Category: Career Development
Don’t get caught in a rut. Inspiration can be found everywhere. Every day, seek inspiration, and it will help sustain your motivation over the long term. Sources of inspiration can include: blogs, online success stories, forums, friends and family, magazines, books, quotes, music, and photos.
Where can you find inspiration? Set a purpose to seek it regularly, and watch your life and goals become energized!
Post a picture of your goal someplace where you will notice it daily — near your desk or on your refrigerator. Visualize your goal exactly how you think it will look when you’ve achieved it. Focus on that picture to keep you motivated over the long term. Once you lose focus, you lose motivation. Having something visual to keep bringing your focus back to your goal will help keep your motivationstrong.
What picture can you post today to keep a visualization of what achieving your goal will look like? Post it!
No matter how bleak things look, keep hope alive. It is your connection to get your dreams and expectations realized. Never lose your grip on the rope of hope.
What are you allowing to slip through your hands today? Renew your hope!
Good or bad, what you do every day will turn into a habit. Choose habits that will lead you to success. Over time, they will become automatic, not requiring thought, attention or effort.
What habit can you commit to today that will contribute to your success?
This article was reprinted with permission from the author, Captain George Burk, USAF (Ret), Plane crash, burn survivor, motivational speaker, author, writer. Visit his website at www.georgeburk.com or contact Captain Burk at email@example.com.
I’ve heard it said many times that a person’s memory is a direct reflection of the type of life they have lived. If that’s true, and I believe it is, then I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life. Thank you to all here and those passed, who’ve given me many wonderful memories.
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder
Several human resources and etiquette professionals suggest that a handwritten note after an interview is more than a courtesy—the job could depend on it. I believe the same strategy is applicable when you send a handwritten “Thank you” to a conference organizer and host(s) and/or someone who invited you to their home for dinner; they’ve gone “above and beyond” to help or did you a favor, etc. The examples are almost endless.
“As a kid, I lived in a fantasy world. I used to believe that ants could talk. Not once did they say thank you.” Willard Wigan
The job interview you waited on for months is over and you think it went extremely well. But, before the position is offered to you, there’s one more important step you should complete—it’s one that I know is overlooked by the majority of people today: write and mail a handwritten thank you note to the interviewer and anyone else you met at the organization who played a role in your being interviewed.
That may sound obvious to some job applicants—especially younger job applicants—who’ve learned to believe and accept that a simple “Thanks” via a text or email is sufficient. No so, career experts suggest.
We’ve become captives of today’s rapid, convenient and quick–fix technology. Technology of the 21st Century has created the culture of texting and e-mailing the communications normal of today. Even for work, most people accept the notion that this is a valid way to express their gratitude after a job interview, says Colleen Rickenbacher, a Dallas-based etiquette expert. “Absolutely not,” says Rickenbacher, a certified protocol consultant and author of “The Big Book of People Skills Games.” “A nice, short handwritten thank you is appropriate and necessary,” she says.
“Feeling good about your life but not expressing a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ is like wrapping a gift for someone and never giving it to them.” Chip Conley
Before my presentations to the senior Midshipmen at the Capstone Character Excellence Program, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, I place my business cards on the tables in front of each Midshipman’s chair.
After my introduction, I mention my business cards and that I’ll tell them why I did it later. Towards the end of my presentation, I share my strategy: when they attend a seminar or conference, they should walk-in with a hand full of their business cards and leave with handful of business cards from people they meet. Make a note on the card when and where they met and follow-up later with a thank you note. I urge the Midshipmen to make this a part of their overall personal and professional strategy. I know from experience, the majority of people don’t do this today. I also suggest they write a “Thank you” when invited to someone’s home for dinner, when an author gives them a signed copy of his/her book, someone gives or sends them an unexpected a gift or writes them a professional recommendation. These are but a few examples. To me, it’s important to send some type of “Thank you” note be it hand-written, email or as a last resort, a text.
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say “Thank you.” In between, the leader is a servant.” Max de Pree
Life’s ‘funny’ as in serendipitous. You never know when you might meet the person(s) again. One day, they may your boss or sit on a promotion board…you may meet them again at the most unlikely location or time…leave them with a good impression of you. It can’t hurt, it will only help. It only takes a few minutes to write, stamp and mail a thank you note. Most of your cohorts and majority of others don’t do it. It’s a lost art.
Scottsdale, Arizona trainer Ed Scannell says, ”If a prospective employee cannot take the few minutes to handwrite a thank-you note on nice stationary, then he or she may not necessarily be the best candidate when it comes to common courtesy and good customer service.” He says that a handwritten note could be the deciding factor when several people seem equally qualified for the position.
