Category: Career Development Tips
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 email@example.com.
There are times when all of us find it difficult to make a decision. I know I have! Sometimes, the best decision is the one we didn’t make and time and outcome(s) showed we were correct. There are legitimate reasons to not make a decision. Some of these reasons have to do with time, resources, lack of adequate information and or our desire and the will to take some type of action.
That said, psychologist Susan Jeffries tells a story that shows the inherent risk involved when people won’t or, choose not to, make a decision.
Once upon a time, she says, there was a donkey that stumbled upon two bales of hay. Both looked good and had a pleasing, pastoral bouquet. The donkey stood before the hay for hours, trying to pick which one the donkey would consume.
In the meantime, the donkey grew hungrier. Afraid he’d miss out on the best pile of greens, he did nothing. Just like the donkey, when people fail to choose, they get stuck.
“The irony of course, is that by not choosing, we are choosing—to starve,” Jeffries said. “We are choosing to deprive ourselves of what makes life a delicious feast.”
Jeffers, author of “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” explains why people find it difficult to make a decision. “Our need to be perfect and our need to control the outcome of events work together to keep us petrified when we think about making a change or attempting a new challenge,” she said. “The inability or unwillingness to make a decision leads to a real or imagined loss of self-esteem and self-worth, a lack of progress and growth and ultimately mediocrity.” So…lead, follow or get the ‘heck’ out of the way.
“Middleness is the very enemy of the bold.”
Charles Krauthammer, writer
To break that paradigm, Jeffers recommends turning away from no-win thinking and changing to a no-lose way of thinking.
Jeffers suggests to affirm: “I can’t lose—regardless of the outcomes of my decision.” As I’ve said many times before, learn to fill yourself with positive affirmations. Change your internal script from negative thinking to a more positive view— “I can’t” to “I will.” “I’m not a good speaker” to, “I will become a great speaker.” The examples are personal and professional and are endless.
Look at the world as a great place for opportunity and growth, and you will look forward to the opportunities for learning and growing that either path you choose will give you. Think of your glass of life as being half-full, not half-empty.
“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”
Helen Keller, writer
Even some of life’s most stressful events and we all have them —job loss, financial challenges, divorce, non-life threatening illness or worse—being burned and severely injured, for instance—have a way of leveling the playing field and giving us plenty of material that can provide us with internal fuel later, when we step-out to accomplish our next dream (vision) and goal. This can occur in the form of more contacts that expand our network or an important personal or business lesson.
“Traditionally, opportunities in life are thought of as relating to money, status and the visible signs of ‘success,’” she said. “Think of opportunities in a completely different light.” Through my personal life experiences, I’ve learned there’s nothing worse than an amputated spirit and without hope, one’s success and survival is significantly diminished if not lost.
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss in life is what lies inside us while we live.”
Norman Cousins, writer
Now, after you’ve refined and tweaked your thinking, begin to use the doldrums-busting steps below:
Do your homework. Securing relevant information is an important first step of the decision-making process and can keep you moving forward. “Don’t be afraid to approach the specific people involved relative to the decision to be made,” Jeffers said. Acknowledge what you don’t know. Seek out those who can help you learn. Enhance the positives and make the negatives disappear or at least, less apparent.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santana, philosopher
Set your priorities. Start by learning and focusing on the here and now. The issues that drive you today may well be a different color or originate from a different source than those you had last year. Goals are dynamic and, if developed properly, will change as you make progress. “You have to keep reassessing them,” Jeffers said.
“You only get back what you expect, and if you start low you’ll end low.”
Colin Powell, general and secretary of state
Listen to your gut speak. Quite often, your intuition, your sub-conscious mind provides messages as to what choice is best to make at a specific time. There have been many times in my life when my gut instinct
told me the choice I wanted to make was the right one. But, for any number of reasons, I rationalized that choice away and made another choice. Later, to my dismay, I discovered that my first, intuitive choice would have been the best one for me. What that taught me is to trust my intuition, my “gut” more often and go with my first choice and then not look over my shoulder.
“Don’t look over your shoulder. Someone may be gaining.”
Satchel Paige, professional baseball player
Don’t worry. Be happy. Leave the gnashing of teeth and the wailing about how life’s unfair, the stomping of feet and the verbal and non-verbal “woe is me” to others. Learn to trust in your ability to handle whatever life happens to throw your way. When life gives you a lemon, you have a choice. You can become a sourpuss or you can make lemonade. Self-made lemonade tastes great!!
“It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and money have both failed.”
