The #1 Thing To Boost Your Career Profile

Watch this short clip first...

That’s such a watchable movie scene because: a) it’s Sandra Bullock!  And b) It pokes fun at the safe answers that contestants can give at beauty pageants.  They’re all trying to sound profound, but they just parrot each other and lose all meaning in the process.  

Unfortunately, the majority of professionals do something similar when it comes to their career positioning.

In this week's vlog I'll show you why this backfires and what you can do about it.  
(Shout out to Jim Longo for the idea)

Three Keys to Staying in Your Talent Zone

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I've used a wide range of assessment tools for my clients over the years - some with mixed results. But I like Gallup CliftonStrengths so much, that I just wrapped up my certification training to become a Strengths Champion Certified Coach.  

If you haven’t heard of the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly Clifton StrengthsFinder), it ranks 34 different talent areas from highest to lowest specifically tailored to you. 

The assessment is based on decades of research that shows investing in your talents brings a much higher return in productivity than the same effort spent trying to improve your weaknesses.  

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So far I’ve coached over 60 hours with my clients using this tool, and have gotten consistently good feedback.  Here are the top three reactions I get from my clients when they see the results for the first time:

  1. “I didn’t know this was a strength - I thought was a weakness!”  These people really need to be affirmed and appreciated for their contribution, but they've probably taken a lot of criticism over the years.  This is especially true if they have one of the strong influencing or leadership talents.  The takeaway?  Have the courage to develop those talents you've been suppressing.
     
  2. “Why is this talent ranked so high on my list? It’s really not a big deal."  Then, after we explore the talent in depth, they'll start to see that it plays out over and over in their lives.  But it’s such an integral part of who they are, they just couldn’t identify it beforehand.   The key here is to realize that your talents are unique and powerful.  Then you'll be able to develop them further.

    And finally...
     
  3. Guilt relief over their weaknesses!  Years of striving to improve an area of weakness that yields little progress does a number on their self-esteem.  They find freedom when they realize they don’t need to be someone who they’re not designed to be.  That’s not an excuse to slack off.  But the better approach is to partner or manage around a weakness rather than investing in it in hopes that you'll be great someday.

WeAlign is a coaching company that has a powerful process to walk their clients through CliftonStrengths.  I like it so much that I joined the company :-)   We cover all 34 talents, not just the top 5, and I’ve seen great results using this method with my clients.  Check us out at www.wealigncoaching.com

Thanks for reading.  If you found this helpful, please like and share it.  
And feel free to contact me if you have any questions about CliftonStrengths or WeAlign.

Are your exceptional talents hiding in plain sight?

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As I was driving down the Palisades Parkway checking my side and rearview mirrors, I started think about blindspots.

We typically think about personality blindspots in a negative sense, and rightly so.  Jesus says in Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye?"  It's easier to see faults in others than it is to see them in ourselves.

But what about our talents?  My clients have shown me firsthand that many of them are unaware of their exceptional talents.  Or, if they are aware, they greatly undervalue them.  And I tend to do the same thing.
Unfortunately, that can lead to bigger problems than you might think. 

Watch the video below to hear the full story.

A Surprising Barrier to Success

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Sometimes the biggest barrier to success is... success!

I know that we've all been taught that success breeds more success, that it builds momentum, and is just generally awesome.  All true.

But sometimes, a prior big win can have a powerful delusional effect, causing you to think that you have this success thing down to a formula.   Then you try to re-apply that formula to your new situations but, you don't get the same results.

And here's why - often times your personal "big win” had other factors involved that you may have conveniently overlooked.  For instance:

  • The quality of your team usually has a much bigger impact than you realized while you're working with them.  
     
  • The company's leadership made good decisions to create the right environment and give you a platform to succeed.  Without those you wouldn't have had a chance
     
  • You might have just been in the right place at the right time with the right product or service.  In other words, you got lucky.  But the success story that you tell yourself is that your own brilliance saved the day.

Truth be told, this is what happened to me.  Click the short video below to hear my story as well as some practical tips to get unstuck if you're in a similar place.  

