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Friday, December 12, 2014

Are You Really as Good at Reading People as You Think?

Career Guidance - Are You Really as Good at Reading People as You Think?When you meet someone new, how long does it take you to size him or her up and come up with your first impression?
Most people would say less than a minute, but science proves it’s a lot less time than that. Psychologists at Princeton have found through a series of studies that it only takes people one-tenth of a second to make an initial judgement of someone, primarily based on body language. And once you get past that initial judgement? Most communication is still nonverbal. In his book Silent Messages, Dr. Albert Mehrabian discusses the fact that only 7% of communication is through words; the rest of it comes from vocal cues and nonverbal messages, like facial expressions and stance.
To put it simply, if you’re not aware of how others are coming across to you and how you’re coming across to them, you’re missing the vast majority of human interaction. If you’re an ambitious young professional, understanding these cues could make or break your career. And if you’re looking to move up the career ladder, being able to harness your knowledge of body language can put you at a huge advantage in the office, in front of clients, or in other professional situations. An accurate, quick read could be the difference between impressing your boss and falling flat in front of colleagues.
Of course, all of this brings an important question to mind: How do you know if you’re reading body language correctly?
If you’re not sure, you’re in luck: The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley has devised a tricky body language quiz to test if you can correctly guess what emotions people are expressing. (Think: Is someone feeling embarrassed or amused? Expressing interest or just being polite?) The differences are often more subtle than you’d think.
Take the 20-question quiz—getting tips along the way about what to look for in people’s facial expressions. And if your score isn’t as high as you’d like, check out this resource for becoming more aware of the different types of nonverbal cues, and then start focusing on irregularities with those cues.
With a little work, you’ll be a body language-reading machine in no time.

Lily Herman

Sunday, December 7, 2014

What Maslow’s Hierarchy Won’t Tell You About Motivation

At some point in their careers, most leaders have either consciously — or, more likely, unwittingly — based (or justified) their approach to motivation on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s idea that people are motivated by satisfying lower-level needs such as food, water, shelter, and security, before they can move on to being motivated by higher-level needs such as self-actualization, is the most well-known motivation theory in the world. There is nothing wrong with helping people satisfy what Maslow characterized as lower-level needs. Improvements in workplace conditions and safety should be applauded as the right thing to do. Seeing that people have enough food and water to meet their biological needs is the humane thing to do. Getting people off the streets into healthy environments is the decent thing to do. But the truth is, individuals can experience higher-level motivation anytime and anywhere.

Despite the popularity of Maslow’s Hierarchy, there is not much recent data to support it. Contemporary science — specifically Dr. Edward Deci, hundreds of Self-Determination Theory researchers, and thousands of studies — instead points to three universal psychological needs. If you really want to advantage of this new science – rather than focusing on a pyramid of needs – you should focus on: autonomy, relatedness, and competence.

Autonomy is people’s need to perceive that they have choices, that what they are doing is of their own volition, and that they are the source of their own actions. The way leaders frame information and situations either promotes the likelihood that a person will perceive autonomy or undermines it. To promote autonomy:

Frame goals and timelines as essential information to assure a person’s success, rather than as dictates or ways to hold people accountable.
Refrain from incentivizing people through competitions and games. Few people have learned the skill of shifting the reason why they’re competing from an external one (winning a prize or gaining status) to a higher-quality one (an opportunity to fulfill a meaningful goal).
Don’t apply pressure to perform. Sustained peak performance is a result of people acting because they choose to — not because they feel they have to.

Relatedness is people’s need to care about and be cared about by others, to feel connected to others without concerns about ulterior motives, and to feel that they are contributing to something greater than themselves. Leaders have a great opportunity to help people derive meaning from their work. To deepen relatedness:

Validate the exploration of feelings in the workplace. Be willing to ask people how they feel about an assigned project or goal and listen to their response. All behavior may not be acceptable, but all feelings are worth exploring.
Take time to facilitate the development of people’s values at work — then help them align those values with their goals. It is impossible to link work to values if individuals don’t know what their values are.
Connect people’s work to a noble purpose.

