Careers, Work Strategies, Working Professionals

Spin your Story (Determine Your Own Destiny)

I just read the McKinsey article about huge turnover in the labor market, referred to as the “Great Attrition.” Companies are facing a conundrum across industries. The researchers at McKinsey layout a simple challenge to businesses: be part of the continued disenfranchisement of employees or become known as a “Great Attractor”, an organization that is successfully recruiting top talent over the next 12 months.  

The past 18 months of COVID Pandemic panic was tough on a lot of businesses (including mine) but thankfully since January 2021 businesses in several industries came booming back. This is great news for me as a recruiter and for the talented candidates that I place with client companies.  

The McKinsey challenge to organizations forces employers to confront the disconnect between their mindset (transactional) and the mindset of employees (relational). For HR professionals, career coaches, and recruiters, this is not exactly breaking news – but the impacts of worker discontentment are glaring post-pandemic. I’ve been watching a rise in burnout and a shift among employees to being more introspective about what really matters.   It prompted me to ask a follow-on question: 

What type of story will you tell to your employees and the talent you hire in 2021-22?

LISTEN, LEARN, AND UNDERSTAND

The first step in  “romancing a candidate” is a mindset.  I coach my clients to highlight the company’s strengths that matter to candidates (e.g. focus on the relational!) 

The current job market favors the candidates and for companies to attract talent, the costs are high. As a recruiter, for example, the talented people that I identify are sometimes not active job searchers.  This means they were not considering a change until presented with an opportunity. Attracting these candidates requires companies to think more about what makes their organizations wonderful places for people to work. 

The McKinsey authors suggest that companies will continue to lose workers and struggle to attract new talent in the “Great Attrition” until they shift toward a relational mindset; and get focused on understanding the motivations and needs of their people. As companies seek to stabilize following the pandemic, workers are reassessing their lives and thinking even more about the mission/ethics of a company, or about the location and the willingness of their employers to be flexible.

Businesses that want to become “great attractors” would be wise to understand what values are important for people who can make their companies succeed. 

WHAT MATTERS MOST

Some companies measure success by shareholder earnings. Others measure it through innovation, low staff turnover, and career satisfaction. Lowering costs and boosting higher profits is a business priority agreed upon across industries by all.  Determining how to get there, however, differs by company, the attitudes of leaders, and the subsequent culture that emerges. 

Universities and college administrators have begun to realize that by not accounting for job market needs in curriculum planning, they fail to prepare students with employable skills. Businesses can take a similar approach and prepare workers for greater success with professional development opportunities that not only advance their careers internally/externally but provide a better-trained workforce for the organization. 

Educational and business leaders can take the same page from the proverbial book to train individuals and prepare them with in-demand skills that fit market needs.

Information is powerful and knowing what forces motivate workers is key to becoming a successful “attractor.”

3 REASONS WHY EMPLOYEES MOVE ON

Based on the article and other studies in work/labor research that pre-date the pandemic, these factors have been identified as the missing components from corporate cultures. Simply put…

“The top three factors employees cited as reasons for quitting were that they didn’t feel valued by their organizations (54 percent) or their managers (52 percent) or because they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work (51 percent).” (McKinsey, 2021) 

The impact of the COVID pandemic was especially hard for working families with young children. The need for flexibility, already a growing priority, became critical for parents as they shifted to home offices and homeschooling, simultaneously. A gaggle of 20+ kids ran around my neighborhood for months, as parents were challenged trying to turn picnic tables into school desks. Now as they resume commutes into the office, many are considering the opportunity cost in a relational way. 

Employers must listen to hear what employees value and remain supportive as needs evolve.  Employees who feel valued stay longer.  Retention not only saves money over time by reducing HR costs but protects institutional knowledge.  As a long-time recruiter, these were facts I often shared with hiring managers when they were resistant to investing in the right hires and the importance of a culture shift to focus on the relational needs of employees. 

Company leadership has the power to create a culture that is responsive to employees and good for business.   

RETROSPECTIVE 

Consultants can provide an evaluation and give feedback to companies about specific strengths and weaknesses. Coaches for executive teams are also great resources for helping to kickstart a shift in an organization’s culture.  

A teacher I had used the phrase: “don’t assume … it makes an ass out of you and me.” Find out from the people on your teams how they feel and what matters. The McKinsey article has a great list of questions to ask!

Discuss with your HR team the best benefits that have an authentic value to employees – find out what’s changed and what hasn’t. My takeaway for you … it was never all about the money!

Here are some of the *relational benefits* that I suggest: 

Careers, Communication, Networking, Work Strategies, Working Professionals

Informational Interviews in Action – August 2021

INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS & NETWORKS

Informational interviews are a wonderful opportunity to learn about companies and get to know the people that you might like to work with. Pre-job interview conversations can have a huge impact on your journey, and you’ll want to make a first impression that counts! These seemly in-formal chats are strategic too, and in the blog below I share an example of how effective informational interviews can be. 

OK! I know you’re asking what an “informational interview” is – so first, a little background, and then get ready to jump right in.

WHAT IS AN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW? 

This is not a job interview because you are not asking for a job. This is an opportunity to learn more about a person, the organization that they work in, and a field or industry of interest. Do your homework before you reach out, and be prepared to share your “Elevator Pitch” on what you bring to the table.

Note: An informational interview is a tool to build and nurture your network.


WHAT IS A NETWORK? 

A network is a circle of people you know, starting with your family and friends, expanding to colleagues/alumni. The (key) people you are referred to or locate through research, are included in your outer circle of network contacts. For more details, here’s an earlier blog on how to build networks.

Note: Track your network and manage it as a living document that continues to expand with each new connection you make.

WHY DO I NEED A NETWORK? 

It’s a great idea to nurture a professional network from the very beginning of your career. In this way, you will have guidance, insights, and opportunities that will organically come your way. Networks are meant to be built and sustained for a lifetime, it’s never too early to start identifying and nurturing those meaningful relationships.

Strong network connections enable a broader worldview. A diverse group(s) of connections can expose you to new ideas and trends across fields of study or industry. Take time to develop new contacts into meaningful relationships and create space for opportunities that align with your interests to come your way.

Even daily business tasks, like responding to a proposal for work or building a PPT presentation, add depth and breadth to your professional expertise and build your visibility/brand. Every interaction you have is a chance to show your value, build your reputation, and bolster your network.