Scannell remembers when he served as the executive vice president of a national professional association in the process of hiring a new meeting planner. Several candidates did well in the interviews. “When we did make our selection, I know for certain that one person who did send us a handwritten thank you note made an even better impression and did get the job,” he said.
“I can count on one hand the number of people who wrote me as thank you letter after having an interview, and I gave almost all of them a job.” Kate Reardon
Some managers, however, don’t automatically dismiss a candidate who sends a thank-you by e-mail. Laurel Strasshofer, human resources professional said, “Texting is too casual. But e-mail is acceptable and appropriate since we do so much work on our computers.” But, she accepts that thank you notes carry more weight because they indicate an employee likely will follow up on the details associated with their job. “A thank you note that’s mailed impresses me and shows they have interest in working here,” she says.
Even if a prospective employee sends a handwritten note and wasn’t hired or the right fit for the position, the extra effort could pay dividends later. “It adds a little something,” she says. “I would remember the candidate if another position came up that was a better fit.”
Several months ago, I read a short article in the “Arizona Republic Newspaper.” The article addressed our society’s growing psychological reliance on communications technology. Several psychologists stated they’re concerned that people are losing the ability to effectively communicate verbally and via the handwritten word because of their reliance on electronic communications. People will lose the ability to communicate face-to-face and how to write the syntax in a sentence that makes sense. The “LMOA” and other abbreviations used in texting are not acceptable! (For safety’s sake, please don’t use your cell phone or text while driving and while refueling your car. The life you save…may be mine!)
“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one today to say ‘Thank you?’” William Arthur Ward
A few tips for thank you notes:
The “3-3-3” policy—Take three minutes to write a note, use three lines to thank the person for their time and send the note within three days.
The look—Notes should be professional looking, fold-over note/cards in a solid color with matching envelopes. Nothing loud or “cutesy.” I developed a blue grey card and blue fonts that match my business card in color. On the card, my name is across the top, the quote on my business card is under my name and at the bottom of the card are my toll free and cell phone numbers and my web site.
The writing—Write the note on the inside of the card. I use the front of the card and sometimes continue on the back. If you don’t have neat, legible cursive, it’s okay to print. This gets tricky for me. My cursive (my scrawl) often times requires interpretation and so does my print. My one functional hand doesn’t always respond well. But…I write my notes anyhow.
Example: “Thank you so much for inviting me to interview for your open account specialist position. I truly appreciate the time you took to talk with me about this opportunity and the company. I enjoyed learning more about your work group and how I might fit into the team. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any follow-up questions you might have. I hope to talk with you again soon.”
The envelope—Color contrast it with the note paper. Double and triple check all spelling, titles and the address. I have a pre-made stamp with my/our name, address and city, state and zip code.
“Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive me (us) if I (we) don’t do not love it enough.” Garrison Keillor
One final note: I over the past 45 years, I’ve tried to write a thank you note to the many who’ve helped me on my journey and to my hosts, those who’ve read my books, interviewed me, published my articles and others who’ve been gracious, kind and thoughtful. Thank you to my hosts who’ve invited me to speak at various venues. Thank you to those who’ve invited me into their lives, homes, and for their friendship. Each of you has helped me realize my purpose.
The following article was reprinted with permission from the author, Captain George Burk, USAF (Ret), Plane crash, burn survivor, motivational speaker, author, writer. Visit his website at www.georgeburk.com or contact Captain Burk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Allen, a well-known (at least to many of my generation in the 1950’s and 60’s) television host, writer and musician passed away several years ago. His humor, writings and music will be missed by many people around the world. In many ways, he was a TV pioneer. His invention of the TV talk show had its roots in what seemed like certain failure. It was the early 1950’s and TV was still in its infancy. Many of you “older folks” like me probably remember the black and white Dumont Television. I can still hear him yelling, “smock, smock,” and Don Knotts replying in a quick, high, pitched voice “No!” when asked by Allen if he was “nervous” on the “Man on the Street” segment.
In 1947, at the age of 26, Steve Allen was out of work after his coast-to-coast comedy radio show was canceled. Reluctantly, he took the only job offer he had at the time: as a disc jockey at a Los Angeles radio station. A few months later, he started to tinker with the format. Within two years, he changed the series into a popular one-hour comedy talk-show.
That program led to a variety-talk show on the CBS television network from 1950 to 1952 and then a late-night talk show on NBC’s flagship station in New York. That show became so popular that NBC sought a counterpart to its “Today Show,” placed Allen on the network, renamed the show “Tonight” and let him create the format. The rest, as they say, is history. Johnny Carson took over from Allen and hosted the show for almost 30 years (“And now, heeeere’s Johnny!”).
