Keep Perspective

Each year Beloit College publishes its Class of XXXX mindset list.  This list is a compilation of the perspectives that each incoming freshman class has.  It is a very intriguing look at how the world we live in has changed over the preceding 18 years.

This morning I had an interesting conversation with my wife on the way to work.  She teaches 7th grade science and raised a very interesting perspective to me.  This years sixth and seventh graders have not known a world where global terrorism has not been a concern.  They don’t know about the events leading up to the attacks of 9/11.  The world we live in has changed so much over the past 12 years.

Think about your work.  Are you able to keep perspective of the events going on around you?  It is difficult to do.  Most times, even as professionals, we are so focused on making the decision, we forget about all of the events leading up to the current situation.  We think that every experience we have is one that no one else has been through before.  That simply isn’t the case.  We forget that experience is the catalyst for innovation.  Understanding that every situation is a result of a series of decisions and events that brought us to the here and now is very important. 

Keeping perspective on ones mindset allows teams to grow, products to be launched, and businesses to grow and expand.  Think about it for a moment.  Could Benjamin Franklin have developed a cellular telephone?  No chance!  Remember, experience is the catalyst for innovation.  Without Franklin’s discovery of electricity, experiences leading to the development of the cellular phone would not have been possible.  For Franklin and his contemporaries, it would have been inconceivable to imagine that some could be walking down the street in Boston, and speaking to someone in Philadelphia or London.  A series of discoveries, experiences, and innovation led to the world we know today.

My boys may not know or understand that when I grew up, there were essentially 3 networks on TV and everyone watched the 6:00 local news, and then the 7:00 national news.  Pong was a cool video game.  Red Dawn was a real concern.  The thought of my beloved Red Sox winning a World Series was a pipe dream, let alone two World Series in three years.  Automatic windows on a car were a luxury.  Going to an Apple store, meant work at the orchard.

Their perspective is that they have communication available at the speed of thought.  Apps are a way of life.  Terrorism is not limited to countries that we just read about. 

Keep perspective of how you got to where you are.  Take time to be self reflective and know that you can change your course if you so choose.  Every morning the sun rises and new beginnings are born.  Take calculated risks and blaze your trail.  Easier said than done, but we crawled before we walked, and walked before we were able to run, and ran before we were able to soar.  Take the first step today.

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I’m GREAT, Doesn’t EVERYONE else know it?

A healthy ego is essential for success in the workplace.  You need to be confident in your own skills, abilities, and experiences as you progress through your career.  That’s a no-brainer.  But, what happens when your employer decides that your skills, abilities, and experiences should be shared elsewhere.  What you are left with is your past, and it becomes vitally important that you impart your SAE to a potentially new employer.  You know you are GREAT!  Everyone else should know it and come knocking down your door, right?

Uh…  Not so much. 

In the workforce these days, there are many, many bright and talented individuals that have skills, abilities, and experiences that are not readily seen.  Thus preparing for your next chapter as a job hunter becomes mission critical.

A couple of ideas that I would like to share, most of which are considered “DUH” ideas, but nonetheless, are share worthy.

  • Keep your eyes wide open while currently employed.  New employers/hiring managers have ego’s too.  They love the idea of “stealing” talent from another organization, however, are not as boastful if they find a “stray”.
  • Research – Social media offers insights into organizations and leaders that 30 years ago were not as easily attained.  Know who you are interviewing with and what that person focuses on.  Understand and use jargon that are hot in your industry now.
  • Plan your behavioral responses, based upon how you utilized your skills and abilities in situations you have been faced with.  How did these contribute as successes and failures to your overall experience for the position.
  • Share openly during the interview, but not too openly.  You don’t want to be perceived as condescending, individualistic, or hard to get a long with during the interview.  Be able to share what you learned as a result of the situation you provided as an example.  Negative situations are the best sharing opportunities as they demonstrate your ability to grow personally and professionally.

Remember, you need to be able to sell yourself forward, not reside in your past.  The person interviewing you may not be able to connect the dots with your diverse experiences, and it is up to you to connect those dots for them.  People that don’t know me, for instance, are quite surprised when I say that I was a History major in college.  Dot connecting has become common place for me.

You are GREAT!  Plan for where you want to be, not for where you are.  Network, network, network!  Doors will open, and you will be able to walk through them!  Good Luck!!

Have a great week!

Where are you going, and why?

So, you are in transition, but are have you prepared yourself for your next big thing?  Maybe its not a “big” thing, maybe its just your thing.

With graduations occurring over the next couple of months, many students will be asked so what are you going to do now?  Many expect to be making 60K+ because that is a lifestyle they have become used to.  They have become used to their parents lifestyle, but they really don’t remember how their parents started off, in most cases.  What is worse, is that many students are entering a world of debt that they are not prepared for. 

There has been much written in blogs, journals, and other publications about the debt that new High School and College Graduates will be saddled with, however, when working adults transition in their lives, are they truly ready and prepared?  Debt is one aspect of transition.  The more important aspect of transition, in my opinion, is how prepared is a person ready for the challenges of their next role?  For some, it is a promotion.  For others, it is a demotion.  For others, it is a total career change.  What people forget is how their experiences in a prior role can translate into a new adventure.

Here is an example.  Working in a contact center is not a lifelong dream of most young people.  Most contact centers, however, are staffed with individuals that bring a unique “flavor” to their employer.  They may have sold insurance; be technically savvy; have a legal background; sales background, etc.  They may have coursework that range from very little to PhD’s, those that have college degrees, and others that have GED’s.  The main point is that they prepared themselves as a professional in some way that makes them valuable to their employer.

As a person embarks on their next challenge, they need to ask themselves some very simple questions, regardless of the industry they are in.

  • Why am I embarking on this challenge
  • What do I hope to gain from this experience
  • Who will mentor me
  • When will I know if I am successful
  • Where do I see myself in 6 months, a year, five years
  • How is this experience going to allow me to improve or increase the tools in my toolbox

Education is an investment in a persons future, however, education without experience often leads to frustration.  When new college graduates expect to be earning 60K+ directly out of school, they don’t realize the importance of experience.  Some are able to land high paying jobs directly out of school with very little experience, however, those are the exceptions.

Education and experience can come from many different places.  Be open to coaching, mentoring, constant development whenever it is offered to you.  This will allow you to become more well rounded as your career evolves.  Understand where you are at currently, know where you want to be, but most importantly know that your path is going to have a myriad of directional changes which will prepare you for the next fork in the road. 

Have a good week!