Category: Career Development Tips
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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