Competence is people’s need to feel effective at meeting every-day challenges and opportunities, demonstrating skill over time, and feeling a sense of growth and flourishing. Leaders can rekindle people’s desire to grow and learn. To develop people’s competence:

 Make resources available for learning. What message does it send about values for learning and developing competence when training budgets are the first casualty of economic cutbacks?
Set learning goals — not just the traditional results-oriented and outcome goals.
At the end of each day, instead of asking, “What did you achieve today?” ask “What did you learn today? How did you grow today in ways that will help you and others tomorrow?”

Unlike Maslow’s needs, these three basic needs are not hierarchical or sequential. They are foundational to all human beings and our ability to flourish.

The exciting message to leaders is that when the three basic psychological needs are satisfied in the workplace, people experience the day-to-day high-quality motivation that fuels employee work passion — and all the inherent benefits that come from actively engaged individuals at work. To take advantage of the science requires shifting your leadership focus from, “What can I give people to motivate them?” to “How can I facilitate people’s satisfaction of autonomy, relatedness, and competence?”

Leaders have opportunities every day to integrate these motivational practices. For example, a leader I coach was about to launch a company-wide message to announce mandatory training on green solutions compliance. Ironically, his well-intentioned message dictated people’s actions — undermining people’s sense of autonomy and probably guaranteeing their defiance rather than compliance. His message didn’t provide a values-based rationale or ask individuals to consider how their own values might be aligned to the initiative. After reconsidering his approach, he created this message embedded with ways for people to experience autonomy, relatedness, and competence:

Don’t underestimate your people’s capacity — indeed, their longing — to experience high-quality motivation at work anytime and anywhere.

Susan Fowler

Friday, December 5, 2014

Getting Started is more than half!

It’s something we’ve all said: “I really want to start task X, but I just don’t have the time I need to do it.”

Many of the items on your to-do list may seem overwhelming (especially piled on top of one another), but we’ve got a secret for you: Getting started doesn’t take much time at all. All you need is a little push.

Nicole Antoinette, founder of the blog A Life Less Bullshit, has a really great suggestion: Set a timer for 13 minutes and just work on the project or task for that amount of time, without interruption or distractions.

Antoinette notes that a lot of the time, productivity is a game of mind over matter, and getting started is about 90% of the battle. “This approach is how I get past the fear of diving into a new project,” she explains. “It’s how I move beyond the resistance I always feel to doing something hard. It’s how I overcome the frustration of dealing with annoying tasks I don’t want to deal with. I take a deep breath and tell myself: ‘You just have to do this for 13 minutes.’”

And once you begin? Well, you just might find that it’s easy to keep pushing forward. Soon, 13 minutes can turn into a half hour, and a half hour can turn into an hour or more. The next thing you know, your task is complete (or at least has a pretty big dent in it).

Not too shabby, right?

Of course, you may still be thinking that you can’t complete anything in 13 minutes or less. Want to take the challenge? Try breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. Here are three examples to try out.

1. You Want To: Organize Your Office
In 13 Minutes You Can: Tidy up Your Desk

Most of the time, your desk, cubicle, or office space gets messy or cluttered without you even realizing it. And while, sure, overhauling your filing cabinet is probably a good idea, often a quick clean is all it takes to make a big difference.

So, set your phone’s timer to 13 minutes and get cleaned up. Do you have a pile of trash just waiting to be taken to the dumpster or a stack of papers that’s taking up half of your desk space? Deal with just that. An even slightly tidier workspace can lead to a more productive workday, and you’ll be surprised how much you can do in so little time.

2. You Want To: Stay in Touch With Your Whole Network
In 13 Minutes You Can: Draft an Email to Your Contacts

It’s great to send an update to your professional contacts a couple of times per year, but the task of sending emails out to all of those people may seem daunting, especially if you have other work-related things on your plate.

So start by just writing one email to blast off to your network. In 13 minutes you could write a quick note updating your contacts on any new happenings. And you never know what opportunities might come along from shooting off a check-in email!

3. You Want To: Tackle That Big, Hairy Writing Assignment
In 13 Minutes You Can: Get All Your Thoughts on Paper

Whether it’s your next blog post, an all-staff email, or the financial report you’ve been putting off all week, taking on the challenge of writing for 13 minutes is a great way to get going on a tricky assignment.

