When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five.
"I'm Going To Change Your Life In One Easy Step!" I get emails like this all the time. Personalities who say they will radically change your life instantly. All you have to do is believe (and spend $195, $795, 0r $8995) and you will get the secret to the riches of the universe without lifting a finger.
I just received another one today: "Rewire your mindset to become unbeatable!" "Grow your financial fortune!" "Get ultra-fit and feel better than ever before!" "Achieve all the goals you never could achieve before!"
It's magic! And if you send them your money, they will change your life! Of course, they are highly successful, jetting around the world, filming videos in really cool places. So they must know the secret!
I get together with a number of high-level coaches each month and we are a bit perplexed with the success of these people who sell 21st century snake oil. Don't people get it? Here are some immutable rules of life:
- Change doesn't happen overnight. It took you a long time to get where you are and it will take a little bit of determined work to get you where you want to be. Yes, you can 'change your mindset' — but the journey will be long, hard, and you will have to gird yourself against falling back into old routines.
- You won't make seven figures right out of the gate. Unless you have a foolproof hair-growth formula (I'll buy it), incremental gains will only occur if you make the right decisions, at the right time, and deliver a powerful product/service that a lot of people see and want to buy.
- You won't look like Ryan Gosling instantly. I don't know what 'ultra-fit' means, but after speaking with my personal trainer, it takes months/years to get (and stay) 'ultra-fit'.
Here's my 'secret' prescription for change:
- You need a roadmap. If you don't know where you are and where you want to go, you're going to fail. You also need a step-by-step plan of tasks and activities to get you there.
- You will need to focus. Don't get distracted by shiny objects — it will be hard to stay on track and not veer off into uncharted territory where you might get demotivated.
- You are going to test your limits of confidence and work. It's going to be hard at times — you will have to push yourself more than you ever have before.
- You are going to have to be open to change a few key things in your life. Bad habits and decisions are hard to break — you have to chart a new course and stay on it.
- You are going to make many mistakes along the way. It's a fact of business — take chances and you might fail. It's how you stand up and keep going.
- You are going to have to make a LOT of new friends. You have to reach out farther than you ever have before — meet people who are scary — make hundreds of new friends.
- You need a little luck. Yes, luck. Luck appears when you open yourself up to new opportunities, options, and friends. And you cast away bad habits and procrastination.
Think of the new successful tier of business - Tim Cook (Apple), Brin & Page (Google), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jack Ma (Alibaba), etc. They all have and currently work quite hard at their roles to get and stay where they are today. Want to be highly successful? Want to be a star? You have to work it.
"There's no such thing as a free lunch."
Do you need a 'Wake-Up Call' to your career?
Sometimes we feel trapped at work. Doing the same thing day after day. Handling the same issues, the same malcontents and ultimately getting nowhere. What can you do to move forward?
When I work with teams, I have them perform a lot of teamwork, but I also refocus them on a series of simple exercises to help them grow their position.
I call it Change-Grow-Help. Simply, take a step back and look at what you do all day and think about what three things you can do to make it bigger, better, and more engaging.
What's one thing can I change in my day-to-day work to make it more streamlined, more efficient and effective?
Why CHANGE? Because we get stale. We end up doing things that are easy, familiar, and comfortable. To move forward, we need to mix it up and see where we can make subtle modifications to do things faster and better.
Examples - Kill a meeting, come in a bit earlier, delete that weekly report no one reads, meet with your boss for 5 minutes every morning, streamline your email, etc.
What's one thing can I do to grow me as an individual who can offer more, perform better, and make more-informed positions?
Why GROW? Because we should be always growing. The attitude of 'I know all I need to know" is a 20th Century behavior. You're going to be left behind VERY QUICKLY. What books, resources, classes can I access to grow myself?
Examples - Take a class, read a book, listen to a podcast/audiobook, meet new people, network, join a club, check out Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie, or (hire a coach).
