awards, pins and prizes. A bottle of their favorite wine for a special assignment that had the added bonus of making you look good too, is sure to score! A mall gift certificate, Cabela’s gift card or even a $1 instant scratch ticket…any of these are likely to elicit pure joy. Remember though, thoughtful counts here too. Don’t assume Dave would automatically like tickets to the Patriot’s game any more than Carol would like tickets to the ballet. You should know enough about these people that if you’re going to give a personalized gift, you have a good idea what interests them.

Being thoughtful and sincere in your gift giving is sure to be a success to the gift-loving recipient. It’s especially enjoyable if they know why you’re giving it, even if it’s “just because”. Gifts make them feel special, so tell them why they are. Now is the time to get creative and get giving for these language speakers. They’re sure to repay you in your language…if they read this string of posts anyway. If not, give them the gift of this site! Otherwise, give all the wonderful readers here some ideas by commenting on creative ways to ‘gift’ those we love and work with, so they feel loved and appreciated. Watch for the dramatic conclusion to this series in next week’s coverage on Touch!

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

Five Languages in Five Weeks – Service Please

We are now at Week 3 of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks.  Let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Touch

Week One talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers.  These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why.  Last week we covered Quality Time which is based on focused attention on, or with, the other person.  If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit Week One’s post – “Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words”.  Just a reminder, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal and business life, so view all the languages from those two sets of perspectives.  If you’re looking for a little less conversation and a little more action, let’s roll…

The core of Acts of Service lies less in word and more in deed.  It requires action – doing something for this language speaker.

Personally, this could include a backrub or a home cooked meal, a car wash or a BJ (just keepin it real).  It might be supporting a charity event important to a friend or planting flowers for an elderly parent. Like the other languages, the preferred act is determined by the recipient.  Any old act of service just won’t do, it has to be this language speaker’s preference.  The key to speaking this language, especially if it’s not your primary one, is to provide these acts of service out of love.  If you provide it out of obligation you have completely wasted your time and likely caused more damage.  So just like Words of Affirmation, your enthusiasm and gift of giving must be authentic and given out of love.

The professional examples look VERY different from the personal one (at least I hope they do!)  In the workplace, you could offer to help out a co-worker struggling to meet a deadline or complete an overwhelming task.  Also, volunteering to stay late and assist someone in another department that you know is currently very short-handed.  What a great opportunity to extend the olive branch to the ornery supervisor too stubborn to ask for help, but would appreciate the offer.  This could be mentoring that newbie employee and offering some tips you learned on your climb up the ranks.  Remember, even in this environment, it’s the recipient that determines the appreciated service, so while you may offer, that may not be what they need.  Perhaps they can’t share the responsibilities of a particular task, but you could offer to take phone messages for them instead or some other menial task that could free up time for them to work on their priority.  Sometimes the offer to assist will be all they need to push through their assignment.

The toughest part of Acts of Service is knowing which act would be most appreciated.  If you don’t know, ask.  “What could I do to help you right now?” or “What could I do that would make your day today?”  If they sense your sincerity, you’ll likely get an honest answer.  So while you may wonder why they didn’t just ask in the first place, remember, sometimes that just takes all the fun out of it.  So get going and speak the language of service to those who need it and watch how good you’ll feel having made someone’s day with your selfless act.  If you or someone you know possesses this as a primary or secondary language, won’t you do us all a service and share some stories in the comments section?  Watch for next week’s coverage on Gifts!

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

Five Languages in Five Weeks – How ‘Bout a Little QT

Ok, so we are into Week 2 of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks.  Let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Touch

We all have a primary “language” we speak and need to have communicated to us in order to feel loved in our personal relationships and appreciated in our workplace.  The key is finding out your own language, as well as those you have relationships with in your personal and professional life.  These discoveries will help you communicate and dramatically improve the relationships in your life.  Last week’s post talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers.  These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why.  This week we will discuss Quality Time.  If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit last week’s post.  Remember, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal life and business life so view all the languages from two sets of perspectives.  If you’re pumped and ready to move on, let’s spend some QT together dissecting this language.

The quality aspect of Quality Time is founded on focused attention.  That means without distractions or other tasks being completed simultaneously.  (Are you listening smart phone owners?)