A lot of the time, it’s hard to sit yourself down and just write without editing, and attempting to get a huge chunk of your work done in 13 minutes is a great way to force yourself past this barrier and just get what’s in your head on paper. I promise, you can edit it later.

Telling yourself you’re going to sit down for four hours and write a report or completely re-organize and clean out your office can seem intimidating and impossible. But setting a timer for just 13 minutes? Now there’s a time limit anyone can live with.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

10 Signs You Should Quit Your Job

By Jeff Haden  November  2014

Quit your job to take a better paying position? Sure. Quit your job for a great opportunity? Definitely.

Quit your job to start your own business? Absolutely! (Keep in mind there are compelling reasons to hang on to your full-time job as long as you can while you get your business going. Also keep in mind you can start a company in just a few hours.)

But there are a lot more reasons to quit your job. And they all fall under one main category:

Life’s too short.

Life’s too short to go home every day feeling unfulfilled. Life’s too short to work for a terrible boss. Life’s too short to go home every day feeling taken for granted, feeling taken less than seriously, or feeling taken advantage of.

Life’s too short to not be as happy as you can be.

Say your grown daughter called and said, “I hate my job. I’m bored, frustrated, and feel like I’m going nowhere.” Wouldn’t you tell her to look for another job?

Shouldn’t you follow the same advice?

Here are reasons to stop being miserable and start looking for something better.

1. Your Input Is Disregarded or Even Not Wanted

Everyone has ideas. And everyone loves when his or her ideas are taken seriously—and implemented. The feeling that you’ve contributed in a special way
is incredibly gratifying.

But when your boss or company shoots down or even laughs at your ideas, it’s not only insulting, it’s demotivating. And pretty soon you stop caring.

Life’s too short not to care.

2. You Get Criticized Publicly

We all need constructive feedback. We all need a little nudge. We all need to be told when we can do something better—and how to do it better.

But we need to be told those things in private.

Life’s too short to walk around waiting for the next time you’ll be criticized—and even humiliated—in front of other people.

3. You Never Hear the Word “Thanks”

Everyone also needs praise. We all need to know when we do something well (and everyone, even poor performers, do some things well).

Life’s too short not to be recognized for the contributions you make.

4. Your Boss Manages Up, Not Down

You know the type: As a leader she should focus her time and attention on her direct reports, but she spends all her time “following” her boss. It seems like your only job is to contribute to the greater glory—and advancement—of your boss.

A great boss knows that if her team succeeds—and each individual on that team succeeds—then she will succeed too.

Life’s too short to spend your time developing your boss’ career at the expense of your own.

5. You Feel Like You Have No Purpose

Everyone likes to feel a part of something bigger. Everyone likes to feel he has an impact not just on results but also on the lives of other people.

Life’s too short to go home every day feeling like you’ve worked, but you haven’t accomplished anything meaningful.

6. You Feel Like a Number

Everyone is replaceable. Everyone, ultimately, works for a paycheck. But people also want to work for more than a paycheck. They want to work with people they respect and admire, and they want to be respected and admired in return.

If your boss doesn’t occasionally stop for a quick discussion about family, an informal conversation to see if you need any help, or simply to say a kind word, then you’re just a cog in a larger machine.

Life’s too short to only be a cog in a larger machine.

7. You Aren’t Even Mildly Excited to Go to Work

Every job has its downsides. (I’m willing to bet even Richard Branson has to do a few things he doesn’t enjoy.) But every job should also have some fun moments. Or exciting moments. Or challenging moments. Or some aspect that makes you think, “I’m looking forward to doing that.”

Life’s too short to spend only looking forward to quitting time.

8. You Can’t See a Future

Every job should lead to something: Hopefully a promotion, but if not, the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities, learn new things, tackle new challenges. Tomorrow should have the potential to be different—in a good way—from today.

A decent boss works to improve the company’s future. A good boss works to improve her employees’ futures too, even if—especially if—that might mean some of those employees will eventually move on to bigger and better things.

Life’s too short to live without hope.

9. No One Has the Same Dreams as You

Countless companies were started by two or more people who at one time worked together and realized they had complementary skills—and realized they wanted to carve out a new future together.

