Stop Thinking and You Will Say The Right Things

head vs heart
I do a lot of coaching on interviewing and networking – introductions for formal, informal, one-on-one, group; you name it, if it is talking or selling yourself I coach on it. The one statement I repeatedly tell my clients the most is:

Stop Thinking!

One of the best exercises is a rapid fire question approach not allowing them to think about their answers, as soon as they answer I ask another, then another and so on. It completely frustrates them and throws them off their game and it is exactly what I want. Not to frustrate them, of course.

But to disengage their brain and engage their heart.

It has to come from the heart.

Before we get to that, let me just say that there is preparation that should be done: identify your skills, abilities and value, determine how you apply your value for other’s benefits and solid examples of these things.

You have to know what you are selling before you attempt to sell.

Why does someone want to talk to you, hire you, start and remain in a relationship with you in any fashion? What do you have to offer and can you prove it? This is the homework, this is the thinking part.

Once you have a good idea of these items then it is time to turn off the brain.

Now that you really do know your value it is time to stop thinking so much and trying to come up with the “perfect” words. Passion beats perfect words any day of the week.

It has to come from the heart.

When you speak from within you are sharing a part of you, allowing the person or persons you are speaking to or with to see the real you. The person who not only knows their value but is passionate about it.

Scripts do not convey passion, rather they speak of boredom. You have memorized a lecture and no one likes to be lectured to.

It is a scary thought, many of my clients are afraid of not having a script. They are afraid they will say the wrong thing. Remember, you are selling you – not a widget. You are not a widget, you are an individual who has skills, abilities and value all of which you are confident in and passionate about.

I do not use scripts, not in talking to prospective clients, groups or facilitating workshops. I have an idea of what I want to say but I let it flow based on the interaction.

I absolutely love what I do, I have a passion for it, it brings me a tremendous amount of job, I am able to help someone every single day and it drives me to do more. I get so passionate about what I do I have had to train myself to stop and ask questions. I don’t want to loose my audience, I want to engage them. So I ask questions and incorporate the answers into what I say next.

I speak from the heart because my heart is fully immersed in what I do.

I may not be the foremost expert or best speaker in the world but I do know what I do, how I do it, the value I bring and the purpose behind it so it allows my heart to take over.

After speaking engagements, workshops or one-on-one with clients some of the comments I hear the most are:

“You really love what you do and it shows.”
“You can tell you are really passionate about what you do.”
“I hate this process but you make it fun because you are so engaged.”

Make no mistake about it, if you ever hear me speak about resume, networking, business communication, LinkedIn, interviewing – anything about job searching and business building – you will know that I am completely committed to what I do and I give it my all. It also helps that I know quite a bit about what I am talking about.

It allows me to throw my clients off that scary cliff and be their safety net. It builds confidence and trust. When I see them grow and thrive I am filled with pride for them. It fuels my passion even more.

Oh yes, there are times I get tongue tied or blurt out something that isn’t “the right words”. Saying “damn” in church during a presentation is one instance that immediately comes to mind. But it is ok. I am human and the best way to handle that is a smile and a bit of humor. I think at that moment I just smiled, and said my mother would be so proud and I moved on.

Let the slip ups go, acknowledge them, brush them off with a smile and lighthearted comment and get back on track.

Hearts are a funny thing, they may not always know the right words and sometimes add a slip or two, but in the end, the heartfelt message is more meaningful than a memorized script any day of the week.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
http://www.CareerPolish.com

Workout Your Job Searching Muscles

treadmillsThere is a reason I do not go to the gym.  It is not because I don’t like working out, I do.  I just don’t need other people hearing me make deals with certain body parts or curse at the evil treadmill or weights.

 

This morning I tried to up the jog on the treadmill and my left calf muscle immediately warned me that if I didn’t knock it off I would pay for it later.  So there I am, talking to my calf muscle making deals in order that I can try to get back in shape yet still walk later.

 

I looked down and noticed I had not accumulated as much distance as I thought so I had a couple nasty little comments for the treadmill because I know it shaved off some distance just to be mean.

 

No one needs to hear those conversations.

 

It is my own fault, I have neglected my workouts for much too long so getting back in that routine is proving to be, well, let’s just say not fun.

 

I remember when I was in such great shape – oh, how I miss those days!  Years ago I loved going to the gym and working out.  Pushing myself, making friends with the weight machines, leg pressing over 250  – ah, the good old days.

