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.


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 – – to find out more about how we can help you.

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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


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?




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