Bring Your Passion to the Workplace

Bring Your Passion to the WorkplaceMy father was a country boy from Mississippi. In his early twenties, when my grandfather became ill, being the eldest, he was held responsible for running the family farm which helped feed his nine brothers and sisters. I’m sure this expanded his perspective about what was possible.

He wanted more. “More” in the fifties was going west. He ended up in Los Angeles where he was able to land an assembly-line worker job at General Motors. Through that job, dad was able to accomplish much-he married, was able to sustain four children while my mom was a stay-at-home mother, and acquired income property and a nice nest egg.

After thirty years, he was able to retire with a handsome pension that took care of both himself and mom. He was a loyal worker and GM was loyal to him. Those were the good old days.

Why Live Your Purpose?

Our economy has shifted. Good pensions are passé, lay-offs and demotion punctuate the economic landscape and many companies have tanked. Displaced workers are asking themselves, “How do I redefine myself and get back into the workforce?” Some have stopped trying.

For those who remain employed, after decades in their industries, the pressures of doing more for less pay and internal dissatisfaction with job duties has taken its toll.

Is this you?

Flickers of your dreams sporadically bob up into consciousness as you robotically show up and do your nine to five job each day. Knowing your passions, but unable to live them in your life just adds frustration to the daily grind.

Include office politics, strained employee relationships and the lack of resources to do your job effectively, and the friction inevitably creates a dull angst, fatigue, or futility which in turns douses productivity and morale.

You ask ourselves throughout your career, “Is this all there is to life? How much more boring can this get? How much longer can I stay silent to some of these egregious things happening at this job?”
The result? Engagement in work is at an all-time low.

The majority of American employees are not dedicated to their company, co-workers or mission of the organization.

There are quite a few legitimate reasons why workers are disengaged. Illness, injuries, heavy workloads and other stressors such as, eldercare and childcare can explain the growing phenomenon. However, absenteeism also results from worker disengagement. Persevering, commitment to excellence and focus is difficult to maintain when disinterest and the underutilization of workers’ strengths mark the workplace.

When workers mindlessly do tasks of the job or feel overwhelmed by a sense of incompetence because they’re operating in a weak zone, you find employees unenthusiastically doing just enough to retain the position, rather than pursuing excellence, innovation and persistence.

Sadly, employee absenteeism cost US business owners billions of dollars. Replacement workers, administrative cost to process absences and wages paid to absent workers take its toll. Indirect consequences to worker absenteeism include, extensions on projects, poorer quality goods and services and frustration between co-workers because of the extra work load caused by absences.

We all suffer when employees are uncommitted to work.

Recently, my smartphone died on three different occasions. I couldn’t figure out the cause. I just knew my phone was critical. So, I went to the carrier because they were the “experts, ” and could identify and fix the problem.

Driving to the closet store, between business appointments, I got there and waited ten minutes for a sales representative. I described the problem. I showed him my charger. He plugged into his station. As I awkwardly sat on the stool, perusing the oversized posters which advertised their latest packages, and gazing at the other uncomfortable customers on their stools, the rep verified it would not charge.

The young sales associate insisted it was a defective phone. He excused himself to talk to his manager. Luckily, securing a new phone was covered under my contract, which meant I did not have to pay for it, and they immediately put in an order. Problem solved.

Or was it?

Days later, I received my new cell phone. Eagerly, I tore opened the tan box, and prepared to charge it. Again the phone would not charge, no matter what wall socket I plugged it into, it instantly turned on then off. Racking my hair with my fingers in frustration, I took it to a different store.

Surely I thought they’ll handle this and I can move on with life.

I will spare you the details, just know the above scenario repeated itself a couple of times.

On my fourth and final trip to the store, my saucer-shaped eyes and my forcefully modulated voice communicated my desperation. I handed her the black charger I used. The female sales associate excused herself and waltzed back with a white charger in her hand and said, “Your problem is a common one. You are using a generic charger with this phone. In time, they are no longer effective at charging your phone model. You need the brand charger. For your trouble, I’ll just give it to you. ” The charger worked. Problem solved.

Three weeks were spent trying to remedy this issue. Could it be that these were inexperienced employees or were they uncommitted ones? It’s difficult to pinpoint. But mangers were consulted. You’d think they’d know I had a charger issue. You’ve got to wonder how committed were these employees in making the full impact they’ve could have made by helping a loyal customer a little sooner.

On the other hand, research finds workers who incorporate their strengths in executing tasks are far more energized and positive. Concentration deepens as a worker delves into interesting tasks. This can result in cutting edge ideas, new approaches to long standing problems, and better work quality. Additionally, natural ability and interests bolsters a feeling of confidence and accomplishment. The company benefits from employees who operate in their strength zone.

This begs the larger question, How do you reinvigorate the workplace to encourage cutting edge creativity, passion, loyalty, problems solving skills and collaboration to bear on projects and programs within you organization?

If you’re lost in boredom and unfulfilled on the job, how can you bring more meaning to your position? Working with a mentor who can help you see ways in which you can utilize your natural abilities at the workplace is one avenue to explore, or you can join a leadership mastermind group with seasoned leaders who can support and give you feedback as you reinvent yourself. Or you can read this book which can help you create a viable plan, map out signposts, strategies and give insight to support you as you commit more deeply to living your purpose.

Just as much as we need the fruit from your extraordinary talent, you need to find the boldness to embrace the struggle to bring your destiny into manifestation whereupon you will experience deep fulfillment and aliveness.

When workers discover and utilize their strengths in the workplace to whatever degree, morale and a sense of meaning bloom. Employees produce more in excellence because they are engaged and buy-in to the contribution they can make to the mission of the company. This in turn strengthens the company. So, identifying and setting goals to grow your core talents is a stepping stone towards fulfilling your ultimate destiny.

Passion Projects

Stimulation, fun and meaning in the workplace makes going to work enjoyable. So find ways to integrate your passion at work. Regularly find what I call Passion Projects to get involved with. To get started, evaluate your reactions to events on the job. What do you feel strongly about? What makes you angry? Which top five values do you espouse the most? What keeps you up at night? What interest can you integrate more into the job? Where do you see your attention landing? Pick your projects carefully.

In my last two years as a teacher, I joined a new school teaching fourth grade. On the first day, predictably, the principal gave me a tour of the school, and it ended at the front door of my new classroom. As the principal dangled the keys to identify the right one, I eagerly anticipated what it would look like. As he swung the door open, however, I was shocked as I walked around. Deeply ingrained, dark stains layered the once gold carpet. I envisioned hundreds of students’ feet, food stains and “accidents” defining what I was looking at. Long gray strips of duck-tape covered four, four to five feet gaping rips, and there was a strong, unidentifiable odor.

“Mr. B”, I blurted, ” this is a health hazard. Is it possible to get new carpet?”

“This is the best I can do Roz,” he said in frustration. “This carpet is fourteen years old. I know it’s not acceptable, but I’ve been asking for carpet for three years and the district has not honored my request. ” He scurried to his office. “

At first, I thought: You know you’re new to the school so let it go Roz. So make the best of it.

So I tried to ignore the issue.

For the next two weeks, I opened all the windows as I taught, but students informed me how the room reeked of urine. At the end of each day, I was either sneezing continuously, suffering with a tight chest, battling laryngitis or nursing a throbbing headache.

These symptoms eased a couple of hours after I left the worksite.

My anger grew.

After all, I realized the school was out of compliance by offering this room to the students. It was a health hazard. Additionally, I’m sensitive to the educational needs of inner city students and felt moved to dig deep, find courage and get new carpet.

I was stepping into the unknown, but I knew I had to do this on behalf of my students.

As I thought about it, I realized how powerful a few parents could be in championing this cause. The school district may not listen to one teacher, I thought, but they always respond to disgruntled parents. So, I tracked down the president of the Parent Teachers Association.

I asked Mrs. Vasquez to meet me in my room one morning.

She brought the Vice President of the PTA, Mrs. Vega with her, and gingerly knocked on the door of room thirty, just minutes before the students had to line up to be brought to class.

“Thank you for coming,” I said. I’ll have to pick up the students in a minute. “I have one question for you.”

As parents, would allow your children to be a student in this class?”

Both looked alarmed, taken aback by my blunt question, as they more closely examined the room.

“It’s OK.” I said softly. “I just want an honest answer.”

Then the president sighed, looked at the VP and uttered, “Mrs. Henderson. No. This room is filthy. The carpet is horrible. The kids deserve better.”

“I absolutely feel the same way. Can you help me get new carpet for the room?”

I then learned the president was acquainted with the Chief Financial Officer of the district.

Within a few minutes we constructed a plan. We’d immediately started an email campaign for a month to see if the CFO would honor our carpet request.

Within two months, not only my room, but three other classrooms in the school were carpeted!

We were elated. The PTA parents and I smiled widely as the students entered the class after the carpet’s installation. (We did not let them in on the secret) The wide eyes, the jumping with excitement and the incessant chatter among the students reminded me of a Christmas morning opening gifts. For three years the principal said his request for carpet was denied, but we got it done in three months! A deep sense of accomplishment and fulfillment reenergized me. The take away is this—-your values fuel your passions which can transform your surroundings.

In Forbes Magazine, I read an account about a twenty-two-year-old university student, Barclay Okari, who attended the University of Nairobi. To round out his resume, he decided to teach at the local all girls high school. He observed over time that a large number of students were regularly absent once a month. Upon further investigation he learned that they were absent during their monthly cycle. Most of the young ladies were so poor that they were unable to purchase sanitary pads so elected to stay home.

With grit and determination, Barclay asked to borrow fifteen hundred dollars from his parent, and his researched and produced an affordable reusable sanitary pad. To date, a million pads has been sold across East Africa. Mr. Okari was the 2013 nominee for Excellence in Entrepreneurship sponsored by the MasterCard Foundation.

Note this man’s deep desire to see these young women present to learn. He understood the power of education which compelled him to use his creativity to solve the absentee issue. Indeed, his was a significant passion project.

Utilizing Your Position to Support Your Destiny

Oftentimes the workplace is the training ground to develop you for your ultimate destiny. A career path can help you perfect skills, and interests while you develop your character.

Be observant as you answer these questions: “Under what circumstances do I get really stressed?” What are my strategies to create a work/life balance? How well do you deal with people issues? What people skills do you need to learn how to master? How can you use your position to further develop your strengths? What development programs can I take advantage of?

When your current employment can be viewed as a training ground to prepare you for the bigger picture—living your purpose—rather than as a final destination, employee engagement rises.

In many industries professional development programs are offered or you can read a book or listen to CDs to hone a specific skill. Shadow and take copious notes from a more experienced colleague in an arena of interest. There are conventions and associations to support your interest. Intentionally find ways to grow, particularly in your strength zone. Nothing is wasted when you approach work from this perspective.

Additionally, employment is a testing ground to develop you character. Your purpose, after all is undergirded by your character. We have surely witnessed talented people whose character marginalized the use of their gifting— charismatic pastors whose church topples due to sexual sin, senators caught in financial scandals that taint their records, a beloved teacher who is destroyed by verifiable accusations of molestation from scores of former students. Character and purpose are interlocking parts.

What Character Challenges Crop up at Work?

Handling adversity while keeping your faith is a difficult balancing act. What steps can you take to handle an irate boss or difficult customer? How do you manage to stay motivated during adversity to do excellent work? How can you live your values in an unsupportive work environment? How can you grow your emotional intelligence so self-care is on top of the list instead of the bottom? How can increased self-awareness strengthen your performance at work?

Facing adversity oftentimes necessitates you answering these questions which prepares you for greater responsibilities your ultimate purpose demands.

Sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture and get bogged down in the intricacies of a current dilemma. But the test reveals where you have yet to grow in character and can be the impetus for that growth. Amazingly, when you look back at your life you can see how your steps were ordered to define your character and leverage your purpose.

Mental Shift

Identifying and grasping the big picture is an act of faith and it changes how you view work, the people that surround you, and the adversities you’ve faced. TD Jakes, a renowned mega pastor, author and movie producer, noted that past circumstances and current ones may be a vehicle that brings you to your purpose.

I agree.

Recently, I had an “aha” moment. My mind drifted as I was writing an article, “Why do you like doing research so much? I thought. My passion for accurate information is based on my disdain for inaccurate information. As a child of an agoraphobic mother I remember feeling disconnected from people and events. I felt I didn’t belong, nor mattered. Socially anxious, being around people was something my mother did less and less of as the years went by. So, we rarely left the house other than to go to school or do a few errands. My shyness and social awkwardness was birthed from the palatable anxiety I felt daily in my household. Because of my limited interaction with the world, television shows such as, like the “The Brady Bunch” and “The Jeffersons” became a pseudo guide for living, and interactions with a few people throughout my childhood shaped my very narrow worldview.

The culmination of my social anxieties and insecurities became apparent in early adulthood. I had difficulty making friends, persisting in college and was constantly nervous—to the point of having panic attacks.

So, deeply frustrated one day, I vowed to go on a quest to identify what missing information I needed, and what erroneous thinking I had to overcome to make life work. Building social skills and a rigorous dedication to personal growth was born out of my childhood. A lengthy and difficult process, my dedication to becoming my best self, was nonetheless well worth it. I’ve become more successful, more authentic, relational, empathetic and joyful. These are the roots underpinning my ever growing passion for accurate knowledge that gets results in life.

Everything you’ve suffered can be used to usher you into your purpose. Even if you were abandoned as a child or you experienced abuse at the hands of a trusted adult, no matter how many tears you’ve cried or the profound heartaches you’ve suffered, through faith and choice, it can be recycled into wisdom and a beautiful purpose that serves you, your family and the greater community. Keep moving step by step towards your purpose. Authentic fruit results as God prunes and uses our lives.

To be energized, creative, authentic and joyful, incorporating your unfolding purpose is vital. Whether you’re working a nine to five, or are an entrepreneur: actively involved in passion projects, or seeking personal growth, keep the big picture in mind. Your work is to fully live out your potential, so that innovation and your unique calling changes the lives of those around you.

 

How to Start to Be a Professional

Be a ProfessionalBecoming a professional is an extremely daunting task. Knowing where to start your professional career can be equally as daunting. To decide where you want to go with your career is the first step. The best way to decide where you want to go you must find what you are passionate about.

Finding something that drives you is as simple as looking into your hobbies and finding out what you look forward to at the end of the day. If you look forward to your weekend fishing on the weekends, then go and look for jobs selling boats, or in a manufacturing facility that sells boats to retail distributors. Find what you enjoy to talk about. If you enjoy talking about the subject, it will show at your job as well as to your customer. People enjoy being around someone who loves their job and is passionate about a subject. This will help fuel your business. Also being happy at work is key to having professional career because your passion will drive you to more career accomplishments.

Once you have found what you are passionate about; you have to start to research that field. In any one particular field there are many different jobs. The best way to do this is to take tours of facilities or to take an internship at a company that is within your field. Hands-on experience is one of the best ways to learn about a particular field. Another way to increase your knowledge basis on a particular field is to start going to school with it. Having a college degree is necessary to get to the next level of management in a given field.

Once you have decided where you want to go you have to come up with a strategy to get there. Start with building a chronological tree chart to show what kind of skills and activities you will need to get your end dream job. Also this chart will help you identify some of the accomplishments that you want to have within your career. This also will help give you a timeline of your goals and accomplishments.

Once you have the knowledge and the plan the next part is easy you have to just start. Having an informed start to your career sets you up for success. But you have to start. Motivating yourself every single day so that you do not have restart your career is just as critical. Being efficient is extremely critical because every single day you are being inefficient someone else is being efficient. It is not difficult to fall behind in professionalism. True professionals work hard every single day and every single action furthers their career. If you want to a level of professionalism that you can make your own schedule and have flexibility in your life style, you must work hard to be professional every single day. Starting is not difficult, but making an effective efficient start is difficult.

These guidelines to get started are flexible and have the ability to be tailored specifically to the field that you want to be in. Regardless of what field that you want to be in or what job you want to have you have to do the following: find a direction, research the direction, and start in that direction. Putting ideas on paper and reading about what sounds interesting helps to bring a tangible element to what you want to do. Making it tangible in your mind is going to help you to start thinking about all the things you can do which is going to help get you even more passionate about a subject. Passion directed towards a field is going to help bring professionalism to your field.

Aiming for Work Life Synergy

Work-Life‘Men for the sake of getting a living, forget to live.’ Margaret Fuller

In all likelihood you’ve been there… and you may have seen generations of your family and friends go through the same! You’re working endlessly, but find that you have so little to show for it! Hard work alone doesn’t always pay, and that’s a fact. I’ve had times where the days of stress accumulated into weeks, which then turned into months, and when it started to affect my health, I told myself that I wouldn’t put myself through that again. As the story goes though, my work-horse nature took over, and before I knew it I began working frantically yet again, scrambling to ridiculous self-imposed deadlines, with weeks passing by in a blur. Thankfully, a bit of good sense kicked in, and although I had to make a concerted effort to do so, I forced myself to stop, take a step back, assess the situation and devise ways of working smarter and not harder. And that’s not just something that ‘people’ say. You can actually get more done in less time, and lead a more balanced life in the process.

Anyone who knows me, will know that I’m a hard worker by nature… and I do believe that having goals and working toward them is good for you, but one of the major mindset changes for me has been getting around to understanding that just working hard doesn’t always mean that you’ll reach your goals. What I’ve learned instead, is that periods of rest, enjoyment and contemplation not only helps to rejuvenate, but also assist with focus and creativity when you do actually get back to your scheduled tasks. I struggled for a while, feeling guilty if I took time out when I still had outstanding tasks to complete, but I managed this by scheduling my tasks as well as time out. Taking time for yourself doesn’t mean that you’re being lazy or avoiding work, it just means that you’re taking care of an additional area of responsibility- i.e. your responsibility toward ensuring your general well-being.

I now work toward practicing the concept of totality… looking at all the areas of my life that need attention, and my overall well-being. Depending on priorities, there will undoubtedly be times where the emphasis and your energies are focused on one area more than any other, but the important thing is to keep the others on your radar, and divert attention back to them as soon as you are able to.

 

5 Ways Your Online Lifestyle Can Ruin a Career Opportunity

Lost My JobMany people want to keep their “work lives” and their “personal lives” separate. However, with social media it has become more and more difficult to keep the two worlds from colliding. Today’s employers will look through social profiles in order to help them decide who would be a good candidate for a job position. The amount of information you publish on social media sites makes it easy for potential employers to have access to your personal life, which could turn out to be bad for you if they happen to spot some things that will turn them off, and ruin your opportunity to get the job.

1. Vulgarity and Obscenity: People generally speak on the internet the way they speak in real life. Or at least that’s the way employers think. If you use vulgar language in your profiles, then employers will assume you lead a lifestyle where you speak publicly the same way, and they will not want to hire someone who they cannot trust to communicate in a professional manner.

2. Negativity: Employers want to hire people who will keep a positive atmosphere in their company. If you are a negative person, don’t show it. Don’t post negative comments or quotes on your online profiles, and when you are at work, try your hardest to be positive and upbeat. People have actually been terminated because of posting negative comments and/or making negative or derogatory remarks in the workplace.

3. Gossip: If you gossip at work or gossip about co-workers or supervisors outside of the office, you can jeopardize your current job, your chance at a promotion, and your potential for new jobs. It may be hard, but try to avoid gossiping on the internet and everywhere else. Things you say on the internet travel fast and they stay there forever, even if you think you have gotten rid of them. Once your post has been seen by someone else, the damage is already done.

4. Overly Outspoken: If you have an extremely outspoken personality, it can cause problems. Now you don’t have to ignore your beliefs or not express them, but try to avoid “screaming” your beliefs over the internet or getting into arguments about them at work. While employers shouldn’t decide who to hire based on a candidate’s beliefs, they may have a negative feeling towards you if you are loud and obnoxious about those beliefs.

5. Hygiene and Appearance: Once again, employers cannot keep a job from you simply for how you look, but it can affect how they think about you. If you look unprofessional or you don’t appear to be clean in pictures that you have posted online, potential employers will not want to hire you because you may show up to work looking unprofessional and unclean.

Be smart with your social networking and think twice before posting controversial or negative information on your personal sites. Don’t hurt your chances of getting a great new job before the employer even has a chance to speak to you in person.

I Just Lost My Job Now what?

Lost My JobYOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND that being canned wasn’t your fault. After all you are in good company.

Job cuts have been the highest since 2009, says a survey by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas. According to the study, US companies announced plans to terminate over 65-thousand employees in April alone.

What to do after losing a job

Nobody needs to tell you that your task is to find another job pronto. And while this article gives you four handy pointers about what to do after being laid off, it’s critical that we start-off with what NOT to do. A job finding campaign that starts badly won’t end well because it will drag on and on and on.

So after you receive a pink slip, don’t make panicky calls to everyone you know to grumble about how upset you are over having to train people from India who have replaced you.

While that would piss anyone off, focus your attention on planning the right things to do after losing your job. Here are four tips to be done in order:

    1. Take care of unemployment claims along with internal business like your insurance and 401K plan.
    2. Update your resume or create a new one. This will make you feel better about yourself as you recall, through writing down your achievements, how good you are at what you do.
    3. Begin the networking process by making a list of your contacts. The list needs to include your associates – people with whom you work and know what you do. Then add friends, family members, professional people you know, contacts you did business with at your last job, and get your hands on an alumni list for your high school or college.
    4. Now pick up the phone and begin to make some calls. But you should call only selected names that you’ve checked-off. Those are the people who you think are most likely to want to help you.

Tell them about your being laid-off and what you’re looking for. Always end the conversation by asking, “Who do you know that you think I should be talking to?” This is the exquisite way to network because you’re not asking anyone for a job-just for leads.

Now what?

While it’s tough to lose a job, keep in mind that you now have another Job. It’s the fulltime job of finding a job. If you work as hard at the job of finding a job as you did on the position you lost, you’ll find your next position much sooner rather than much later.