Note: It’s never too late to start building a network and as with all good things, relationships take effort.

READY, SET, RESEARCH! 

Coaching clients over the years, I’ve noticed that some are very resistant to informational interviews. Some have expressed that they feel they are bothering people or not interviewing for real jobs. Don’t believe me? Well, my clients have shared their results, and based on their experiences (meeting people and finding a great professional opportunity) networking does work!

Building a professional network is a numbers game – and informational interviews are a great critical success factor. Through a consistent effort to engage new contacts, you get a lot of interview practice. The more practice you get, the better you get at pitching your value, and eventually, the odds are in your favor. It’s not luck so much as the dedicated effort that will reward you with an offer (or a few). Use the job tracking sheet here or create your own. Remember you are building something that you will come back to and add to regularly.

On average, it takes 3-6 months of networking to connect with the right people and be hired.

JUST THE FACTS

The real-world data points below are an example of how numbers work to get results on your job hunt. Depending on how you design your job search, the results will vary, but the ratios are accurate. 

• 90 renewed (or new contacts) through LinkedIn, email, and other social channels
• 40 informational interviews
• 8 formal job interviews
• 4 positions tailor-made
• 5 offers received
• Evaluation of roles, alignment with priorities, and negotiation of the compensation package

Remember: the more senior the role the longer a job search can take. And the more activities generated, the faster the process develops. How many people can you speak with per week? 1 or more? Set clear GOALS and take the actions to make them happen.

Job and network research should be balanced to suit your work style – and keep track of information so you can see results! Continue to nurture your network after you build it. Keep in touch with new connections and assist if you are asked to, and always be genuine to individuals that helped you along the way.

And there you have it …. Informational interviews in action!

Careers, Communication, Jobs, Uncategorized, Work Strategies, Working Professionals

Let’s Talk About Resilience —

Years ago, a client told me that if companies don’t evolve they will go extinct just like the dinosaurs. At the time I thought it was a much better way to explain restructuring within organizations or what is now called intrapreneurship when a company is responsive to the market . I understand that all species must adapt or, through evolution, will disappear.

Fast forward to a couple years ago when I was speaking on a panel at Georgetown Biomedical Graduate School with a panel of deans and administrators. The topic was geared to make educators think about their role in the economic ecosystem. We were asked to discuss how to better prepare students for the workplace. It brought the conversation around to what is often called career pathways, highlighting adaptation to changing economies as critical in the quest to stay relevant. Relevance, as it turns out, goes hand in hand with becoming resilient.

One of my favorite researchers and authors, Brené Brown shared in her book “Rising Leaders” that a key trait of people who are resilient is emotional intelligence (EQ). Yup! It’s worth repeating, emotional intelligence.  In her interview with Abby Wambach, US Women’s National Soccer Player star, she shared insights from her book, “Wolfpack” that stress the importance of change, “Old ways of thinking will never help us build a new world. Out with the Old. In with the New.”

“It’s all about a tolerance for discomfort”, Brené shares and sums it up:”Resilience is more available to people curious about their own line of thinking and behaving,”

Here I would like to delve into what makes people resilient; and focus-in on actions you can take to fortify resilience in your career journey, continuously and enjoyably.

The Definition of Resilience is: 

re·sil·ience /rəˈzilyəns/ (Oxford) noun

    1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; “the often remarkable resilience of … institutions
    2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity, “nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience.”

SET THE STAGE

There are arguments over nature versus nurture all the time. Is someone born with existing traits or skills, or does the environment shape and influence them? As we have learned from researchers, it’s never just one thing which delivers us to any particular point in our lives: but rather, a conglomeration of characteristics, experiences and our environment.

As a recruiter, career coach and parent/partner, I believe we have the ability to take inventory of who we are and where we are. We can recalibrate to make healthy decisions that have a holistic impact on the outcome of lives.

Let’s focus on traits we have – or tools we can learn – to empower a rewarding life journey.

The Pandemic has pushed the limit of almost every imaginable boundary – for everyone.  We realized that things we thought were important, might not be. Companies that thought remote work or telecommuting would destabilize them, have experienced a smooth transition with a remote workforce and improved productivity – and sometimes happier employees.  Technology tools for collaboration, CRM and workstream management already existed, and others are being created. Zoom is efficient and effective, but also exhausting. Personally, I found boundary setting to be an important tactic to avoid burnout as the days/weeks began to blur into each other. Even without a commute, the workday has grown longer for professionals and parents alike. In the midst of juggling work alongside personal lives, children and homeschooling, a new context for “resilience” has begun to emerge.

We know that emotional IQ allows us to be reflective and more self-aware, and that it is a first step to improve the dexterity we have in adapting to change. EQ is a great trait that helps us drive and become confident decision makers, instead of passengers affected by the course of time and life.

SELF REFLECTION- TAKING INVENTORY

A self-reflective audit of your career roadmap – skills, goals and strategy – is a technique available at any point on the journey. My kids, at different points in their lives, have approached me with this philosophical conversation starter: “what if you don’t know what you want to be or where you want to go?

In creating this feedback loop, you consider the things you are good at doing, what kinds of jobs are available in the world right now, and in the future; and then we make a decision about which skill areas to develop. Occasionally when you try out a new strategy, you learn that your skills don’t match up the way you thought they would for your goals. In that case you can go back to an EQ-based audit of your profession and adapt your toolkit to meet those needs.

Education and professional training are consistently in development – not just for the teachers or medical professionals who need to meet recertification requirements each year. We should all push ourselves (and encourage others) to be continuous learners. In coaching sessions with clients, we take inventory and create a mission statement or pitch to clarify what an individual is good at doing and where they would like to head. We discuss the skillset needed and how to apply a strengths-based strategy for success. Informational Interviews are a great way to test existing capabilities in the professional arena – and get feedback on options that could improve your professional profile.

In times of discomfort, we must lean into the suck, bounce back, regroup and adapt to build a resilient career.

ACCOUNTABILITY-GOAL SETTING

A main source of joy for me in the past year has been cooking.  Cooking goes with eating and this, combined with months of quarantine, has found its way to my hips, belly and bottom. I’m a firm believer in modifying my behavior and I prefer to know why I’m doing something – rather than doing it because I was told so. For this reason, I started the behavior modification program, NOOM,  on Feb 13th. There is science, there is a plan, there is action and accountability. The steps and the process are important to me and should be important to any person or organization wanting to achieve a major objective.

