Blog Archives

Why the Answer ISN’T to Find Your “Dream Job”

Recently I came across a blog entry, that really got me worked up.

Basically the author complained about being 24 and not yet getting her “dream job.” While I appreciated how the advice that followed was well intentioned and somewhat informative, what really got me upset was the general attitude and premise of the discussion.

I think it is ridiculous early in your career to be out in search of your “dream job.” This causes delusions of grandeur and this mentality leads people to feel certain jobs are “under” them or not worth their time.

The truth is, whatever you think your dream job is right now, it will change. Guaranteed. I am 100% sure that for most people, your idea of your “dream job” will be very different 5, 10 and even 20 years from now.

I think this mentality is where many millennials go wrong. We are a passionate bunch that believe in changing the world. We are socially conscious and enthusiastic and have the energy to make our dent in the universe. But at the same time, the answer is not to go out on a Don Quixote journey to find the job that is perfect for us. This mentality also paints you in a corner because if you focus all your effort on one niche area, when your passions shift, it is difficult to take that experience and relevant skills and apply them elsewhere.

Note: I don’t want to burst everyone’s bubble or come across as a naysayer preaching that we should all “give up now!” On the contrary, I am as optimistic as it comes, but I know that my goals, focus and concept of a “dream job” is very different at 30 than it was when I was 24.

The answer is to build foundational skills

Instead of searching endlessly for your dream job and crying because you have yet to have it handed to you, focus on finding (and seizing) opportunities that help you build transferable skills.

Instead of focusing on one small niche area that may be interesting to you now, put equal focus into getting experience that will help you no matter what job, company or industry you will be in.

Our parents’ generation made something like an average of 5 career changes over the course of their 40+ year career. For our generation, that number could be twice as large.

Given that change will happen (multiple times), it is crucial to have skills that will make you successful with whatever your career may hand you.

Skills like project management, product development, managing people, and so on, are important skills whether you are in accounting or operations, whether you are in retail or tech, whether you are at a big company or a start-up.

I believe that your ultimate success in business is more contingent upon what you can lead others to do than you are capable of doing yourself (ex: your ability to lead ten people to make 8 widgets/day provides an 8x output compared to your ability to make 10 widgets/day all by yourself). I know that my experience managing teams will help me be successful no matter what company I work for and what functional area I work in.

It doesn’t have to come from your job

But what about my passions? you might ask…

I am not suggesting you discard your passions and join the ranks of mindless drones collecting paychecks and savoring a measly 2 weeks of vacation a year. I am merely questioning whether your career has to fulfill all your passions.

You don’t have to drop your whole career just to seek your passion, be more creative about it. I have seen time and time again how friends have started a side business or taken a leadership position in a non-profit to explore their passions. The things you do outside of work present a prime place to explore your passions. This is why it is important to seek variety, so you don’t fully focus only on your full-time job.

Ultimately, all I am saying is that you shouldn’t be anxiously waiting for or endlessly seeking what you consider to be your “dream job.” The fact is that your dreams and passions will change and you may never even find that dream job you have fixated on. Or worse, you may get that job and realize that your dream job is really a nightmare. Who’s to say that if you find that dream job that you would even be ready for it or would even be good at it?

That is why we all should build foundational skills at age 24 (and beyond) that will help us as our careers take its own uncharted course, instead of just endlessly seeking a “dream job” that will solve all our troubles and make you instantly fulfilled.

Life and careers are much harder than this. Those who are most successful build skills while their passions are developing and then use these skills to be the best when great opportunities come along (note that I didn’t label it as a “dream job” coming along).

“Dream jobs” will always remain just that, dreams. Instead of dreaming, go out there and build up skills that will make you successful wherever your career may take you. Then, jump on opportunities that you are passionate about, and see what exciting results follow.

 

What do YOU think?

Have you found your “dream job” or have you fallen short? Have you seen how skills you built early on have helped you in other jobs?

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How to be successful as a manager: Removing Obstacles

This was originally posted as one of my entries for the Personal Branding Blog (http://PersonalBrandingBlog.com)

If we asked experts what the first job of an effective leader is, the conflicting answers would be plentiful: Some would say it’s to set a vision and goals. To others it would be to motivate the group being led. A few would even venture to single out something more clever like surrounding oneself with smarter people who fill in the leader’s gaps as the most important.

