The Fog

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Had a conversation with my wife last week, indirectly about the fog that comes with life. The conversation was my wife talking and me listening. I learned a lot about her and I learned a lot about myself.

So what about this fog?

In that conversation with my wife, she expressed her unhappiness with the current state of things. Normal. It wasn't about our marriage, but the fog of life. The Circumstances that press against us. Since I've got a good pulse of who's out there, I know you feel me. We concluded once again that life is tough work. Regardless of what you hear from _______, life is tough work.

When she finished and we moved on, I asked myself why I'm often not fazed by the fog thing. All of sudden a rush of memories came over me. I started 40 years backward. Each one checking a box. I came away not just knowing, but understanding.

It is abundantly clear that I have had a life checkered with fog (tragedies, struggles, crossroads, etc.). I'm sure, upon reflection, you might say the same. The point is not about which is better. Even though, in America, many have duped into believing that the best life is the one absent of problems. We act in a manner that says this is true. One thing is clear for me. A good part of my life has been shaped by my fog. I seriously doubt that I would be doing what I do, if it wasn't for those crucibles. I am thankful.

My understanding today is we need to see fog as clear. Real life is found here.

Thoughts on Quiet the Mind by Matthew Johnstone

Got to thinking about the importance of mindfulness this morning. I did this review back in 2012. This is an art I've learned through Yoga. Taking time to just be is vitally important.

 

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Quiet the Mind by Matthew Johnstone is one of the best books I've read in a long time. The way the book is constructed is truly captivating. The only way I can describe it is simplicity. The book only took me 30 minutes to read and I was fully engaged the entire time. I don't know if it's available for Kindle or the iPad, but it would definitly be a good book for that format.

Now for the content. Mr. Johnstone takes you on a journey through the art of meditation. He does this in a non-threatening way. So regardless of your religious or thought-clearing methods you won't feel uncomfortable. The author gets high marks for this. He also speaks to the reader in a way that you can't help but relate to. It's as if Mr. Johnstone knew you before you even read a page.

This book is illustrated beautifully and the words used are an equal companion. I highly recommend this book. It inspired me on multiple levels.

The Pass

Lyrics for your Friday.

The Pass

Proud swagger out of the school yard
Waiting for the world’s applause
Rebel without a conscience
Martyr without a causeStatic on your frequency
Electrical storm in your veins
Raging at unreachable glory
Straining at invisible chains

And now you’re trembling on a rocky ledge
Staring down into a heartless sea
Can’t face life on a razor’s edge
Nothing’s what you thought it would be

All of us get lost in the darkness
Dreamers learn to steer by the stars
All of us do time in the gutter
Dreamers turn to look at the cars
Turn around and turn around and turn around
Turn around and walk the razor’s edge
Don’t turn your back
And slam the door on me

It’s not as if this barricade
Blocks the only road
It’s not as if you’re all alone
In wanting to explode

Someone set a bad example
Made surrender seem all right
The act of a noble warrior
Who lost the will to fight

And now you’re trembling on a rocky ledge
Staring down into a heartless sea
Done with life on a razor’s edge
Nothing’s what you thought it would be

No hero in your tragedy
No daring in your escape
No salutes for your surrender
Nothing noble in your fate
Christ, what have you done?

 

 

Going in With Eyes Wide Open

Every human has emotional, mental and spiritual needs.  And certainly those differ from person to person.  The trick is who or what you use/ask to meet the needs.

One area that I have observed that is way out of whack is our use of work in meeting needs.  Many folks have expectations of their employers that are totally unrealistic.  One of the best examples is unspoken (unwritten in most cases) agreement when a job is taken/filled..Often the employee sees it as a statement of worth that "xyz" employer would hire him or her.  Conversely, the employer assumes the employee knows that the relationship is conditional.  Conditional in that the job remains as long as the economic output justifies it. 

I belieive you're responsible for yourself and not your employer.  My point is the necessity of going in with eyes wide open.  Doing and creating great work doesn't hurt either.

Have You Seen This Movie?

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There's a blockbuster movie playing right now. Have you seen this movie? Don't get me wrong, the movie may not be your cup of tea. You may hate it. You may love it.

It's your life.

My reel has been going on for some time now. So many roles and so many questions. The challenge is you can't sit back with a bowl of popcorn and see it unfold. Other people can, though.

Enter Brian.

Brian told me the other week that he's been watching my movie. He gave me confirmation of what I hoped was unfolding (significance versus success). I think I nodded and thanked him with a level of awkwardness. The awkwardness came from my recollection of the times that I screwed up. Those scenes you'd rather have left on the cutting room floor. I still walked away, just the same, happy for the glimpse.

Do you have someone who can tell you what your movie has been like? Here's the trick, if you walk around like a dead man or woman, most people will have a hard time remembering anything you've created. I'm struck by how our world allows human beings to walk around like a zombies.

Make a movie worth seeing.

Are You An Entrepreneur Yet?

One of my coaching clients sent me this article on entrepreneurism. Specifically, the coming change in our workplace landscape. Many would say we're under way and I agree. The article includes a telling infographic as well.