In NOOM, I’m asked to write my goals down and share them with my cohort. This semi-public broadcasting of my objectives is not always comfortable, but as an accountability tool it exponentially boosts my chances of achieving them. The format you use to share doesn’t matter – some members paste pictures into a collage for motivation, others create lists of New Year’s resolutions.  I prefer to journal, so I have something I can look back on, reminding me of where I was and where I wanted to go or what I wanted to change.

Goals that you can form habits around will increase the chance of getting sustainable results. People with a high EQ pause periodically for a mind-body scan of what’s working, what’s not, take accountability and pivot when necessary.

Goals are often malleable – firm but flexible – commitments that adapt to changes in the environment in which they are developed. Becoming resilient is a process of adapting strategies to meet goals informed by a personal and environmental EQ. Nothing like a global pandemic to demonstrate how EQ and adaptation are components of resilience.

HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN – ROADMAP FOR RESILIENCE

I want to be clear about the steps in building a roadmap for resilience – goal setting comes after a personal assessment, information gathering and before you set milestones and goals. I’m not saying that this plan is going to be engraved in stone, but an outline with high-level details is a rough-draft guideline that has led my clients to happy lives and sustainable careers.

I like to travel this way also. I pick a location, do my research and make the reservations for important stuff like where I sleep, hard-to-get tickets and hard to book restaurant reservations. These are the “need to haves”. The “nice to haves” depend on energy levels, impulses and the weather. This flexible-but-firm strategy has led to some great adventures over the years. I apply this outline to coaching too – but with value-added goal setting and accountability tools to provide momentum.

Resilience can save a trip or a career with the ability to lean into the disruption with an attitude of problem-solving in order to salvage it – or cut your losses.

ACHIEVEMENT- GETTING RESULTS

The lifespan of a human being is actually pretty short. We hope for long and healthy lives, but in the grand scheme of the universe, we are only here on earth for a little bit of time. The past year has seen the loss of loved ones for many and been a catalyst for deep reflection in almost everyone I know. I find myself thinking more about each moment with the people I love (and those I miss) and what is actually important in the context of a lifetime.

The way I like to plan and apply myself to personal and career goals paid off as I pivoted toward coaching in the past year. My passion for community and volunteerism came to life as I poured energy into non-profit work to help home-bound kids access sports, or make sure newly unemployed people could still get healthy and respectful food. I wanted to help and in the face of many traumatic changes, I needed to feel like I was doing something.

My business has grown organically this year as the result of being grounded, genuine, and demonstrating a tolerance for discomfort. Through inquiry and continuous improvement, I have built the career I want, I continue to visualize where I want to go and adapt based on what I want to accomplish. With a rough plan and an attitude of agility, I am able to influence my life and contribute more wholly to my community and the world.

Your career, just like your happiness, is an individual journey; and with a loose plan and a few well-refined skills (plus a good coach) we become resilient as we adapt to change. It’s all about the ability to bounce back!

 

 

Quotes from Brene Brown and Stacey Abrams
Communication, Uncategorized, Work Strategies, Working Professionals

Let’s Talk About A New Set of Rules

In light of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, it seemed time to really think about how we will live, work, or govern as we go forward.  The existing systems have been shown to lack equality for all and over the past four years have definitely not worked for the vast number of people.  What I’ve read in Abby Wambach’s “Wolfpack”, listened to on Brené Brown’s podcast Dare to Lead with Joe Biden, and watched Resmaa Menakem’s interview with Tara Brach, all reinforced the idea that we must create new rules that protect and support all people. 

wheel of power and privilege

Let’s start with the basics and better understand how the present system works.  Marginalized populations shift and morph depending on the situation.  If you examine the “Wheel of Privilege,” it demonstrates how we may be part of white privilege at one moment but for example, in an all-male environment, then white women become the marginalized population.  This hierarchy includes many complexities that include gender, race, orientation, religion, and more.  It’s important to know this is fluid depending on the situation and is a man-made creation that can be changed.

WOMEN CHANGE RULES

To change things, we must act collectively, support each other, and have champions from the privileged groups. The women’s soccer team has been fighting to receive equal pay in the workplace for several years now.  They play more, win more, and have revenues that exceed the men’s national team but still earn substantially less.  Abby Wambach, US Olympic champion, and her team have not given up.  

With a daughter of immigrants and a woman of color being elected to the most senior office in our country, we have an opportunity to create a new set of rules for all women.  Abby shared a look at the history of women’s roles and how stories demonstrate the inculcation of these norms into our society.  Her example of “Little Red Riding Hood,” a story read to many little kids, describes how if we leave the “acceptable path” we will get eaten by the wolf.  Abby says, “We must wander off the path and blaze a new one: together”.  This is what Kamala Harris has done, and in her acceptance speech on Sunday, she did what so many other Black women have been done by blazing a new way, like Jada Pinkett Smith during her Red Table Talks, or Michelle Obama when she wrote, “Becoming.  It’s what Abby calls women to do, create “New rules”, while reminding us to  “Champion each other” by recognizing that it took 100s of trailblazing Black and white women for Kamala to achieve this accomplishment. 

COALITION BUILDING

We can’t make change alone, and the rise of the #MeToo movement, #BlackLivesMatter, and the support of marriage equality laws, demonstrate how as a nation we can evolve.  What stood out, for me in Biden’s acceptance speech, was his acknowledgment of the marginalized populations that came together to win the election and the focus on building and healing.  He was very specific in recognizing the Black women that mobilized the vote and truly made a difference in the outcome, people like Stacey Abrams in Georgia, and LaTosha Brown who founded Black Votes Matter registered voters and brought the Black vote to support the Democratic ticket.  The popular vote shows that 71,492,918 people supported Trump and 76,402,525 supported Biden.  This means quite a number of Americans now feel disenfranchised and with the rhetoric from Trump continuing on conspiracy social networks, how do we bridge this gap? If you look at history and the successful results of these popular movements, it’s the coalition of all types of Americans that forces change. It’s the recognition that power-sharing, as described by Brené Brown is healthier, that it’s infinite and a more cohesive way to lead.