To avoid joining this debate, I venture to let others battle over what the correct first job is while asserting that the most important subsequent job of a leader is to remove obstacles.

My experience as a manager, leading teams of all generations in both the corporate world and in the community has led me to the conclusion that no matter how diverse, or high performing and regardless of the group’s goals are, the best way to increase results is to remove the things that are hindering the group and its individuals from reaching it’s full potential.

These obstacles, big and small, insignificant or substantial take away from your team’s ability to do their job and fulfill established goals. It demotivates and lowers morale. It even generates frustration within the most talented people you work with, causing them to leave for greener (or at least more frictionless) pastures.

Removing obstacles may take the form of creating a new elaborate process to streamline a legacy way to doing things. It may be conducting your own analysis and confronting a boss or peer whose actions are slowing down your team or it may be something simpler.

The easiest way to remove obstacles for others is to ask them what is preventing them from doing their best. For a team of unionized call center reps I managed a few years ago, the number of obstacles was substantial. After seeing that this played itself out in endless complaints and low morale, I tackled this issue through periodic “venting sessions” where I would collect lists of obstacles, seeking to understand the obstacles discussed as opposed to refuting them. I then worked hard to remove these obstacles, some of which I could and others that I couldn’t.

The results were amazing. Not only did the length and intensity of these “venting sessions” decrease, but morale and results improve dramatically.

Results skyrocketed not because of some analytical tool or special initiative; it occurred because of the effective use of an obstacle removing mindset.

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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The Key to Your Organization’s Successful Future

With a number of the talks I have been giving at companies and universities, I recently reconnected with my alma mater. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I searched to see if some of the on-campus activities that I was involved in were still around.

Some extra curricular organizations I was involved in had been around for over 100 years prior to my joining, so it was no surprise that they were thriving as always. Yet what was more affirming was the success attained by a couple organizations that I was at the ground floor of.

One was the course I taught on Leadership through the undergraduate business school and the other was the Freshman Sophomore Business Club.

In both cases, I was not the official “founder” but was the second to have the top “executive” spot.  With the Freshman Sophomore Business Club, an organization only open to lower classmen (mostly “pre-business” majors), I was Treasurer my Freshman year and then was elected President the next. My executive team and I took on a club with 10 members (mainly officers) and grew it by over 1000%. My focus at the end of my year as President was to ensure that the next executive committee didn’t face the same problem I had; having to run a young organization with no guidance or mentoring (given that the organization’s founders left office, barely providing a thumb drive with documents they had made over the first year). I worked with my executive team to elect the next set of officers early, pair them with their predecessor and begin to operate the club with the outgoing officers actively present, providing advice and best practices.

The result has been amazing. Besides the growth of the organization, it has continued to operate even though there is almost complete turn over of officers and members every 1-2 years.

For the leadership course (that operated through a program that allows students to gain sponsorship for and teach courses to other students), I took the class as a student the first semester it was offered. One semester later when the course founder graduated, I was selected as someone to take over the course. When my graduation neared a couple years later, I enacted a plan to ensure the course would continue on long after I was gone.

Throughout the semesters I taught the course, I had other students serve as teaching assistants to me. During my 2nd to last semester in college I beefed up the number of teaching assistants and watched them closely, as I planned to choose my successor. Then finally, my last semester in college I selected a successor (who I closely mentored) and monitored how the class was doing to ensure that no issues arose. This was a recipe for success and the course is now the longest running special interest course in the entire undergraduate business school, having run continuously for the last 20+ semesters while most other courses of its kind dissolve when the creator graduates.

The reason I describe these experiences is to offer an example of why building a legacy is important to the future of an organization (or anything you are involved in), but also to point out it is something that takes focus and effort to see through.

In both cases, I made a concerted effort to look toward the future. Being a big believer that good leaders can foster success while they are present but great leaders foster success in those that follow long after they are gone, I didn’t look at the organization’s success within the context of the limited time I led it. I saw that there were certain things that needed to be done with the future in mind.