Let’s start from a personal perspective.  The whole point to these language speakers is quality.  Just spending time together may not be enough.  A spouse may wonder, “we just spent six hours at the picnic with our friends and family and you say we haven’t spent quality time together”.  Ah Marone!  The definition of quality time lies in the hands of the one desiring it.  Your first clue is to listen to their complaints:  “you never watch TV with me”, “we never go out to dinner alone anymore”, “why don’t we take day trips together anymore”, “why are you always on that damn phone?”  You get the picture.  Take these not-so-subtle hints as a sign that this person needs a little QT with you.

From a professional perspective, it can be more difficult to determine when a co-worker speaks this language.  Supervisors should regularly set aside scheduled QT time with each direct report.  If you can trickle it down to other levels, great.  Some may be able to pull this off monthly, others only quarterly.  If possible, allow about 30 minutes with each individual.  You’ll start to see which ones need the full amount, and which ones don’t.  Adjust accordingly.  You should be actively listening while the other person is talking.  Remember, this is about Focused Attention.  Paying attention like this will also help you determine each person’s “language”. Even if you’re not a supervisor, a complaining co-worker saying “nobody cares around here”, or “if I could catch Beth’s ear for 2 seconds I could fix this whole problem”, or “nobody communicates anymore”, is likely to speak this language and can be helped following the same steps in casual conversation.  Ask how they’re doing, if they have any ideas or concerns on their mind.  If nothing comes up, just shoot the breeze with them.  Ask about their life outside of work, upcoming vacations, whatever, just make sure they feel they were listened to and valued for their contributions.

Quality Time can be a tough language to speak as we are all so pressed for time, but for those who really need it, providing it can prevent bigger issues down the line that you also wouldn’t have time for.  So get it in your calendar and stop putting it off.  There’s an awesome likelihood that you too will benefit from that quality time! Is QT a language you’re fluent in?  Share some stories about how to successfully communicate in this language.  Stay tuned for next week’s post on Acts of Service.

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words

Think you can’t learn five languages in five weeks?  C’mon, give yourself (and me) more credit! Of course you can.  After reading “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White)… I felt that this was an awesome topic to share with my readers. These were both easy reads, but more importantly for me, they were need-to-read’s.  They were practical, with quick, applicable stories.  I suggest reading the books, however, if your time is limited or you’d prefer a more condensed version, I aim to please:

These are the Five Languages:

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Acts of Service

Gifts

Touch

Each of us has a primary and secondary preference and these may differ between your personal and business lives. (For the free personal assessment, go to www.5lovelanguages.com/profile . For the professional version, there is a $15 charge, but can be found at www.mbainventory.com . Here is a brief description of each language:

Words of Affirmation:  Those that count this as their primary language require words to feel loved and appreciated.  These can be spoken or written.  We’ll learn more about this in a bit.

Quality Time:  For these types, one-on-one time together is important.  Acitve listening is key here! We’ll dive into details of this one next week.

Acts of Service:  These acts typically involve anything that could be counted as “thoughtful”.  While the specific act will vary, the gesture is what counts the most to these peeps.

Gifts:  As if this isn’t obvious.  This person prefers physical, tangible evidence of being loved and appreciated.  While expensive and materialistic items may qualify, these gift lovers often enjoy handmade gifts, flowers or other thoughtful expressions of love and appreciation.

Touch:  You know that “touchy-feely” person that always seems to hug, touch and show PDA virtually anywhere?  Yeah, this is probably their preferred form of loving communication.  While less likely (and some would caution, less appropriate) at work, these people can be identified as the high-fiving, fist bumping ones.

Figuring out another’s language can be tough, but once you do, there are an endless number of options to satisfy their need.  Each week for the next five I will highlight a particular “language” and some suggestions on ways to meet that need for yourself and others.  This information is very beneficial in every relationship you have and it would behoove you to understand your own language and those you spend a lot of time with.  This week, let’s focus on Words of Affirmation.