HEAL THE TRAUMA

Resmaa Menekem, an MSW, was interviewed by Krista Tipper (On Being) for NPR, by Tara Brach (yoga/meditation leader), and many others.  We are reading his book, “My Grandmother’s Hands,” for my anti-racism seminar with LGW.  After hearing the interview and reading the first four chapters with my study pod, I felt like this is it! Resmaa created a guide to healing trauma so we can heal as human beings and build communities of diversity and strength. These last 11 months of COVID have left much more space to be contemplative.  I’ve received more requests for career coaching than ever before.  We, as a human race, are thinking about what’s really important as the death toll in this country alone exceeds 250K.  

Resmaa interview with Tara Brach

I’ve listened/learned, I’ve protested, I’ve written letters to encourage voting, but how do we change the rules?  How do we make real change happen?  Menekem talks about trauma in white bodies, black bodies, and blue bodies.  He has worked extensively with all three groups and while our trauma may be different, the ways to heal are similar.  His book is revelational, in each chapter he asked you to pause, digest, do some exercises and really think.  I’ve found that often even after I’ve completed an exercise, I go back and add more details that I remember.  We all have trauma, some are personal, some is intergenerational, some we don’t even know exists.  If we don’t identify and heal it, we can’t truly come together and cause positive lasting change for all.  

RULES TO LIVE BY

Let’s make a new set of rules that are inclusive, that support respect, decency, and don’t cause harm.  There are several quotes from Brené that have resonated lately, I’ve pasted them on my wall. They inspire me. I intended to do my best to not just break the rules, but come together with others who don’t look like me.  Together, we can create a new set of expectations on how our workplaces, communities, and country can look.

Resources

Abstract art with words that read "Let's Talk About Bias"
Careers, Communication, relationships, Uncategorized, Working Professionals

Let’s Talk About Bias

We each are born with filters, some innate and others learned.  How we see and how we react are based on the schema that we use to evaluate each and every situation.  We look for patterns, commonalities, things we recognize, and filter it through that primitive pattern of triggers to tell us to run or stay.  Bias is in all of us.  It’s not bad until it is.  Shaming and blaming doesn’t get anyone anywhere.  I’ve been learning a lot about bias lately between the six-month series sponsored by Leadership Greater Washington and is co-led by Howard Ross and Dr. Karyn Trader-Leigh an executive coach.  I’m also a student with an eCornell Certificate program on DEI, it’s made me do a lot of deep thinking and led to hard conversations across diverse groups of people.  Howard recently re-released his book about “Every Day Bias” and shared his insights from over 30+ years as a diversity trainer and his firm is Udarta.  Here’s what I learned when I looked inward to my past experiences and examined them with a new lens for bias.  

EMPATHY CAN REDUCE BIAS

First, let me preface my experience by saying, I recognize that I have many privileges and I can only speak about my intermittent experiences of being part of subgroups based on gender or religion.  By sharing this example, I want you to understand that it was through this experience that I recognized, on a micro-level what I couldn’t possibly comprehend when you have to experience racism or bias each and every moment of your life.  When I was 8 my parents moved us around the world to Bangkok, Thailand.  I wore a school uniform, learned to play soccer, and stuck out like a sore thumb.  Worse things could happen.  Eventually, we returned to the USA.  I was the only girl playing soccer and so my mom put me on a boys team because Title IX said so.  I had to prove myself and gain acceptance from the boys.  Both things had to happen for us to be a team. This experience shaped how I viewed the sexes in the workplace and how I experienced life from the non-dominant group.  I still need and want to listen and learn more about what it’s like to be discriminated against so I can be a better ally. Here’s what I learned that helped me start to make sense of it.

Being an outsider some of the time (we are part of different subsets of the population), or not part of the privileged group actually has pluses.  Howard Ross explained in his presentation to Google, how those outside the mainstream group have more mirror neurons.  Mirror neurons allow an individual to be more empathic and thus better able to relate to others. This ability to be more empathic actually means life hurts a lot more, but it also allows me to relate to others better.  If we think about how empathy and bias interact we can see that by being able to relate to how others feel we are able to remove some innate bias that we may not have known existed. When we see others as humans just like us, that can break down barriers and bias at the same time.  As a person who often looked in from the outside, I gained empathy, could relate to different kinds of people more readily and this has led me to a career working with people and helping them find the best professional pathways.

DEFINING BIAS

Let’s look more closely at bias, and let’s remove the negative connotations to the word.  Bias is normal and where we come from and our life experiences shape how we see the world.  We can even inherit bias from trauma and multi-generational traditions. What is negative about bias is ignoring it or remaining unaware.  If we lean into the discomfort and look at the different biases in each of us, we can actually learn from them.  The ability to become conscious and aware of our blind spots enables us to do something about them.  In the workplace, this can mean examining our system for hiring, retaining staff, or promoting talent.  It’s important to dig deep and consider our childhood experiences and how they impact us as adults in our personal lives and in our professional lives.  

WHY CONSIDER BIAS

According to Howard’s book and presentation, diversity is a great goal, but unless we are inclusive, not much will change for the long run.  We can decide to diversify an all-male workplace or an all-white workplace, but if the team does not see the value or buy into it, we are not creating an inclusive environment.  During the eCornell course I recently took on DEI topics, we learned that companies with engaged diverse workplaces are more successful-meaning they are healthier with less turnover and increased profits.  If the majority of an organization doesn’t learn about bias and how it can be detrimental to the organization, no matter how many people are hired that look different from the existing workforce, their ability to be included directly impacts the success of the company.  We can educate our workforce and make people aware of unconscious bias and that’s how we can start to change the systems.  It’s only part of an on-going process.

One example I learned about that really struck me was fascinating and something that happens daily.  While at home or at work, we have to make millions of decisions, to shower or not, what to feed the kids or what to eat ourselves, what we wear, how we say hello to our co-workers, and the list goes on to bigger and more complex decisions.  For most of these decisions, we aren’t even aware of how or why we make them.  Instead of acting from our “Fast Brain” or on an instinctual level where Howard says we make determinations (quick decisions) and then rationalize the outcomes.  

Some of the decisions are fine, but others are not and they are all filled with our own bias. We can be making small or large mistakes that impact how we are perceived or interact with other people. Microaggressions fall into this category. Who we chose to ask for directions or get into the elevator with and where we stand also are “Fast Brain” decisions. Some are negative and some are positive, it’s the awareness that we are looking for or consciously thinking about our decisions that matter.