 

Now walking up the stairs is pushing it.

 

But, that is what happens when you don’t use those muscles in a long time.

 

Getting back in the job search mode is the same thing.

 

Having been out of it for so long you forget how to use those important muscles: identifying your value, talking about yourself, selling yourself, looking for, identifying and capitalizing on opportunities.

 

You may have been used to doing what you do for so long all of these things seem foreign and overwhelming.  When you first start it feels like a pulled muscle – uncomfortable and somewhat painful.

 

But just in getting back in an exercise program you need to set goals, start small and be consistent.  Continually refine your methods to improve your performance.

 

Sure, right now I may be hanging on for dear life to the safety bars on the treadmill at the end of the run, but soon I’ll be using my arms properly during the workout and wont even notice the bars.  It takes time, practice, patience, a lot of effort and some reality.

 

It would be unrealistic to think that tomorrow I am going to be back in the shape that I want.  It would be wonderful if your first foray back into the job searching world lands you that big, beautiful, fantastic job – but more than likely it is going to take time.

 

Here is a workout routine to help you get back into the flow of job searching:

 

Warm up: write down everything you can about your current and previous positions.  Identify the value that you brought to each position, not just the duties you performed.  The who, what, when, how and results.

Crunches: Take all that information and start putting together the similarities.  Identify the common denominators that you brought to each position – these are your strengths.

 

Core: Begin to formulate your communication of who you are (value) what you do (skills) and how you do it (results).  Keep working on this until it is a tight compilation that is easily adaptable to informal and formal networking, as well as interviewing.

 

Walk/Jog/Run: Start networking.  Reach out to people that you know – family, friends, past co-workers/bosses – to let them know the job and environment that you are targeting and what you bring to the table.  Ask them what they are doing and how you can help them.  Cultivate and nurture these relationships and keep at it.

 

Push ups: Identify opportunities that you want to target and push your resume from a generic one-size-fits all presentation to a customized for-that-position presentation.  Identify their need and present yourself as the solution.

 

Cool-down: Follow up with any lead, interview or communication.  Write thank you notes showing appreciation and interest.  Maintain contact even if the lead seems weak – you never know.

 

In no time you will not be dreading the whole routine but look forward to it because you are starting to see results.  By the time you land that great job you are going to be in great shape for the next phase of this great adventure!

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

 

 

You Will Figure It Out

Alone in a CrowdFor years I was in Corporate America, and I could never quite get “-ized”.  You know, when you work for the big company and must learn to communicate in their language, act a certain way, understand their acronyms and behave as expected.  I just never quite got the hang of it.

 

There was one phrase I heard over and over again: “you are a very strong person.”

 

It was always stated in a thinly concealed manner translating into a bad quality meaning that I should learn to conform.  The hair on my arms would stand up when I would hear that phrase.  I heard it a lot in my personal relationships, too.

 

Strong willed, independent, driven, motivated, unrelenting, committed, tough, dogged – these are just some of the nicer words that were used.  The way they were implied was that these were bad things.  Shame on me, I should just put my head down, keep my mouth shut and learn to blend.

 

I don’t blend well.  It isn’t who I am, or how I was reared.

 

I struggled for years that one quality that defined me as an individual was the one quality that seemed to be hurting me the most professionally and personally.  I struggled with the expectation and desire of everyone else wanting me to change to fit their expectation or being true to myself.

 

I won.  Finally.

 

But it took me traveling a strange, tangle path to reach the point where I figured it out.

 

Long story short the one thing that made me an outcast or un-“ized”-able in my previous positions is what makes me rock in what I do now.  Yes, I just made up the word un-ized-able – whatever.

 

You see, my strength in being straight forward and communicating what people need to hear rather than what they want to hear is a great asset for my clients.  That doggedness makes sure that they do not give up on themselves, I’m always here, I don’t give up.

 

There may be a conflict between who you are and what you are doing and I know the internal stress that can cause on a person.  Looking back I realize it wasn’t until just recently that I was meant to discover the connection, the purpose and the value.

 

I had to go through the torturous activities of failing at being ized-able before I could fully appreciate where I am now and what I have to offer.  While going through that process I learned as much as I could and attempted to see the value in where I was at the time because it would only help me moving forward.

 

I learned finance, management and communication skills from some of the most amazing people.

I learned how not to talk to people and how not to manage.

I learned how to appreciate individual contributors, at every level.