For those who need Words of Affirmation, it’s obvious they need words, but it is equally important that they get sincerity!  They don’t want empty or generic compliments.  “Nice job today” will feed the need for about 5 seconds.  They want to know specifically what they did to please you.  If she cooked a rockin’ dinner, tell her what was so awesome about it and why it was appreciated by you.  If he spent the entire day tiling the bathroom floor, take the time to point out how awesome it looks.  If Suzie dealt with the “customer from hell” so the rest of you wouldn’t have to, tell her what this meant to you.  Also, those who feel loved and appreciated by this language want to be recognized for the personal characteristic that got it done or made it so worthy of mention.  Tell her how much her dedication to providing quality food to the family is admired.  Tell him how his sense of responsibility, like keeping the home in good condition, is one of his sexiest traits.  Let Suzie know that her patience in dealing with higher-maintenance people makes the rest of you envious and you’d like to know how on earth she does it without going ape-shiz crazy afterwards.

Keys to remember:  Be specific, be detailed, and be sincere.  This is not a “fake it til you make it” opportunity.  If you can’t be sincere, then be silent.

Now what:  If you can identify with this language, and believe it to be your primary or secondary language in either setting (personal or business), there are a few things you can do with that knowledge.  Let others know this is how you prefer to be loved and recognized.  Also, understand that those times when you feel neglected or slighted by someone may not be because they don’t love or appreciate you, but because they are speaking a different language.  If you suspect a loved one or co-worker prefers this language, get creative in ways to recognize them.  This can be spoken face to face or publicly acknowledged, or written in a thoughtful letter, card or email.  This is one of the quickest and easiest needs to meet once you’re aware.  So pay attention and share with words why you think someone is a ROCKSTAR!!  Stay tuned…next week’s post will focus on a little Quality Time.

Finding Your Passion Using Assessments

I have always been a firm believer that people do their best work when they enjoy what they do.  No duh, right? No big revelation there, however it’s all too common, in the United States especially, that we focus on the areas that need improvement.  This starts in the schools and the same is true in business.  Jobs (and often managers) are so rigid in the requirements that employees are expected to perform all duties at an accomplished level.  Almost like robots.

I’m willing to bet that quality and productivity would increase in any industry if employees were utilized for their strengths and we’d all be a lot happier to boot. As neither our educational system nor our traditional business philosophy is likely to change anytime soon, we have to take charge of finding the right career for ourselves.  This doesn’t sound hard, right?

I have counseled many young adults who are so terrified at not yet knowing what they want to be when they grow up that they are frozen in fear making no decisions.  Additionally, I’ve spoken with numerous mid-lifers who ask the same question but instead of exploring it, they just go with the flow in a job that doesn’t satisfy them at all. So what to do? My advice is to take an assessment, actually several assessments.  And no, I’m not referring to the ones in Glamour, Seventeen and Cosmopolitan.

While assessments won’t spell out precisely which job you should pursue, they will identify your strengths and some provide suggestions on types of careers that might interest you.  I’m speaking from experience here people, and I can tell you that Retrospect is a beautiful view.  I took many assessments over a large span of time and reviewing them all assured me that I was completely blind to what has always been right in front of my face!  I often pursued training and education that would serve in my job at the time but didn’t necessarily advance me closer to my true passions.  I, too, went with the flow of each job, letting others lead me to the trail I should blaze.  While this allowed me to advance over the years, one fact remained: I was a coward.  I’m a very confident woman and yet I didn’t trust my own ability to FULLY blaze my own chosen path.  Reviewing my assessment results really gave me the bitch-slap I needed to start pursuing my passions.

So where do you begin? Do the assessments I’ve listed at the end of this article.  All of them.  You’ll likely see a pattern which will reinforce what you already know.  Regardless of the life stage you’re in, it’s important to know your strengths and to take steps towards utilizing them.  If you’re just starting out in your career ask yourself how your position is serving you and your strengths.  You may need to tough it out and prove yourself to get more of what you love in your position, but that’s still progress.  If, like me, you have a family to support or other financial obligations and can’t just “start over” immediately, try to find the areas in your current position that serve your passions WHILE taking baby steps towards your dreams.  Who says you can’t do both? And don’t get tangled in the, “I’m too old to do that now” bullshit.  Don’t limit yourself like that.  You can do whatever you want once you are clear on what you love and what you’re good at.