We want to build in more “Slow Brain thinking” where we build in a pause, see the bias, and make a choice that is based on rational thought.  Daniel Kahneman coined these terms and discusses them further in “Thinking, Fast and Slow”.  Next time you go to a business function (in person or virtually) pause before you decide who to approach and pick someone that doesn’t look like you or who you didn’t initially gravitate towards.  I was at a Career Summit for AAAS and was part of a panel discussion for STEM Fellows.  They had lunch beforehand and gave me the option to eat in the speaker’s room or join the 150+ professionals who were attending the meeting.  The room was full and there was a strong buzz of conversation. I took a deep breath and decided to meet some of the participants.  With a pause, I looked around me, and decided to join a partially filled table that was a mix of young and gray-haired, and a mix of white and people of color, and sat down to introduce myself.  That’s how you start to change things.

STRIVE TO BE BETTER

I’ve been recruiting for over 25 years now.  In the past two years, I have made new friendships across the D/M/V region during my time with LGW.  I’ve continued to take seminars and the Anti-Racism series with LGW continually opens my eyes to what I know and what I don’t know.  The course at Cornell, while basic, touches on topics that are evergreen and need attention.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Change doesn’t happen overnight.  To make systemic long-reaching change we must examine our basic bias, see it, and work to overcome it. An organization is handicapping itself if it cannot attract, retain, and grow a diverse workforce.  

The only way to do this is to create an inclusive mindset where we periodically refresh ourselves over the course of this journey.  We gravitate to what we know and we have filters built-in from our life experiences which we can’t control.  What we can control is not focusing on the shame of bias, but we must embrace it, be aware of it, and continue to fight to overcome it.  Read more about these ideas and for a guidebook to building diverse and inclusive workplaces check out Howard Ross’ book, “Everyday Bias, Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgement in our Daily Lives.”  Dolly Chugh’s book on “The Person You Mean to Be” is also a wonderful resource full of great examples and exercises to practice.  To build some empathy and understanding I’d recommend Ta Nehise Coates letter to his son in his book, “Between the World and Me,” he was able to allow me to walk in his shoes and gain a taste of what it’s like to be a Black man in the USA.

Follow me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Image of plate with steak and fries from Medium Rare Restaurant in Washington, DC
Careers, Uncategorized, Working Professionals

Filling the Fridge, Feeding Our Friends

Care to take the challenge?!

I believe in Mark Bucher’s program, We Care, so much, that all my coaching fees for the next four months (till the end of the year) will be going to his GoFundMe campaign.  His fund was originally started to feed the elderly and first responders but has been expanded to feed the kids and their families too.  

The setting

On Thursday, I had my final session of three with Henry, a talented education researcher. He, like millions of Americans, was downsized as a result of the slowdown in our economy from COVID19.  For 23+ years I have been successfully placing really smart people with talented companies across the STEM professions, data scientists, economists, statisticians, and survey researchers.  People who know me have also enjoyed my career strategy sessions that focus on pitching, networking, and interviewing to identify opportunities.  These are really important skills for these unusual times when everything is in constant change and getting downsized or laid off can happen to anyone!

The players

This is not about my career strategy coaching, but about three recent experiences I have had with; an educator, a non-profit consultant, and a socially conscious restaurateur.  Sounds like the start of an interesting anecdote, right? These talented individuals motivated me to think about how I could support my neighbors more during these extremely stressful times.  (Believe me, there are many others out there that have motivated me too!) Let me introduce you.

Howard Ross, an author/trainer of diversity and inclusion, has led discussions about racial bias and the need for systemic change in recent seminars with Leadership Greater Washington.  Our discussions have pushed me to have tough conversations and listen to what people need and want.  Check out his book, “Every Day Bias.” 

Jeannie Engel, a long time non-profit consultant, founder of Neighbors Rising that gets requests from three non-profits for their clients they serve, LAYC, Identity, and Rodham Institute.  With the rising hatred in our country, Jeannie founded the organization to build bridges between communities and to let our immigrant neighbors know we care and we will support them. 

Mark Bucher, founder of Medium Rare Restaurant, who in his spare time has been working to address nutritious school meals, and is currently focused on respectfully meeting the hunger needs in our region for; children, families, and the elderly.  He inspires me.  Through mutual connections, we were drawn into a brainstorming session and I was able to connect him to ideas on how to obtain further funding so he can keep feeding our communities. 

Eureka

My eureka moment came around 4:17 am on Friday… not ideal but I jotted it down for when I could think more clearly in the morning.  After several sessions of feedback from friends and family, here are my thoughts. Because of what I learned from Howard, and the model Jeannie created of neighbors helping neighbors, I was able to see Mark’s efforts as an ideal way to help on a more impactful level.  Mark believes in meeting the need across our region for food security as an imperative one that is growing each day as more and more people lose their livelihood.

Mark’s idea that I support

Mark Bucher has established a GoFundMe page and all donations are tax-deductible.  He has two plans, one to organize local mom & pop restaurants to feed the local communities in need.  He gets lots of requests and feels with the funding he can keep the entire local ecosystem more intact by supporting local restaurants to help with feeding communities so no one is hungry.  Part two of his plan is to place refrigerators across the region that will be filled daily with balanced lunches for all those kids who are not in school and who are now missing meals.  To date, he already has partnerships with DC Recreation Centers and DC Fire and EMS to place fridges with them. 

What I will do. Care to join me?

Between now and the end of the year, if you need career coaching, I am your person. Together, you will acquire career strategies that will make your professional life more rewarding, and all the proceeds of my coaching will go to Mark’s GoFundMe campaign. 

These funds will help fill the gap until Mark can bring in some foundation money or more individual donations.  By doing this together as a community we can help people retain their dignity, keep small businesses alive, and survive this challenge together.

  • Refer clients to me
  • Make donations to Mark’s We Care
  • Organize your neighbors, friends, work colleagues to contribute or buy meals from Medium Rare…but wait, there’s more!  

Adapt this idea for your business, double impact

Do you have a trade, a skill, a service that you can give a portion of to the relief effort?  Sometimes we have time to give and sometimes we have treasure. Even if we aren’t rich like Bezos, Musk, or Gates, we, as comfortable middle and upper-class people can give more…here’s how!