As managers, or individual contributors within any team or organization there are a number of things you can do to increase the likelihood of future success. Here are a few:

  • Share best practices, don’t hoard them. Don’t let the next cycle of leaders make the same mistakes you did. Share with them your failures, why they happened and how you would have done things differently if you could do it all over again. This will give future leaders perspective.
  • Allow the next generation of organization leaders to sink or swim, but provide a safety net. Don’t hand-hold your successors too much. Give them clear guidance but then let them run small parts of things to start. When they succeed it helps build confidence in them; when they fail, be there to help them learn how to do better. Your exit shouldn’t be an abrupt stop, it should be a gradual fading out.
  • Don’t make it about yourself, let the up-and-comers shine. Confident leaders know they don’t need to take all the credit to feel they have made a different. Let others around you (especially the future of the organization) share in the success and even be at the forefront of who gets the credit. This will inspire people to follow the lead you set while empowering them to strive to reach your vision.

It was really energizing and affirming to see that something I dedicated myself to years ago was still around and thriving. It also made me realize that the effort I put in before I exited stage-left from the organization was worth it.

Make something that is built to last; be purposeful in succession planning.

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

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Millennials, here’s why it’s time to wake up!

Today I was on NPR sharing my perspective on millennials in the workplace.  Here is what I shared during the “Perspectives” segment:

Here is a link to the audio file

Here is the transcript:

Imagine how I felt, three weeks into my first job out of college and facing the thing that strikes fear into the hearts of employees across the nation. It was time for my performance review.

I wasn’t scared though, I was excited. I was expecting that my boss would give me a big raise and promotion. I was stunned when the first words out of her mouth were, “Aaron, you seem like a bright young man, but I am not sure if you even know how to do your job.” I was crushed. I thought I was doing well at work, but in reality had no idea what the working world was like.

In fact, my misguided expectations were way off. I had expected that it would be like everything else I had done in my life; that I would be given an opportunity and then rewarded for being a part of the team.

My fellow millennials, it’s time for us to wake up. The working world is not like our homes were growing up. Our bosses won’t accommodate for us like our parents did and we won’t be recognized just for showing up. It’s time for us to take action instead of just waiting to be given the careers of our dreams.

Older employees complain about our lack of engagement and inability to take on responsibility and follow-through at work. I for one hate having this stigma associated with me and know that we are better than this reputation. We are creative, enthusiastic and agile, with exciting ideas and new ways of thinking.

We need to take ownership of our careers. No one is going to hand it to us on a silver platter. We will have to earn it with consistent hard work and results. We must be coachable, willing to listen and learn from advice coming from all angles. We must be more self-aware, understanding our natural sense of entitlement and impatience that cause us to give up when we face adversity or skip around between opportunities because we will only settle for the ideal situation. Instead, we must have perspective and realize that the lessons we learn now will help us when we do find our passion.

Don’t just wait for someone to hand you the career you want. Go out there and take it.

With a Perspective, I’m Aaron McDaniel.

 

Does anyone have their own perspective that they want to share?

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

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Presents aren’t the only thing the holidays bring

It’s that time of year again and you know what that means…

As we roll into December managers and employees across the country prepare for everyone’s “favorite” things, performance reviews!

While a performance review is less than fun (both for those having to put them together and for those who they are about), it is so crucial to your career. Performance reviews are one of the only things that gets officially recorded on your personnel file, illustrating what you accomplished this year and what your boss thinks of your performance (through her comments). Additionally, the score you receive is a generally accepted metric to compare how well you do your job versus your peers.

In order to put your best foot forward and maximize the score you receive, here are 4 best practices  that successful people use:

