Sometimes The Best Thing For Your Career Is To Not Listen To Everyone Else

not listening

 

Nearly a decade ago I had an idea. I was working in an industry that I loved; however, I had an ethical dilemma. I was recruiting individuals for a job that I would not do myself.  I found myself coaching potential candidates on how to get hired anywhere but there.

Two things hit me one day:

  1. I probably was not going to continue to get paid for helping people not get hired at my present company
  2. I loved helping people get into industries and jobs that they really wanted

Then a faint little noise popped in my head. A thought, a possibility – but was it crazy?

I made an appointment to talk to a woman who was in a related industry to bounce the idea off her. I had known her for some time and had a great deal of respect for her as a business owner, expert in her field and someone that was always very straightforward and supportive.

When I shared my idea, the frail little concept that had embedded itself in my head she squashed it like a bug. She told me that it was a terrible idea. No one needed someone to help them write a resume or worse yet write it for them, everyone already knew how. She repeatedly bludgeoned my idea and ended our conversation with “and you’ll never make any money”.

I was devastated, humiliated and crushed. I did not think my idea was that bad. On the way out of her office I beat myself up for being so stupid to even have such an idea. All the way down the elevator my spirits sunk quicker than the ever-increasingly claustrophobic box descended.

Then something changed when I walked out of the building and made my way to the car. Something shifted. Instead of beating myself up, I started to get mad.

It was not a stupid idea.

No, not everyone knows how to write a good resume – I had seen this first hand in recruiting.

There were plenty of people out there that could use help.

I had been helping people.

I loved it.

It wasn’t about the money.

Could she be stomping so hard on that idea because it was actually a good idea that she did not think or, be able to implement or found it threatening to her own business?

That is when I committed to my idea. I set off on a journey the next week and never looked back.

Nearly a decade later my business and I have evolved tremendously. I still love what I do, even more now than when I began. I am not on the cover of Forbes yet my family and I have been very blessed.

If I had listened to “well intended” advice, I would still be dreading a daily commute. I would have missed embracing and further delving into my greatest passion. I would have missed nearly 10 years of amazing people and experiences. I would have missed the life I never thought possible.

When I facilitate workshops, speak to groups or talk with an individual one-on-one there is one piece of advice I learned from this experience that I pass on: listen to your gut first. I may suggest ten actions and eight inspires them, but the other two just do not ‘feel’ right. My advice is do not do the other two, or modify them to what feels right to them.

Do what feels right to you. Defend it to make sure it is not fear driven, but truth driven – your truth.

My job as a coach is to provide advice, expertise, guidance and support yet I want what is best for my clients. This means that my suggestions come after their gut feeling. When they have that conflict, I have them express or defend it to me. Not to prove I am right or change their mind, but to get them to believe in and trust themselves to blend the information, tools and tactics into what works best for them as individuals.

If you are in the midst of a career change, advancement or search – get advice. Talk to people you trust or are experts. Gather the information that is pertinent to you but do not let it overtake you. Do not let it change your truth.

When you get a spark of insanity, do not let anyone else stomp it out. Sometimes people want to eliminate our ‘terrible’ ideas because of their own fear.

Something different scares, intimidates or angers people. They get jealous that they did not think or it or worse yet, do not have the guts to do it. That is them, not you. If you run across those people, thank them for their input and move on.

Find those that challenge you to defend your spark, to strengthen your resolve, to develop a plan of action and support you through the unknown. Then go after it with a determination fueled by all the information you have gathered and the resolve and excitement you hold for your idea.

Then remember it. When you then hear of someone with their own spark of insanity, be the person to inspire, encourage and champion their crazy idea. You may be the little push they need to get that next promotion, start their own business or change industries.

You can be someone’s hero because you became one for yourself when you stopped listening to everyone else.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

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Know What You Are Not To Excel In Your Career

my toolkitMy grandfather was an electrician and my father was a diesel mechanic. I am neither an electrician nor a mechanic. I use two things: duct tape and WD-40, what cannot be solved with one is solved with the other. Okay, occasionally I use a hammer…

I do have my own set of tools, a jigsaw, sawsaw (that’s what I call it), circular saw, table saw, levels, socket set, wire cutters and lots of other toys. I can use each one, although I do not have mastery of any.