What's one thing can I do to help my team, the department, or organization? How can I branch out and make a difference?
Why HELP? If you don't step out of your little cubicle hovel and start making a difference in other parts of the company, you'll stay an unknown and ultimately be forgotten, laid off, or fired.
Examples - Join a committee, start an organization, hold a learning lunch, advertise to your team and visit a conference, start a blood drive, etc.
Image: Royalty-Free License from Dollar Photo Club 2014.
As a business and career coach, I run into so many different people every day. I attend conferences and events, I run workshops and webinars, and I host team masterminds for all types of professionals. And guess what? When I talk to the unemployed, I've heard all the excuses why you don't have a job. Here are the top ten realities of your job search today:
1. You're waiting for the phone to ring or the limo to pull up to your house and whisk you off to your new position.
This is my #1 pet peeve when I host job-search workshops. People say they are busy, they're sending out resumes, but the reality is they are mentally waiting for a knight in shining armor to whisk them away to a new cushy position. Guest what . . . it's never going to happen. NEVER.
Unless you're a recently fired CEO with massive connections to firms who want to hire you and subsequently ruin their company, no one is going to call and no one is driving up with a black stretch limo. Once you realize you are on your own and only YOU can change your situation, it's time for a mental ass-kick to get your head on straight.
What To Do: You want an mental ass-kick? Start listening to motivational speakers to keep your mental energy level up and constant. Check out Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Jeffrey Gitomer, and my favorite Bennie Hsu at Get Busy Living Podcast. He's the best!
2. You rarely go out.
You get up at 9 AM, you probably don't take a shower, you get dressed in your old geriatric Adidas sweatsuit, and sit in front of your laptop. WRONG!
What To Do: Get up at 5 AM, go for a walk/run outside, take a shower, and get dressed in real clothes. You don't like it? TOUGH. This is your workday and for the next 8-10 hours, I am your drill sergeant and you will deliver 110% looking for a job every Monday through Friday. Set up a schedule which takes you outside every single day. Meet people for coffee, hit the library, go to the gym, walk around the park. Strike up conversations with people — you never know who you will meet.
3. You check the web for postings, send out a few resumes, and watch Ellen, Rachael, and Jerry the rest of the day.
Unemployment is not a vacation. You have to attack your job search like any project you've ever delivered at work.
What To Do: You have to:
- Focus on the marketplace - What companies are doing well? Where are the growth areas? Who are the movers and shakers?
- Analyze your attributes against your competition - Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on YOU. Figure out how you leverage your strengths and opportunities.
- Develop key targets to go after - Analyze your commuting radius, find out all the potential industries and organizations within your circle, and begin to make a hit list.
- Execute - Go after each one incrementally in a cascade pattern to ensure you are not inundated with tasks, but your search is progressing in a healthy fashion.
4. Your industry has changed.
You actually thought people were going to buy slide-rules FOREVER. Yes, that's right, you're industry is changing. And guess what? Everyone's industry is changing. Some are morphing into other forms, some are merging, many are shrinking, and a lot are just plum going out of business. If you thought you could keep your job or profession for 30 years, I have a DeLorean to sell you.
What To Do: Figure out where your industry is going and either stick around for the very bumpy ride or jump off at the station for the next train. Get to thee library, my dear young minstrel and start understanding what is really happening in the marketplace. Read the WSJ, Medium, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Inc, and Foundr. Also meeting with industry luminaries doesn't hurt either.
5. You're too old.
Where did the time go? You were having so much fun as an executive in a corner office working on strategy and mergers, you never saw the axe coming for you until it was too late. Now you're 55 and no one wants you. Let me rephrase that — no 20-year old in HR wants you. The minute they do the college graduate math in their head (or on their calculator), your résumé is flying faster than a 767 into the circular file. And the funny thing is you keep doing it.