I learned how to analyze and trust my gut.

I learned how to play nice with the big boys and bite my tongue without severing it.

I learned people have different motivations for greatness, and understanding them greatly benefits everyone involved.

I learned that doing the right thing is not always the popular thing.

I learned to apologize and mean it.

I learned to ask questions and not be afraid for my lack of knowledge.

I learned that kindness translates to every level of an organization from the CEO to the mail clerk.

I learned that everyone has dreams, goals and inspirations and none of them are trivial.

I learned we have more in common than we do in opposition, finding the common ground is key.

I learned not everyone cares about what they do as much as you do, and that is ok.

I learned not everyone thinks, learns or performs duties the same way; it doesn’t mean it is wrong.

I learned I always have more to learn.

 

You may not be where you are supposed to be – yet.  But look at it as an opportunity to learn other lessons important for your growth, development and journey.  There is something positive about what you are doing, what is it?  How are you adding value right now?

 

And that one thing that gives you the greatest conflict – you will figure it out.  Once the other lessons are learned it will all make sense.  In the meantime, what can you learn right now?

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

 

 

What Becomes Comfortable

sleepytimeMy dogs snore.  Each and every one, in a different register, at varying volumes and accompanying noises.  This isn’t just a cute little puppy snore like you have seen videoed and posted on Facebook.  On no, this is all out, wake themselves up, complete with yips, yaps, convulsions and seriously thinking if there is a testing for dog sleep apnea snoring. 

Times four. 

I was married, we were together for 10 years and that man snored so loud that it could wake the dead.  Even the subtle occasional elbow or foot jostle didn’t help.  But I got used to it.  

I also grew up near train tracks.  The trains would run in the middle of the night – I never knew this until my grandmother stayed the night and asked how we could sleep through all that train ruckus.  I got used to it. 

The only way I can sleep through the dog snoring is if I fall asleep first.  Last night they all fell asleep before I did and it was a long, noisy night.  

That’s when today’s blog hit me.  How we can become comfortable with certain things.  I guess I am used to falling asleep before the dogs and didn’t realize just how loud they are – oh, and they fart while they sleep.  Bonus. 

When we get comfortable in our job we get comfortable in what we do and take for granted what it is that we really do, the value we bring to the table.  That is why it is so difficult when talking to others explaining what we do.  

We have gotten so used to it that we don’t even think about it anymore.  

Time to wake up. 

Even if you are not preparing to look for another job it is a good idea to stop in midday and evaluate what it is that we are doing.  Think back to how you got to where you are now.  What skills did you master to take that next step. 

Who do you serve – is it clients, teammates, a department or division?  How do you serve them?  What tasks do you do that add value to others?  

How do you perform those tasks?  What skills are needed in order to perform those tasks well?  How did you learn them, how do you improve them and what have you done to get better at what you do? 

What do you enjoy doing?  Why do you enjoy it?  What does it involve?  Who does it involve?  What are the outcomes that you have contributed to? 

These are all great questions to ask yourself when thinking about looking for a new job but they are also great to help you rediscover the great aspects of you as a contributor.  This in turn will give you a sense of gratitude for where you are and what you are doing now.  

These questions will help shed fresh light on your current job from a positive perspective and bring back some of the joy that you may have become comfortable with and get you excited about your job again. 

Wouldn’t it be nice to fall in love with your job again and bring that sense of purpose, excitement and enthusiasm back into your every day?   

Bring back the gratitude and joy and leave the comfortable for snoring dogs. 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

Don’t Apologize – Celebrate

cubicleUniformity, conformity, homogeny, standardization – these are all great for assembly line products; not people.

We are all unique in our own little ways in all areas of our life from home to work.  So often in job searching people feel like they need to be a carbon copy to get their foot in the door.  They get to the point of almost apologizing for how they do what they do so they can be seen as everyone else.

Knock it off.

First, don’t apologize for anything.

Second, it is the point of how you do things differently that allows you to bring value to the situation.

Think about it, more than one person can do the job, but it is how they do it that makes a difference.

If everyone did it the same way there would no room for improvement, no challenge to the status quo, no advancement, no changes and it would get old and outdated quickly.

Instead of apologizing for your uniqueness or quirks, start celebrating them.

I ask a lot of questions, I always have.  It is how I learn, understand and be able to apply the right tools.  I used to apologize for this, instead I celebrate it and I prep them instead.

