8 Tips on Adopting a High-Performance Mindset

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a performance mindset as “the execution of an action.”

On the other hand, it defines a high-performance mindset as “better, faster, more efficient than others” and “producing results much higher than expected.”

A high-performance mindset is necessary for achieving peak performance and is something that most athletes try to achieve. Under each concept are examples from the world of athletics that can be applied to you as well.

Let’s take a look at the eight qualities you can do to achieve a high-performance mindset.

How to Adopt a High-Performance Mindset?

People with a high-performance mindset possess eight characteristics. These are developed through the years as these are not something people are born with.

They are achieved through hard work, effort, and consistency.

1. Setting Goals

People with high-performance mindsets create goals that are clear, specific, and realistic. [1]

When Hubie Brown took the head coaching position for the Atlanta Hawks NBA team, he knew he was in for a tough year. He had just coached the Kentucky Colonels to the championship of the American Basketball Association (ABA). Of the two leagues, the NBA had many more talented players than the ABA.

Hubie’s problem was that his Kentucky team was considerably more talented than his new Atlanta team. He knew that his Atlanta team would have difficulty winning in the tougher NBA.

He decided to see how many games Atlanta could lose under 10 points. This number was a clear, specific, and realistic goal. He knew they were not capable of winning, but if they could keep the games close, they would be showing the other, much more talented NBA teams just how competitive they were.

This initial attitude eventually led to 50-win seasons and the NBA playoffs.

2. Effort and Consistency

Effort alone is not enough. To develop a high-performance mindset, your effort must be consistent.

Bishop Kaffer, principal at Providence High School, led the school from near bankruptcy to solvency. He annually visited the homes of every freshman and every transfer who entered Providence. His consistent work ethic had him often working into the early morning hours at his desk and even attending a 7 am mass.

Dr. Orr, President of the University of St. Francis saved the institution from closure. He accomplished this in three ways.

  • First, he joined numerous community organizations. Prior presidents had little participation in community affairs, and therefore St. Francis had little local interest. Dr. Orr changed all that and made St. Francis an integral part of our community.
  • Second, he changed the enrollment from 500 full-time students to 4,000 students. St. Francis was asked to start a program where nurses with an RN degree from a nursing school could earn a BS degree by taking part-time hours while still working.
  • Third, he brought that St. Francis program into 19 states nationwide with over 3,000 part-time students.

High-performance men and women consistently bring great effort and energy to their work. [2]

3. The 5 P’s

“Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” – James Baker, President George H. W. Bush’s former Chief of Staff

Gordie Gillespie was an extraordinary coach in football, basketball, and baseball. He was named the Baseball Coach of the Century in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and was inducted into 18 Halls of Fame.

His practices were very organized and intense. One of his beliefs was “playing as you practice.” It was through his practices, with the emphasis on repetition, that he gave his players a high-performance mindset. He made his players believe that they were better than they thought they were!

Ed Spiezio, who played for Gordie, had a ten-year career in the Major Leagues. Ed devised an innovative way to practice batting. Whenever a cover was knocked off the ball in practices, Ed would take the cover, put socks in it, giving it the size of a baseball, then sew it back up.

His father and kids from the neighborhood would take those sock balls and pitch them to Ed from only 20 feet away. Through that practice, he became an outstanding hitter, especially against fastball pitchers. He carried this practice with his son, Scott, who played on two Major League World Series championship teams.

High-performance people know the value of the 5 P’s and practice them throughout their working years.[3]

4. Focus

A high school teacher once explained that to be focused, you can use a pen and summarize a paragraph or two in your own words when reading books. This method leads to laser-like focus while reading because it forces you to concentrate on the material.

When tested for studying for exams, you’ll realize that it doesn’t require much to reread the book. Instead, the summaries and interpretations will be enough.

In coaching, you will always look for concepts that can lead to laser-like focus for your players. You can use two techniques; one for mental focus and another for free throw shooting.

Saying the Expression “Give Me Your Eyes”

You only have seconds at time-outs during basketball games to get your points across. The idea is that when the coach has the players’ eyes, they very well may have the players’ brains.

Middle Ring Theory

When shooting free throws, most players look only at the rim. You can use the “Middle Ring Theory.” There are 7 ringlets on the rim that the net goes through. One of them is in the middle of the rim. The ball is 9 inches in diameter, and the rim is 18 inches in diameter. By focusing on the middle ring, the shooter can be slightly off to the right or left and still make the basket.

High-performance people eliminate distractions and give laser-like focus to the task at hand.[4]

5. Caring and Listening

People with a high-performance mindset give others more time, attention, and caring. They understand and execute that insightful maxim from John Maxwell that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

One of the best ways those with a high-performance mindset show they care is by developing the ability to listen. Listening is respect.

A survey of CEOs asked them how they spent their time. The results were:

  • 10% – Writing
  • 15% – Reading
  • 30% – Speaking
  • 45% – Listening

Almost half their time was spent listening.

An interesting take on listening is that it controls the conversation. Very few of us give that kind of credence to listening, but high-performance people do.

In a room of 1,000 people, when talking to you, they listen so aggressively that they make you think you are the only person in the room!

High-performance people show they care by listening.

6. Failure Quotient (FQ)

Most accomplishments have failure in their background. High-performance people work their way through failure. They turn obstacles into opportunities, and they do so because they have developed strong FQ.[5]

  • Thomas Edison failed in 10,000 experiments until he founded electricity.
  • Abraham Lincoln lost most of his elections until he was elected president of the United States.
  • Winston Churchill flunked 6th grade, and his teacher wrote that he was “dumb and hopeless.”
  • Mother Teresa often questioned her faith.

High-performance people conquer setbacks because of their strong FQs.

