Career Exploration-Other Places to Get Started

greatest-strength-greatest-weaknessSometimes you think that the answer, the key to what path you should be pursing is right in front of you and you just can’t see it. Unlocking your approach is a first step. Below are questions that can help in getting started with your self-interview.

1. What topics do you enjoy helping others with?

2. What topics do friends, co-workers, managers, or family members call on you for help with?

3. What subjects make you want to share what you know with strangers, peers, and acquaintances?

4. What problems make you want to discover a better way of doing something?

5. What topics are you drawn to find out more about?

6. What are your favorite books and/or movies?

7. What subjects are represented by the books on your bookshelves?

8. What did you always want to be when you grew up?

9. What subjects fascinated you as a child?

10.What life experiences or life-changing events make you want to share what you’ve learned with others?

11.What process or set of steps do you do regardless of the topic or task at hand?

12.What tools, equipment, or raw material do you like to use in your work?

13.What characteristics describe your favorite clients or customers? (Age, gender, belief system, cultural/ethnic background, life stage, education level, income level, problem or life situations, shared interest, lifestyle, particular talent, etc.)

© MWeisner2017

Rule Maker, Breaker or Bender?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAATeAAAAJDEzZWI0NTY5LTg0YmQtNGI5Yi1iZTg4LWNmNzVkZTkwODdjZARules are made to be…?

What is it about “rules” that spawn an immediate response? Do you follow in lock step, bristle at the mere idea, immediately envision the best way to get around it or do you defiantly act to undermine it?

Rule maker, rule breaker, or rule bender? Which one are you?

According to Barbara Apple Sullivan, CEO of a NYC strategies and communications firm, rule breaking for women is essential for their business success. She is an inveterate coupon clipper and can accurately predict whether an outdated coupon will be accepted by a cashier. Invariably male cashiers will take the coupons while their female counterparts will not. In her many years of experience as a manager, Ms. Sullivan states that, “Women take action according to the letter of the law, while men are more inclined to flout rules to be true to the spirit of the law. Women are rule followers and perfectionists. They want to be right.” Furthermore, she goes on to state that, “Women dot I’s and cross T’s, but that is not always the way to win a war that’s being fought in a world of masculine values.”

How accurate is this anecdotal research on the part of Ms. Sullivan? Is it sexist, harsh, or exactly what you know to be true? When I read her “theory”, my first inclination was to reject it as a silly premise, but then I began to do a rapid review of people with whom I have worked over the years. Age has a lot to do with it, and of course, the position held by the person making the determination, but overall, more than not, I would have to agree with the gender behavior she describes. In fact, even reflecting back on my own responses, I know that I have made decisions based on adherence to rules and/or guidelines. Were they set in stone? What was the purpose and potential impact? There was no circumstance where anarchy was in the offing, but too often, adhering strictly to them was pre-programmed on my part. On the other hand, when confronted with rules that affect me, I am most inclined to evaluate their relevance and proceed to make my own decision.

Overall, sexist generalizations or not, women who want to be leaders may best begin by recognizing that sometimes it is not only OK to bend or break the rules, it is critical to your professional success!

• Are you a rule maker, rule breaker or rule bender?
• Recall a recent event that could have had a different result
• What’s one “rule” you can bend or break without affecting others adversely?
• Do it!
©2015 Maureen Weisner

Actor or Reactor?

imagesCA51GAWSThe Actor: Are you a “player”, the take charge, decisive, creative and forward thinking woman with a10-year plan on her home page? Are you prepared for any emergency, ready to exchange your clothes for a cape and tights in a phone booth at a moment’s notice? (Good luck finding a phone booth!) Are you the professional woman, wife, mother, sister, friend and colleague who is the principle resource for everyone? You are officially on notice because we hate/love you and this internal conflict makes us uncomfortable.

The Reactor: Are you a “responder”, checking the weather report before you continue? Does the forecast determine your plan of action or inaction? Does it require a committee decision to proceed or have you been victimized again by something out of your control? Are you so pre-occupied with what is happening or might happen that you are overwhelmed by the circumstances? You too are officially on notice because we know that your desire to contribute or initiate has been squelched and we want more of you to show up front and center.

Trust or lack thereof appears to be a key element for the actor and for the reactor. It is not always necessary to be at the head of the line, nor is it in our best interest to consistently bring up the rear. In fact, many of us operate somewhere in the middle based on the circumstance and relationship. However, without an assigned role, you can experiment and enjoy the benefits that new behaviors may bring. Freedom and flexibility are two that come to mind immediately.

Are you more often an actor or a reactor?
• Notice your automatic response to a request or situation
• What were your thoughts? Judgments?
• Count to 10 before taking action
• What’s different?
©2014 Maureen Weisner

OUCH! Stop Punishing Yourself

Mistakes-Precious Life LessonsMistakes, mistakes, mistakes…if we are human, we have all made them. We may have compassion for other people, yet too frequently we refuse to stop punishing ourselves for past missteps, indiscretions, poor planning, lack of judgment, etc. The list could go on forever. Too often we examine our own actions under a relentlessly unforgiving spotlight, long after the event has occurred. Yes, we have all experienced hurtful behavior and may have been the responsible person, yet for the most part it is possible to make amends or corrections.

From this moment going forward, put a statute of limitations on your mistakes. Stop punishing yourself. Give yourself a deadline. According to Dr. Alan Zimmerman, you might even create a short script for yourself like, “After this date (specify), I will not put myself down or beat myself up for this mistake or that failure (specify). It’s done. It’s over. I refuse to spend any more energy ruminating about it.” Moreover, hold yourself accountable for doing it. The blame game is so de-energizing and once you release yourself from the fatiguing dance, your confidence will improve, oftentimes dramatically.

With respect to the question of forgiveness, a bolder step is posited by Stanford University consultant, Dr. Fred Luskin , author of the book, “Forgive for Good”. He says, “You can let go of a grudge you’ve held against someone even if you never see or speak to that person again. Forgiving takes place inside the person who has the change of heart, not the person who is forgiven.” He never suggests that the behavior was okay or that the offender gets a pass on their actions. Rather, it is about taking care of oneself and not being the person who takes poison and waits for the other person to die. In fact, in the act of forgiveness you are the person who has taken back their power.

The same truth applies to self-forgiveness. When you forgive yourself for past mistakes, you also free yourself from the attachment to them. It takes a conscious effort to change old patterns of behavior. However, when you can take even a small step towards shifting your thoughts from blame and hurt to self-healing and peace, you are achieving a new level of self-care. Greater self-knowledge begets greater self-confidence and an opportunity to give “self-punishment” a rest.

ACTION:
• Who do you need to forgive?
• Write the script?
• Speak it aloud as many times as you find necessary
• Give yourself a BIG hug!

©2014 Maureen Weisner