Kim Hubbard, humorist
Begin to think as if you’re a lifetime student (which we are) at a college or university. Call it the “University of Life,” where every day’s an adventure and every meal’s a banquet. The University of Life is where you eagerly anticipate the new people you’ll meet, the challenges you’ll face and how those challenges will pull you—or drag you—to change into the person you really want and can become. Each experience, whether positive or negative, is a valuable learning tool, each are “Teachable Moments.”
“If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.”
Tom Peters, business coach
The difference between a winner and a whiner is their attitude and a two letters. How well do you ‘spell’? EH?
Regardless of where you work or what your title is, everyone must find ways to meet their individual goals and create a path to get there. Is it easy to move up at your organization? Or will you need to weave around? Make it a good and honorable journey, contribute where ever you can, and know when you get to the top, you earned the view.
If you arrived at work today and was immediately met with a project that you put off last week, and the week before, and the week before … how do you begin? Visualize the desired outcome and how great it will feel to have accomplished the work. Then identify one small step you can take today. Take the step and don’t obsess over whether it was perfect or not. Then the next day, take another. Pretty soon you will have established a rhythm and the momentum will shift toward completion.
Bonnie Ware, the author of The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying, wrote in a Huffington Post blog:
“Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again … life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”
If confidence doesn’t come easy to you, here are 3 tips:
- Correct your posture. Displaying confident posture will make you look and feel more confident. Roll those shoulders back and elongate the spine.
- Determine to do your best, and know that is enough. I promise other people aren’t evaluating every error and misstep you make. (Well, unless they are jealous of your confidence … and in that case, who cares?)
- Know your stuff. This is probably the best advice for building confidence. If you are speaking about a topic, do your homework and know the material. If you are meeting with someone, prepare. If you are trying something new, study up.
If you want to achieve success, you must believe you are worthy and go for it!
Our culture celebrates people who make little to no meaningful contributions to others. When we make heroes of people who can act, play a sport, or sing we are placing value on activities they perform well. Do the people you honor have the personal qualities you’d like to emulate in business and life? Think of those who have made a direct impact on your life. These people are likely those you see every week, who have overcome the odds to be successful. They are the people who will walk with you during tough times. Do one thing to honor your hero today!
“To get it done right, I do it all myself,” said no great leader … ever. Don’t be a martyr – work smarter.
It doesn’t matter who you are, your time is limited, and your life is finite. Knowing this, if you made a list today of things you would not want to leave undone, what items would be on the list? And what has blocked you from checking these items off? If you are like most people, you wait to act. You wait until something kicks you in the butt and reminds you that maybe you are not living life on your own terms. Maybe you’re living by someone else’s terms … someone you don’t even like.
Identify what’s important (versus what doesn’t really matter). Write your list. Build your legacy. Don’t leave what you’re meant to do here undone.
Do you ever look at social media and see so many people doing so many cool things that you wonder if you are falling behind? It’s not social media’s fault. Social media wasn’t designed to let us know whether or not we measure up. It’s our fault because feelings like that arise when we compare our insides to someone else’s outsides.
We have no idea how long it takes for a person to get to where they are. Let’s not act like it was dumb luck or unearned effort when someone succeeds. Although another person’s success can feel like a reminder of personal shortcomings, jealous feelings can be proactive when we recognize them and allow them to reveal qualities within ourselves we can improve upon. The real question is:
Are you willing to make the sacrifice?
We do we settle for the ordinary? Complacency is a choice. Letting people off the hook who let us down gives them permission to do it again. Not learning something new to qualify for a better position at work keeps us stuck in dead-end jobs. Avoiding exercise and good food keeps energy low and sets us up for health problems.
Look at the cost-benefit analysis of decisions made during this thing called “life” in the areas of career, health, finances and relationships. What are your decisions costing you today? Are you ready to risk the usual to reach the extraordinary?
Have you ever had a boss that you needed to fire?
A boss that is:
- hurting your company,
- damaging peoples’ careers, and
- miserable to work for.
I was making a list of the great leaders and mentors that I’ve had and that got me to think of the few really bad people that I’ve worked for.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t fire the bad ones.
In one case, I was in the military. In the military, you have no choice of who you work for. I know that movies make fragging (killing your boss) seem like an option in combat but I never considered that as an option. (Although, my Dad did during WWII. His wing commander was getting multiple pilots killed by bad calls. But he was lucky and didn’t have to choose between his commander and his fellow pilots. The Germans shot him down and the problem went away … although the bad boss survived).
In the second case, the boss was a miserable soul. His only thought was getting himself ahead – he wanted to be a VP (which he eventually accomplished). Luckily, he “traded” me away (think baseball trades) for someone else to advance his agenda. It was great getting out from under his “leadership.”
I guess what really makes these two bad bosses seem even worse are the great leaders that I’ve worked for and known.