Steve Allen’s four year stint as host of the “Tonight Show” from 1953-1957 became the spring board for his fifty year career built on perseverance and ingenuity. Allen’s secret was he “didn’t waste time,” and what he was doing gave him so much pleasure that there wasn’t any time for something called a “weekend.”
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to meet a number of people — a few I met while a patient in the burn unit –who overcame the severest type of injuries any human can experience. After their release from the hospital, they didn’t choose the path with the least resistance because they didn’t want to think or act like a victim. They sought to forge their own path in life. Adversity was seen as a “gift” to help them grow and improve; a temporary road block on their life’s journey. For example, a man who overcame a deformity and taught himself to dance; an artist who learned to paint after she lost her vision; a man who lost his face in a plane crash in Vietnam and started a burn camp for children several years after his release from the hospital. There are literally thousands of other examples of personal courage, compassion, humility and perseverance.
I met Steve Allen. It was circa 1975 on a Continental Airlines flight from Kansas City, MO to Wichita, KS. I sat next to him for the 45 minute flight. I didn’t intrude on his privacy because he was working on some papers and reading. But I did take a moment to share how much I enjoyed his television shows. I ended my brief conversation with “Smock, smock.”
He smiled and thanked me.
Steve Allen – comedian, author, lyricist, composer, jazz pianist and playwright – built his career on several principles and so did many of my friends. Here are a few of them:
When dealt a lemon, get creative (make lemonade).
The star of a dozen TV series, Steve Allen never let a cancellation notice faze him. When his prime-time NBC variety series was given the “ax” in June 1960 after four years, he came back the next year on another network. He never stopped his creativity and always found ways to put to use the talents he had at his disposal. Many of the people I know and have met don’t spend a lot of time whining; they choose “winning” and concentrate on what they have, not what they don’t. Improvise; find a way. When the “tree of life” is filled with lemons, pick a few lemons and make lemonade. Like much of life, it’s a choice!
“I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade…And try to find somebody whose life has given them Vodka and have a party.” Ron White
The first time you choose to make ‘lemonade’ is a challenge. How ‘large’ is the ‘lemon?’ You need help to ‘squeeze’ the ‘lemon?’ What about the ‘seeds?’ How much ‘raw sugar’ to add to ‘sweeten’ it? The second time you make ‘lemonade’ and each time thereafter, you know the ‘ingredients’ and how much of each to use; the ’lemonade’ becomes ‘sweeter’ easier to ‘make.’
“Never stop learning, growing, or giving up. One hand is better than none!”
Get out of your own way.
Allen always cautioned people that at the moment of creativity, I call it an “Epiphany”, don’t second guess yourself. “The editing, the revision, the improvement can come at a later point, but at the moment your original idea is flowing, just let it go. In other words, get out of your own way,” he said. The approach works. He wrote 53 books, six musicals, four plays and 52 record albums. Key: Have a concept of what you want to do, believe in yourself and then begin to pursue your idea(s) and dream(s). You can always find “99 excuses” not to do something; all you need only one reason to act. Don’t procrastinate – create.
“One may understand the cosmos but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.” G.K. Chesterton
Don’t get bound by limitations (yours and others’).
Steve Allen wrote more than 7,200 songs yet he couldn’t read a note of music. The 1985 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records lists Allen as the “most prolific composer of modern times.” His hits—-including “This Could Be the Start of Something Big” and “Picnic” have been performed by more than 80 artists, including Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald and Lionel Hampton. Other examples include people who ski, swim and compete in marathons. They never let their “dis-ability” become a “lie-ability,” or “can’t -ability.”
“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitations. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly.” Richard Bach
Keep going, no matter what. As an author, Allen received more than his share of rejection slips as has many other authors. Yet, “just about everything I write does seem eventually to get published,” he said. One of his tricks was variety. He’s written everything from murder mysteries to books on comedy and religion. Obstacles can’t be seen as stop signs but as detours; a gift that’s telling you maybe there’s a better way of doing things. You’ll experience token naysayers who may try to discourage you from pursuing an idea; perhaps they have a hidden agenda — they didn’t think of it first —or try to disparage you or your idea in front of others. Let them deal with their deep-seated insecurities and low self-esteem.
You: Have a dream, believe in yourself, know what you want to do, and don’t let anything or anyone deter you from accomplishing it. To paraphrase William Shakespeare, “Know thyself and to thine own self be true!”