7. Think Differently – Courage

High-performance people are not afraid to think differently and have the courage to follow through on their instincts.

The gymnasium at Providence High School was not only exceptionally small but also had a tile floor! The gym was needed badly, so a position paper was written to start a fundraiser.

Sixteen wealthy people from the community were gathered by Bishop Kaffer to hear the story of why the gym is important for Providence’s future. Unfortunately, no one voted for the gym, and Bishop Kaffer was very disappointed. However, he decided that he would build the gym, despite the financial times.

He traded unions and got them to volunteer to build the gym. The ironworkers, pipe fitters, carpenters, plumbers, etc., all got behind the project. Everyone worked hand-in-hand with the tradesmen to make the gym a reality.

Bishop Kaffer thought differently and, with courage, pursued the completion of the gym. He surely has a high-performance mindset.

8. Have Fun and Humor

Humor dissipates pressure.

Most high-performance leaders are demanding. If the leader does not demand, nothing will get accomplished. However, the best leaders insert fun and humor into the workplace.

Coaches must demand that their players work hard mentally and physically every night in practice. One of the most demanding coaches in our country’s history was the great Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi. His two players, Paul Hornung and Max McGee were always testing his rules. One night they both missed curfew.

In front of the entire team, Lombardi gave them a substantial fine for the missed curfew. He then said if they missed again, he would give them an exorbitant fine. He thought for a minute after presenting the new fine, then told them, “if you could think of a place to go for that kind of money, take me with you!”

The University of St. Francis football team initially practiced at a park district field that was right next to a graveyard. In one practice, the offensive team was running plays for timing purposes with no defense.

The coach was Gordie Gillespie, a National Football Hall of Fame inductee. The players completely failed to run a certain play correctly and Gordie said nothing. They ran it incorrectly a second time with still no response from the Coach.

The third failure sent Gordie to the fence that separated the field from the graves. The baffled players stood and watched Gordie go the fence, face the graveyard, and yell to the graves, “hey, fellas, make room for Gordie. These guys are killing me!”

High-performance people do use humor to dissipate pressure.[6]

Tips on Achieveing a High-performance Mindset

5 Actions

Set goals that are clear, specific, and realistic. Be consistent, as effort will not be enough if you keep doing things differently.
Proper preparation prevents poor performance, or in short, keep practicing!
Focus and do anything and everything to keep your mental awareness at top levels.
Failure Quotient (FQ) can only be called a failure if you give up. Otherwise, they’re called experience.
Think differently and outside the box even when you’re alone and have the courage to follow through!

Final Thoughts

To have a high-performance mindset, you have to perform higher than you already know. One can have all the gifts and resources in life. But only with making the effort, consistency, persistency, courage, and humor as part of your everyday life, can one reach that higher level of performance.

In achieving peak performance, you have to take it one step at a time. The best mindset training starts by setting a goal. Then consistently following through and making every effort to complete a project. Mastering these values doesn’t have to happen overnight.

Soon, you’ll see yourself inspiring others as you show how a high-performance mindset separates losers from winners. Then at the end of the day, no matter what happens, don’t forget to laugh and smile.

Featured photo credit: John Aranoh via unsplash.com


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How to Handle a Passive Aggressive Boss at Work

Communication is the keystone for highly functioning teams and achieving maximum productivity. Every company ought to start this way, and most of them did. Still, sadly, when there’s a repeated pattern of communication breakdown, it inevitably has a ripple effect across the entire organization. This is often seen with passive-aggressive bosses at work.

The consequences of these actions can be devastating for professional and personal development. It can eventually lead to higher levels of employee burnout, disengagement, anxiety, and subsequent company turnover.

Unfortunately, these outcomes happen far too often in the workplace. With 4 out of 5 employees reporting that workplace stress affects their personal and professional relationships, the workplace has become an unwelcoming place.[1]

Most people wouldn’t report their true inner feelings and disappointments due to the potential consequences of speaking up. Here are some tips for passive-aggressive handling bosses.

How Do You Handle Passive-Aggressive Bosses?

A whopping 64% of employees feel that their leadership team doesn’t provide the support they need to fulfill their job requirements. And nearly 57% of employees report leaving their current roles because of lousy leadership.[2]

Passive-aggressiveness is a trend that can be even more damaging when a leader’s communication is skewed through passive-aggressive behaviors. Whether it be snarky comments, leading with deception, or a lack of owning results, these actions can have dire consequences on the overall performance of organizations and individual team members.

Dealing with a passive-aggressive boss is daunting and challenging. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible or shouldn’t be done.

When equipped with the right mindset and tools for navigating these situations, employees can overcome this burden to help their leaders eliminate these bad habits or find the clarity needed to look for another job. But before taking the other side of the road, let’s try taking the high road.

1. Ask The Hard Questions

Most of the time, even a passive-aggressive boss may not know he is acting the way he does. After all, bad habits aren’t always as apparent to the person who has them. So, keeping people honest is essential to finding solutions to this enduring problem.

In most situations, your boss may think they’re acting the right or normal way. Having acquired their passive-aggressive responses through poorly learned survival habits in their role has become everyday life for them. Regardless of the situation, you will always possess the power to navigate these muddy waters.

By asking questions and prioritizing clarification, you immediately place them in the hot seat for making decisions.[3]

If you feel like you are being left out of the project you can say and ask: “I’m not sure about the role I have on this project. Could you run me through this?”

When you seek more information, it shows that you are investing in creating high-quality outcomes. For example, during passive-aggressive behaviors, data may be withheld or used against you. It is always best to seek knowledge and information to avoid this trap.

Asking for feedback or clarity after a discussion is an effective way to help your boss gradually understand their shortcomings with their communication and efficiently use their words to guide your future actions. By ensuring high-level transparency, you will be able to execute your goals and ensure success in the long term.