Marie Forleo says it best: There’s only one you. Never again will there be someone with your knowledge, experiences and gifts.  The world NEEDS you and your talents!  So go forth and identify your strengths and start finding where and how you can put them to use!  Here are my recommendations:

“Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath.  Purchasing the book gives you a code to take the online assessment for free.  Results will show your Top 5 out of 34 possible personality “themes”.  For example, my top 5 are: Adaptablility, Connectedness, Empathy, Harmony and Positivity.

“Career Match” by Shoya Zichy with Ann Bidou.  Assessment is in the book. Results are color themed with extrovert/introvert considerations.  For example I’m a Green/Red Extrovert. (warm, free spirit)

MBTI (Myers-Briggs) Assessment: There are several options for this one.

http://www.capt.org/take-mbti-assessment/mbti.htm  This one is taken online and has a $150 price tag in the US & Canada ($175 in other countries) and includes a personalized readback from a trained professional.

https://www.mbticomplete.com/contents/learnmore.aspx  This is taken online and results are shown online as well.  There is no one-on-one readback, but it’s more affordable at only $49.95.

There are copy-cat versions on the web that are often free, but they are not endorsed or supported by Myers-Briggs.  Results are a four-letter combination.  I’m an ENFP. (Extroverted Intuition with Feeling).

DISC Assessment:  This is taken online and measures 4 dimensions of your behavioral style. Decisive, Interactive, Stability and Cautious.  Typically a $250 assessment, you can complete it and get the results immediately and for free at Tony Robbins site:  http://www.tonyrobbins.com/ue/disc-profile.php

I’d love to know how YOU scored on each of these and how you do, can or will utilize your strengths, so please share your results in the comments section of this post!

I’m Rubber You’re Glue…For Grown-ups

“I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you”.  Remember saying that or some similar discourse to a child who was saying mean things to you?  I’ve found it to be equally true in what you think as well.  I recall working for a particularly mean-spirited supervisor.  This was a person I had such little respect for and really wanted to say, “Just so you know, I think you suck…hard.”  But being a reasonably sensible person even when instigated, I just thought it, and many more colorful things to boot.  I deplore the word and emotion “hate” and never wish harm on another person (OK, I may have at one time wished a 2am stubbed toe on the metal frame of a bed, but never with a lasting injury).

As I felt all sense of power and control slipping through my fingers with this person, I would reclaim it daily by thinking even more outrageous, insulting and demeaning statements each time I caught sight of them.  I found it especially satisfying when I had the opportunity to think these things “at” them while directly looking in their eyes with a contrite smile on my face.  But as time went on, I found myself even more unhappy. Returning to this place day after day, my fantastical one-sided colloquy getting more and more bitter at every interaction with this demonized supervisor didn’t seem to be serving me at all.  (Inhale here). This introspection led me to realize I wasn’t “winning”, in fact, I had added my own mind to this person’s army.  By living in my head with this person, in battle, on such a regular basis, I was not only tiring myself out, but I was creating a negative, acidic environment in the one place I had sought refuge.  My imagination.  I was engaging in a full-on, Pay-Per-View worthy boxing match where I played both parts in the ring.  So my left hook was firmly planted on my own right cheek.  In writing this, I’d like to say that I immediately turned my negative thoughts into positive recognition about how great this person was at playing the political game or developing their loyal following or even how much they loved their dog.  But let’s not be ridiculous, this is supposed to be about authenticity.

You may or may not have noticed that I don’t go by the name “Dalai Lama”, “Mother Theresa”, “Nelson Mandela” or “Jesus”.  All wonderful souls mind you, but let’s just say I haven’t evolved to that level of lightness just yet.  What I can say is that I started (with great effort) looking at this individual and searching for anything positive to associate with them like, “the teal in that top is my favorite color” or “their laughter is bringing joy to someone right now”.  Some days I could only find “at least their exhale of carbon dioxide is helping a plant grow somewhere”, but progress is progress after all. Following only one week of this, I honestly felt better.  Really.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t start viewing this supervisor with loving adoration, but I did feel more love in my heart.  I don’t know why it worked other than to say that when you fill your mind with more love, everything else seems to follow.  Your mind is a powerful machine, make sure you are using it to your advantage and in a way that brings you joy and love…and screw the crappy supervisors of the world.  They’ll just have to figure that out on their own.

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com