If you plan to be an entrepreneur, working for a big company first is one of the best things you can do. It’s a risk-free environment where you can meet future colleagues and co-founders. Pick a dozen companies at random and you’ll find at least a few that were founded by aspiring entrepreneurs who met as co-workers and went on to launch awesome startups together.

Life’s too short to spend working with people who don’t share your hopes, dreams, and passions.

10. You Don’t Think You Can Do Anything Else

That’s the second-best reason of all to quit your job. I know what you’re thinking: “I make too much in my current job; I’ll never find something comparable.” Or, “there just aren’t any jobs where I live.” Or, “I’ve put too much time into this company (or career or industry).”

Or, “I don’t have what it takes to start my own business.”

All those things are true—if you let them be true.

You can do something else. You can do lots of something “elses.”

You just have to believe—and trust that your creativity, perseverance, and effort will take you to new, happier, and more fulfilling places. Thousands of people start their own businesses ever year. The only difference between you and them? They decided to take the chance. They decided to bet on themselves.

They decided that life’s too short to just stay where they are instead of doing everything possible to live a better life

Thursday, November 13, 2014

7 LinkedIn Rules That Will Make You an Online Networking Master

By Jayson Demers,  November 2014

LinkedIn has evolved to become one the most important and most prevalent resources for professional networking available. Used by more than 313 million people on an international scale, it’s no wonder why the social network has, for many professional networkers, replaced traditional forms of meeting and socializing.

Whether you network for job opportunities, sales prospects, or just overall experience, it’s true that LinkedIn can enhance your efforts—but it’s important to acknowledge a few considerations about the platform before you get too deep in your strategy.

1. Not Everyone on LinkedIn Wants to Network

This is a basic rule you’ll need to follow if you want to stay in the good graces of your current and potential connections. New LinkedIn users sometimes get excited about the notion of making new connections and start reaching out to people they haven’t met before. While some users also love the idea of meeting new people and connecting with strangers, others are offended by it and may feel as if their privacy has been disrespected if they receive such a request.

Obviously, you want to avoid such a scenario, as it could irritate a potential connection. Instead, focus on connecting with people you’ve already met or connections of people you’ve already met. Make sure to let each potential connection know how you found them and why you want to connect with them.

2. People Will Judge You Based on Your Profile

Your profile is the first thing your new connection will look at, and if you haven’t met in person before, it’s going to form their first impression of you. I don’t need to tell you how important first impressions are. Building out your profile is the best way to leave your new (and potential) connections with positive thoughts of you.

What exactly makes a good profile? There are dozens of rules and hundreds of nitpicky options you can look at, but the fundamentals are mostly intuitive:

    Customize your profile URL so it’s not just a series of random letters and numbers.
    Make sure your profile photo is a professional-looking headshot where you look your best.
    Fill out your profile with as much detailed information as you can without becoming long-winded and boastful.
    Include personal recommendations from others, if possible.

3. Your Personal Brand Should Be Treated Like a Brand

A brand is a created identity, and while yours should be based on your real personality, it should also be refined and treated like a professional company brand. As you network more on LinkedIn and engage in different discussions with different people, your audience and your network should all receive a consistent experience. That means your image, your personality, and even your language need to be in sync with each other.

Developing your personal brand will give people the consistent, desirable experience they want, and eventually, they’ll want to come back to you to repeat that experience. Connect your LinkedIn profile with your other social media profiles, and widen your audience while keeping your personal brand uniform. It’s good to show some of your unique personality, but do remember that LinkedIn isn’t a place to make emotional or personal updates—it’s a professional network, first and foremost. For more information on building a personal brand, see my article, “5 Steps to Building a Personal Brand (and Why You Need One).”

4. People Will Notice Spam and Advertising

Most connections, and most people in general, hate the idea of being advertised to. The second they understand that a message was specifically constructed to sell them on something, the authority and credibility of the message are immediately destroyed. If any of your messages or connection attempts are seen as spammy or as attempts to advertise your company or personal brand, your audience will immediately turn away from you.