I let the other person know to help the most I ask a lot of questions but there is a method to my madness.  After we get through the series I then explain what I heard and my thoughts.  They are normally appreciative because above all I listened.

Not too long ago I was at a networking event with a friend.  Before he introduced me to his co-worker he told me that he needed some work on his network opening.

When he did introduce me he told his friend that I was the girl he was talking about that could really help with his networking.  His friend’s reply, “give it your best shot.”

Ha.  Seriously, don’t challenge me.

So he gave his pitch and I started asking, in rapid fire.  At one point he looked at my friend and he told him, “Just go with it, there are a lot of questions but she knows what she is doing.”

I didn’t apologize and my quirk is recognized for what it is – a useful tool.

At the end of it all we revamped it in less than five minutes and he was very happy with it.

Recognize not only your quirk but how it can help others.  That is how you can celebrate and demonstrate to future employers your true value.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

Pick Your Battles While Remaining True To Yourself

Throughout my early career development I had bosses and mentors make mention that one of my strongest attributes was that I am a very passionate person.  Sometimes it was a good thing, sometimes not so much.

 

One of my early mentors told me that, especially with my passion, I had to learn to pick my battles carefully or I might steamroll everyone.  Yes, it was a compliment – but a lesson as well.

 

One of the most challenging ideas I had, and continue, to learn is leveraging my personal strengths to gain the greatest benefit to my company, my staff and the goals at hand.  Learning how to read situations and recognize when one attribute is preferable over another because ultimately it is not about me – rather it is about the value I can bring to others.  Much of this value is derived from my personality.

 

I think this is one of the biggest challenges people have when they begin a new job or feel like something has gone off track in their current position.  It is not just your skills and expertise that brought you to a company or position; it is also an element of your personality.  But finding balance between personality, strengths and corporate needs is a delicate balance.

 

Some things are more obvious – for example apparel.  I have a thing for shoes – some of my favorites are pointed toe, strappy sandals and boots all with three inch spiked heels.  In a very conservative environment I realize that some of my shoes are not appropriate so they don’t get to come to the office, others can be downplayed with the right outfit.  It is a balancing act.

 

For young women especially I find more and more that they have difficulty understanding balance.  Yes, you want your personality to show through; however there is a line between that and shoving it down everyone’s throat.  Error on the side of conservative and bring in smaller elements of your personality.  Allow your coworkers to get to know you for the value you bring rather than your unique style.  Your value will gain you respect, promotions and a secure future; whereas your style could lead to misinterpretation.

 

I’ve had young people argue with me that that is their personality and others will just have to get over it.  Aren’t they cute?  Listen up youngsters – if you are a talented, committed team member then I will allow for some slack on the unique personality.  However, if you are too busy shoving your personality down my throat with a “take it or leave it” type attitude I’ll ask you to leave.  You have not earned the right to shove anything in my face.

 

Professionalism – that means working, being part of a team, getting results – takes precedence in the work world over your too revealing or inappropriate clothing.  Deal with it – it’s called the real world.

 

Speaking of dress, I’ve also had staff members that, after a few years in the job, their professional attire had become more relaxed and on the verge of too casual.  Let me tell you a secret – in management meetings these things were noticed.  The decline of professionalism in dress was openly discussed and questioned as a direct correlation to their decline in commitment to their job and company.

 

Other elements of balance are more challenging to recognize and manage.

 

For example I am a pretty outspoken, take charge person.  Part of that is how I was raised, part was through business development and another part is due to life experiences.  But what I have learned is sometimes I need to just shut up and let others lead because I bring more value as a supportive team member than the leader.

 

If you find that you are in a state of continual battle in your current position it may be that you, too, need to learn this lesson.  It is ok to let go of the reigns and learn from others.  We all have things to learn from others and we cannot listen if we are always talking.

 

I will admit it is a hard thing to do – trust me, this I know.  Let me put it this way, one of my favorite male co-workers ever looked at me one day and said, “Can I be the guy today?” when we were working on a project.

 

On the flip side, sometimes we loose faith in ourselves and therefore loose the ability to use our personal/personality strengths and try to adopt others’ behavior to get through.  I’m an example kind of girl, so let me use one here and see if that helps clarify this idea.

 

I was recently in a situation that was going along all fine and dandy and then one day it wasn’t.  Instead of stopping, stepping back and remaining true to my intuition, skills and expertise to regroup, understand the challenge and proceed in a favorable manner – I got stuck.