  1. Compile your accomplishments: Each year it is important to keep record of the accomplishments you have. This comes in handy not only for performance reviews but when it comes to updating your resume or preparing for future job interviews. Moreover, often you boss is not aware (or does not have top of mind) all that you have accomplished this year. If she asks for a list of your accomplishments then great, but if not, be proactive and send it to her. It has been my experience that performance reviews are much more positive and complete when you have a hand in contributing to them.
  2. Fight for accuracy and the best score you can get:  At many companies (especially large ones) your boss is not the only one that has influence in the performance rating you receive. Often a committee of your boss’ peers and your boss’ boss that determine everyone’s ratings. Many companies have an even distribution of scores so that not everyone receives top scores. If you feel you deserve a high score ensure that your boss is sticking up for you when you are discussed amongst the ranking committee. Additionally, fight for an accurate evaluation. In a previous position my boss asked that I do a self-evaluation to compare to her evaluation of me. When we compared them my scores were higher than hers. Instead of backing down we discussed the ratings and I was able to get her to admit that she was judging me more harshly than my peers because I had a track record of great performance and she held me to a higher standards. I pleaded that while it is fine that she is a harsh evaluator, it is not fair for me to be judged by a higher standard than my peers. Ultimately, I was able to get my performance rating improved. If something is inaccurate, fight for it to be fixed.
  3. Take advantage of any comments you can add: In my experience, a vast majority of the employees who worked for me left the section blank for their comments. This is a really bad move. When you think about it, every other part of the performance review is your boss’ opinion of you in her words. Your comment section (if you have one) is the only place to voice your opinion (either supporting your accomplishments or possibly offering a different take than your boss).  – I have prepared many and most of my employees leave them blank. I urge everyone to take advantage of this
  4. Take note of the great things you accomplished: Besides compiling the performance review document and what’s in it, this time of year is a great opportunity to reflect on the hard work you put forth and the notable things you accomplished. Celebrate yourself. If you get in the habit of moving from year to year without giving yourself a pat on the back and an accurate assessment of what you have learned, then you won’t be able to accomplish your career goals as fast because of burnout or the likelihood that you would make the same mistakes multiple times.

Remember that you are your own biggest advocate (both with your boss and yourself). Take ownership of your performance reviews and ratings, fighting for what you think you deserve and admitting the areas that you need to improve in. In the end, it will pay off when you have a stronger and more accurate performance record and a better idea of how you can succeed every more at work.

I wish everyone a happy holidays, great performance reviews and fat bonuses!

 

What are some of your tips for getting a better performance review?

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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One Sentence You Should Never Say at Work

Our jobs can be challenge amidst all the change that invariably is happening at our companies. Whether we are at a fast growing start-up, a huge corporation adapting to new market conditions and competitors or somewhere in between, odds are this is a reality of work.

No matter what your job, company or industry, there are certain principles we all should strive to uphold. From driving results to people fast learners, all have their own level of importance. One of these key categories is our attitudes. Not only will out attitudes affect the quality of our work, but it also will affect how others view us.

It makes sense to maintain a positive attitude. Besides motivating ourselves to push-on in adversity, it helps us look good amongst the team. While a negative attitude can manifest itself in many ways, from small comments like, “this new policy sucks!” to “there is no way we are going to solve this problem!” there is none worse than when you say (and think), it’s not my job.

When you have this 4-word mentality, you are a poison to your team. It shows you have the mentality that you have sectioned off your work and the value you bring to your company to a tiny box that is determined by your job description.

Here are 3 reasons you should never even think the words “it’s not my job”:

  • It limits you from career growth– If you are constantly concerned about how little you need to do to fulfill your job responsibilities or are only interesting in doing what you were initial hired and explicitly told what to do, then you will not inspire others to believe in you and your abilities. You won’t be given any new and exciting opportunities and later (if not sooner) your days will be relegated to mundane tasks that don’t matter as much to the future of your company.
  • You won’t learn anything new-If you have a “it’s not my job” mentality, your work days will not be exciting. You will most likely get caught in the routine things that you are comfortable with (truly successful people are willing to regularly step outside of their comfort zones).
  • You are being a selfish non-team player– If you are being asked to do something or see an opportunity to complete a project that may be outside of the scope of your job, odds are it is needed because there is no one doing it today. In almost every case it will help your team.

Note: This is especially true when you are working on a small team, in a new growing area of your business or are at a start-up. I once founded a start-up with a friend of mine. Routinely my business partners would say “it’s not my job.” Besides annoying me to no end, I was like, “there’s only two of us, so if it’s not your job then whose job is it?!?! Mine?”

When facing tasks that are outside of the scope of your job or that you are not familiar with, use the following 3 steps to help you contribute rock-star results:

  • Partner with someone– If there is a group that does have expertise in something you have been asked to work on, bring them into the fold. Not only will you get their expertise and buy-in, but you will learn more in the process and get the work done faster. Plus it will show good teaming, something all bosses like seeing.
  • Do your research– If you are asked to do something new and outside of the normal scope of your job, odds are the right way to do it won’t just come to you. Research ways to do the task and look for sources of the information you need to do a great job
  • Ask for help-If you aren’t able to find a partner who has the task you have been asked to do as part of their job and if you research efforts are fruitless, ask for help. Make sure to ask to the right person (preferably someone other than your boss), and show them the work you have done and how you think you should do the task instead of just blindly saying “tell me how to do this.”