This was quite obvious in a recent project.

I was changing out electrical outlets and light switches in all the rooms in my home from the almond to white. I love the white, so clean and fresh! I followed all the appropriate steps: turned off breakers, ensured no power to each item, had my wire cutters, flat head and Philips screw drivers and new switches/outlets.

I did pretty well, actually getting on a roll. I learned how to change plug in from the back to screw in to the side outlets and light switches. I made sure to put the wires in the new reciprocals exactly as they were in the old ones. I am woman, hear me roar!

I roared alright, right after only one of the three light switches worked in both bathrooms. Are you kidding me? I did it exactly as it was before – what happened?

What happened is I am not an electrician. That’s what happened.

My boyfriend provides gentle reminders that I am not a mechanical wizard. I will be working on a project and he will come up, in the most gentle and respectful way, and say, “Here honey, let me help.”

This is code for “good lord girl, let me take this over before you blow up the house.”

Do you know how frustrating it is to struggle with something for a half an hour and have someone come up and complete it in thirty seconds? Very. Very, very, very frustrating.

But here is the thing – I am not an electrician or a mechanic. My boyfriend pretty much is. Those are his strengths, not mine. The reason we work so well together is that we appreciate and recognize each other’s strengths – and weaknesses. We are that weird couple that actually enjoy finding and doing projects together.

We cannot individually be all things to each other in our relationship. He is the time/calendar structured person that can herd cats in a single bound and accomplish more in one day than most people can in a week. I am the creative, communicative, go with the flow, “flower child” as he calls me that adapts easily to whatever is thrown in the path and finds a way to make those lemons into garnishes for mojitos.

We also have similar qualities that work well: we are independent, driven, family oriented, big picture, very sarcastic, appreciate the moment kind of people.  We are a true partnership and it works very, very well for us.

Your career is a series of relationships.

You may have one that your partner does nothing but take from you and never supports your needs or goals. You may have one that they are unfaithful, giving all the best opportunities to someone else. Another might be a great learning experience, with them teaching you more about yourself than you knew. Eventually you find partnerships that allow you to contribute and receive, fulfilling your needs and goals and theirs.

There are two key factors to any relationship. The first is knowing who you are, what you like, what you want, what you will accept and what you will not.

The second is knowing your strengths and weaknesses. What can you give, what can you not, what are you willing to learn to be able to give and what are you not. These things change as you grow older and experience different situations, environments and relationships.

Remember, during each phase of your career – each relationship – it is your choice. You are never stuck anywhere. If it does not suit you it is not your obligation or requirement to stay just to make someone else happy. This makes you miserable and as such you cannot possibly give your greatest gifts to others.

If I were to give one piece of advice it would be this: be selfish. We have put such a negative connotation to being selfish. Oh, you will hear others tell you that you should think of others, that you are being selfish. What they are really saying is that you should not think of yourself, you should think of them.

You deserve to be selfish, it is a requirement! I mean selfish in a way of taking care of yourself. Define what makes you happy, pamper yourself by unplugging and enjoying only what it is that you enjoy doing. To get really flower child on you – until you learn to love yourself, how can you love anyone else?

Until you know your strengths, how can you provide real value to others? Until you know your weaknesses how can you appreciate and ask for them from others? Knowing yourself is a matter of respect. You learn to respect your strengths and learn to appreciate the strengths of others that happen to be your weaknesses.

Each relationship, each job or team, is a balance of individual strengths and weaknesses, respect and honor. When you find that balance between yourself, others and the relationships you know you have found a winner.

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I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Eliminate the Big But for Career, Team Building and Business Success

One word can negate every single word spoken before it. 

One word can turn a productive coaching session into a demoralizing one way conversation. 

One word can turn a hot prospect ready to sign on the dotted line into a cold shoulder that will not return your calls.

That one little word with such a big impact is ‘but’.

Somewhere along the lines we were conditioned to register “but” as a negative.  When hearing that word, an instinctual response is to cringe and brace ourselves for the other shoe to drop. 

