Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The 6 Career Secrets No One Ever Told You

Recently I read a comic book by Daniel H. Pink. The book name is called The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need.

Johnny Bunko is an ordinary person. He did what everybody (parents, teachers, counselors) told him to do. But now, stuck at a dead-end job, he begun to suspect that where he thought he knew is just plain wrong.

One bizarre night, Johnny meets Diana, the unlikeliest career adviser he ever seen. She reveals to Johnny the six essential lessons for thriving in the world of work.

Here are the six most important lessons of a satisfying, successful career.

1. There is no plan

Many people believe they can map out every step ahead of time and end up where they want. But that is a fantasy. The world always changes. Ten years from now, your job might be in other countries. Your industry might not even exist. You will change and you might discover a hidden talent.

You need to make smart choices. You can make career decisions for two different types of reasons. You can do instrumental reasons, because you think it is going to lead to something else, regardless of whether you enjoy it or it is worthwhile or you can do something for fundamental reasons, because you think it is inherently valuable, regardless of what it may or may not lead to.

The dirty little secret is that instrumental reasons usually don't work. Things can become too complicated, too unpredictable. You will never know what is going to happen and you end up stuck. Most of time, successful people make decisions for fundamental reasons. They take a job or join a company because it will let them do interesting work in a cool place, even if they don't know exactly where it will lead.

2. Think strengths, not weaknesses

Research has found that the key to success is to steer around your weaknesses and focus on your strengths. Successful people don't try too hard to improve what they are weak at. They capitalize on what they good at.

Start asking yourself questions like:

What are my strengths?

What do I do consistently well?

What gives me energy rather than drains it?

What sorts of activities create 'flow' for me? ( Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. )

3. It is not about you

It is about your customers. It is about your clients. Successful people improve their own lives by improving others' lives. They help their customers solve their problems. The most valuable people in any job bring out the best in others. They make their boss look good. They help their teammates succeed.

4. Persistence trumps talent

The people who achieve the most are often the ones who stick with it when others don't. They show up, they practice and practice and practice some more. That is why they do so well in whatever career they choose.

A little bit improves performance, which encourages greater persistence, which improves performance even more. Lack of persistence works the same way but only in the opposite direction.

The world is littered with talented people who did not persist, who did not put in the hours, who gave up too early, who thought they could ride on talent alone. Meanwhile, people who might have less talent pass them by.

Intrinsic motivation is important, doing things not to get an external rewards like money or promotion, but because you simply like doing it. The more intrinsic motivation you have, the more likely you are to persist. The more you persist, the more likely you are to succeed.

5. Make excellent mistakes

Too many people spend their time avoiding mistakes. They are so concerned about being wrong, about messing up, that they never try anything. Their focus is avoiding failure and that is actually is crummy way to achieve success.

The most successful people make spectacular mistakes. Each time they make a mistake, they get a little better and move a little closer to excellence.

6. Leave an imprint

As you get older and look back at your life, you will start asking yourself a whole bunch of questions like:

Did I contribute something?

Did I make a difference?

Did my being here matter?

Many people get towards the end of their lives and don't like their answer. By then it is almost too late and so start asking yourself those questions today.

Friday, January 23, 2009

When Things Fall Apart by Aarti Dhingra

WE ALL experience times in our lives when it seems that things are just not going the way we want. Maybe your job is giving you problems, perhaps you have financial challenges, or you are experiencing a difficult time in your marriage or other relationships.

Tough times can bring you to your knees, but they can also raise you to new heights. The important thing is to focus on making sure you get through to the other side. As Winston Churchill said: "If you're going through hell, keep going."

So here are some tips to help you navigate difficult times of transition with wisdom.

Nurture yourself

You are not feeling right emotionally or mentally. Whether you have lost a friend or a job, or are at a loose end, you will go through stages of grief and stress. Start acknowledging your stress and be kind to yourself.

Take comfort in what nourishes you - inspirational reading, music, a visit to a place of spiritual significance or a quiet cafe to have a cup of tea or coffee and just watch the world go by. Talk to close friends and seek positive people who can lift your spirits. Make this fuelling process a priority every day.

Be patient

Just remember the mantra: "This too shall pass." Something will happen to change your current state of mind. It could be as simple as a smile from a stranger or as momentous as a good job offer.

Accept support

Do not deprive your friends and family of the opportunity to help you when you need it. Just remember, shared burdens foster enhanced closeness. Join a support group - this might be a prayer circle, a job-seekers meeting, or a group of people with an issue similar to yours. Knowing that you are not alone will make you feel more positive.

Stay focused on the present

Take life one day, one moment at a time. Tough times are more manageable when you pay attention to making decisions and taking actions on only the next couple of steps. Worrying about the future can sometimes dampen your confidence, leading to more stress. Concentrate your precious energy on only what is critically important right now.