So what are you doing about the shift? No drastic measures needed (maybe), just some hard looking and processing. One of the best ways to do this is written planning. Brainstorm the thing and ask lots of questions. By the way, throw the glamour, riches and elation around your employer out the window. This is about your work (the unique talents, gifts and passions forged into one), not your career, not your 401K.

I've written about this topic for some time. It was nice to have a client forward on an article of this magnitude. It encouraged me and it made me realize the work still to be done.

Value

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I've been thinking a lot about value lately. Specifically, the conversations and presence with my kids. In the last seven years my core has been fully engaged with them. Not because I'm some rock star at parenting or a nominee for father of the year. Believe me, I've tripped and blown it more times than I care to remember. It has been a God-induced form of luck, struggles and on-purpose effort.

I didn't always find real value in my kids. I loved them and many times justified my career chasing as a benefit they'd reap from. I was afraid and self-absorbed. Always thinking I would get the time, find the time or that time would send me a relationship wrapped in red ribbons. It is about prioritizing and being deliberate about pouring yourself into the relationship. I was humbled by that truth. And, yes, it carries tremendous risk. Living always presents this and there is no living without it.

I'm now at a place where I understand true value and I am learning the art of living it out. Living it out means seeing, in the arena of my family, my relationship with them as equally valuable as a financial pursuit or a social engagement.

Here's the potential rub for you and me. If we're not careful we'll allow our career to dominate the other 7/8ths of life. Like a drug, we'll want (not need) that fix. You know, the feeling of importance, fake significance and most dangerously, identity. Don't fall for this, don't buy into your employer who tries to convince you that their most important should be your most important. Like Steven Pressfield's Resistance, in the book, The War of Art,   there is something fighting against your best intentions.

A few years ago a friend of mine told me he thought I was courageous to walk away from a career that had taken over much of my life. I wasn't, but I did see (sometimes not clearly) value in life and living. That truth remains.

5 Questions with Dan Schawbel, Author of Promote Yourself

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I've known Dan Schawbel for quite a few years now and he is one of the best when it comes to the art of personal branding. His new book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules of Career Success, distills great advice to all who want move their careers forward.

I really appreciate Dan's answer to the first question. I try remember what makes me special and who the right audience is, daily. Enjoy!

 

You were one of the first thought leaders to talk about personal
branding. How has it changed over the last 5 years?

Personal
branding is the process by which we unearth what makes us special and then
communicate it to the right audience. You could also say it's what people say
when you're not in the room and how you position yourself in the marketplace.
The basics of personal branding haven't changed but the technology has and we
have to adapt to it in order to build and maintain our careers. The web, and
the media, is a lot more fragmented and competitive now which is the biggest
change from my perspective. Getting publicity is both easier and harder because
the web is more open, there are more channels but that means more competition.
The conversation has changed from five years ago. The conversation used to be
about how to build a brand using social networks five years ago because it was
so new. Today, it's all about standing out in the crowd.

Tell me a little about your partnership with American Express.

I
partnered with American Express to study two different things that are both
related. First, we wanted to know what managers look for when promoting in the
workplace. Second, we wanted to see if millennials and their managers were on
the same page when it came to career success. We surveyed 1,000 millennial
employees and 1,000 of their managers and uncovered some interesting findings.
We found that millennials have a positive view of their managers, while their
managers had a negative view of them. We also uncovered that managers are
looking for an employee with strong soft skills over one with hard skills when
promoting. Another interesting thing was that a lot of companies don't give any
feedback and some don't even have annual performance reviews. Social media
isn't embraced at all in most companies still and managers don't really care if
an employee has social media skills. This will all change in the future as
millennials become managers.

What’s one strategic way to promote yourself inside of a large
organization?

The best way to promote yourself inside of a large organize is
to go above and beyond your job description and expand your responsibilities.
This does a few things for you. First, it takes the load off of your manager so
that they can concentrate on taking on projects that will help them get ahead,
which will in effect get you ahead. Second, people will start perceiving you as
a future leader so you will advance faster than your peers. Third, it will give
you more experience and make you more valuable to your firm. If all you do is
what you did yesterday, it's impossible to get ahead at work.

In your book you detail how social media impacts personal
branding. Has social media made the traditional resume obsolete?

The traditional resume is evolving and will eventually be
displaced by your online presence. You could look at LinkedIn as being the
"new resume" but it's really just your online presence. What does the
internet say about you? The problem with the traditional resume is that
everyone ends up looking the same and it only shows what you've done in the
past. The web is all about what's happening now. Your online presence gives
employers an idea of what you're thinking today and in the future.

What advice would you give to the millennial worker who feels
stuck and overlooked in their current role?
 

If
you feel stuck there are a number of things you can do to get unstuck. First,
you need to go to your manager and ask for more responsibilities outside of
your current ones. If that doesn't work and you've been at your company for two
years, then try and apply to other positions at your current company. If that
doesn't work, then you have three more options. You could go to graduate
school, which is only a good idea if a degree is required or highly encouraged
in your field. You could quit and start a company but that only works if you've
already been working on it on nights and weekends and have enough money saved
up to pursue it. You can take a job at a different company if you find one or
if a recruiter emails you about one. It really depends on your career
aspirations, how much money you've saved and who is in your network to support
you.

Dan Schawbel is a Gen Y career and workplace expert, the Founder of Millennial
Branding and the author of the new book,
Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin's Press).