What To Do: Stop repeating something which doesn't work and expecting something different. You have to get out of the HR/Recruiter trap and move up the ladder and meet/engage/schmooze the hiring managers. Go to industry events, reach out to them via LinkedIn/Twitter, and google their name to get to know them. Then reach out and try to meet them.
6. You're too young.
Where did the time go? You were just in college wowing them with your 4.0 GPA and now no one will take your calls because you have no experience.
What To Do: It's time for you to get some experience! You need to call in every chip on the poker table of life and have them connect you with possible paid intern/entry level positions. Let's get real — you might have a little bit of knowledge, but your don't have the experience to hit deadlines consistently, run a meeting, handle an angry client, manage a boss, or run a complex project. You have to take a small hit position/salary-wise and build up those talents before you really hit the big leagues of life.
7. You're unrealistic about your position and your salary.
"Look, I was Vice President of Strategic Initiatives with a yearly base salary of $275K. Why doesn't anyone want me?"
What To Do: There are a finite number of positions out there which might fit your position/salary requirements, but you will never find them in time. I know, you might run into them, but most likely, NOT. You have to be a bit flexible on the Who/What/Where/How Much in the current marketplace. Try to broaden your scope and see what else is out there. It might not be a VP position, or one drowning in strategy. It might be a bit lower than $275K a year — but then again, it's higher than the $0/year you're pulling in now (great tax benefits though).
8. You have a glass-half-empty mentality.
No one likes a whiner. I just spoke with a prospect this week who could not stop talking about all the bad bosses and decisions they've made in the past 10 years. The first rule of your job search: Never, ever, say bad things about your past. Not only does it cloud anyone's opinion of you, it brings your mental state down into the basement.
What To Do: Start imagining what life would be like if you had that wonderful position RIGHT NOW. Where would you be? Who would you be working with? What would you be doing? How would you get there. Stop thinking and feeling guilty about the past and start preparing for your glorious future. Get your head half-full immediately.
9. You're afraid of Thinking Big and reaching out to the real power-brokers.
No one is going to think big for you (except me). You hamstring your search and actions by being risk-averse. You're afraid of rejection and will never put yourself in a position of actually touching key movers and shakers in your industry. No . . . you will continue to interview with 20-year-old HR reps who text more than they think and wonder why you don't have a killer position.
What To Do: Get a piece of paper and write down what would be your PERFECT job. Now actualize it in your universe — find those companies who fit the bill and reach out to the key people who run those positions. The funny thing is . . . these same people are always on the lookout for new talent. You're just not putting yourself onto their radar.
10. You've given up.
You've tried again and again to get a job offer, an interview or even a solid connection and it seems the cards are stacked against you. It's been years since you've worked and you're draining your savings account to keep your household afloat.
What To Do: You can always try again. Take a different tack, work on an alternate strategy, reach out to new people. In fact, I just worked with a client who was unemployed for two years and within three months, he had a number of offers and took an incredible job. You never know where your next break will occur.
Free image provided by iStockPhoto.
I did some research on the web and then asked a number of colleagues, past and present clients about what they changed to make their life better.
"The highest compliment you can pay a career coach is they change your life for the better with results beyond what you imagine. This is what Rich did for me through a way of coaching that showed the path, outlined requirements and gave me the tools to do it. I also know he can do it again and do it for anyone. Rich is an invaluable resource." — Rob Petersen, President & Founder at BarnRaisers
Rob - Thank you! You are the best.
"You don't become a failure until you're satisfied with being one." A fortune cookie — I found this in a darn fortune cookie!
How serendipitous life is — when you least expect it — the universe opens a door to enlightenment.
So what does this mean?
- You are not instantly a failure when you fail.
- No one can make you a failure.
- Only you can make yourself a failure.
- It's easy to fail, but then it's also as easy to decide to learn from your failure.
- Failure is a prolonged state of mind.
- Failure influences future behaviors.
Are you going to make mistakes? Sure.
Are you going to fail? Sure.