  • Entrepreneurs out there, companies out there, can you increase your giving?  
  • Can you reroute your service fees directly to charitable giving?  
  • Do it and tag several friends to take on the challenge as well
  • Instead of charging every client, maybe ask every 3rd one to support Mark’s GoFundMe or contribute to a charity of your choice that is having an impact. 
  • Instead of investing in your retirement today, give that extra bit to a neighbor who needs it now.  
  • Talk to your family and see what you can forgo today, so you can help our neighbors.  

We never know when we will be the ones who will need help.  

My daughter reminded me we have to do more, there needs to be action, we need to become “co-conspirators.”  Remember Henry?  Well, at the end of our third session he asked me where to send my payment and I was able to say, “Don’t send it to me, please give it to Mark Bucher’s GoFundMe page.  I want to support his efforts feeding people, and you get a tax write off!”  He was a little confused at first, but then became my first client to do this…hopefully it will start a trend and make a difference!

Let’s bring this home, because I know we all want to help.  Here’s a great article, written by Howard Ross’s sibling with “Five Bold Ways White Male Allies Can Step Up to Racism”, even though it’s addressed to “White Men” it’s meant for all of us. 

 

Tattoo on Melissa's arm
Careers, Jobs, Working Professionals

Mortality Smacks Many in the Face

My coaching clients grew exponentially as the pandemic continued to take its toll. People are taking a step back and thinking about who they are, what they do all day, and what really matters. There are also a lot of people getting laid off, not just from minimum wage jobs now, but from the “white color jobs” or more properly described office jobs. Now that unemployment is trickling upward, you would think it would get more attention. Congress failed to find a compromise to address this and now we have some executive orders that may or may not be binding. For me, our inability to respond to this crisis of unemployment on a moral level gives me great concern about social equity. This is a vulnerable time for many, and when we are vulnerable, we are more open to change.  How can we take advantage of this opportunity to make more meaningful career choices, think about more inclusive employment, and a healthier society?

Since the pandemic started our lives have shifted weekly. Just as we got used to one pattern, something would change, it feels like we are living inside a kaleidoscope, the same pieces just mixed around in different ways.

Fear not, because there’s a method to the madness.

Embrace Change

Pema Chödrön says that grasping for permanence will always leave us wanting more because it’s not possible. We have to learn to live with the natural cycle of things, coming together and falling apart.  It made such an impression on me that I have it tattooed on my body, “Embrace change.” It’s an important idea but really hard to hold onto each and every day, especially during a time of social upheaval. This idea has been percolating in my mind for years, what’s really important? How do I feel valued, needed, relevant? I hear pieces of this in my conversations with clients, and as we weather COVID and see the ugly face of racial injustice, I’m hearing/seeing people shaken to their core and talking about it more.  

Lean Into the Suck

It’s much easier to not have these difficult conversations. It would be easier to turn off the news. For some reason, I have always leaned into them. It’s another premise that Pema Chödrön writes about often, and my husband paraphrases as “Lean into the suck.” As I speak with my coaching clients, they are having more emotional conversations these days. Maybe I’m imagining it, but the issue of meaning on the job and in their careers seems to be a more powerful motivator. Also, balance in their work/life and the ability to make a difference in the world is another topic I hear more about. As most of us work from home, because kids are also home or entire families are trying to work from home, we are seeing places where we have gaps and places where we thrive. Think education, health, access.

The Stress of Life Compressed at Home

While we are at home and don’t have a daily commute to decompress, other things in life become more stressful: juggling children, working remotely, no school or camp, fear of eviction, lights turned out, or how we feed our kids. Typically we don’t have time for this kind of contemplation when we are super busy or in survival mode. But if you aren’t working, or working less, you do. You have too much time on your hands. And too many things to worry about. Some are “champagne problems,” others are life and death matters. My social equity study group met today via Zoom and we came to the conclusion that the most important thing is that we need to talk about race, equity, gender, and more. That by not discussing the tough stuff, we are actually contributing to the problem and being racist/sexist/biased. This goes for career satisfaction and personal fulfillment too. We must move the conversation to action.

Identifying Skills & Feeding Our Souls

After teaching my clients how to cut through the noise and identify their true talents, the next step is to describe where they want to contribute their skills. To think about the environment where you will thrive, the corporate culture really matters. The last step in creating a person’s “30 Second Elevator Pitch” or sometimes it’s a manifesto/mission statement, is talking about how you add value to an organization. These are the mechanics of creating a strong starting point, but now we can take this even further.  We can be more aware of what makes a company socially responsible, which makes a company diverse and inclusive, and how we really want to contribute our abilities to our next opportunity. Plus, we don’t have to find all our fulfillment at work, we can turn to volunteerism as a truly healthy outlet for ourselves and something we can do with loved ones. Sometimes, when we are shaken up from our beliefs and our regular routines, it can be a good thing. We can press the restart and make major changes in our lives, our careers, and divert energy to build more inclusive stronger communities as well.

Abstract art with "regain control of your career" as text
Careers, Communication, Growing up, Working Professionals

Regain Control of Your Career

I attended a talk some time ago by Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson who recently published a book called The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives. The authors, a clinical neuropsychologist and a motivational coach/test-taking company CEO, both agreed that there are ways to reduce anxiety, depression, isolation, and lack of motivation in today’s children. I thought about that tagline, “Giving your kids more control over their lives.” Then I thought, “Doesn’t everyone want more control?”

Throughout our lives, we struggle to be independent and self-directed. When a baby learns those first words, “No!” the baby is looking for autonomy. As we do battle with our teenagers over technology use or homework, they are trying to command their own way of doing things. Later in life, we fight to keep our driver’s license even after it’s unsafe for us or others, but losing that right curtails our freedom. This can be a huge blow that some people don’t recover from, that loss of independence. The ideas about control and being self-directed can also be applied in the workforce and when it comes to managing your career.

There are critical moments in the development of our brain, according to Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson. We as parents can help our children develop into healthy “self-driven” people, by not hovering, rescuing, or solving all our children’s challenges. If we can give them the tools to take “more control over their lives” they can become healthier human beings throughout their lives. If we translate the parent-child role to the workplace, we can also see how this plays out in a manager-subordinate role. We are faced with several challenges in the workplace with multiple generations who have different styles trying to work together. If we teach our children to make healthy choices that give them back their sense of control early on in life, then later on they will be more successful in the workplace. With more confidence, an individual can be more self-directed and this results in greater success throughout the life cycle.

Raising self-motivated children and building a more motivated workforce, are just two aspects of a healthier society or economy. In the arc of our working life, we can learn to be more proactive with managing our careers too. We aren’t all going to be entrepreneurs or the CEO, but we can be proactive or be our own advocates in the workplace. Again, these are skills we need to teach our children while they are young or as they grow up, so they can be healthier members of society. What this looks like in the workplace could take several forms.

When you start your first job, you are often just thrilled to have a paycheck. If you’re more focused, maybe you land a role at your target company or doing exactly what you wanted to do. Regardless, what your title is, what you do on the job is key. Plus, you can influence your career pathway. Here are several important tasks to do as you get oriented to a new job and beyond.

  • Learn the corporate culture and the spoken and unspoken rules of the organization.
  • Build clear communication with your immediate supervisor and don’t forget your peers.
  • Master your tasks and gain new skills that will allow you to progress within your firm.
  • Find a mentor in the firm or outside the firm, someone who can give you sage advice or perspective on any given situation.
  • Identify what you need to do to progress as a professional, and set goals to achieve these skills, experiences, or abilities.
  • Learn how to self advocate for yourself and the organization promoting change, growth, or new ways to do things.
  • Notice a way you can positively impact the organization, pitch your idea!

All of these tasks allow one to take back control and have a say in your own future. It feels better to have control of all ages when we are a kid, a young adult, middle-aged, and aging. How do we retain it in the workplace professionally?

In Teddy Roosevelt’s stirring speech, about the lazy critics in our lives, he said,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat…”

Like Stixrud and Johnson, Roosevelt felt strongly that by acting or participating we are already taking back our control. If we silence the critics who are not in the arena with us and focus on the experience of being there, then we are already ahead of the game. How this plays out for each person can vary, but it is clear that by regaining our control we lessen our anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, or sense of isolation. As we replace these destructive feelings, we now have room for confidence, positive energy, possibilities, connection, and the ability to map our own future. We can’t all be in charge of the company, but we can be in charge of our own lives.

Careers, Communication, Jobs, Mentoring, Networking, Resumes, Work Strategies, Working Professionals

Imposter Syndrome, Stop it Dead in It’s Tracks

September is my favorite time of year and each year when it rolls around, I always forgot it’s also the most stressful one for me followed only by June and not even considering the “holiday season”. What do these two months have in common? Well that’s when the academic calendar starts and finishes. No, I’m not a teacher, but I have been a parent for thirty years now. My youngest is 15 and just started high school. School sports, back to school night, birthdays, and more, September is jam packed. This year I finally got to pause in October and reflect on a reoccurring theme, Imposter Syndrome. When a topic pokes at me several times, I think it’s time to tackle it and share it with others. Here are several scenarios where I observed Imposter Syndrome in myself and others, plus action or tools to overcome the anxiety.SituationI must have forgotten about how busy September is when I accepted the offer to present three workshops to the biomedical grad students at Georgetown University. It was a professional/personal brand themed day and as a guest trainer I added insight to pitching, presenting, and primping your social media. It’s one of my favorite activities, running interactive sessions where we all learn from each other. These workshops had a slight twist to them though, they weren’t focused on the mechanics of preparing for an interview, or creating a resume, the emphasis was on developing your own brand.TaskFor this reason, I had to do more prep than usual after 20 years of delivering my career workshops. Each and every audience has different requirements/needs, so I do customize my delivery. This time though, I got nervous and asked for feedback from the career center director, several times. Finally, I went out and made some special handouts which I hadn’t done in a long time. The day of the event I had more butterflies in my stomach than usual. Normally presenting raises my energy and I thrive.Action

Upon arrival we realized that the 25-30 students who had signed up, weren’t all going to be there. We shifted the tables to make things more intimate and created a U shape around the screen. Then we realized that to be responsive to the group that did join us, I was going to have to customize the content even more so the Prezi (newly learned presentation software better than Powerpoint), was basically useless.

Two bumps in the road, Bill Stixrud, local author, psychologist, always says expect obstacles to appear, and have a Plan B. Sometimes you need Plan C and D too. As the students and I discussed the various topics, preparing your pitch for networking, presenting the best resume/linkedin page, and leveraging your network, I gradually calmed down. My goal was to share as much information as possible, be responsive to the students, and earn my fee. As I continued to converse with the students, I remembered that I have wisdom and insight that was valuable for all the attendees. Feedback from the sessions will be helpful too. One of the grad students who attended mentioned she was running a workshop on Imposter Syndrome the following week. That made me pause and really think. Was I battling the insecurities of Imposter Syndrome after all these years?

Situation-Task

Two days later, on an early Thursday, I met with one of my career strategy coaching clients. My goal was to help her prepare for an important interview. She’s a bright PhD with several years of experience. We laughed but also stopped to reflect when she too described sometimes wondering if she was good enough or “for real”. According to several articles on the topic, when we tackle new tasks or have a major event, we often have relapses into insecurity. I saw that anxiety provoking monster of Imposter Syndrome poking it’s ugly head up again as she explored new jobs through interviews.

Action

The articles also shared that highly intelligent capable individuals often suffer intermittently from Imposter Syndrome. The tendency of Type A people is towards perfectionism. That rang several bells for me. I recognized my client had a similar profile and encouraged her to be well prepared as a way to regain her confidence. Also, I suggested she recognize doing a good job is important but also recognize when it’s time to let go and accept “good enough”. It made me read, reflect and remember another example from my childhood.

Savvy Psychologist Ellen Hendriksen, states that the syndrome is often seen in higher amounts within minority communities or when someone is an outsider. The fear of not belonging or feeling that they don’t deserve to be in a given setting is all part of Imposter Syndrome. To overcome these feeling we have to recognize that perfection is not the goal, “good enough” is plenty.

As a kid I remember not participating because of fear of failure and now I know this was an early sign of this syndrome. I was a talented athlete who dedicated considerable time to honing my skills as a soccer player. Being the only girl on an all boys team though, was a clear example of being an outsider in an environment that could make me doubt myself. On the field with solid passes, and strong defensive play, the feeling always disappeared.