Write specialized messages for your audience—in your profile, in your connection attempts, and in your discussion comments. Make sure people know that you aren’t just trying to reach out to them for artificial connection building or a blind attempt to get more business. Be yourself, and write unique messages with unique content to avoid seeming robotic or impersonal. No matter how good you think you are at subtly advertising, people will be able to detect it, and you’ll lose credibility when they do.

5. A Personal Touch Goes a Long Way

Just like in real life, people on LinkedIn crave personal acknowledgement, and if you give it to them, you’ll wind up in their good graces. You’ll want to start each possible connection on a note of personal interaction; when you request to connect with a new person, write them a message about why that connection is important to you, and include personal details so the other person knows you’re being sincere. Sending the default “Hi, I’d like to connect” message will make you seem distant and unapproachable.

Then, follow up with your connections on a regular basis. If you see it’s someone’s birthday, someone’s work anniversary, or someone’s new job or promotion, send them a congratulatory letter. Take every opportunity you can to build your relationship with tiny personal touches. Over time, your connection will grow much stronger.

6. There Is Real Power in Groups

Don’t just stick to personal profile updates and private messages with your connections. Use the power of groups to boost your potential network and reach people you’ve never met in a familiar setting. Sign up to be a part of as many groups as you deem appropriate. Learn the intentions and etiquette of each group, and get involved by starting discussions and responding to comment threads that are already in progress.

The real opportunity in groups is getting the chance to introduce yourself to new people without the breach of etiquette that comes in blindly reaching out to new connections. In a group setting, people will become familiar with your personality and authority, and it’s highly likely that you’ll attract new connections without any outbound effort. For more on using LinkedIn groups for marketing, see my article, “The Definitive Guide to LinkedIn Groups for Marketing.”

7. Face-to-Face Meetings Are Still Important

Interpersonal connections can’t thrive exclusively on social media. While the digital environment gives us a great platform to start new connections, and easily follow up with ones we’ve already made, face-to-face meetings are still important to build camaraderie and deepen those relationships. It’s not always possible due to geographical limitations and schedule restrictions, but whenever you can, try to schedule a lunch meeting or a cup of coffee with your most important—or your newest—connections.

You’d be surprised how much a face-to-face meeting can mean to a person, even in the digital age. It’s not a mandatory requirement for LinkedIn participation, of course, but LinkedIn members who do connect outside the platform tend to be more successful than members who operate exclusively in the online world.

Don’t let these truths scare you away from LinkedIn; when used correctly, it’s a great tool with few, if any, major drawbacks.

But the availability of such a powerful social network also warrants a new set of rules of etiquette. Once you become more familiar with the way LinkedIn works and the best ways to reach out to more connections, you’ll be able to build your network of professional relationships and take advantage of everything the platform has to offer.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Most Influential Books of the Past Decade

Every once in a while, we read a book that doesn’t just transform the way we see the world. It also changes how we live our lives. For the past ten years, I’ve been asking business leaders and students which book has most influenced their actions. I give them one rule: it must include rigorous evidence. Pure self-help and autobiographies are out; so are books by leaders dispensing advice. (Experience isn’t a substitute for evidence. If it were, obeying the laws of gravity would make us all physicists.)

I’ve compiled a list of the most frequently mentioned book for each year, with one additional rule: no author can appear twice. Here are the top picks, and how they’ve made a difference:

2004: The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

Yes, there’s such a thing as too much freedom. Readers have learned to limit their choice sets to minimize indecision, regret, and misery. We’ve also figured out whether we tend to be maximizers (searching for the best option) or satisficers (looking for good enough). Since maximizers tend to do better but feel worse, we’ve learned to satisfice when decisions aren’t of colossal significance. But we haven’t abandoned our love of lists that rank things.

2005: A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

We think left-brainers reign supreme with their analytical and quantitative skills, but here’s a provocative case that right-brainers will rule the future. Arguing that the MFA is the new MBA, Dan anticipated (and fueled) the growing importance of factors like design, storytelling, empathy, and meaning. When Oprah spoke at Stanford’s commencement, she gave it to every graduating student.