2. Seek to Build Trust

Amazing things can happen when we intentionally invest time and energy into a relationship. With a passive-aggressive boss in the hot seat, they seek trusting relationships more than you may realize. Just as passive-aggressive managers are unaware of their behavior, often they seek trust among their colleagues and coworkers. They are still human, after all.

Most importantly, leaders act this way by projecting their inner feelings and emotions. When one comes from a place of insecurity, fear, and paranoia, actions reflect that. Employees rarely fully understand the entire picture of what is going on in their leaders’ lives.

While you may be taking the hit with destructive behaviors, know that very few people in the world genuinely want to make you feel bad about yourself.

Investing in a trusting relationship with your leader will yield dividends down the road because you are now an active participant in helping them improve their psychological status. When leaders have employees and colleagues they trust, they can step back and process their actions and overall objectives.

Building trust is foundational for success. Most people don’t realize how simple it can be with effective communication. Master your ability to connect with others and watch passive-aggressive behaviors disintegrate.

3. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up

High-level leaders take action, but not everyone in a leadership position is action-oriented. This holds for everyone including other passive-aggressive people at work.

In many situations, leaders who come from a place of insecurity or fear will rarely take the initiative to put themselves on the line to make a decision.[4]

Unfortunately, this hurts the organization and those involved in the lack of action. This can be devastating when those decisions are needed to create the necessary changes to advance the company and improve your colleagues’ lives.

The scariest phrase any leader can say is, “we’ve always done it this way.”

Why? Because they’re scared of change and when they are, you know that your boss is being passive-aggressive.

However, change is the only guarantee in life and business. That’s a good thing because that means that your organization is adapting to new problems, creating solutions, and finding ways to be more effective at serving your bottom line.

One of the best ways to combat this problem is by owning your results.

You inherently hold others accountable by taking the initiative to follow up and be responsible for your outcomes. People must be kept honest to continue growing and address shortcomings in their judgments. Following up and being a leader through your actions is one of the most effective ways to maximize your chances of making a change.

4. Be Honest and Take Action

Many relationships start with a lack of understanding of expectations, preferences, or individual perspectives. But that doesn’t mean they should continue to stay that way.

Think about the first time you’ve ever met someone.

  • How agreeable were you with their thoughts and perspectives?
  • Did you maybe agree with things that they said but went against some of your personal beliefs?
  • Have you ever stayed in a friendly or romantic relationship that never came to the next level?

The same goes for your relationship with your passive-aggressive boss and this includes the other passive-aggressive people at work. If you really want to emanate change in your organization, your actions should radiate across all functions and levels.

By being honest and having integrity, you can create the needed change you seek in your organization. By repeatedly acting with intention, you will facilitate the necessary change in your organization.

As you keep all of this in mind, know that nothing with change unless you decide to take action. Nothing will change if you aren’t able to make the change you wanted in the first place. Even though it may seem intimidating to take up the challenge and directly communicate with clarity, it will pay off in the long run.

Handling Passive Aggressive Bosses

4 Actions

Ask the Hard Questions You don’t always have to agree with whatever’s happening around you. If you want to deal with your passive aggressive boss, ask questions, ask for clarity, and practice good communication.
Seek to Build Trust as just you are human, so is your boss. There’s a chance that your boss wants to build trust, and this is something you can take advantage of. It is a simple way of connecting with others. 
Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up when all things are done, be sure to ask more. Check up on things as this shows you actually care about the things you are doing. 
Be Honest and Take Action always keep your integrity especially when no one’s looking. If you want the change, you are looking for, you have to be that change and start making actions.

Final Thoughts

If your boss is still passive-aggressive, keep this in mind and know that all good things come with time. Changes may not occur overnight, but things will change with repeated effort and consistent action.

This doesn’t mean that you have to endure your passive-aggressive boss. While being positive should always be one of your life mottos, there should be a limit to how much you should endure having to deal with a passive-aggressive boss.

All good organizations will change over time. There will be new problems, new employees, and new processes that each company will inevitably face. However, those that can be considered great have to become masters of handling change and growth consistently.

Show your value by being a part of the solution, not the problem. You have what it takes to be a great leader, so show it through your actions, words, and relationships.

Featured photo credit: Christina Morillo via pexels.com


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How To Practice Self-Advocacy in the Workplace (Go-to Guide)

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. You’re in a one-on-one with your manager and they say, “You are one of our company’s highest performers, and I appreciate your contributions so much. What can I do to keep you as part of our team?”

This is a softball. All you have to do is speak up and communicate the growing list of items you’ve thoughtfully constructed that would make you happier at work.

However, you freeze and mechanically say, “I can’t think of anything I need. I’m so grateful for this job and every opportunity you’ve given me.”

As you leave the meeting, you’re mad at yourself for not speaking up because this wouldn’t be the first time. This is just one of the many examples that sit in between you and the work satisfaction you crave.

As you catalog through recent examples, you become painfully aware this problem is more about you than anyone else.

The Importance of Self-Advocacy in the Workplace

We’ve all been there. Asking for what we need at work (often called self-advocacy) is a well-addressed topic, so why is it so hard to do in practice?

Have you found yourself asking:

  • Can I ask my manager for that promotion and still appear grateful?
  • Will my teammates think I’m incompetent if I ask for help in areas that I’m less skilled at?
  • Why do I feel so vulnerable about asking for what I need at work?

After working in Human Resources for over fifteen years, I’ve learned that self-advocacy in the workplace is one of the hardest topics for people to talk about. It is both vulnerable and a bit scary discussing your needs with your colleagues. Plus, there is always the looming fear that your voiced needs will not get met.[1]

Yet, the need for communicating our needs at work is critical for our happiness and the performance of our team.

