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My Advice - The Bigger Picture

3.09.2010

Everything that could be written has been written about managing your career. There are millions of articles about how to assess your company, career trajectory and how to negotiate your compensation package. There is ample advice on crafting the perfect resume, how to network with past colleagues and classmates, and fine tuning your interview skills. Yet, many people are still between jobs or out of work. There are also legions of executives and managers unhappy with their current company, position or even chosen field.With that backdrop, I'm going to switch from company adviser to New Age personal growth guru-if only for a few paragraphs.

Most career advice is too tactical and misses the bigger picture: happiness, satisfaction, well being, contentment and yes, even peace. The reason we want a job, the bigger job, more money, more opportunity is so that we can have-you fill in the blank. But I'm willing to bet that you want the feeling--happiness, satisfaction and use accomplishment as a way to achieve the feeling. Some thoughts:

  1. Go within-push in the clutch. Before dusting off the resume and scheduling the networking lunches, take some time to reflect on your career. What gives you joy? Are you doing something you love? What have you learned about yourself in your current or last position? Come up with a plan or career strategy that will allow you to do what makes you happy. People with the most successful careers enjoy what they do.
  2. Evaluate your "script." By this I mean, if you were observing yourself during the course of your career what would you see? Would you see someone who changes positions often because of an abusive manager? Someone whose every position involves a power struggle? Someone who never has enough support to get everything done? Conversely, do you always end up with a mentor or someone who realizes your value and encourages you to be more? Look for common themes. One client, a successful sales executive, found that after two years of bliss with each position, she would end up in a power struggle. Sometimes it was with the CEO, sometimes the General Counsel, and/or the CFO-but it always came as sure as Act 3 follows Act 2 in a play. Until she recognized the pattern, gained insight on the triggers and how she contributed to it, she was doomed to repeat it.
  3. Work on your Image. How do you see yourself? Spend some time taking stock of the image you hold of yourself. Is it of a successful person? A winner? I once asked an executive who receives 100 phone calls a week from potential vendors, what made him return the call of one or two. He replied "some callers convey in their tone of voice that they expect a call back. I would call it a vibe for lack of a better word." I agree. I can usually tell in five minutes what type of confidence and self esteem a candidate possesses. If you see yourself as a winner others will as well. You can't project an image that isn't there. If your image is lacking, do more introspection and work on creating a new positive image.
  4. Visualization. Visualization for athletes has been common place since Arthur Ashe beat Jimmy Connors, a stronger player, at Wimbledon in 1975; yet only in recent years has it been packaged as mainstream. And even then it is characterized as "setting goals." Many times I will ask an executive who has had tremendous success if he or she was surprised. More often than not, they will say "I always visualized myself as having this success or this happiness." The key is to visualize your goals-see yourself living the life you want to lead.

 

Have these techniques been proven? No. Are they an instant fix to all that ails you? No, again. But a life and career well lived is an exercise in learning, growing and becoming more of who we are. As one teacher said, "growth is continuous but change can be instantaneous.

 

 

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