2006: Mindset by Carol Dweck

It’s a rare read that has as much impact on parents as it does on managers. The memorable takeaway from this gem is that we need to stop praising ability and intelligence, and start applauding effort and persistence. That way, when our children and employees fail, they won’t give up because they think talent is fixed and they lack what it takes for the task at hand. Instead, they’ll pursue growth, doubling down to develop the requisite skills to succeed.

2007: The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton

After reading this guide to building a civilized workplace, leaders around the globe have introduced policies to prevent jerks from getting hired and selfish managers from being promoted. They’ve also created better poison control practices, aiming to bring out what Abraham Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. And what’s not to love about a quiz to find out if you’re a certified asshole? It’s the Asshole Rating Self-Exam (ARSE).

2008: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

It may be the ultimate feat of storytelling from our favorite storyteller, and it helped us appreciate the role of luck and opportunity in success. Leaders have worked to privilege the quality of ideas over the status of the person generating them. They’ve also become more attentive to people who haven’t benefited from cumulative advantage. Those poor hockey players who weren’t born in January…

2009: The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

So an average of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice might help you become an expert. But what should you do with that time? One CEO called this book the world’s most valuable guide to developing skills and leaders. We’ve been able to grow our own capabilities and bring out the best in others through deeper practice, stronger passion, and more masterful coaching.

2010: Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

Change is probably the toughest hurdle in our work and our lives. The Heath brothers gave us the tools to overcome it. I’ve watched many executives apply their framework to shift sticky beliefs and behaviors: motivate the elephant by shrinking the change, direct the rider to follow the bright spots, and shape the path by rallying the herd.

2011: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The only psychologist to win a Nobel Prize in economics showed us why our decisions go awry and common sense isn't common practice. His insights have been directly applicable to making better choices, avoiding unnecessary risks, and understanding ourselves. As Kahneman put it, “I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.”

2012: Quiet by Susan Cain

It shattered the myth of the extraverted ideal, and has chipped away at the stigma of being an introvert. We’ve seen workplaces come to value quiet leaders, schools create more supportive environments for quiet students, and parents learn to accept and nurture their reserved children. My favorite reaction was from an extravert: “I just realized why my boyfriend is so boring. He’s an introvert!” And then “He’d probably be a lot more interesting if I actually let him talk.”

2013: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Women read it first, but it’s been life-changing for both sexes. Women have been moved to sit at the table and stand up for leadership opportunities at work, seek out an equal partnership at home, find a mentor by not asking for one, and negotiate for themselves as they would for their close friends. Men have become aware of their gender biases; they’ve become champions of diversity in the workplace and more supportive, actively engaged partners at home. (Warning, tough guys: this book may cause an irresistible urge to start doing laundry and a persistent awareness that the world would be a better place if we had more female leaders.)

2014: A Path Appears by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

The year isn’t over yet, and this just came out in September, but in my world it’s already the runaway winner for impact on action. Starting from the premise that “talent is universal but opportunity is not,” this book offers an abundance of small actions that we can all take to make the largest difference for those in need. Readers are shifting where they give their money, volunteer their time, and dedicate their energy.

Adam Grant

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Stop ticking the boxes!

Psychologists are now seriously discussing extending the start of “adulthood” to 25. This is because, to them, young people are taking a while to “get started,” or to begin checking all of the boxes that used to define adulthood. To this I say: good.

When a young person doesn’t logically and immediately hop from one job to the next it is usually viewed as a bad thing, a sign that they’re just not ready to grow up. Oftentimes they’ll graduate and panic when they face the mountain of possibilities and uncertainty that is the modern career landscape.

That panic happens for good reason. From the ages of 5 to 22, most of us live what I call a “checkbox life,” one where our big-picture choices are made for us with the short-term focus of checking off the next box. We’re going to school, graduating college, and getting a job. Check, check, check.

But when we’re faced with no more boxes to check, many of us do one of two things. We either become paralyzed with options or we run back to find more checkboxes. We avoid the open-ended possibilities and instead go back to grad school, or get a job that “makes sense” with our degree.