It represents negativity in various forms of no.  No, I do not want to help.  No, you did not do a good job.  No, we will not provide service.

Think about dating, “but” was an ego killer. “You are such a great person, but I just want to be friends.” 

Did you believe that they really thought you were that great?  No, all you heard was “you are now stuck in friend zone, never to exit.” 

Poor little but has a lot of negative connotations, it is a dreaded or even hated word.

This is why it can be so dangerous even when used innocently.

Instead, use but’s twin – however.

It has the same meaning, but a softer effect without all the negative emotional baggage.  It will allow you to persuade and engage your team members, staff and leadership by allowing them to hear your ideas and suggestions.

When the but is directed to you, take a breathe and realize that the bristling that you are feeling is a conditioned effect, not the intent of the speaker.  Replace it in your mind with however to be able to listen to the message.  It puts you at an advantage in being able to interpret the meaning, not message, and respond quickly in a positive way.

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

www.CareerPolish.com

 

Stop Cheating Yourself by Expecting Others to Do it All for You

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn, and I still struggle with today, is not doing everything for my family.  When my son was younger, I might have done things to save time.  Some of my family is not very technically savvy so, as I am on my computer for the better part of every day, I was asked to perform certain tasks.

 

It was a matter of convenience.  It was easier if I just did the tasks.

 

It would not take me as long, I was more versed in the arena or I had more time to complete it since it would take them much longer to complete it.

 

Guess what – that is a big load of cow manure.

 

It is a huge disservice for everyone involved.

 

I received several “binkies” from my baby showers.  I don’t know what you call those little mouth plugs we give to infants but around here we call them binkies. 

 

I remember him sitting in his swing one day and being a little fussy so I thought we would give the binkie a try.  I popped it in his mouth and as soon as I sat back down he looked at me and spit it out.  So I got up and gave it to him again.  Again, he waited until I sat down and looked at me and spit it out.  We were done with the binkie.  The way I looked at it is one less bad habit I would have to break later.

 

I wish I had the same wisdom when it came to doing for others.

 

When he was younger I might have done tasks for him or completed them for him as a matter of convenience.  Let me also admit here that I am not the most patient person in the world.  But what happened was as he grew up it became an expectation.

 

I was expected to complete not just past tasks, but any tasks for him if he didn’t want to do them.  Becaue I was Mom, that is what I did.  Same for family members.  I would help out and then it became an expectation.

 

The problem with this is once you realize the expectation and the true disservice that you are doing, it is damn near impossible to break the habit. 

 

When you first deny the person you immediately get resistance.  They may think you are joking, or mad at them.  I mean, why else would you not do it?  When you put your foot down and say no, hostility can very easily crop up from them.

 

You have always done it before.  It isn’t like it is a big deal for you.  You are being selfish.  You aren’t being supportive of your family.  Nowhere in their reality do they ever see it as an imposition or using of you.  This is partially your fault – you set the stage.  I am fully responsible for the bad habits I instilled in my family.

 

I didn’t always handle this change in dynamics well.  I have very hard-headed, stubborn and sometimes short-sighted family members.  Hey, I am not judging, I can be one of them.  So when I started saying no there was a lot of resistance.  The calm talks, explanations and flat out no’s were not received well nor did they sink in.

 

I had to take quite a loud and drastic stance.  A couple yelling sessions and a couple breakdowns were involved.  It wasn’t pretty nor was it fun.  I just kept telling myself that I had accountability in this so I had to just suck it up and stick to my guns.

 

Yes, I was being selfish because here are a couple of cold hard truths:

 

– If I don’t take care of myself how can I possibly be at my best to take care of anyone else?

– What makes me think I can solve everyone else’s problems by taking them on?

 

You see, when I kept trying to do all for everyone else it was sucking the life out of me.  I was becoming distracted, short tempered, exhausted and just a lot of things I did not like.  My family noticed I was not myself, but could not connect the dots as to why.

 

I have come a long way with this, but I still have a ways to go – personally that is. 