There’s more success waiting for you down the line - maybe even your biggest win yet - and I want to make sure that you keep moving forward.

The Secret to Job Satisfaction

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Both your identity (who you are) and your performance (what you do) are important, but the way you prioritize them makes all the difference in the world.  

A good friend of mine was an engineer at a clothing manufacturing company. He was "in his zone" using his talents and skills, and got great results for the company.  

He was an outgoing, gregarious guy. So In order to “reward” him for his strong performance, the CEO promoted him to a new role in public relations so he could travel globally with the C-suite.

But having to tell half-truths and constantly “spin” bad news as the PR contact really went against my friend’s core values. And in a matter of a weeks he was in the hospital with heart palpitations due to anxiety.

The demands to perform were violating his identity.

This story has a happy ending, though.  Join me in this short video as I unpack how identity and performance play off of each other, and show how you can leverage them to your advantage.

Avoid These Five Clarity Killers

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Note: I received more likes and comments on my last blog post about clarity than any other so far.  So I thought I’d unpack the topic a bit more.  I hope that one of these speaks to you so that you can get unstuck and keep moving forward.

Killer #1 - Looking for a Silver Bullet.  This killer comes from thinking that clarity on your life purpose will answer every unsolved issue in your life.  It won’t.  To be sure, clarity does help to “make sense” of life and brings focus and energy, but we’re talking about an overarching concept here.  Clarity doesn’t need to address every nuanced detail of your talents, history, and desires.  In fact the simpler it is, the more powerful its effect.

The antidote? Lower your expectations and learn to dance with the mysteries of life.  Look for the one thing that you really want to do, that uses your favorite talents, and propels you to make a real difference in the world.  Everything else is window dressing.

Killer #2 - Keeping your options open.  Are you hedging your bets?  Love to have a backup plan?  Honestly, that’s actually just the fear of failure.  But real clarity requires me to pick a path and say “no” to other options.  In fact, that’s a big part of its power - it clears away the clutter.  No more wandering around trying to find the perfect fit.  Just make up your mind and go for it. 

You might be under this killer’s influence if your life purpose statement overly broad.  Far too many people tell me their purpose is “To help people wherever I can,” or “To make the world a better place.”  If that’s your situation, you’ll need to do some deeper soul-searching and get more specific. 

Killer #3 - Expecting a lightning bolt to accompany it, or the Hallelujah Chorus, or goosebumps.  Fill in your expected epiphany signal here _______.  Clarity on your life purpose is so meaningful that when it shows up you may think it will arrive with fanfare.

But here’s the truth - because you live with yourself every day, and your exceptional talents come so easily to you, the tendency is to discount them as ordinary.  In fact, chances are very good that in the past month someone in your life complimented you on a key part of your life purpose, but it barely registered.  You may have even thought, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.”  And your search continues for something else “out there.”

Here's a helpful hack - be on the alert for unsolicited compliments and write them down. They’re a big clue to the strengths others see in you that you might be missing.

Hyper-hack - Speed up the process by proactively soliciting feedback from your friends and family.  You could try any one of these or make up your own:
     - What do you think are my top 5 strengths?
     - What’s the main impact that I bring to the world?
     - What do I seem most passionate about?

Killer #4 - Thinking that it’s locked in stone.  This one says, “How can I say with any kind of certainty what I’ll be doing twenty years from now?  My interests have already changed multiple times so far in my life, so they’re bound to change again.” 

The best way to deal with this one is to just accept that your understanding of your life purpose will change over time.  In fact, if it doesn’t change then you’re not growing as a person.  But that doesn’t get you off the hook of needing a guiding compass now. 

Try setting your sights only on the next three years and say, “To the best of my knowledge about the world and myself at this point in time, my purpose in life is _________.”  Then date it, and revisit it in 3-5 years. 

Killer #5 - Lack of self-awareness, is one of the most common hindrances.  Do you know how you’re wired?  Are you in touch with your passions and desires?  When do you feel like you’re most alive?  This is where skilled coaching can make a big difference. A certified life coach is trained to help you quickly gain clarity through assessment tools and powerful questions, and has a trained ear to be a sounding board. 