“Don’t watch the clock. Keep going.” Sam Levinson
Live up to your expectations – not down to others’.
To think small never got anyone anywhere. Remember, Michaelangelo didn’t paint the “Sistine Floor” and Orville and Wilbur Wright knew that they would find a way to make an airplane fly. How many other stories have you heard about people who kept trying and trying until they succeeded—from proving the world wasn’t flat, to finding cures for malaria, chicken-pox, typhoid and polio; the peanut and its many uses, electricity, the light bulb, telephone, automobile, space flight and the computer chip. Examples are almost endless.
“Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performances. Raise your performance to meet your expectations.” Ralph Marston
Our brain is a computer too; instead of zeros and ones, it uses electrical impulses. But to be effective any computer must be programmed with good data. If you input garbage, you get garbage out (GIGO). If you “program” your mind (computer) with positive thoughts and good information, positive things will happen. Establishing high expectations (programming the computer) is an important first step.
Benchmark. You’ve undoubtedly heard this many times before, but it bears repeating. It’s when you identify precisely what you want to improve; determine who does it the best and then study them. The term “benchmark” is usually applied to organizations and it’s an important tool to help improve a specific business process. The principle has far-reaching applications for personal improvement, as well.
To be really effective, (you’re really committed to change, right?) the benchmark principles must be applied sequentially; that is, inside – out; personally, then outside in, professionally. Regardless of what it is you want to improve, to make the commitment to change personally is the first and most important step. That’s why many 12 Step Programs begin with the person acknowledging publicly that they have a problem and…they can’t accomplish their goal(s) without Divine intervention. Without this important first step, true healing and meaningful change can’t begin.
If you are truly committed to becoming a better speaker, writer, leader, boss, husband, father — human being, the first step in your journey starts with the admission that you want to change. The second step is to determine who does what you want to improve the best and then study them. Watch them, read about them, ask people for positive, constructive feedback, accept the feedback as a gift….and then use it! If you want to change and improve bad enough, you’ll find a way.
We’re not here very long –the blink of an eye in cosmic time – and we can choose to make this web called “life” stronger by right actions and right words or weaker by negative thoughts and negative words. We can build up or tear down; make those around us feel like heroes or goats. The next time you’re shaving, brushing your teeth, or putting on your make-up, take a moment and look in the mirror. Who do you really see? What’s that “inner voice” say to you…and us?
Remember that life (and success) is a marathon, not a sprint. Never give up. And laugh often.
Humor will get you through just about anything. Believe me!!
“A sense of humor…is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.” Hugh Sidey
Ahhhhh the bucket list! I’ve been thinking about mine again lately. The 2007 movie inspired many of us with adventurous spirits to do more. So grateful to be living my bucket list adventure today! Sometimes the best thing you can do for your career development is to do something different.
You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. – Stephen King
If you haven’t made a bucket list, you’re missing an easy opportunity to live a more fulfilled life. A bucket list defines where you want to spend your resources before other non-essential things swallow them up. We all have a limited number of resources (and an expiration date), but few of us live like we do.
How to Create a Bucket List
- Choose different types of activities that enhance your primary areas of life. For optimal life balance, we all have six primary areas to attend to: physical wellness, emotional wellness, spirituality, relationships, finances and careers. You might include a few physical challenges, like hiking a mountain trail. Or plan a few adventures with your family or friends, like indoor skydiving (did that, highly recommend!). It might be fun to include a few intellectual and travel items that will enhance your career development. Maybe you’ve even thought about earning extra money by turning a hobby into a business.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many items to check off. Your list is not set in stone, it can change over time, but always prioritize your list. Start with a “top 10” list. The top items on your list will be more meaningful to you than all of the rest of the list combined. Assuming it will take years to check off all the items, your list will change. You’re changing, so it’s only reasonable to expect your list to change too.
- Pick one thing that you can do this weekend. It might be buying tickets to see your favorite musician in concert or signing up for guitar lessons. Give yourself a feeling of accomplishment right off the bat. Some of the best things can be simple and easy. For example, traveling by car for a day trip adventure is easier than traveling to another country. Have bucket list items that range in difficulty from simple to difficult.
- Set goals that support items that will be challenging to achieve on your bucket list. If you want to live in Sonoma, California when you retire, you might set some financial goals and sign up for a wine tasting class. An easy first step is just buying a calendar with photos of Sonoma and hanging it by your desk so you can see it every day and keep the dream alive. Remember to review your goals regularly and remind yourself why you’re pursuing them.
Every day you’re writing a page of the story of your life, make it a good one!
Do you have a bucket list? Inspire others by sharing what you’ve checked off!