But I’d like to offer a different mindset: those who are “aimless” have the right idea. The short-term thinking enabled by a checkbox life usually ends in what economist David Graeber calls “bullshit jobs.” Jobs you take “just because.” Jobs that seem to exist for the sole purpose of keeping us working. Jobs where we end up frustrated because we aren’t doing them for ourselves, we’re doing them to ease the expectations of those around us. We’re doing them to check boxes. As society gets more productive and technology advances, it is these jobs that will be the first to go. As young people, the rest of our lives will be spent outrunning automation and outsourcing. Going our own way isn’t just nice, it’s required.
Going our own way isn’t just nice, it’s required.

That means the way to succeed is through curiosity, by embracing the open-endedness of our careers to do something that makes a mark. To do this, we must decouple our innate talents from our goals. In the past, we used to look at our skills or talents and work forward to find a job that fits. Now, we’re better served by asking the big questions about our impact early and work backwards. It pays to reverse engineer our careers. And that takes time. It takes mistakes. To stodgy psychologists this looks like we’re in “extended adolescence.” In reality, it’s the only rational choice.

In fact, the more our career paths confuse people stuck in the old mindset, the better. Because the skills and tools required for most jobs changes too quickly, and we can move from novice to professional faster than ever. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos uses a similar “mission over skills” framework for his company:
Eventually the existing skills will become outmoded. Working backwards … demands that we acquire new competencies and exercise new muscles, never mind how uncomfortable and awkward-feeling those first steps might be.

The panic we feel when we are lost shouldn’t be avoided. It should be embraced, because it’s in that wandering that we find what we want to do. Succumbing to the pressure of what others expect of you just delays the inevitable. It takes time to answer the big questions like: “What kind of impact do I want to make?” Finding your place in the world takes time. It’s a long-term play that often has some short-term pains.
To stodgy psychologists this looks like we’re in “extended adolescence.” In reality, it’s the only rational choice.

In an interview with Inc. Magazine, Y-Combinator founder Paul Graham discussed this fear of taking charge as the biggest issue he saw in young people today as they entered his incubator program:
They don’t realize how independent they can be. When you’re a child, your parents tell you what you’re supposed to do. Then, you’re in school, and you’re part of this institution that tells you what to do. Then, you go work for some company, and the company tells you what to do. So people come in like baby birds in the nest and open their mouths, as if they’re expecting us to drop food in. We have to tell them, “We’re not your bosses. You’re in charge now.” Some of them are freaked out by that. Some people are meant to be employees. Other people discover they have wings and start flapping them. There’s nothing like being thrown off a cliff to make you discover that you have wings.

If you find yourself without many obligations and unsure of what’s next, celebrate. Revel in the chance to zig when everyone around you zags. It’s likely the only time when we’re not shackled by obligation. To feel pressured by others and run away is a massive waste of an opportunity. Worse, not taking a swing at what’s important to you defeats the purpose of this whole career thing.

The next checkbox will always be waiting. Though I suspect once you get the patience and courage to go your own way, you won’t ever want to go back.

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Process Overview

Continual Professional Development

We provide comprehensive continual professional development to professional associations auch as The Irish Law Society, Institute of Engineers of Ireland, The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and other leading professional associations.

Questions to ask Yourself

Drop us your email

In return, as a valued client, we will provide you with discount vouchers on select upcoming programmes. You will also receive advance purchase notification on "high demand" master class programmes.


Please note that we take your privacy seriously

Specialist Training

If you are a Corporate entity, SME, or a "not for profit" organisation with a specific niche training requirement, please contact us.

With our extensive national and world-wide network of training consultants, we are able to identify, source and fully arrange your training completely in line with your requirements.

Strategic Management

Strategic Management

We are very proud to deliver the only short course on strategic management available in Ireland. This course has been designed to be delivered in house and is specifically tailored for the Irish multi national IDA high value manufacturing and services sector. The programme is delivered over 20 hours as an integrated format over modules decided by the client. Strategy only works when everyone is on the same page and for this reason we offer this programme for each management forum to take advantage of this unique opportunity. It is fundamental knowledge that companies that have a strong foundation and understanding of strategy and how it shapes future sustainable success are the business units that achieve prolonged success within the greater company structure. Simply put, the business unit that talks the language of the CEO attracts the greatest interest and capital input. Success is always built on strategy. See a sample of our strategic training work.
Providing management solutions and training through consultancy contracts in operations and HR management.
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