 

Professionally, I have a hard fast rule: You have to have skin in the game or we will not be working together.  Prospects will ask me how successful I am, they want to know how many people have gotten jobs based on working with me.  My reply is simple:

 

I am 100% successful.  I provide my clients with what they need; however it is up to my clients to use this information and put it into practice to reach their goals.

 

I cannot take all credit for my clients’ successes, nor do I take all responsibility for their failures.  There are some that will have all the best tools but never take them out of the box.

 

That is the best thing I can do for my clients.  I can provide them with the most fantastic resume, LinkedIn profile, interview or network coaching but I cannot perform the actions necessary for them to succeed.  They must be involved in the process of these things in order that they can fully engage in them and take full ownership.

 

In my process I incorporate a method of teaching.  I will finalize their resume for the first position that they want to target.  For the second target I have them make the revisions and then we go through them.  I transition the process to them, giving them coaching and guidance, in order for them to take full ownership and move on without me.

 

I cut the cord, I kick them out of the nest. 

 

That is an important part of my job – not just give them the tools they need, but teach them how to use them. 

 

When you are evaluating hiring a professional to hire you in any activity for improvement do not sell yourself short and expect them to do it all for you.

 

Would you hire a personal trainer and expect that by watching them work out you will get in better shape?

Would you hire a dietitian that tells you what foods to eat and outline a change in your eating behaviors but not incorporate the changes yourself?

 

No.

 

When you take ownership of or within a project you take accountability and are more engaged in the process to ensure you reach a successful outcome.  The outcome you want.  The outcome you help create.

 

When you expect others to do the work for you then you are giving up your control and creating an opportunity for blame.  You get an outcome that is decided for and given to you.

 

I saw a quote the other day that I think applies perfectly: you can have results or excuses but not both.

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach & Brand Strategies

Certified Professional Resume Writer

www.CareerPolish.com

 

Don’t Ask Your Dogs For Advice

Lexi caresMy dad was a very straight forward kind of person; yet not one to give his opinion unless asked.  It was pretty well known that if you wanted to know what he thought you had to ask yet be prepared because he was going to tell you.

He was honest without being disrespectful.  His thought was if you asked then he would tell you what he thought, not what you wanted to hear.  That did not always work out for a teenage girl; yet as a grown woman I can certainly appreciate it now.

I try to live by his standards in being tactful; sometimes I miss the mark a bit.  But the one thing I am in honest.  When a client asks me a question or advice it is my responsibility to be honest with them; not just tell them but explain in order that they understand and can use the information for their greatest good.

Sometimes people don’t like it. Because I don’t tell them what they want to hear.  That’s when you shouldn’t ask someone.

If you are not prepared to hear the complete opposite of what you have your mind set to than don’t ask.  Because you really didn’t want to know in the first place, you just wanted validation.  There is a big difference.

There is only one person I will ask anything of and that is my best friend.  Because she is not about validation, she is about honesty.  Sometimes I don’t like it but I appreciate it coming from her because I know it is meant with love, honestly and never in a negative manner.

There are times I will ask her something, hear her answer and tell her that I think it sucks.  She just smiles and says, “I know.”  It is what it is.

When I want validation – I ask my dogs.  They always agree with me.  I always get complete validation and it is awesome.  Not always helpful, but awesome.  They don’t give the greatest career or love life advice, but they do always agree with my line of thinking even if it is complete stupidity.

Often times I will overhear conversations or read articles about career or job advice.  I literally have to bite my tongue not to interject because I remind myself I am overhearing or reading something and no one asked my opinion.

But all I can think of is, “yeah, my dog would give the same advice.”  Because my dog has the same level of understanding, empathy or expertise as the person spewing the advice.

You know you are getting dog advice when it agrees 100% completely with what you are thinking but even in the back of your own mind that little voice is telling you, “This isn’t really right.”  You are just looking for validation.  Stop it.

Have the courage to ask the one person that will be upfront and straight with you – even if they don’t agree with you.  You deserve to have a different perspective to change something, even something little, to make a positive difference.

I will admit there are crappy days that my main counsel of advice givers is the dogs.  The day sucks, I want to feel better and I want someone to tell me I am right even if I am not.  I’m mature that way.  The day will end, I will grow up at the end and the next day I will actually face the issue and my own actions.  So I get it.