Take ownership of the work you do and take new work that may be outside of the comfortable scope of your job as an opportunity to grow and learn. It will help you develop a solid personal brand.More than anything else, if you do say “Ok, I’m happy to help,” instead of “it’s not my job,” then people will take notice and before you know it you will be receiving new and exciting career opportunities.

What’s a something YOU think someone we should never say at work?

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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How to Speak to an Executive

Most of us have been asked the old cliché, scenario. “what would you say if you were in the elevator with the CEO of your company and you had to pitch him/her an idea but only had the time from when the elevator left the lobby to when it reached their floor?”

The ability to get your point across concisely and artfully to executives can mean the difference between moving up in your career or getting stalled where you are at. While oversimplified, the situation described above correctly characterizes the approach you should take when talking with an executive.

Despite the influence and responsibility they have, it is important to remember that often executives revert to almost being child-like when they reach that top level of corporations. Attention spans almost completely disappear and it is hard for them to focus on doing anything administrative without the help and support of an assistant. Every day they are bombarded with information and have to shift focus in the blink of an eye, as they have a number of areas of responsibility and lead organizations that working on many projects. When you have the opportunity to present a powerpoint deck to them or speak with them about an idea you have, you must consider their frame of mind.

That said, here are some keys things you must keep in mind in order to be successful speaking with top executives:

  • Be Brief– When speaking with an executive, get to the point. Don’t plan on going through a lot of detail on every little part of the process you went through to arrive at your recommendation. Work under the assumption that if they want to know, they will ask you. Think of it like a funnel. What you communicate to an exec is analogous of the small funnel opening. Only communicate what is essential and be able to have background information and logic on why you reached certain conclusions. The process of presenting is not about you sharing every detail, but is about you getting your main points across and getting their buy-in and support. Additionally, at meeting scheduled for 1 hour may end up being 15 minutes if the executive is late leaving another meeting and may have other commits that have come up last minute that cut the time even shorter. This happens regularly to me.
  • Be Insightful– Don’t tell an executive something they already know. Be unique and share something new. They don’t have the time to go over the same topic and details over and over. Teach them something new. When you consistently do this, then execs will know you are a go-to person and will come to you for guidance in the future. Using stories and analogies are good as well. I remember one presentation where I compared our companies operational complexities to ordering a steak at a restaurant but being expected to tell the waiter the internal temperature of the steak you wanted, the amount of salt, pepper and other spices you wanted along with the angle you wanted the grill lines to be at. It seemed to get the message across.
  • Be Prepared to Go Off-Track– I do not think I have ever talked through a presentation without being interrupted. More accurately, I don’t think I have ever gotten more than 30 seconds into a presentation without being stopped by an executive to ask a question, say on opinion or move ahead to a more specific part of my presentation. It happens. Be familiar with your presentation and able to start and stop anywhere while being able to seamlessly go back to important areas that were skipped as you follow-along the executive’s thought process. Executives see things in a unique way and may not learn a concept the same way you did.
  • Be Ready to Answer Questions– Be prepared to answer any question. While you want to keep presentations short and to the point, make sure to have a ton of back-up information. You will undoubtedly be asked something unique and need to have reference-able evidence to back-up what you are saying. Just as important, if you don’t know the answer, admit that you don’t, commit to finding an answer and then follow-up with the executive with the answer you find.
  • Be Sure to Follow-up– While it would be ideal to get a direct and clear answer from an executive after presenting, this is often not the case. Execs need time to process what you recommended and tie it in with the other dozen priorities they are juggling. Ensure that you follow-up to confirm buy-in and get approval on the best path forward. Often you will have to drive this because if you wait around for them to get back to you, you may be waiting forever.

I regularly present to executives at my company about new and exciting technologies and strategies to build revenue. While at first I was very concerned with getting my point the way I wanted to explain it, I soon learned that I had to build my analyze specifically for the executive I was reading out to, almost like I had to write in a different language I knew they understood. Being flexible is so important.