The highest-performing teams have created an environment of absolute trust. Each member of the team feels psychologically safe to express their ideas, voice their opinions without the fear of retaliation, and ask for what they need.

3 Tips on How to Practice Self-Advocacy

So, how do we practice asking for what we need at work? Here are some tips on how to practice self-advocacy.

1. Get to Know Yourself First

Most self-advocacy articles focus on the importance of speaking up and asking for what you need from others. This is obviously a very important skill, but it’s only half of the equation. The key that unlocks your self-advocacy toolbox starts with you.

The majority of frustrated employees I’ve coached on this topic have no idea what they need at work. Most of the time, they can only communicate their extreme dissatisfaction without pinpointing any solutions.

They are aware they need to speak up at work. However, they have not spent time examining their core work needs.

Self-Advocacy Starts With You

If there is nothing else you remember in this article, commit these next two lines to memory:

Self-advocacy starts with you. You can only advocate for yourself after you identify your own wants and needs.

If you’re unaware that you need a quiet location to work, your out-loud brainstorming teammate will continue to tick you off regularly.

So, how does one begin to unravel the complexity of identifying their own work needs? The key is to get curious and ask yourself some important questions.

Some Questions to Think About

To get started, here are some questions I ask my coaching clients.

  1. Which parts of your work bring you energy? Which parts drain you?
  2. When you get frustrated with your colleagues, what is it over? (e.g., they forgot to take notes and send follow-up items, they didn’t meet a deadline)
  3. How do you prefer to be praised at work? (e.g., in front of everyone at the team meeting, a thoughtful e-mail sent by my manager)
  4. How do you prefer to collaborate with your colleagues? (e.g., you like to brainstorm out loud with everyone, you want everyone to be assigned parts, and then you can check back in on progress)
  5. What do you need to create a healthy work-life flow? (e.g., attending the online yoga class your employer provides, not answering e-mails while on vacation)

Self-advocacy at work requires you to take a hard look at yourself. This self-reflection is my top tip in this article because everything else will flow from it. This important work will lay the foundation for every other tip in this article.

2. Start With the Easy Stuff and Work Your Way Up

Self-advocacy is a skill you must develop over time.[2]

This isn’t a red pill/blue pill scenario like the Matrix. Like most skills, practice is necessary. It is almost impossible to transition from rarely speaking up about your work needs to advocating for a pay raise after reading this article.

Take Baby Steps

Take baby steps. As you scale up the self-advocacy mountain, start with the low-hanging fruit.

Start by brainstorming a list of easier self-advocacy goals. I recommend starting with items that don’t make your hands clammy or your stomach queasy thinking about. This list should include simple tasks that you are fairly confident your manager or colleagues will say yes to.

For example, perhaps you want to join an employee resource group. However, participation in the group requires manager approval. As a high performer who regularly exceeds expectations, you are certain your manager would have no problem with you joining a group. There are also several members on the team who participate.

Or, perhaps you want coaching assistance from the stellar manager on your team everyone raves about. They have casually mentioned to you before how much they are energized by teaching others how to coach.

Bottom Line: This list should consist of items any reasonable manager or colleague would consider. It also doesn’t hurt if you have previous data points to confirm their willingness to help.

Practice With a Work Friend

If the low-hanging fruit list is still cringe-worthy, pull in a trusted work friend.

Self-advocacy makes us uneasy because there is a risk of exposure. Voicing our needs takes courage, and there is a fear of rejection.

Start by practicing with someone you trust and who has your back. Be honest with them about your desire to voice your needs at work more often. Practice role-playing a couple of the conversations together and ask for feedback.

After practicing, create an individual goal to knock out one item per week on that easier self-advocacy checklist. Check in with your trusted advisor, and ask them to follow up with you on how it went.[3]

Over time and with practice, the easy items will steadily decrease in difficulty. Eventually, you will build the muscle memory needed to accomplish those big-ticket items like asking for a raise or adjusting your schedule to part-time.

3. Be Honest About Where You Are

Exceptional self-advocates are neither too humble nor too braggadocio. They know who they are.

They leverage data to better understand their strengths, blind spots, and where they stack up in the job market. They are honest with themselves, and their self-advocacy asks are in alignment with the data they gather.

Get a Better View of Where You Are

To get a better view of where you are, start with job market data.

Understanding the job market for similar roles in your industry is a must for self-advocacy. Whether you want to ask for a salary increase or a title change, data is your friend. It’s important for you to understand what the job market looks like in your area of expertise.

The easiest way to start collecting this information is to pretend you’re job hunting.

Start your search by looking for job openings in companies that are direct competitors of your current workplace (hint: we do this in HR all the time). Make sure you look for roles similar to yours.

Search jobs with similar titles, locations, and responsibilities. After you find complementary jobs, review important things like salary, benefits, remote working guidelines, and scope of responsibilities.

Make sure you look at several companies during your search.

After you’ve completed your data digging adventure, be honest about what you see. It’s easy to become biased during this process.

It’s natural to find job postings that support your self-advocacy point of view. If you’re struggling, my recommendation is to find at least ten requisite job postings that come from ten separate companies.

Compare Your Current Job

After you’ve done your due diligence, compare your current job to the areas you want to advocate for. This type of comparison isn’t meant to be thrown in your manager’s face at your next one-on-one. Instead, it will provide you with a reality check on where you are and the areas where it’s realistic to begin negotiating.

If you’re noticing that most jobs like yours have a higher salary average than your current pay, you could use this information to advocate for a salary increase. Or, if your scope of responsibilities far exceeds most job postings like yours, use this to discuss a possible promotion.

Whatever you do, make sure your manager knows your process. Being thoughtfully prepared demonstrates initiative.

