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Career Management – You Create Your Future

Last week some unknown person sent me emails predicting my future. According to the anonymous clairvoyant, in ten years my life will be going well. I’ll have a second child who is amazingly athletic, and I will be offered a job in Oshkosh that I shouldn’t take. After the third predictive email, the sender wanted to know if I had questions about my future. I didn’t.

  1. The whole thing was wildly creepy.
  2. No one should take advice from someone with this much discretionary time. The emailer needs a volunteer job.
  3. Why would I want someone else to tell me my future? That’s something I enjoy creating.

I see myself as 100% responsible for everything that happens to me. As antithetical as it sounds, life is easier when I’m accountable. If I miss a plane because of traffic, I should have left for the airport earlier. If I get overcharged in a restaurant, I should have checked the bill more carefully. If I do a bunch of work for a client and later find out that the work I did isn’t what the client really wanted, I should have asked more questions upfront and asked for feedback earlier.

When I’m responsible for what happens to me, I have some control. When someone else is responsible, I have no control.

Instead of seeking answers about what might happen, pursue the things you want. If you want a different job in your organization, tell someone who can do something about it. If you got passed over for a job, ask the hiring manager for feedback of what would have made you a better candidate. If the hiring manager doesn’t give you any information, ask your current boss to get the information for you. If one of your co-workers excludes you from projects, ask him why. If someone you work with seems to dislike you, ask for feedback about what you did to damage the relationship. Regardless of how challenging the situation and how disappointing the results, there is ALWAYS something you did to either contribute to the situation or something you can do to change the situation.

I don’t mean to tell you what to do. Nor do I mean to minimize how hard some life circumstances are. But I do want you to see yourself as in charge of what happens to you.

Create the life you want by:

  1. Asking, “What do I really want, and what’s one thing I can do right now to get closer to that goal?” Then take one step. Then take one more, and so on.
  2. If negative things are happening, ask, “What could I have done differently to have a different outcome?” Or, ask, “If I could do this over again, what would I do differently?” Then next time, do it differently.

Regardless of how hard or bad something is, there is ALWAYS something you can do to make the situation better. Take your life, your career, and your relationships into your own hands where they belong.


Your First Impression May Not Be Correct

FirstImpressionYou’ve undoubtedly heard that it takes fewer than 30 seconds to form a first impression. The question is how frequently is your first impression wrong?

If the person sitting next to you on a plane doesn’t speak to you during the entire flight, you may initially think he is unfriendly, only to strike up a conversation as the plane is landing and find out that’s not the case. If a job candidate is outgoing, you may decide she has good people skills, only to experience contrary behavior when she starts the job. If someone is late to arrive for an initial meeting, you may decide he has an issue with time management, versus he was just running late that day.

Many things go into forming a first impression. People who are tall and attractive – by societal standards – are typically perceived as likable and credible. It’s assumed that people with degrees from good schools are smart. But we all know people who went to good schools who we wouldn’t hire.

Your first impression may be right and it may be wrong, but it takes more than 30 seconds to be sure.

If you’ve participated in job interview training, you were probably trained to look for contrary evidence when forming an opinion about a candidate. Looking for contrary evidence is an attempt to disprove your first impression. If you quickly dismiss a candidate for lacking knowledge of your industry, you should ask interview questions to disprove your opinion before making a final decision.

Why not follow this practice in all settings? If you initially decide someone is trustworthy and reliable, spend more time with that person to be sure. If you quickly decide someone is unhelpful and uncommitted, give the person additional opportunities to behave differently before making a final judgment.

Snap judgments eliminate lots of great people and experiences from our lives.

Unfortunately just as we prematurely exclude potential employees, friends, and life partners without having enough information, people do this to us as well, which is why it’s important to know the first impression you, your department and your company make. If you don’t know the first impression you create, there’s nothing you can do to shift behaviors that may be costing you friends and customers.

I started asking the first impression I create after I got chucked under the bus by some coworkers.  When I was new to one of my jobs, I asked my coworkers to give me feedback if they saw me do anything that got in the way of my being successful on the job. They agreed. But when they had negative feedback, they didn’t give it to me, they told my boss instead.

That’s when I got the hard and painful lesson that people have a tendency to talk about us, not to us. It’s also when I began asking the people closest to me, who I know love me and care enough to tell me the truth, the first impression I create.

Opinions are formed quickly and they’re hard to break. Give people more than one chance, and see how they show up. And know that many people will eliminate you, your department and your company after just one interaction. So find out the impression you create, giving you the power to do something about it.

Download some of the questions I ask to learn my reputation, here.

Advance Your Career Whole Deck copy

 


Career Management – You Create Your Future

Last week some unknown person sent me emails predicting my future. According to the anonymous clairvoyant, in ten years my life will be going well. I’ll have a son who is bright but doesn’t apply himself (shocking), and I’ll be offered a job in Oshkosh that I shouldn’t take. After the third predictive email, the sender wanted to know if I had questions about my future. I didn’t.

  1. The whole thing was wildly creepy.
  2. No one should take advice from someone with this much discretionary time. The emailer needs a volunteer job.
  3. Why would I want someone else to tell me my future? That’s something I enjoy creating.

I’ve got a friend who feels a black cloud follows her. She feels bad things repeatedly happen to her and there’s nothing she does to create these situations, which is, of course, complete garbage.

It may be easier to blame someone or something for the bad things that happen to you, but if someone else is responsible, you have no control. And if you have no control over what happens to you, there is nothing you can do to create the life you really want.

I see myself as 100% responsible for everything that happens to me. As antithetical as it sounds, life is easier when I’m accountable. If I miss a plane because of traffic, I should have left for the airport earlier. If I get overcharged in a restaurant, I should have checked the bill more carefully. If I do a bunch of work for a client and later find out that the work I did isn’t what the client really wanted, I should have asked more questions upfront and asked for feedback earlier.

When I’m responsible for what happens to me, I have some control. When someone else is responsible, I have no control.

I’ll admit to going to a psychic…once. In 2001 I took a transfer from Denver to New York. Living in New York was fun and exciting, and great for my career, but I didn’t enjoy living in such an urban city. I agonized over what to do for two years – go back to Denver, stay in New York, or move someplace else?

Desperately unhappy, but not being able to make a decision, I went to see a psychic. Clearly I had given up. I was going to let someone I’d never met, who didn’t know anything about me, decide my future. Unless you’re at the Jersey Shore and decide to have your palm read for fun, seeing a psychic is abdicating responsibility for your life.

Instead of seeking answers about what might happen, pursue the things you want. If you want a different job in your organization, tell someone who can do something about it. If you got passed over for a job, ask the hiring manager for feedback of what would have made you a better candidate. If the hiring manager doesn’t give you any information, ask your current boss to get the information for you.  If one of your co-workers excludes you from projects, ask him why. If someone you work with seems to dislike you, ask for feedback about what you did to damage the relationship. Regardless of how challenging the situation and how disappointing the results, there is ALWAYS something you did to either contribute to the situation or something you can do to change the situation.

I don’t mean to tell you what to do. Nor do I mean to minimize how hard some life circumstances are.  But I do want you to see yourself as in charge of what happens to you.

Create the life you want by:

  1. Asking, “What do I really want, and what’s one thing I can do right now to get closer to that goal?” Then take one step. Then take one more, and so on.
  2. If negative things are happening, ask, “What could I have done differently to have a different outcome?” Or, ask, “If I could do this over again, what would I do differently.” Then next time, do it differently.

Regardless of how hard or bad something is, there is ALWAYS something you can do to make the situation better. Take your life, your career and your relationships into your own hands, where they belong.

career management

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