A good way to learn how to effectively communicate to executives is to treat all your interactions with co-workers like they are with an executive. They will appreciate how you value their time and you will get much better at getting your point across.

Now the next time you are in an elevator with an executive you know what to do: be brief, be insightful, be prepared to go off-track, be ready to answer questions and be sure to follow-up. And even if you are not limited to an elevator ride’s amount of time, take ownership of your communication and treat everyone with the respect that you would give an executive from your company. It will help you go far in your career, not matter what your chosen field is.

 

Does Anyone have any stories about interactions they have had with an executive or tips of their own?

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

 

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Introducing The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World

A couple weeks ago my book, The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World: Savvy Strategies to Get In, Get Ahead and Rise to the Top hit both online and traditional bookstores. (Check it out @ Amazon and Barnes & Noble)

In the time leading up to the publication and since the launch I have received great feedback. From friends to family, Amazon reviews to affirmation from fellow business book authors. For all of this,  I am grateful.

Since school doesn’t teach us how to be successful in the working world (there is no textbook that teaches us how to interact with a boss, and no course that teaches us how to position ourselves for a promotion or get buy-in for an idea from our colleagues), I feel this book was needed. It really fills a gap and offers both great anecdotes and concrete advice on what to do in your career.

For those interested, here is a brief breakdown of what the book is about and what makes it different than anything else out there:

What is the book about?

  • It offers advice to young professionals (and really any working professional) on how to be successful in your career.
  • In the book I talk about two archetypes, The STAR (someone who is Savvy, Tenacious, Adaptive and Resourceful) who we should strive to be like, and The DOPE (someone who Disses Opportunity Potential and Earnings) who we want to avoid
  • I discuss the 25 attributes of a successful young professional, as it relates to building the foundation for a successful career.
  • The book teaches you how to build a career blueprint and how to leverage mentoring to attain your career goals.

What makes this book different?

  • While I am a fan and reader of many business books, a number of them explain the same concept over and over to the reader. Instead, I get right to the point and only say something once, trusting that the reader can grasp what I am explaining.
  • For those with short attention spans (like me!) this book is great. Chapters are simple and easy to read (most only 4 or 5 pages) and have a clear format that tells you what you should expect to read in a chapter and recaps the lesson at the end.
  • Online integration– Many books that discuss this topic are a static document and don’t offer much online integration. Besides a community for peer mentoring (more to come on this), throughout the book I ask readers to go to various assessments, tools and worksheets on the book’s website to be act on the advice in the book.
  • By a millennial, for a millennial– Some books in this category are written by psychologists “studying” the millennial generation, and others are written by entrepreneurs who have no real corporate experience. In addition to being a millennial myself, I have worked in a number of different roles and functions (including managing people) at a Fortune 20 company, so I have real world experience that really shows through in the advice and tips I give.

Special thanks to my publisher Career Press, and my agent Zach Romano for making the publication process a smooth one.

For my readers, please share this with your friends and colleagues. Since we as millennials consume much of our information online and through social networks, anything you can do to spread the word would be really amazing in helping young professionals everyone learn how to build the foundation for a successful career.

I would love to hear anyone’s feedback on both the concept of the book (do you agree that it’s needed?) as well and specific feedback after you take a look at it.

I hope that you (and every young professional out there) get a chance to check it out!

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

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“Expect Delays”

An early morning a couple weeks ago I was headed to a work conference. It ended up that this conference wasn’t at the typical convention center or hotel. Instead, it was located at a retreat out in the woods. While scenic, the road leading there was naturally winding and heavily wooded.

At one point, where the road narrowed to one lane in each direction, there was one of those electronic signs on the side of the road that typically flashes a multi-part message. In this case, there was only one part to the message displayed. It simply read, “Expect Delays.”

From my experience, these signs usually offer justification as to why there would be a delay. It might read “Road repair ahead.” And then “expect delays” following. But this time I did not. The sign just said “Expect Delays.” Normally I would have passed by this kind of sign paying little attention, but in this case (maybe due to the early hour or the peaceful surroundings) I found a deeper meaning in the message.

Time and time again (in our careers and lives in general) we make plans. We think through all the possibilities and details, catching as many variations as we can think of. Despite this analysis and planning, we are often wrong. Things don’t go as planned.