Trust in your resilience

Chances are you have been through tough times before. Try to focus on the natural inner resources that helped you ride the waves the last time. It is said that a crisis brings out the worst and the best in a person. Using positive self-talk and the various coping strategies will help you weather the storm and emerge stronger and wiser.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tips On Advancing One's Career by Linda Lee

1. Being serious and focused at work can help to reinforce your professional image. Aiming to be meticulous and mindful can help to minimise distraction, and bring about efficiency and consistency.

2. Be hardworking, humble; and unafraid to ask questions (and make a fool of yourself). There's no shortcut to success and the only way to prove yourself is to put in effort and be willing to learn from mistakes. Yes, you may learn how to work smart, but a good boss will know better to reward a deserving employee than credit an empty vessel who has no real results to show.

3. Strive to position yourself as a valuable asset and market your unique selling point consistently so that you appear to have a competitive advantage over your peers. If you know you're weak in certain areas, compensate by trying to amplify your strong points while working on the former. You could also demonstrate initiative to show that you're dependable and willing to go an extra mile to complete a job.

4. Everyone loves a nice guy so look at ways to bring up your EQ (emotional quotient) and refrain from letting the grouch in you surface at work. Always be polite and learn to manage your anger instead of allowing your emotions to run wild. A pleasant worker demonstrates professional decorum and this will definitely make him more outstanding that another who doesn't.

5. Be responsible, keen and pro-active at work. Be dedicated to and take ownership of your given task, and strive to complete it well, even if it's not the most interesting thing in the world to do. Take pride in what you do and let your enthusiasm shine through. Infecting others, including your supervisor, with your positive vibes is one sure way of leaving a good impression. Just remember not to overdo it.

6. Be reliable. Show your boss you can be trusted and is a sure-footed, independent-yet-dependable employee. This will help to raise your profile at work.

7. Being organised lends an appearance of someone who's steady and capable of keeping things under control. This is an important trait as it implies you have thought through certain processes and are therefore apt at handling arising matters in times of change or crisis; so work on this aspect if you want to give your career a boost.

8. Lastly, be observant and keep an open and flexible mind so that you can adapt to changes easily.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

10 Tips For A Better Year by Neen James

Hi readers,

Here's an article I've found useful and would like to share it with you.

Make the most of the coming year by staying positive and productive.

Here are 10 tips on how to make 2009 a fulfilling year.

1. Set realistic goals

Many people make new year resolutions but do not fulfil them. Make this year different. Write down your goals and be committed to achieving them. Ensure your goals are realistic. List your goals and stick it on your fridge where you can see them every day.

2. Focus on your health

This can be your greatest asset or your greatest liability. Make an appointment for a check-up with your doctor, implement an exercise programme if you don't have one, take vitamins if you need to and resolve to kick unhealthy habits like smoking.

3. Invest in your development

I recently read that people who spend a thousand dollars or more on their personal development will increase their business by 20 per cent. Read books, attend workshops, find a new network, listen to tapes or CDs in your car, take up online courses or enrol at a university or learning centre. Keep your brain active.

4. Know your priorities

After you have set your goals, you can begin to focus on what is important to you -- family, self development, profitability, building your profile, health, gaining new clients or more relaxation time. Prioritising will help you focus on how you spend your time.

5. Eliminate time robbers

Make a list of the things that rob you of your time. For example, are you watching too much TV, running unproductive errands, checking your e-mail too often or having long phone calls? Can you use long waiting times more effectively? Focus on controlling your time and get rid of the things in your life that are not a high priority.

6. Surround yourself with VIPs

Find very inspiring people (VIP) whom you can learn from, bounce ideas with and spend time with. Minimise your time with the very draining people (VDP) in your life. You will feel more positive when you are surrounded by VIPs.

7. Plan your next holiday

Allocate a specific time in your calendar for your next holiday so you have something to look forward to.

8. Make time for those you care for

Balancing work and home life is a challenge for most people. Be focused on those you love and do not forget to remind them how much they mean to you. Promise yourself you will not take anyone for granted this year. For instance, each day you can tell one person that he or she is special.

9. Create an "attitude" to-do list

Instead of making "to-do" lists for work, consider creating an "attitude" to-do list you can use every day.

My list includes the following:

Send a thank-you note,

Sit in the sun for 15 minutes,

Find something funny,

Get some exercise, and

Choose to be positive.

So, what will your list say?

10. Choose to be amazing

Make a commitment to yourself each morning that you will have an amazing day. This might include trying some of these tips like reading your "attitude" to-do list, focusing on your health, eliminating time robbers or finding more VIPs in your life. Remember life is not a dress rehearsal -- you only get one performance, so give it your best.