The Bottom Line

Self-advocacy starts with you, but it’s so much bigger. The culture of work is shifting dramatically, and you are a role model for your team.

After you begin modeling important self-advocacy behaviors, don’t be surprised if others start speaking up, too. After all, courage is contagious.

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com


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How To Turn Your Mid-Career Crisis Into an Opportunity

If you’re feeling like you’re facing a career crisis, don’t fret. The good news is that this is a moment where you can notice the need for change, which means you’re embracing self-awareness and the opportunity for growth.

Whether you’re newer in your career or facing a mid-career crisis, it is common to feel moments of stress, uncertainty, or confusion in your career. However, with the right guidance and support, you can turn that feeling into a strategic and positive opportunity.

Here are eight tips on how to overcome a mid-career crisis and turn it into an opportunity.

Are You Experiencing a Mid-Career Crisis?

Ask yourself these questions and see if you’re experiencing any of these signs:

  • Are you debating a career pivot?
  • Are you considering quitting?
  • Are you looking into upskilling or further education?
  • Are you constantly on the job boards?
  • Are you feeling stuck or unsure of your next steps?
  • Are you feeling unchallenged, unheard, unsupported, or unfulfilled?
  • Are you unsure how you’re feeling professionally but you know it’s not good?

Any of these feelings is a source of a professional challenge but also an opportunity. Let’s start by identifying those feelings and turning them into a positive source of change.

How to Overcome a Mid-Career Crisis

1. Lean on Some Support and Guidance

While this article will guide you through several important self-reflection questions and practical efforts you can take to progress forward, it doesn’t hurt to find a mentor, peer, coach, or any form of guidance so that you don’t have to go about these career changes on your own.

There is a slew of tools, resources, and people here to ensure you can utilize best practices, feel guided, and ensure you are being efficient, effective, and intentional with your career decisions and efforts.

2. Accept and Understand Your Emotions

  • Notice how you feel and identify what you feel.
  • How long have you been feeling this way?
  • How intense is the feeling?
  • Have you been needing or wanting more but hesitating because you’re not sure what the next step should be?

Accept that it is completely common and okay to feel frustrated in your career.[1] The last thing you need is to beat yourself up for any negative emotions.

Realize these feelings are a chance to make an important change. Get comfortable with embracing how you feel as the first step.

Leveraging a loved one, a therapist, a trusted friend, mentor, peer, advisor, or coach is not a bad idea here. Know that it is quite valuable to simply spend time processing how you’re feeling so that you can soon enough feel ready to turn these feelings into action and progress towards a new direction.

It is also possible you have some subconscious feelings. Aim to meditate and/or journal to actively reflect and surface how you’re feeling. Oftentimes, there is undue pressure we put on ourselves or that we feel from our loved ones.

3. Pinpoint the Root Cause of Your Feelings

I often separate a work opportunity into three parts. Reflect on which area of your career is standing out to you.

  • Your role – This encompasses your day-to-day activities, responsibilities, skills, projects, and the overall style of your everyday work. How engaged are you in your current role? Is your challenge or potential being fulfilled?
  • Your industry – This relates to the ultimate purpose, mission, or impact that your company delivers. Do you find this product or service important or intriguing?
  • Your environment – We mainly refer to this as the “company culture,” but it can broadly relate to how the physical or intangible environment looks and feels. Are you remote or in-person? Is there support and flexibility? Do you get along with your colleagues and leadership?

You could give each of these three areas a rating from one to ten, or you could highlight for each area what is going well or not as well. It is possible that more than one of these areas is ripe for improvement.

4. Unblock Any Limiting Mindsets That Are Driving Your Career Crisis

Naturally, our brains may want to play tricks on us and conjure up any number of hesitations about what’s possible and why we should avoid career change.

Understand any uncertainties you may have and work through them with a coach if you can. The last thing we want is for you to hold yourself back. Rather, we want you to explore what could be next for you, learn deeply about all potential options, and then make an informed decision about your best next steps.

What feelings, emotions, or actions would you have to embrace or do to show up as the person you want to become? How could you move the needle to be slightly more open-minded, creative, vulnerable, and brave to uncover what might be next for you in your career?

Remember and take comfort in the fact that you never have to take any official actions until you fully understand what you want or need next in your career and the realistic nuances, patterns, and requirements for how people typically pursue the path that you’re considering.

5. Embrace Your Readiness for Change (Benefits of Career Change)

Picturing change may help you uncover if anything is stalling you from being open-minded.

Would a career change mean a lifestyle change? What would a new role mean for your life practically? Do you need to have a conversation with someone to get the support you need?

Turn any uncertainties into questions, and turn questions into answers.

Especially for mid-career pivoters, transition and change can be nerve-wracking, but sometimes, it can be the most refreshing thing to a recruiter or hiring manager to understand how you want to take your skills forward in a new direction.[2]

You can and still will very much leverage your wide array of experiences, perspectives, and knowledge but with a fresh approach that perhaps other team members don’t have.

6. Set Your Priorities: Understand What You Want and Need

After debunking all limiting mindsets, decide what your ideal career looks like. That way, with any upcoming career exploration or job search, it will be that much easier to assess what opportunity is a strong fit that will meet your needs moving forward.

7. Determine Your Next Steps: Turn Career Crisis Into Opportunity

If you feel that your role isn’t challenging or serving you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there something I can do to take on greater responsibility in my role?
  • What is the next role upward and do I want to strive for that level? If so, how can I go about that?
  • Is there some learning-based opportunity I can take on outside of work to stretch my skills?
  • Do I need to re-explore which role is the best fit for me?
  • If so, is there a team internally at this company I could explore moving to that is a stronger fit?
  • If not, pursue a process of exploration (deep learning and reflection) to gain confidence in your best-fit role.