In my career (and life), I have found that many times when “things not going as planned” it involves something taking more time than I would have expected. I generally get impatient, expecting faster results. This often leads to me giving up, or at the very least not give my 100% in following up and seeing things through.

Unfortunately, this feeling (and response) is something that plagues many millennials like me. We are used to instant gratification and feedback. We are used to getting things when we want them, how we want them. Success in your career (and life) just doesn’t work this way.

It is important for us to be patient when we embark on a journey to accomplish a goal. Whether it is something big like starting a company or something as simple as completing a project at work, realize that things won’t go as planned. Delays will invariably creep in, and if we aren’t ready for them, then we run the risk of giving up before we ever reach our goal.

While it is key to understand and anticipate delays, it is important to go one step further. We must build resiliency. The moment we get knocked down, we must get back up. Every delay that comes our way is an opportunity for another lesson that will help us avoid obstacles in the future (or at the very least will help us get over them faster).

We must also actively look for solutions. To beat these “delays,” we have to find ways to overcome them. Whether it be testing out a new strategy or flat out asking for help, it is better to fight through obstacles and delays instead of letting them happen to us.

As you drive down the road of your career, make sure to keep an eye out for delays. Often times there won’t even be a sign that tells you when or why they are coming. Remember not to just let these delays happen to you. Use them to your advantage. Take away key lessons, they will help you be smarter and more successful further down the road.

Just because you expect delays doesn’t mean that you have to like it. Meet these delays head-on; overcome them and carve out new roads of your own to explore.

What do you think about the “delays” that you face?

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

This article was originally published in the Personal Branding Blog

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Is Taking It Easy a Good Thing?

As Ferris Bueller said in the 1986 movie, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This was true then and is even more true now. Over the Labor Day weekend, I took it’s purpose to heart and did some thinking.

Our lives as professionals (or otherwise) are full of meetings and emails, commitments and distractions. For many, striking the balance between work and play can be a hard line to walk and something that is never quite mastered.

For me, this is especially true. Besides a full time corporate job, writing books, and managing my entrepreneurial ventures, I want to make sure to spend time with friends, travel and volunteer in the community. In the process of having to take care of a lot of business, the byproduct is generally busyness. With spouses, kids, aging parents and more, there is not much time left for anything else.

Recently I was cleaning out some files at home when I came across an article that my godmother had sent to me a couple years ago. It was a brief prose by Alexander Green called In Praise of Idleness.

This essay really made me think.

Looking back, I have seen how busyness has adversely affected both my concentration and decision making ability. A couple years ago, I was balancing a full time job and running two businesses, not to mention a number of other personal and community involvements. I found that my mind constantly jumped from one commitment to the next. Because of the shear number of things on my mind I found that I was looking for fires to fight. I would prioritize the most important thing with the nearest deadline and would focus on completing it as soon as I could to go on to the next thing. This was good in terms of getting many things done fast, but it affected the quality of my work. My judgment was clouded and I made some decisions that, in hindsight, were pretty stupid. They led to some failures in my businesses.

I needed to remember what Green states, “downtime is an energizing force.” He continues to reference how “idleness leads to contemplation, creativity, and inventiveness.” Taking this time creates clarity.

While it is something that I do still struggle with, I have been able to see the benefit. Whether it is setting aside 15 minutes in the middle of the day to take a walk (or at least get away from my desk) or if it is keeping one weeknight or weekend day free from commitments to have some downtime, I continue to see benefits from this. Create that time, maybe not a siesta or afternoon tea but a break at some point during the day

As Green references, there are many examples of how down time is a good thing. From Churchill’s “economy of effort” to Mark Twain, even these successful people understand the benefit.

The second step in the right direction (after setting time aside regularly) is to simplify. Think about why you are doing something, and don’t just take on commitments for the sake of being busy. Focus on what is important, and be excellent at fewer things. Steve Jobs made Apple amazingly successful through simplicity.

So remember, it’s ok to be a “loafer,” “slacker” or “bum” every once in a while. This idleness can create the clarity you need to be to reach your goals.

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When do you think being “idle” is a good thing? (if at all)

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BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

Follow my blog by clicking the link at the bottom right of your screen.I’d really appreciate it!

If you found this article useful, then please retweet and share on Facebook by clicking Like.

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