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Sunday, November 28, 2004

 

What's Your Voice?

I went on a rare date with my wife last night (those with kids understand the rarity) and saw the movie Ray with Jamie Foxx. I didn't know much about the life of Ray Charles and found among the film's themes someone pursuing his own voice. There's an interesting scene where Ray is beginning to record for Atlantic Record execs and starts to imitate leading artists like Nat King Cole. For Ray, this is what he thinks the record company wants. But what the record execs want is Ray...they want HIS voice and what he brings.

It was a reminder of something that can elude me at times in my own work. It's easy to imitate the work of already established voices. I mean, they're established because the world knows and likes what they are saying, right? But the world doesn't need one more person saying the same thing; the world wants a new voice. Continuing the thought of the last post, it may take time, patience, and courage for the world to understand that it needs this new voice. So, thanks for hanging out with me as I explore my voice and figure out what uniqueness I'm intended to bring to the discussion of careers, leadership, and organizations.


Categories: c.Creativity; c.Movies/TV

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

 

Patience, Faith, and My Professional Journey

I am not, by nature, a patient person. However, I am finding this to be an essential quality as an entrepreneur building a coaching practice.

It takes patience to develop solid networking business relationships. It takes patience to allow folks to find their way to your blog and website. It takes patience to gather enough people to create a tele-class. It takes patience to build a strong foundation. All of this goes against an assumption I held when I first started my practice - the work you put into business development will be met with some kind of correlating result in the near future. Kind of like: if you do this, you'll get that. Yes, it was kind of naive, but I came from a non-profit world where I could measure project results in real-time and make conclusions as to whether the project was successful or not.

Now, I realize that developing my practice involves a kind of patience that emphasizes faithfulness. The actions that I am taking now to attract clients may only begin to yield results further in the future. It's not the easiest lesson for me to learn, but it is proving to be one of the most valuable.

So, as you build your professional network, develop your own influence and reputation, or find your true career purpose, remember it all takes time. Regardless of how hard it is, letting go of the NOW mentality can make a huge difference in how you approach your career development. It can keep you from giving up or giving in to the notion that your work doesn't have to be something you love.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Categories: c.Coaching; c.Careers

Monday, November 22, 2004

 

Wandering and Getting Unstuck

A few weeks ago, I spoke to my college alumni group about my path to coaching and broke my story into three chapters. The opening chapter (yet, the one that continues to drive me) is called: Not all those who wander are lost. It's from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and neatly encapsulates my professional experiences after graduating from college. While it has been scary at times, the act of conscious wandering has allowed me to remain open to possibilities that I may have missed if I was on a single track. For me, wandering is centered on being curious - about the world, other people, work and life. But while wandering unfortunately can be perceived as unfocused and frivolous, it can be a strength if connected to a set of core principles such as curiosity, adventure, learning. These are the things that keep a wanderer from getting lost or stuck (I hate being lost and I can't stand being stuck).

When I finished speaking I distributed a handout with some quick ideas for getting "unstuck" which I think are useful for anyone feeling this way. They're loosely based on ideas from the book Unstuck by Keith Yamashita and Sandra Spataro.

Idea #1: Clarify your Purpose
Before you get to the doing, figure out what drives you. Ask yourself: Why do you exist? What must you contribute in order to achieve not only success but significance? Make the task of defining your purpose an act that rejuvenates you. And remember to keep it brief: brevity creates even greater clarity.

Idea #2: Create YOUR Headline from the Future
Stories are powerful tools for generating energy and excitement. Create a newspaper headline from a future date. What will it say about all you have achieved? Now think: step by step, how will you get there?

Idea #3: Create a Haven for Free Thinking
Your environment holds great power over the way you think. If you’re stuck, find a place that’s new and claim it as your haven for free thinking. This could be a local park, a museum, a coffee shop. It should be a place that reignites your thoughts and imagination.

Any other ideas for getting unstuck out there?


Categories: c.Books; c.Careers

Thursday, November 11, 2004

 

Guess It's Time To Get In Shape

A new perk for employees could be a week-long European corporate bicycling trip (article). DuVine Adventures is wooing Fortune 500 companies to dump the staid old corporate retreat in favor of a luxurious biking trek through Europe.

The press release continues:
Traveling Europe by bicycle is the most exciting of all corporate incentives. Earning a deluxe bike trip based on performance is a visible symbol of achievement, prestige, and recognition. Corporate trips are also a great way to create powerful alliances between top employees, and help foster cooperation while breaking a sweat.
Sounds interesting, but I have a hard enough time peddling my bike a few miles around my home. Not that I would knock a trip through Europe. I just hope the companies give their employees at least 6 months of prep time in order to train for their "reward."


Categories: c.Management; c.Organizations

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

 

from FC blog...Leadership Lessons from a Greyhound Bus Trip

Lucas Conley at Fast Company posted an entry chronicling his recent experience of getting lost on a greyhound bus somewhere around NYC. When the driver finally admitted to his passengers that he was lost, a number of suggestions came from the backseats that helped the group find their way into Manhattan. As a man who has a difficult time admitting that I'm lost, I'm highly impressed with the driver's lack of ego in that circumstance. For leaders, it's a trap to believe that it's weak to let others know we're lost and unsure which direction to go and then allow others to help make decisions.

Lucas concludes with: "Teamwork, a common mission, a flexible leader who's willing to listen, a sense of humor... all from a Greyhound lost in Queens." Just goes to show that lessons in life and the workplace can be gained almost everywhere.


Categories: c.Leadership

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

 

The Struggle of the Moth - Are You Ready to Take Flight?

Isaac Cheifetz poses the following question: Can the principles of evolutionary biology be used to guide our careers?

In his article, he compares the "stop and go" path that some middle managers find in their journey to executive management to the evolutionary development theory of Punctuated Equalibrium popularized by Stephen jay Gould. In Gould's theory, evolution tends to be characterized by long periods of inactivity that are "punctuated" by environmental forces leading to rapid, revolutionary development. Further in the article, Cheifetz clarifies what differentiates punctuated career development from a stagnant career path.

It reminds me of a recent episode of Lost where Locke talks to Charlie about the moth's transformation and struggle to change. While he could help the moth escape from its cocoon with a slight cut of the knife, he would be doing it a disservice by robbing it of one of nature's essential lessons. Struggle is what nature imposes in order to make things stronger. Without getting too Darwinian, there seems to be something there about our careers. Sometimes, there are lessons to be gained from struggle and if we give in and move on too quickly, we'll rob ourselves of those necessary learnings.

When our careers seem like they're stuck in low gear, maybe we need to be there for a reason. And maybe there is a rapid, revolutionary development on the near horizon if we're open enough to look for it.


Categories: c.Careers; c.Movies/TV
 

I'm Back...Global Work/Life Comparisons (Not What You Might Think)

I'm back after a short hiatus to fancy up the blog design. For those few souls out there who read this blog, any thoughts?

NOP World just launched its Culture Score (tm) Index, an interesting statistical survey of work/life balance throughout the world. Not surprisingly, Sweden came out on top as the most "balanced" with China right below it. Also, not surprising are the countries most focused on the "work" end of the equation: Korea, Hong Kong, Turkey, India, and Singapore round out the top five.

What is surprising is the fact that the employed respondents in the US spent more time at "play" (41.7 hours per week) than at "work" (38.3 hours per week). Perhaps I'm not interpreting the data correctly, but this seems to contradict some of the anecdotal data that makes it into our popular culture and media. Are those of us in the States living toward a better way of integrating our various work and personal roles?


Categories: c.Careers; c.Living; c.Play

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