To further reflect on your ideal role, you can consider skills you are natural or great at, what you most enjoy doing, and projects you have loved or would love to take on.

If you feel that your industry isn’t aligned with you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there something I can do to take on projects that are more interesting to me within my current role or team?
  • Is there something I can take on outside of work that helps me work towards a purpose I care about?
  • Do I know which industry would be the best fit for me?
  • Consider what problem areas in our world you find interesting, impactful, or innovative.
  • If so, is there a team internally at this company I could explore moving to that is a stronger fit?
  • If not, pursue a process of exploration (deep learning and reflection) to gain confidence in your best fit industry.

To further reflect on your ideal industry, you can consider who you want to help serve, how, why, and where. You want to think about the areas of improvement in our world that you are most excited about.

If you feel that your environment isn’t aligned with you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there something I could change about my work arrangement to make the environment more suitable? (i.e. in-person vs. remote work, hours, etc.)
  • Is there anything I can do to better fit into the culture here? You don’t want to change who you are, but if you think there are small, tangible tweaks you can make to how you’re interacting with others, it is worth reflecting on what you think you could do better or differently, in addition to what others can also do.
  • Is there feedback I can give to my colleagues or manager that I think would improve our working relationship?
  • If you feel that the environment is beyond your control, I would embrace the potential that you may want to consider job searching to find an environment that better aligns with your personality and values.

To further reflect on your ideal work environment, think about the pace of work, what it should look and feel like, and the traits and qualities of the people around you.

8. Explore and Confidently Identify a Fitting Career Direction

Career exploration is a process that can be quite powerful to narrow in on your best new career direction. By performing a process of research, networking, reflection, and iteration, you can gain a deep understanding of the roles and industries you are considering to prioritize effectively which path will align and fulfill you.[3]

Once you have a strong, clear picture of your ideal career path forward, it will help you be more intentional with finding the right professional opportunities both within and outside of work to push you closer to your goals and potential.

Final Thoughts

Experiencing a mid-career crisis is normal, and it definitely doesn’t mean the end of your career’s progress or a lifetime of stagnation. It just means that you can either sit back and wait for change to come to you or use it as an opportunity to actively reflect, pivot, and improve your career.

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com


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How To Unlock Your Innate Abilities And Use It For Success

There’s this myth about success—that if you just put in enough work at any task, you’ll automatically develop your skills and be successful. So, we’ve created a society of really hard workers and branded “hustle culture” as a badge of honor.

But what if that’s not the only way? What if it’s not even the most effective way?

Study any successful person, and you’ll notice one thing very quickly: Contrary to popular belief, successful people aren’t necessarily the most skilled or talented in their field.

They don’t have any innate ability to guarantee their success. In many cases, they may even hire experts more skilled than them in their field.

Figuring Out Your Innate Abilities

Instead of trying to adapt themselves to the situation, successful people have an uncanny ability to choose and adapt situations to suit them. In short, they know what they can do better than anyone in the world—and they lean on it.

For some, it’s getting so excited and animated during a sales pitch that the audience just can’t help but get swept up by your passion. For others, it’s looking at their employees deeply in the eyes while talking to them and being unafraid to show their emotion.

In fact, every single one of us has a unique way we already lean on in our successful moments. It’s a strategy we’ve subconsciously learned to do over and over again because it works and feels natural.

All we have to do is figure out what that is.

Are You Just a Fish Trying to Climb a Tree?

The truth is most of us are actively working against our innate abilities.

You may have grown up in a house where you were “too much” and taught to tone it down. You may have been trained out of your innate abilities by schools. Or you may be in a job that just doesn’t know how to leverage them.

Take this quote often (dubiously) attributed to Albert Einstein:[1]

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Someone who’s really playful and free is going to struggle in a very structured corporate environment. Just as much as someone who’s really methodical is going to hate a ruleless, creative atmosphere.

The key to success is not to be the best at everything. The key to success is to know exactly what your innate abilities are and position yourself in opportunities that highlight them.

If you know what your innate abilities are, you know your personal formula for success.

How Do I Unlock My Own Abilities?

Before understanding what your innate abilities are, we have to figure out where innate abilities come from—and how it intersects with this vague idea called “purpose.”

Because of the work that I do, people love to come up to me and say, “I’ve finally figured out my purpose. I’m meant to be a life coach or writer or entrepreneur.” And that’s fantastic.

But here’s the thing—if you can achieve a purpose, that means you can also fail it. And that doesn’t make much sense. How can you fail a purpose?

Furthermore, if you can achieve a purpose, that means you didn’t have it at a certain point. So, did you just not have a purpose as a baby? That doesn’t make much sense either.

Of course, you had a purpose as a baby. But you didn’t have achievements. You didn’t even have skills or abilities yet.

You just had one thing: sensitivities.

What Are Sensitivities?

Every single baby in the world is sensitive to certain things, and it’s different for every single baby.

Some babies are sensitive to connection, and they love looking their moms in the eyes. These are the babies who need to be held a little more. As they grow up, because they’re sensitive to connection, these people tend to be extra sensitive to being rejected or left out.

They often make amazing networkers and hosts because they’re sensitive to what it feels like to be left out and because they’ve spent their lifetimes honing the skills of what they’re sensitive to.

When these people give lots of eye contact, share personal details of their life, and make people feel close to them, they tend to be naturally more successful in every aspect of their lives.

But what about other babies? Some babies are sensitive to feeling thrilled. These are the babies who love peek-a-boo surprises and being lightly tossed in the air. As they grow up, they tend to get bored easily and search for the next adventure or rollercoaster.

They often make captivating speakers and bring lots of energy to their interactions. And they’re the type who do well taking big risks—because they’ve spent a lifetime honing the skills of the thrill.