 

In my stuck state I started listening to the analysis and opinions of others who do not approach challenges the same way I do and I begin to morph into their mindset.  Stupid.  What this did was to alter my behavior, the situation got worse – but luckily my vacationing mind just came back and said, “what the hell are you doing?!”

 

Kind of like if you know your boss is wrong and normally you would take them aside and gently explain your opinion yet something recently made you question yourself personally.  So asked the opinions of others and they said the boss would not want to be corrected.  So you keep your mouth shut and play dumb.  Then the project falls through and your boss calls you out for not communicating like you normally do.  You knew better – but you got afraid so you adopted someone else’s behavior.

 

This is where your personality is a key part of why you are there.  People do depend on you for certain elements that you bring to the table.  When you stop being true to some of your most valued traits the result can be that not only do you suffer, but the team does as well.

 

If you find yourself derailed or seemingly stuck in your position take a moment to think about what you have read here – have you changed something about yourself that is actually causing you to bring less than your best to the table?  Recognize it and fix it immediately.

 

Here’s the rub, though: it will take more time to get others back on track in seeing you for what you are and what they were used to rather than what you recently were.

 

In other words if your attire has been slackerish and you start dressing professionally again expect a few comments and the expectation that it won’t last.  Don’t pay any attention – you just keep doing your thing.

 

If you morphed into the wallflower and you start speaking up again – in a positive and productive way of course – then expect some surprise from coworkers and bosses.  No worries, just keep being true to yourself and they will eventually see, and be glad, that your brain is back from vacation.

 

Alternatively if you had turned into the steamrolling office grump then do not be surprised if others around you keep expecting the other shoe to drop when you start being a cooperative, engaged team member.  Reassure them that you are there to help and support and eventually they will forgive you for your temporary digression.

 

We all slip and fall at times, but it isn’t the fall that is important – it is what you do when you get back up that counts.  Remember, you are there for a reason.  How do you bring the most value to your organization by means of your skills, expertise and personality?  Get back to basics and move on!

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

http://www.CareerPolish.com

But This Is All I Know

We are a world of boxes; we quickly create our own little boxes and find comfort so we never expand beyond those lines.  Comfort does not always equate to happiness, it may be simply a matter of familiarity.  “It’s not great, but it’s not that bad” is a clue that you are not happy, you are comfortable; perhaps comfortable in misery.

 

Part of my job is to help my clients, workshop attendees or those present at speaking engagements to get out of their own heads and boxes.   If you made the box you can break it down and create whatever shape you choose to surround yourself in.  I’m more of a wavy line kinda girl myself.

 

So often I will talk to a client who has worked in a certain position or industry for an extended period of time and have assumed this job/industry as part of their identity.  A big clue to this line of thinking is when you hear someone introduce themselves as a specific job title; i.e. “I’m a Banker”, “I’m a Compliance Officer”, “I’m a Secretary” etc.

 

First and foremost you are not a title – I’ve said it thousands of times before and I will continue to do so.  The only title I assume is Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Niece or Cousin.  Only family related and my most prized title is Mother.  No matter what I do in my lifetime first, last and always I am Jake’s mom.

 

So how do you break beyond those walls to re-create your shape?  The first thing is to start asking, and answering, some questions.  Start with the biggie: what do you do?  And let me just say – I do not care what your job is, you add value.  You do not just perform a task, you add value.  Remember this, refer back to it and remind yourself as you go through your questions.

 

Let’s look at two different positions to see how they can identify their value to move beyond where they are to where they want to go: a Business Banker and a Delivery Driver.

 

At first blush in answering the “what do you do” question they could answer, respectively:

 

“I help businesses with their banking needs” and

“I deliver packages to people”

 

But is that all they do? NO!

 

The banker must build a relationship with their clients to gain their trust to gain full access to their entire business picture; they must compile an immense amount of information; they analyze all the data and factors; they must utilize business savvy to see the current and future picture; they must learn their client’s business landscape to fully understand the goals; they create plans with actionable items in order for their clients to make informed decisions; they help them identify their current goals and long term objectives.

 

The delivery driver must adhere to a strict schedule and utilize time management and problem solving skills when challenges arise; they must utilize prioritization skills to make immediate adjustments in order to fulfill expectations; they build relationships with each contact; they must maintain a professional image no matter the situation; they must think on their feet and immediately utilize problem solving and/or conflict resolution skills; they employ organizational skills throughout the day and they maintain flexibility throughout the day balancing efficiency with every changing and demanding conditions.