Therefore, here is my advice…
If you don’t have a great boss at a great company, fire your boss.
How do you do that?
Find a great boss at a great company that wants you. Get yourself traded.
The other possibility is to make YOU the boss by starting your own company. This has it’s own rewards and problems. (For example, you may not feel comfortable living without the safety net of a big corporation.)
Or you could just wait. (This might be a miserable existence waiting for someone to either fire, transfer, or promote your boss,)
But I’d suggest NOT waiting.
Life is too short to live with a miserable boss.
And for those living under a bad boss, here’s a song for you …
Research indicates that the happiest people are the busiest. What’s the key to wanting to stay busy? Find justification for being busy; otherwise, we tend to remain idle. Learn more.
True story! “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” Other people do not really think about what you need. Whether it’s a boss, co-worker, spouse or friend, if you feel frustrated, overwhelmed or resentful of the relationship it is usually because you are not asking enough of the relationship. People are not mind readers, and they miss subtle cues.
How can you practice courage? Be specific about what your unmet expectations are, “Would you please do x by y?” If you are allowing others to encroach on your personal boundaries, you are complicit in it. Set boundaries — and be clear about what you can’t tolerate. “When you x, I feel y.” Don’t try to be all things to all people. “I’m sorry, I’m not available to help you with x today.”
No need to act in an aggressive or entitled way to get what you want. Courage is a manner of conveying that you know your worth, and while you may not always get what you asked for, you will command more respect than if you had not been bold enough to make your request.
Every day you have the opportunity to be a better you. This doesn’t mean huge changes all at once. Small changes over time guarantees steady personal growth. These changes include dropping excuses and living up to mistakes, letting go of anger, listening to others (really listening), practicing kindness and being open to change. Believe in yourself and know that whatever situation you are in, you have life-changing growth potential.
“We are going to find out who is to blame because that is the frustrating part about health and safety accidents such as this. When we go back, when we read the report, we find out each and every time that it was preventable. That’s why we need to learn from this,” Kevin Flynn, Ontario’s labour minister, told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
That’s a quote from CP 24, Toronto’s Breaking News. See the story and watch the video interview about the accident here:
Is there a lesson to be learned here?
Interestingly, the “contractor” performing the work in this accident was a branch of the Ontario government.
Motivate yourself to seek out people who will give you the right advice. It takes extra effort because they may not be the people who surround you. Two rules of thumb:
1. Carefully evaluate advice from someone who doesn’t have to live with the possible consequences.
2. Think seriously about the advice from someone who you wouldn’t trade places with on the matter.
TapRooT® offers so much for your career development! From training to root cause tips to motivational articles … we are committed to bringing value to your work week.
If you are not already a subscriber, subscribe to our Tuesday eNewsletter and don’t miss a thing!
Contact Barb at firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe today to get each week’s news delivered in one convenient eNewsletter.
Do you have a habit of committing to things, but not finishing them? While getting started is the first step to something great, many of us get stuck on the second step … thinking but not doing. Seldom do we consider the challenges that were not visible when we first started toward a goal. However, a goal without commitment will never be reached unless you take action to overcome those challenges.
Where have you dropped your commitment? What one action can you take today to pick it up?
What do you think when you hear “so tell me about yourself!” in an interview? Do you start to panic? Do you wonder how much personal information to give? Do you wonder if the interviewer even took the time to prepare for the interview (after all, you sent him your resume that tells everything about your experience).
When an interviewer asks that question, he is often using it as an ice-breaker to find out if you will fit into the culture and perform well on-the-spot. Here is how to use this question to your advantage.
- Take the opportunity. While you may feel awkward talking about yourself, it’s really a golden opportunity. Think of it as an invitation to tell your potential employer what you want them to know about you and what makes you unique.
- Steer toward your personal strengths. Instead of waiting to see what the interviewer will do, you can steer the discussion toward your strengths and concerns. A good opening will prompt the interviewer to ask follow-up questions about areas where you shine.
- Determine your fit. Remember that you’re evaluating the company while they’re screening you. Do you sense a connection with the interviewer, especially if they’ll be your supervisor? Are they listening attentively or shuffling papers? Your initial rapport may suggest what your working relationship will be lik
- Tell stories. You’re more than a list of keywords. Share interesting anecdotes that will make the interviewer remember you in a positive light.
- Create interest. Your self-description is like a movie trailer or the first chapter of a novel. Instead of trying to cram in your whole life story, make the interviewer want to hear more.
Walk into your next job interview ready and eager to talk about yourself and why you’re an outstanding candidate for the position. Focusing on the intersection between your strengths and the interviewer’s needs will help you to find a job you’ll love.