Then there are the babies sensitive to freedom and vulnerability, safety and understanding, and just about anything you can imagine.

Having a purpose isn’t that you are meant to be a life coach. It’s why life coaching feels so purposeful to you, and that’s because you’re sensitive to it.

Innate abilities come from what we’re most sensitive to. If you’ve sensed it more—seen, tasted, touched, smelled, heard it more than anyone else—you’re going to have more natural abilities in that area.

Map what you’re most sensitive to, and it’ll be abundantly clear what you subconsciously do every time you’re successful—what your innate abilities are and how to unlock them for success.

How Do I Map What I’m Sensitive To?

Figuring out your innate abilities can sound tricky and requires you to take those long leadership style tests or send out surveys to friends and family.

But since you sense things in every moment, figuring out what you’re most sensitive to is easy. It’s simply what you feel deepest at any moment.

Try this super quick exercise to understand what you’re sensitive to, and then we’ll dive into how to unlock your innate abilities for success.

Sensitivities Exercise

Grab a piece of paper and answer the following prompts. This exercise should only take 5 to 10 minutes.

Step #1

List out three jobs you’ve had in your life and three things you made people feel in each of these jobs.

For example: Let’s say you were a school teacher, and you made students feel empowered, safe to learn, and engaged with the material.

Step #2

Think of one of the most challenging moments of your life. List out three things you felt in that moment and three things you wish you felt.

For example: Let’s say it was the day your grandmother died, and you felt heartbroken, alone, and unsupported. You wanted to feel connected, loved, and supported.

Step #3

Think of one of the happiest moments of your life. List out three things you felt in that moment.

For example: Let’s say it was the day you got married, and you felt intimate, playful, and successful.

Once you’ve answered these quick prompts, look for any repeated words or very similar words. For example, “heard” and “understood” might be getting to the same idea. Or, “connected” and “intimate” might feel close to you.

Our sensitivities are revealed in the patterns we feel most, even in this short, simple exercise. See if you can get at least four or five clear sensitivities from repeated patterns.

Now What?

Now, here’s where the fun can happen. Once you know what you’re sensitive to, I want you to take a moment to think of a time when you were really successful.

Did you exhibit those sensitivities in that moment without even thinking about it?

Let’s pretend some of the sensitivities you wrote down are “understood” and “playful.” When you think of that successful moment, did you help someone feel really understood, but you also made the entire experience fun and playful?

Chances are, you did.

It works because it’s an innate ability. Any time you don’t feel understood or playful or make others feel that way, you’re more likely to fail at a project because it doesn’t play to your strengths.

So, here are some tips for success.

  • Ask clarifying questions before you start any project.
  • Make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Invest in fun and team-building exercises.
  • Bring music or dance in to shake things up when you’re stuck.
  • Turn brainstorms into games.

The more that you can build an environment—in work or personal life—that makes you feel those sensitivities, the more successful you will become.

If something isn’t working out, it can become very obvious why it isn’t working out. You can simply go through your list of sensitivities to figure out which innate ability you’re not showcasing and then build a strategy to tweak the situation to highlight that.

Make It Feel Like Coffee With a Best Friend

I’ve helped thousands of people to discover their innate abilities over the last decade, and I can tell you even this simple version here can be absolutely life-changing because it explains why something did or didn’t work out for you and what you can do about it.

If you can consistently choose opportunities and collaborators that help you to feel those sensitivities and continuously focus on making people feel them over anything else, your odds of success increase astronomically.

What we really want is for everything to feel like coffee with a best friend—that feeling when we’re just sitting there chatting and hours fly by, genius spills out of us, and we forget to try.

What’s that thing you naturally do when you’re confident? What’s that thing you subconsciously do when you’re successful?

What if speaking engagements could feel like that? Or sales pitches? Or team meetings? Or even hard conversations with a friend or partner?

If you know what you’re sensitive to, you know what you experience deeper than anyone else and, therefore, what your innate abilities are.

Then, you know if “connecting” over coffee or “thrilling” people with a riveting story would work better. You know if running a “creative” brainstorming session or building a “structured” meeting would work better.

You adapt the situation to fit your greatest strengths, not the other way around. When you know your innate abilities, you know your personal best and easiest path to success.

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com


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How To Effectively Boost Cross-Team Collaboration: 5 Tips

March 2020 was when the world stopped, but people never did. The great pivot emphasized innovation within the virtual space.

We saw businesses closing physical locations after discovering the cost-effectiveness of doing business virtually. Companies pivoted from the classical board room meetings to using conference platforms like Zoom to conduct business. Teams fulfilled services and innovated from home.

Remote team collaboration became the priority, but this doesn’t always come easy.  There is also the cross-team collaboration that you need to consider.

In this article, I will discuss how teams can become successful at remote collaborations and how we can boost cross-team collaboration.

What Is Cross-Team Collaboration?

Cross-team collaboration is when multiple teams are working together to complete a common goal. It allows groups of people from different departments or companies to work together. Each team brings an expert skill set with them that increases the effectiveness of the overall group.

For example, the core team may be marketing experts but would need the expertise from the financial team to complete their goal. Or, your core team may be experts in human resources but would need the assistance of the logistics and planning teams to achieve a common goal.

These types of collaboration can be powerful. They often lead the corporation to significant improvements and innovative solutions.

Before we talk more about boosting cross-team collaboration, we should first recognize a few signs of what an unhealthy team may look like.

You’re likely suffering from poor collaboration if you notice any of these signs:

  • Personal conflict across teams
  • Misalignment of goals
  • Lack of time and focus on collaborating
  • Double work
  • Information silos created by poor communication
  • Lack of clarity in communication of responsibilities
  • Micromanaging
  • Unclear chain of command
  • High emotional tension and isolation

If your team shows a higher number of these signs, then it is safe to say that they are not a healthy team.