But we need to understand is HOW we react to that failure. If we let it defeat us — Failure has won.
If we step back and learn from our failure — we move on. We stay strong. We get that much closer to success.
So today — don't focus on your failures, your losses, your dropped balls, your missed chances.
Today I want you to see what CAN happen. What you can do right NOW.
You'll thank me.
I've always said, keep your eyes on people who live at the ends of any spectrum.
- In politics, be wary of the extreme conservative or liberal.
- In sports, be wary of the player who swings for the fences or the one who waits to be walked.
- In school, stand back and watch the student who maxes out on their course load and the one who takes the bare minimum.
In business, don't follow people who continuously upset the apple cart or people who never want to change anything.
My advice? Live in the middle of the spectrum and move towards each end based on reasoned and factual thinking. But don't stay in one place. And don't stay at one end. Usually, people who live at the ends of a spectrum tend to be either fanatical or lazy.
Years ago, (okay . . . MANY years ago), I worked on a project to deliver GIS (mapping) technology to our salesforce. We were in the beta test stage and had to work with huge (250mb!) replaceable hard drives. Each salesperson had to swop hard drives, update their data, and replace the hard drive. Each hard drive was then FedEx'ed back to our office to erase. I came up with the idea of burning CD's with the info on them (back then laptops did not have a CD reader). There was a company who developed an external CD reader to connect to the port on the back of the laptop. Problem solved! We would mail the CD's instead.
You wouldn't believe the push-back I received from our IT department:
- You can't do that.
- It will corrupt the drivers on the laptop.
- It will pull too much power and short circuit the battery.
I can go on forever. So I went out with my own credit card, bought the CD drive, hooked it up to my laptop, and transfered the files in 2-3 minutes. Even when I showed them the process and how fast it worked (and so much more economical and easy), they still didn't want to do it.
They were living on one end of the spectrum. I moved to the other to make things easier for my customers (the salespeople) and much cheaper for the company (hard drives were expensive back then).
Do you find yourself at one end of the spectrum in your career or business? Why? What is it costing you?
POST YOUR QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS BELOW
This week was chock full of incredible conversations with clients, colleagues, partners and prospects! All had wonderful ideas and goals. Kudos! One of the topics that I discussed with many of them was my theory that our world is changing.
Are many of our cherished institutions failing and falling by the wayside? What saplings are beginning to grow out from under the devastation?
How much love is there in your life? You probably love your parents, your spouse/partner, your kids . . . but what else do you love?
Do you love any of your friends? Colleagues? Nature? A beautiful day? A good book?
How about work? Do you love it? Hate it? If work was a long spectrum from Totally Love to Uncomfortably Despise, where would you fall on that line?
Fact: We don't regularly acknowledge the people who make our career machine run. Everyone who works so hard to make us look good to our clients and management. So here's a little tool to help you remember. It's called R E W A R D S.
You hate your job. You hate going to work. You hate your boss. You hate the people you work with. You hate your cubicle. Or it's not good or bad — just boring. You watch the clock and pray for 5 PM to roll around.
Are you fulfilling your destiny? You have it inside you — you know it and I know it — you just have to make a personal decision to bring it out. What are your desires? Your TRUE desires. Not "I want an iPad" or "I want a promotion". What do you REALLY want to do with your life?
I love my Monday posts. I try to come up with some type of energizing idea that will jolt my readers out of their chairs (or beds). I look at Mondays (especially the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday) as a time to refresh, reinvigorate, and renew. Okay, you might have a bit of a hangover, or you ate too many jalapino hot pockets, but you and I know Mondays are crucial to kick off a great week.
Buckle Up — this is going to be a fun ride. Answer these three questions with fast, (1-2 word) specific responses . . . don't just write 'work', write 'client calls', or 'Penske Project'. Don't just write 'business', write 'BNI connecting' or 'new website', or 'product expansion'. I'm looking for you to blurt out items without a lot of introspection. I want your gut responses: