Personal SWOT Dec07

Personal SWOT

SWOT is an acronym for an assessment often used in teams; it stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. But a SWOT analysis is not just a business tool. It can be a use personal exercise to help you land a job! In preparing for a career move, my colleague and friend, MJ, put me through a mock interview. Suddenly all the great communication skills I know and teach went flying out the window; I was a rambling disaster! She assigned me the homework of doing a personal SWOT analysis. Like many people, I am uncomfortable describing or selling myself. But the job interview is a situation when you must do both of these! You only have a few minutes to tell about yourself in ways your cover letter or resume cannot. I found the exercise of doing a SWOT analysis extremely helpful. The first two are internal components: Strengths According to Forbes.com, you must picture yourself as a product in the marketplace. This is your opportunity to differentiate yourself from all the other applicants. I think you have to get past the idea that you’re being arrogant if you detail your strengths. These are some ideas that might get you started. Use personality profiles you’ve taken. I relied on the results of my Strengths Finder results, a book, test and philosophy that identifies 34 top most common talents. (Buy the book, read it, and use the code at the back to take the test online. The results will uncover your top five strengths so you focus on them to build a successful life and career.) Mine include the ability to woo (win others over) and great communication skills. Ask others. Because I’m a college teacher, I asked my students. They said I know how to...

Effective Presentations Oct07

Effective Presentations...

Perhaps you have sat through ill-crafted presentations with PowerPoints that just about killed you! Well don’t do the same to others! If you are one who has to give speeches, sermons, teachings or presentations to clients, followers, co-workers or others, learn how to produce effective visual presentations (otherwise known as PowerPoint).  Here is a 33-minute video I produced to help my student successfully craft visuals to accompany their in-class presentations. The principles are universal and can easily be applied to business, ministry or other...

What Would You Do? Sep14

What Would You Do?

Would you kiss butt to get a promotion? Enjoy a guest post by Terry W. Blevins: When in high school, my son told me that his personal ethics prevented him from getting a job because he would be required to blindly follow someone else’s ethical rules and not his own in exchange for money. I laughed at the time. But if I analyze that statement, it causes me to think. Would you compromise your personal standards in exchange for success? I’m not only talking about doing something dishonest, illegal or immoral, but also about those personal preferences that each one of us have regarding what we will do or won’t do in order to increase our chances of career success. Have you ever heard anyone say “I don’t care if they fire me, I’m not going to kiss anyone’s butt?” Of course the definition of “kissing butt” (aka: “kissing up to”, “kissing ass” also known as “being obsequious”) will mean many different things to each of you. In my experience, “kissing butt” means lying or exaggerating about something to impress your boss in order to gain their favor. (I think this is the generally accepted definition.) From thefreedictionary.com: kiss someone’s ass– Sl. to fawn over someone; to flatter and curry favor with someone ob·se·qui·ous (ŏb-sē′kwē-əs, əb-) adj. Full of or exhibiting servile compliance; fawning I think most of us would agree that “kissing butt” is something that is demeaning, and not something we are likely to do. But consider this scenario: Your boss asks what you thought of his presentation, and although you thought it was really bad, you know that you can’t be honest with him or her because they will be upset with you. If you sugarcoat your response in order to...

Stop Saying You’re Fine!...

According to motivational speaker, Mel Robbins, one of the worst words in the English language is, “fine!” We get stuck and fail to move forward because we tell ourselves (and others) we are fine. We fail to lose weight, make more money or all the other things we never achieve. The solution, says Robbins, is to stop screwing yourself over and activate your energy. It’s simple, she says, but not easy. Watch this very liberating and encouraging TED Talk video to help you get unstuck. Robbins principles? Force yourself: Out of your head Past your feelings Outside your comfort zone Practice the 5 second rule (act within 5 seconds of getting an idea)             You can purchase Mel Robbin’s book, Stop Saying You’re Fine here. Royalty-free Stop image by Pat Herman. Retrieved...

Opportunity Jun17

Opportunity

You ended up grabbing the first thing that came along because you needed to pay the rent and eat. The job didn’t turn out they way you thought it should. And at the end of a few years, you ask, “Is this all there is until retirement?” Careers can be a roller coaster. Jobs come and go. I want to share an excerpt from one of my favorite authors, Seth Godin, from his book, Graceful. It will give you some thoughts and inspiration to ponder about your job life and career. What changed? We grew up with the factory. Not simply the smelly, smoke-belching aluminum refinery in town. No, I’m talking about the insurance agent down the street, the accounting firm in New York and the bank in the skyscraper downtown. These are factories because they do what all factories do: they create what they created yesterday, but faster and cheaper. Factories are about predictable scalability, about scarcity, and most of all, about compliance. A factory demands a compliant workforce in order to succeed. And so we’ve organized around this idea of compliance in all things—in school, in the foods we eat, in the way we respond to marketing. And it’s a dead end. The factory is a dead end and so is compliance. More obedience will not make us better. That’s why graceful is in such demand. Businesses that are based on conformity and compliance are having trouble achieving their growth targets. Politicians that depend on wholesale acceptance of the status quo are finding it difficult to get re-elected. Non-profits that count on the same donors to contribute in the same way are struggling as well. At the same time, we’re seeing an explosion in new approaches, new models and new forms of interaction....

Symbiosis

The fifth growth force found in nature that we are exploring in this series is symbiosis. Each growth force, when applied to our life can increase the potential for health and growth. Symbiosis describes what happens when two different organisms, living in close proximity, share in a mutually beneficial relationship. For example, when a tree ages and its roots loose the capacity to gather nutrients from the soil, a certain fungus grows on the roots that helps transfer nutrients to the tree. In return (since the fungus cannot produce chlorophyll itself), the tree then transfers carbohydrates and oxygen to help the fungus grow. The tree and the fungus experience symbiosis that helps sustain both. Another example highlights how two great things combined can produce a whole new thing. Remember the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ad that imagined the way chocolate and peanut butter “accidentally” came together? Both chocolate and peanut butter were individual favorites, but the combination created was fantastic! The same principle works with food courts. You might think putting multiple food outlets in one small space would create so much competition that no one would survive. But in reality, the draw of multiple options attracts more people to the space, and all the food vendors thrive better than they would on their own. Symbiosis seems to be at the heart of the universe. And it’s equally powerful with people as it is in nature and marketing. Symbiosis takes place when people or groups engage in mutually beneficial relationships. Cooperation is a key component of symbiosis. Whether its birds who benefit from aerodynamic flight formations or societies that are healthy, it is clear the world is based on cooperation AND competition. Perhaps we have put the em-PHA-sis on the wrong SYL-la-ble. As Tom...

Disappointments

What do you do when life does not work out the way you hoped it would? Do you feel defeated and let it destroy you? Do you get bitter or better? I recently applied for a teaching position that I thought was perfect. While I realized it would not be a complete dream job, it was one I thought was the best ticket for my future. It would offer a guaranteed salary with perks until I was ready to retire, which I could then do with dignity. I thought about the position for several years, then planned actively for it for a year. I spent hours preparing the cover letter and resume, and even did two mock interviews in preparation. I was invited to an initial interview, but not a second. Suddenly the goal I’d sought for so long was over. Just like that, it was over. In some ways I was crushed. I was extremely qualified and could not believe I was out. While I suspect all sorts of things about the process, I had to work through the disappointment and decide how to move forward. Perhaps you can think of times you have had high expectations and put your eggs into a particular basket, only to have the opportunity ripped away. When stuff happens, you have to realize that you have response choices. How do you turn the disappointment into something that does not crush you? How do you deal with the emotions? While emotional responses—such as shock, anger, surprise, sadness and disappointment—may be valid, they don’t have to dictate how you go forward. Own your emotions, realizing they are real and valid. Sometimes it’s helpful to examine your emotions and analyze what is behind them. For example, you might be really...

Being and Doing

Are you chronically busy? Or are you sometimes content to just sit, enjoy the moment, and be? The Western world has pretty much made an idol of busyness. Work is good; it makes the world go round, allows us to eat, and helps us implement new ideas. The Protestant work ethnic is a valuable asset. Indeed, it allows a society to prosper economically and materially. Once there were monastics who hid away from society and were content to live a contemplative life. There aren’t many of them left. But there are many cultures that still value being. They have less need to perform, impress, or even extend themselves. As I’ve lived, worked and traveled in more than 60 countries on six continents, I’ve seen the advantages and disadvantages of both systems: being and doing. Doing cultures get things done. They have relative prosperity, enjoy reliable services, and lead the world in solving problems like disease. People live in various degrees of ease, but often work too hard, sacrificing relationships to climb the corporate ladders; sometimes they don’t stop to smell the roses. They feel the constant need to go, go go and do, do, do. It seems never to be enough. Many being cultures exist in societies where few things work. Electricity is on sometimes; food is seasonable, and resources are tight. But being-oriented folks enjoy a freedom to enjoy family and friends, knowing how to nurture the most valuable asset in life—relationships. Being cultures are not driven to perform. They don’t see the need to work 60 or 70 hours a week. In fact, they don’t understand why people would ever be so darn task oriented. Oh how I wish we could learn from each other. Balance seems to elude many humans. Westerners,...

Spending Energy

Where Will Your Energy Go in 2015? As I get older, I am more aware of the limits of my energy. So when I think about having another year to, “laugh and love and live,” as my dad used to say, I’m starting to consider the coming months differently. The first difference is that I am looking at the “channels” where my energy can flow, rather than specific goals I want to accomplish. Hmmm. Energy vs. goals. Both are important. But it seems I first need to identify what is important in my life, and where of the many potential directions, I want to go this year. Where will I put my energy? As a coach, I usually ask my coachees (clients) to identify the ‘big rocks’ (priorities) in their lives. These are the major responsibilities that you need to balance in your life; they don’t change much from year to year unless you have a significant shift like a job change. Channels are a different. I see them as more specific aspects of those big rocks that you really want to see grow and expand in the next year. For example, one of my big rocks is the vacation rental business I want to grow this year. My major channels are pursuing new clients and creating sustainable and reproducible systems for each aspect of the business. There will be many other responsibilities that will take my time and energy as well, but these are the ones I would like to really give my energy to this year. And that brings me to another realization. I find I have different kinds of energy, and when one is exhausted, another may still have some fuel in the tank. When it comes to channeling my energy,...

I Quit! Nov12

I Quit!

“Quitters never win and winners never quit.” So said American football legend Vince Lombardi in what has become conventional wisdom. But sometimes, conventional wisdom isn’t very wise. In his little book, the dip, Seth Godin claims that winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time. The dip is one of two books on quitting I’ve read recently. The other is Quitter by Jon Acuff. Both authors claim that quitting is not always wrong; in fact, strategic quitting can be fantastic! In the past year, I re-evaluated various aspects of my life, including my financial health, priorities, career and personal development. I was stuck and knew I needed to make some changes. I actually quit. I didn’t quit my job with a non-profit completely, but I quit doing things out of obligation. I changed from working harder to working smarter. I quit some things in order to start other things. For me quitting was not about giving up, but about making some changes in order to go forward. The implications have been phenomenal. I am more fulfilled, am making more meaningful contributions with others, and am financially more secure. In order to go forward, we often have to QUIT something. Seth Godin says that initiatives, jobs, hobbies and companies start out exciting and fun. After an exciting start, we experience “the dip,” a time when we get discouraged and feel like giving up. Make your own application. Is yours school? A relationship? A dream? The dip can be a temporary setback and will get better if you push through it. But it also might be a cul-de-sac (dead end) or a cliff that will be your certain demise. A key is knowing how to read the dips and respond...

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