A review of our many talents and abilities can help ease the feelings of doubt the syndrome causes. See my list below for other suggestions on beating back Imposter Syndrome.

Situation

Recently I was accepted into Leadership Greater Washington. The first time I wasn’t accepted so this was a second effort. The application process requires recommendations and entry is competitive. 65 people are selected each year to participate which includes a diverse group of community leaders. I was thrilled when I heard the news, but did I deserve to be there? Those familiar butterflies were back as I attended the orientation.

Action

I signed in, received my name tag and looked nervously into the room. Who would I talk to and about what? I took a deep breath, walked in and saw a classmate seated with her leg stretched out in a brace awkwardly in front of her with crutches dropped on floor below. Instantly, I forgot my nervousness and jumped into a conversation. We started to talk about sports injuries and the anxiety began to fade. We had a lengthy conversation spanning topics from waterskiing to her father attending the same school International school I did in Bangkok, Thailand. When I forget about myself and concentrate on others, the thoughts of being an Imposter quickly leave my brain. It’s one of the coping mechanisms I have adapted over my lifetime.

Results

For me that’s often the solution, just jumping in and focusing on others. This concept was driven home even further after I returned from the retreat. Day one had been fabulous, but day two I had gotten stuck with my “trainer hat” on. My husband was the one who reminded me that I am a participant, not observing and that by engaging in activities that take me out of my comfort zone, I could let go of any of that remaining anxiety. I also reminded myself that everyone around me was probably feeling similar. Best way I know to overcome the feeling of being an imposter was to remember I have lots of things to share, I’m an interesting talented genuine human being, and that’s all I can be.

Conclusion

There are several other stories I can share, from men, women, old and young. The common thread is that we all seem to have some form of Imposter Syndrome at different stages of our lives. Rather than allowing it to cripple us, I’d say embrace it, develop methods to channel that anxiety into being our best selves. Below are some suggestions to store in your tool box. And in the words of Bill Stixrud, remember to always have a Plan B in life. Or as someone once told me, “Fake it till you make it!”

Tools

Definition: Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

Signs you have it:

  • Can’t take a compliment?
  • Feel like a fake?
  • Convinced you’ll be unmasked at any moment?

Ways to overcome Imposter Syndrome:

  • Find a strong mentor or supporter to be in your corner
  • Recognize what you do well, write it down
  • Realize your expertise, share it with others
  • Let go of perfectionism, “good enough” is more than acceptable

Sources of Additional Information

https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud.aspx Kirsten Weir, article in the American Psychology Association published in 2013

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-impostor-syndrome/ Ellen Hendriksen, article in Scientific American

Professor Dr. Carol Dweck (author of Mindset) at Stanford suggests praising effort not a characteristic in our children to prevent building Imposter Syndrome in our kids. Kind labels about brains or beauty can be detrimental or imply you either have “it” or you don’t with no where to grow. With one failure they could feel your label is incorrect. We never want to discourage our children from trying new things out of fear of failure or that our “label is wrong”. She also adds, that by building in an expectation of early failure we help build resiliency. Bill Stixrud quotes her research in his book, The Self-Driven Child.

Careers, Jobs, Networking, Work Strategies, Working Professionals

Always Mow in Straight Lines…or not?

Earlier in the summer we were out walking in a suburban Crown Point, IN neighborhood. We were home visiting family for the the most American holiday of all, the 4th of July. I slowed down to watch a neighbor mowing his lawn. A pretty normal sight, right?! He was moving much slower than I did when I mowed, granted it was hot, but I was so curious what he was doing. As I watched, he was carefully lining up the tires of his mower with the previous marks he had left from the completed row. It dawned on me, he was trying to have each mowed stripe be straight across the entire front of his home. I laughed out loud.

As we continued walking along the sidewalk, I said, “No way. He’s concentrating so hard on making the lines of his lawn perfectly straight.”

“Well, of course,” my husband responded, “you can’t have crazy lines going all different directions.”

“Of course you can,” I said with emphasis on the “can”. “I go in circles, and when you leave town next I’m going to do zig zags and infinity circles on our lawn!”

We laughed, but I know he wouldn’t be happy when he came home, the dissymmetry would disturb him.

“Different Strokes for Different Folks”

I got a lot of mileage out of that one and it made me laugh but I also had to pause and see the beauty of the metaphor. There are so many different ways to mow your lawn or live your live. Some people feel calmed and secure with straight organized lines or career paths. Others like to wander and mow in circles as they explore options, try out new ways so they don’t get bored. I fall into the second category, and if someone says I can’t do something, I always respond, “Watch me!” And I build a company to meet the need.  I can also appreciate my engineer husband’s pragmatic style because I wouldn’t want the ship to sink or the building to collapse.

Build Strong Foundations

I think we learn a lot from different styles. Some times it’s important to stay inside the lines and go along the straight pathway. Mastering certain knowledge, getting the basics under our belt and gaining experience are all important building blocks. We can think of these skills as the ABCs. Along with the ABCs, we need to include life skills training, like financial literacy or healthy interpersonal relationships. Rigorous study and a straight career path towards a trade or profession is respectable and important. I think a surgeon who knows their anatomy is who I’d want operating on my shoulder to make sure it works afterward.

Those of us who wander, like to explore, and don’t have everything mapped out in advance, but still need the basics too. If you have a solid base of knowledge it keeps your options open. Wanderers need the freedom to explore different ways to do things. “Not all who wander are lost” is so true and I say embrace it.

Different Approaches Improve Outcomes

Even though these two groups of people think about things in different ways or prefer to take action (like mowing the lawn) in specific ways, doesn’t mean they are mutually exclusive. I think often these two ways (and there are many more shades of gray) can compliment each other and bring out the best.

That same shoulder surgery needs to be completed just right, but I also think the person who thinks of innovative ways to do the shoulder surgery in a more effective way will be the person who makes progress in the field.

Practice Self-Awareness & Acceptance

Be aware of how you think and perform best. Recognize the environment that will suit your personal style so you will flourish and contribute to company success. Finally, don’t stick to people who think just like you, but expose yourself to those who do things differently from you so that everyone can share and learn from the experience. If we always do everything the same way we will never grow. Many important discoveries were made through accidents and failures, or by mowing the lawn in zig zags.