Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Know your skills

You don't want to hire me because of what I've done before. My chronological history is only relevant in that I've been a constantly desirable team member, leader, employee and/or volunteer. (and parent but my kid is kind of stuck with me)

You want to hire me for my skills.

And if I can't articulate to you which ones I want to be paid for... or which ones I think I'll learn by working with you... then all you have is my chronological history on a two-page resume.

Explore your skills.

Articulate your skills.

Perhaps, most importantly, seek to be mentored against your skills instead of the next job to fit into your chronological history. Mentor for development and interest - and position will follow.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Everyone makes mistakes

I'm no expert. In anything. (maybe in shoe collecting... maybe) I work it through and use the idea until it doesn't work any more. Then I try and figure it out again. When I mentor, I make sure that folks understand these are just the solutions that are working for me today.

No one is is perfect. Even gurus and professionals make mistakes.

So why wait to try something until everything is perfect or until you think you can do it exactly the first time? If no life depends on the outcome, you surely have some wiggle room?

It's ok to make a mistake. It's not ok to do nothing out of fear of making a mistake.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

MIssion statements

Mission statements often sound like advertising slogans; hopefully convincing to a potential buyer, little relevance to your day.

I read a fabulous blog post on 17 Word Street, posted May 30. The author Bill Seyle points out that a mission statement should really say "This is who we are when we're at our best."

I ignore mission statements all the time. However, his post made me think - who am I when I'm at my best? And asked my mentorees the same.

That's what our resumes, elevator pitches and introductions should reflect - not the current fad, not the widget for sale - but the best we personally have to offer. We need to ask that question of ourselves before someone asks it of us.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's all about change

Mentoring and networking are part of one's personal and career transformation.
But life is all transformation, isn't it? From the fact we don't stay little, to the fact we gain experience through new ideas and projects.

So really, every day/hour/thought has the potential to shift our status quo a little.

Then we're transforming, changing, morphing without even trying. By making conscious choices and decisions, we can try and steer the course to what we desire.

So how can we not mentor and be mentored? Why would we avoid building communities around ourselves and those we love?

Change will happen anyway - choose to embrace it and understand it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Your values are your career plan

I don't actually care what industry my job is in.


I don't have a target job or company in mind. (another gasp here)

I do care that I am encouraged to bring my core values and skills to the table. I care that I have scope to lead and scope to learn. I will bring my values, skills and curiosity to whomever believes they are worth a salary.

Do I have a few dream jobs? Absolutely: Executive Director of a not-for-profit; professor; social media strategist; writer; speaker... to name a few. These days I'm trying to understand change - not the theories, but the practical applications to deal with changes and still maintain a sense of choice. I don't know what that job title is but I'm making it part of my career too.

Following your passion isn't necessarily about a particular job - though it can be. Following passion is simply about following your heart. Some days my heart is very boring or weary; most days it offers a reason to keep exploring the world around me.

Care deeply about what you do - not on a daily business but as something that reflects who you want to be inside, do what reflects your values. You shouldn't be judged on your values - only on not committing to them or thwarting someone else's.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dream big

Today, it's not about plans or process. No career decisions. No sensible arguments. Leave your common sense and your tried & true theories behind.

Ask "what if..."
Ask "why..."

Say "this is what I'd do if no one was looking...!"

What are your dreams? What gives you wings? What inspires you?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Making career plans

Making career plans sounds sensible, is up there on the list with "do laundry and sort basement", and usually ends up being no more specific than a chat over tea with friends. (or beer...)

I am the first to say that putting together a career plan is simply a line in the sand. However, it's a great line to draw even if you know it will move, morph and meander.

Since September is the 'real' new year - back to school, change of season, prep for winter, etc. - why not ask yourself:
1 - Given what I know today, where would I like to be in 3-5 years?
2 - Given what I'm doing today, what do I need to change or add to get to #1?
3 - Who should I talk with in my community for their perspective?

Then set one goal a month that is a step towards #1. A simple step - nothing as monumental as sorting the entire basement - but perhaps unearthing the winter boots and the snow tires as a first step.

As you turn over ideas and sort through the tasks that make up the steps towards your goal, you'll learn a few things and perhaps change your mind along the way. You'll also keep your development fresh and your commitment to your own ideas moving.

Making career plans isn't always about getting there; sometimes it's about the journey.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The recent Star article "Why I Wish I Were a Guy" raised all kinds of discussion in my circles.

The article is filled with some stats (worth knowing) that shows even in North America, there are gender gaps. While Mallick doesn't show the upside of how far women have come, she certainly doesn't bash the other side. She simply, with some tongue-in-cheek humour, points out that it's still easier to be a guy in the working world. I believe that's true. Having even a guy's name has often provided me with an advantage. Stupid eh?, but true.

But the title and last lines of the articles seemed to be all anyone read - a shame really because Mallick raised some excellent points.

I'll add one - as much as others may view our gender as holding us 'down'... we hold ourselves down as well:
* We self-select out of opportunities, perceiving (rightly or wrongly) that we're not qualified/don't have the time/wouldn't be considered.
* We don't talk about our accomplishments freely.
* We can take things too personally in the workplace.
* We can try too hard to be one of the guys instead of showcasing our own unique strengths.

I've been in enough situations where I believed that being a guy would have made all the difference. Yet, I don't want to be a guy. But I do understand the sentiment.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why vs. How

A friend recently complained, "They keep telling me how to do my job. It's not my first day; I know how to do the work. I need to know what they need done and why. I can figure out how to do it myself."

A good point, yes? The next time you ask someone for help or attempt to offer some leadership, try giving the "what" and "why" and refrain from offering "how"... unless you're asked :-)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Influences from afar

We all know the parlour game of asking "Who, alive or dead, would you want at a dinner party and why?"

It's the why? that fascinates me. (it's always the why) From style icons to great thinkers, world changers to local legends, we absorb the stories and aspire to some of their messages. They are not quite mentors but they do influence us.

So which three women, alive or dead, but who you've never met do you feel have had an impact on your life?

Me? For today, I'll pick:
Elizabeth I - for courage, love of the arts, surviving her childhood, finding her way in an unfriendly world and defying convention.

Katherine Hepburn - for wearing trousers, speaking her mind and defying convention.

Carol Burnett - for understanding the pain of humour, teaching us to laugh and defying convention.