But the point is you cannot have those days day after day when job searching, business building or going after a goal.  If you want it go after it.  If you are struggling then identify who that person is that will tell you the people advice and listen.  You may be too close to the forest for the trees, or however that saying goes.

Let’s be honest, at the end of the day my dogs want three things: food, treats and a comfy place to sleep all day.  They aren’t truly vested in my career or love life – unless those two things have a negative impact on the big three.

I don’t like hearing I am wrong and that is when my best friend said something very powerful: “You aren’t wrong, just off track a little.  As long as you are moving forward it isn’t wrong, maybe a little misguided….”

Don’t take the advice as a negative.  You may just need to adjust your sails a bit, but you can’t do that unless you get a true perspective of what is going on and that is when you need more than validation.

Be brave and ask, then be braver and listen.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

www.CareerPolish.com

What Are You Going To Do – Pursue Happiness Or Create It?

Before you take any action you must want to do so. Sounds simple, right? That’s what resolutions are all about. So why are so many long forgotten by February? Because the failed resolutions were made with interest, not commitment.

Oh sure, I am interested in being more healthy – but I’m not committed to it. How could I be when I do not eat well, drink way too much caffeine, exercise minimally and have other bad habits?

I meet a lot of people who want to change jobs or at least secure a position – most are interested, not committed. Simply having me review a resume with no follow up action on their part is pure interest. At the very least, use some of the suggestions.

I have a good friend that told me that people to not commit until they feel enough pain. I tend to avoid pain at all possible – it is a general rule I like to follow and for the most part it serves me well. However, I have also discovered it has its flaws.

Avoiding pain is a way to avoid commitment. The biggest reason to adopt the avoiding pain is to avoid rejection. No one likes rejection; however it can be used as a growth tool.

When I was in the financial industry and was contemplating looking elsewhere within the industry I remember being struck with a thought: “what if another company does not think I’m as good as I think I am, what if I have just fooled this company and I really suck?!” Yes, welcome to my mind.

So I avoided it, I did not prepare my resume, I did not prepare for networking, I did not want to interview – I completely avoided it. The pain came when I was forced to take action and the avoidance increased the pain.

Sometimes we just need to think or talk through it. So let me ask you these seemingly simple questions. Write down or say out loud your initial response – don’t think about it. It all boils down to three questions:

 Are you happy?
 Why not?
 What are you willing to do about it?

Taking it a step further:

 What do you want?
 What do you need?
 What is the worst that could happen if you do nothing?
 What is the best that could happen if you changed nothing?
 What is the worst that could happen if you take action?
 What is the best that could happen if you take action?
 What is involved in making change?
 What do you need to do to get what you want?
 What are you willing to do to get what you want?
 What are you not willing to do?
 What are you afraid of?

I suggest writing down your answers so you can come back and look at them again. For each response keep asking “why?” until you get to the real reasons.

Maybe you are okay where you are and have felt the need to change based on other people’s intentions. To that I say: “Knock it off! It is your life, you create your own happiness – stop worrying about what other people think.”

Maybe you can uncover what your real fear is and this will give you the opportunity to reach out for assistance. Whether it be a significant other, a good friend, a coach, a professional, a mentor – whomever it is you need, reach out and ask for help – once you commit.

If you are interested keep your wants to yourself. It is like the boy who cried wolf. People will soon learn that you are just blowing smoke and tire of hearing it. If you have repeatedly stated you want to change something but have never done anything to prove it people will not believe you when you actually make that commitment.

However, if you are committed, commit to yourself first, take some steps and prove to yourself that you truly want this. Answering the questions above is just a tool – not an actionable step. But it is a good start to taking action. Once you have identified actionable items within your answers – go with them and perform them. Each action taken is a commitment fulfilled, a step toward success, proof of your commitment.

“Some people pursue happiness, others create it.” One of my favorite quotes – something to think about.

Once you start the processes of taking actionable steps you can work on allowing the good things to come to you. Which will be the next post – how to open the door to welcome and allow the good to come in and stay awhile….

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.
http://www.CareerPolish.com