If You Think You Cant Change Course... Youre Right
You've heard the expression that some people see the glass as half full while others perceive the same glass to be half empty? Yesterday I had the opportunity to see this difference in perception in action.
My father and I drove to the airport to pick up my some family members visiting from Florida. It was 100 degrees and muggy. "Knowing" there wouldn't be any parking spaces close to the terminal, my father was inclined to head directly to the back lot where we'd be sure to find a space.
I, on the other hand, was inclined to start with the row closest to the terminal and work my way back. Since my father was literally in the driver's seat, he reluctantly agreed to check out the last row in the front lot. If we didn't find something there, he said, we'd proceed directly to the back lot. Not only did we find a spot, but as we were walking to the terminal we passed a primo front row space. His response? "It probably wouldn't have been there when we were looking."
In other words, I prefer to think that things will work out. My Dad presumes they will not. Not surprising, during his adult life my father held two jobs. He was horribly exploited in his first job and left only at my mother's constant urging. He stayed at his second job for over 30 years. In part, father's long job tenure has to do with that fact that he is a product of at time when there was a different set of rules regarding employer-employee loyalty. You got a good (or even a not so good) job and you stuck with it for life.
There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with staying in the same job or town or anything else for an extended period of time. My mother's family has lived in this same area of Massachusetts since the 1600s. My father's family came at the turn of the last century. I love it here in what is known as the Pioneer Valley and despite feeling tremendous pressure after graduating from college to go somewhere new, I have never had any desire to move anyplace else on a permanent basis.
When staying in one job or place too long IS cause for concern though, is when it is not driven by a sense of contentment but by the belief that things will not work out anyway, so why bother. A lousy attitude will kill a dream faster than just about anything else.
If you find yourself automatically driving to the back lot of life, maybe it's time to do an attitude check:
Pessimists THINK a lot about changing course; unfortunately those with a negative attitude rarely ever act on their dreams. If you are prone to pessimism but really DO want to go after your dream of a more meaningful work/life, you may need to first practice viewing things from a positive perspective.
Moving from a pessimistic, hopeless view to an optimistic, hopeful one will not happen over night. It is a goal that must be worked on one day at a time. Start by taking one situation each day and trying to reframe it from a glass half-full perspective. Fake it if you have to. After a while you will find yourself readily being able to not only see the glass of life as half full, but enjoying a long, quenching drink from it as well.
When it comes to successfully changing course, attitude really is every thing. That's because as Henry Ford once put it, "If you think you can or if you think you can't, you're right."
"Off the beaten career path" consultant, Valerie Young, abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at http://www.ChangingCourse.com, offering free resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Redbook, Entrepreneur's Business Start Ups, and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, she's presented her How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are program to thousands of people.
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American Idol Syndrome
I like Simon, one of three judges on American Idol. I find his feedback refreshingly honest. And while his words startle me with their ego wounding potential, the traditional feel-good, let-you-down-easy, sugar-coated feedback is not much of a gift. It's hard to tell someone they're not good enough and their dreams are not going to happen, at least in this venue. But not telling them is no gift either. Some contestants rise to the challenges he throws at them. Some don't. And, some can't. Which one are you? The people who influenced me most in my career were those who gave me the hardest critiques. Stricken with a bruised-ego for days, or on occasion for months, inevitably their feedback helped me make the right life choices to improve, change direction, or stay the course with intensity. In fact, the boss who was the hardest on me is the one I thank the most. Good was not good enough if I was capable of better, and she was quick to point out when that was. No sugar coating from her. And the funny thing? When I was honest with myself, I knew she was right. Being honest with yourself is one of the challenges to winning at working. We all have talents and abilities, but they're not always in the areas we pursue at work. Too many people I've run across in my career have American Idol Syndrome (AIS). Like Idol contestants auditioning with little or no singing ability, these people believe they are good at what they do. They can't understand why they don't get the promotion, the outstanding review, or the highest increases. They view themselves as varsity team material, but they play with junior varsity skills. When I was a freshman at Stanford, I got a D in biology. Stanford graded on a bell-curve, so an 84% that might traditionally put me in a B category, was near the class bottom. Accustomed to A's, first quarter grades woke me up. At first, I rationalized a D at Stanford was an A or a B at most any other school. But, reality prevailed. I wasn't at another school. If I was going to compete at the school I was at, it was time to use more than high school skills to bring results. Are you applying yourself? Are you as good as you could be to get the raise, the promotion, or the more interesting work? If these are things you want, don't suffer from AIS. Give yourself some Simon-esk feedback. Ego aside. A Simon-esk answer to the questions, "how good are you?" and "are you in the right field?" offers you a chance at becoming happier and more successful at working. The answers give you choices: you can stay the course; find a playing field at your skill level; improve your skills to compete where you are; or change directions. (c) 2004 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.
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The younger generation of job seekers have forgotten the importance of personal relationships in business, leaving many talented people wondering why they aren't being hired. Get out there and show that there is a person behind the résumé. 1. Ask for the job you want. If you bring quality skills and/or experience to the table, let it be known. If the open position won't challenge you enough, find ways to add responsibility. Tell interviewers that you want to make a difference at their company. Confidence in one's ability is key to landing great jobs. If the decision maker can see that you have a lot to offer and are willing to work harder than current employees, there is no decision; you are hired!
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When flipping the channels of your TV, you are bound to come across a Public Service Announcement (PSA) endorsed by a celebrity asking children to approach their parents, teachers, or someone they trust when they are at a crossroads. Through these PSAs, children are told that asking for guidance, encouragement, and support is a sign of strength. They don't have to go through a transition alone-help is just around the corner.
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