One of the greatest joys I have is helping my clients sort through the clutter in their minds to get in touch with their calling.  Then they can see their past life events differently, which transforms their outlook for the future.  Powerful!

Did I miss something?  What’s keeping you from zeroing in on your calling and being able to state it with confidence?  Let’s talk.

Clarity.

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For years I struggled with the concept of understanding my “calling” or life purpose.  I know that I want to make a difference in the world, and I try to do that in small ways each day.  But I have a wide variety of interests, skills, and talents that don’t seem to come under one cohesive idea that I could say is my “calling.” 

This really bugs me, and it has for years.  Especially when someone asks me what I'd really like to do, or when I need to set some long range goals.  These trigger a downward spiral of angst and thoughts of “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

For decades I labored under a wrong mindset that clarity on my calling would come to me in an a-ha moment.  It would appear as some new overarching concept that would corral my complexity, explain why I am the way I am, and blaze a path forward into my future. 

But that magic moment never came.  I’d get insights and glimpses along the way, but then I’d complicate them with thoughts of “OK, but what about this area, and this skill, and this experience?  Where do they fit in?”  And then I’d be back in a muddle.

Then one morning I was journaling and praying and I had an insight that changed everything.  Clarity isn't about explaining everything in your life.  Instead, it’s identifying the one thing that you know you want to do - that thing that’s already inside of you - and not getting distracted by everything else. 

It’s actually a process of removal - of burning off the fog of complication and outside expectations so only the one thing remains - and then protecting its simplicity.

So I decided to run with this new mindset.  I asked my gut, “without thinking about it, if someone asked you what your purpose is, what would you say?” And I just blurted it out – “Helping people find their calling.” (ironic, huh?)

This didn’t come as a lightning bolt - in fact it was kind of underwhelming.   I’ve been doing this for so long and I’m so close to it that I actually devalued it.   I thought that if it was that important it needed to be harder, of more complicated, or more difficult.  Turns out that’s not the case.

Now I’m using my mental energy to keep it simple and not overcomplicate it.

How about you?  What's your main thing?  Are you overcomplicating it or thinking it’s not good enough?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Too Many Choices and My Menu Dilemma

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Have you ever found yourself being overwhelmed by all the different options available to you?  The last time I went on Amazon to buy something, they presented me with so many varieties and price points that it almost took me longer to make a selection than it would have been to go to the store and just buy the thing.

If this has happened to you, it could be the way you’re processing your decisions.  Let me explain…

Throughout your school years and in most adult job situations, your brain has been trained to make the “right” choice or the “best” choice among many options.  And when you succeed, you reward yourself with a positive feeling that you’ve conquered an assignment, or even that you’re a better person because you chose “correctly” and didn't make a mistake.

Unfortunately, when faced with a choice that’s simply a matter of taste (movies, grocery items, clothing, etc.) it’s hard to turn that programming off, and your brain still automatically tries to find the best choice.  But in most cases there really isn’t a best choice, and your brain can get stuck in an endless cycle trying to figure things out.

A better way

The ah-ha answer for me came several years ago when I was sitting in a restaurant with my wife.  I was staring at the menu once again faced with too many choices, and I asked myself why I labor over this every time we go out to eat.  And then it hit me - I don’t need to pick the best entree in order to enjoy myself - I just need to pick something adequate.   And that simple revelation immediately freed up my brain to enjoy the rest of dining experience (being with my wife, a new atmosphere, being served, etc.).

So the next time you’re getting overwhelmed with choices, try this instead:

  1. Ask yourself - Am I stuck trying to find the “best” choice?
  2. Tell yourself (in matters of taste) that there’s no such thing as a best choice
  3. Make an adequate choice instead
  4. Feel good that you made a decision
  5. Choose to enjoy the rest of the experience

Who knows? By choosing adequate, you just may begin to discover some new things that you’ve been passing over in search of the best.

Now, if I can just remember this the next time I need to pick a Netflix show...