 

A lot more than helping with banking needs and delivering packages, huh?

 

Not once in those explanations did you see a title; again, you are not a title.  You provide value in performing duties.   Relationship building, organization, analysis, problem solving – those are all skills utilized by both.  Which brings me to an important point: when looking at what you do start identifying the skills that you employ to perform these tasks.

 

Do you see how you start moving away from a title and more toward skills, value and assets?  Once you can start to identify these then you can take a whole new approach to your job searching.  Instead of looking for titles or positions that fit where you have always been; start looking for positions that meet your skill set.  These positions could be completely different that what you have ever done or in a whole new industry.

 

Stop looking at the job titles when looking for a job – start looking at the job itself.  If it is something that tickles your fancy then do an analysis.  What skills do they require and have you utilized these skills in the past and how can you demonstrate that to the prospective employer?

 

By looking at your job or previous jobs from a perspective of what did you do rather than this is all I know you will begin to see those walls crumble and allow yourself to open up to all sorts of possibilities that exist for you beyond that box.

 

Quick note:

 

I am working with The Grindstone to kick off Career Connect – an interactive speaker series to help people with various career experiences.  On March 1 I’ll start the series off speaking about career transition.  To find out more about this and sign up to join please go to http://thegrindstone.com/career-management/interactive-career-advice-series-756/#comments!

 

I highly encourage you to attend these sessions – they have lined up some fantastic speakers and I am so honored to be included in the list, let alone kick it off!

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

http://www.CareerPolish.com

Marketable Skills – Look Outside Your Box

Manuel came home last night and gave me a sly smile and told me Jesse gave him a compliment. If you have a teenager you know exactly why he was smiling. For those of you without children or have younger children I’ll fill you in – teenagers do not give their parents compliments. Of course it was a bit backhanded, but it was there.

They were talking about going to the batting cages and hit golf balls this weekend because Manuel said he needed to get a couple of buckets in as he has a tournament coming up. Jesse asked if he even knew how to play golf. He told Manuel that if it were baseball he would not question it, he knows Manuel can play baseball, but golf? You see Manuel is a former ballplayer and has coached for years. But Jesse had never seen his dad play golf or known that he has played before so he naturally assumed he could not play. Ah, teenagers. In Jesse’s mind his dad was a baseball coach, not a golf coach.

This got me thinking about my class this week. We had a great discussion about how you may have marketable skills or abilities that you have learned even if it was not a part of any job description. Our personal lives offer us a multitude of opportunities that we can draw from in giving examples of skills and abilities during an interview. Volunteerism gives us these same opportunities that we can include on our resume.

One word of caution – if you are using a personal example make sure it is not too personal and that it is relevant. The examples should illustrate your point and be able to demonstrate rather than just tell a story. Sometimes people get a bit too comfortable during an interview and forget the whole point – to sell yourself to that person. You want to show them that you are the right fit for that job: you have the skills, expertise, experience and ability to be the solution to their problem. Telling personal stories with no point does not help you; this is not a social call.

It can be done and to help here is a personal example: Someone once asked me if I could successfully handle multiple projects that were outside of my comfort zone and, if so, could I give them an example. I explained that when I was first brought into the financial industry I was required to earn my Series 7 exam with the Series 9 & 10 to follow at some point. Within a short time period my ex-husband was also diagnosed with advanced aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Over the next twelve months I was successful at my duties at my position; earned my 7, 63, 65, 9 and 10 Series licenses; spend every night and weekend at the hospital learning about dialysis, chemotherapy, and various tests and treatments as my ex-husband successfully battled cancer all while managing my young son’s school and sports responsibilities and activities. The person looked at me and said, “I would say that is a definite yes.”

Even with our job we have opportunities to learn new skills that are not listed within our job description. We get so ingrained in our position and title that we forget all of the abilities and talents that we have developed that are not tied to a position. Just because it was not in your job description does not mean you have not done it. Think about your last position and what the job description was when you first started. Now think about everything that you actually did – I bet the two lists do not match.

Stop selling yourself short and start thinking outside the box. You are your hardest critic, but for today, knock it off. Start listing out your strongest skills and abilities and then go back to everything that you have done in work-world, volunteer-world and life-world. Start writing down all of the things that you have done, can do and have learned or achieved. Odds are you will see there is much more depth to you when you look outside your cubicle.