Changing the Lens on Job Opportunities

The stories that we grew up hearing, the advice that we listened to whether willingly or not, and the modeling our families showed us – create the fiber of who we are, for better and worse. We start seeing the world through various lens and viewpoints, with some biases and “shoulds.” And for most of us, it gets confusing when we look at our own career.

I was taught to get a good, stable job; make heaps of money so you never have to worry about it; work hard – it gets recognized; climb the ladder; and pick one path and stay on it. You probably have your own story about what your career should be about, where today’s world of work or your own personal work style/preferences, don’t even enter the equation.

That’s why it is so difficult for us to make career changes. It’s why other people sometimes can’t understand our perspective.

But it’s time to shift the lens in which we make career decisions, ever so slightly. Breaking free a little piece of our own stories, will open up opportunities you’ve never knew were possible.

On a daily basis, I hear clients pondering turning down a job offer because they weren’t going to make “enough” money or because it didn’t have the next-level title. And instead, they go back to their job search miserable trying to find their very own purple unicorn.

What if this is the place where we shift our lenses? What if the way we look at opportunities, overt and hidden, change – taking us on a slightly different than originally planned course, but much more satisfying in the long run?

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What It Means to Be Professional

It was my first day in a real corporate job, I was wearing my business professional (you can’t go casual on day one) outfit, ready to conquer the world. I looked the part, acted the part, but was not feeling the part. I was in the “fake it ‘til you make it” phase of my career – trying so hard to be “professional.”

I’m not really sure where I got the impression that I had to be buttoned up at all times when at work, but it had a long-lasting impact on my career and overall “self.” We are inundated with nuggets of advice like “dress for the job you want,” and act as if you are already in the next position. Decent advice, but how does it all fit into your idea of being “professional?”

I went along with the set expectations of the professional working world – wearing black pants with a suitable blouse daily, answering emails instantaneously, and using acceptable pen colors and notebooks. In other words, I complete erased my own identity at work in the name of being professional.

Looking back, I often wonder if my unhappiness in my corporate world originally stemmed from having to hold back so much of myself, in order to climb up the ladder. I was just so tired of muting my personality and love of color, to live up to someone else’s idea of being professional.

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Success in Different Shades

Success is defined differently for each person. To this day, when I come across someone who uses the word success to describe their career, it makes me pause and try and reverse engineer that person’s definition… and then I compare it to my definition.

And the comparison is what gets me every time.

When I was younger in my career, I used to judge other people’s definition of success. I’d consider their title, the company – both size and prestige, ponder how much money they were probably making, and determine where that landed them on my measuring stick.

Probably not that atypical, but based on where they landed in the comparison game, I would then feel better or worse about myself.

As I have gotten older and worked on who I am as a person, my own definition of success has changed and morphed into something completely unrecognizable by the definition when I was younger – in a good way, I think.  But I still have moments of comparison – twinges of jealously, questions of regrets.

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Getting Out of Tactical Hell

What have I always hated about “work?” The consistent answer is being in tactical hell. I’m guessing you feel my pain. Being able to not only strategize, but tactical deliver is considered a huge differentiator in the workplace and in the solopreneur world. You don’t just think, you do.

But isn’t tactical hell… hell?

In the corporate environment, knowing the nitty gritty details and being able to execute them, is valued. Perhaps it even helps you with job security in some positions. When you become known as the go-to person for X, Y or Z, then your stock in the company goes up as well.

But how do you move past paying your dues with tactical delivery and transition into strategy and leadership?

I have worked at various small and large companies across the U.S. One of the most mind-boggling things that is consistent throughout all of them, is senior leaders, dealing with the tactical BS – constantly. Directors, VPs, and above wanting to stay intimately connected with the tactical delivery of their scope of responsibility.

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Back to the Grind

Today, the day after Labor Day in the U.S., could possibly be the most dreaded and awful day of the year. Just the thought of going back to work today probably made you groan – I know it made me groan, and I worked yesterday. But alas, “summer fun” is over and it’s time to get back to the grind.

It’s Time to Get Moving

We dread today for a reason – it marks the end of summer slacking and vacations, and it marks the beginning of the mad-dash to meet your annual milestones and prove your worth. The pressure is back on, if it ever left, and you have four months to deliver at the highest levels.

If you’re anything like me though, there isn’t a “game on” switch for work. Being disengaged one day and then being fully immersed in outcomes the next day, isn’t easy. Motivation doesn’t come because the world is telling us to “GET BACK TO WORK!”

So perhaps we need a little kick-start or perspective, hmm?

What if I told you that what you do and accomplish during the next four months will have a greater halo effect on how your annual performance is perceived, than the previous eight months combined?

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