5 Tips on How to Effectively Boost Cross-Team Collaboration

Unhealthy teams struggle to cross-collaborate. So, if your teams are showing some of these signs, then it is time to evaluate where your team is at and start using strategies to help them move from ineffective to highly effective.

Here are five tips on how to effectively boost cross-team collaboration.

1. Communicate Clearly

Communication is king. Say that several more times. Allow it to get into your soul. Communication is the lifeblood of all cross-team collaboratory success.

If you look at the statistical data on why relationships fail, why people leave organizations, or why there is a high level of mistrust among people in our government, you will notice one major trend: Communication was poor.[1][2][3]

We can say the opposite as well. In the area where success was high, communication was good.

The more people you add to your team, the better the communication and the methods of communication need to become.

When your team was still small, you could get by on interpersonal communication. But the more members you add to the project, the greater the level of communication needed to be successful.

Poor communication creates problems, and good communication solves problems. Successful cross-team collaboration must be rooted in excellent communication if the team truly hopes to succeed.

Best Practice

Have weekly check-ins and monthly team meetings. The weekly check-ins are designed to be short meetings that allow you to be face-to-face with your team.

During these meetings, you will share the vision, talk about expectations and goals, answer any questions, and address problems.

Weekly check-ins are not designed to solve all the company’s problems. They are intended to be a quick get-together to ensure everyone knows what they are doing.

Monthly meetings are similar to weekly check-ins. However, monthly meetings will be a little longer as the goal is to inform and train your cross-collaborators.

2. Set Cross-Team Expectations

Managing projects can be challenging. The more teams and team members you add, the more complex the project can become. Instead of managing the project, you have the added stress of managing multiple teams containing various personalities.

Setting cross-team collaboratory expectations is the key to the team’s success. This ensures that each cross-team member understands the tasks, goals, behavior, communication, and roles under which they will operate.

Best Practice

As the leader, you will set the expectations everyone else will follow.

Do not take this task lightly. The team expectations will be the guiding force behind much of what you will accomplish.

One of the best practices for this is to take time and reflect. Reflect on how you want your team to behave. Think through the project goals, individual roles, tasks, budgets, resources, and the schedule.

Then, determine the desired level of work, task completion, and behavioral expectations the team will need. Write them all down.

Do not forget to communicate them clearly and regularly to the team.

3. Define Team Roles and Responsibilities

Confusion is one of the quickest and unhealthiest ways to ruin a cross-team collaboration. Success thrives on clarity.

When we are not clear, we subconsciously create mistrust within the team. Where there is mistrust, there is always a lack of success because there is a lack of growth.

If we are going to create trusting relationships with our cross-team collaborators, it starts with defining who does what and who answers to who.

There is a simplistic power when helping people know what they are there to do and who their direct supervisor is.

When you take the time to define these things, you are showing people that they can trust you. When they trust you, they will help the team become efficient and successful.

It may sound basic, but when we master the basics, we can win on all levels. So, do not hate small beginnings or small things, for that is the very thing that will carry you and your cross-team collaboration across the finish line.

Do the hard work of creating tools on the front end, so you don’t have to do damage control on the back end.

Best Practice

Create flow charts and write job descriptions. People do what they see and not what you say.

Also, it is essential to note that people rarely remember things when they need them. Keeping a visual of both the team flow chart and job descriptions where people can access them quickly and often will boost the success of your cross-team collaboration.

4. Create Systems

I heard it once said that a system saves you time, energy, and money.

If you think about it, the systems (processes) you create are the foundation for your team will grow. Everything in existence has a system within which it operates.

Take the human body, for example. It is a system that runs systems. The human body is a complex system that houses the nervous system, the endocrine system, and a slew of others. When these systems operate at their optimized levels, the human body is strong and healthy.

Why should your cross-team collaboration be seen any differently? The team will reach peak performance with a series of optimized systems.

To effectively boost cross-team collaboration, the leader must develop and implement systems within the team. You will need a system for everything you do.

For example, you will need a communication system, budgeting and spending system, a system for marketing, a system for follow-up, etc. The more systems you put into place, the better run the cross-team collaboration will be.

Best Practice

After you have taken the time to create each system, create a sharable document that houses all the systems. This will be a living document as systems can and often do change.

Allow the rest of the team the right to comment on how the system could be better. The greater the input from the team, the more buy-in they have, and the better the systems will become.

One thing to mention is that you do not make every change suggested. Instead, talk with the team members about the change and see how they believe it will improve the system.

If the proposed change makes the system better, then change it. However, if the suggested change does not improve the current system, leave it alone.

5. Be Transparent and Remove Informational Roadblocks

Trust is the rocket fuel that propels every cross-team collaboration. The lower the level of trust a person has in you, the lower the output you will get from them.

Some of the biggest things that degrade trust within a team are inauthenticity and ambiguity. When you see these two things present within the team’s leadership, the team begins to think that the leaders are wishy-washy and have something to hide.

That is not what you want your team to be feeling or thinking. Instead, you want your team to know that they can trust that you are who you say you are. You want the team to understand that the leadership has nothing to hide. It all ties back into clear communication.

If the cross-team collaboration leadership dared to be transparent and remove roadblocks to communication, you would see one of the healthiest and most effective teams.

Often, the refusal to be transparent kills team morale and limits the team from reaching its true potential. I cannot stress the importance of this tip.

Over the last 20 years, I have watched team after team fall apart because the leadership clinched to their need for secrecy. Instead of being transparent, they were living in secrecy. Instead of being communicative and brave, they were quiet and scared.

An insecure leader is the eventual death of any team. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you need to hide things.

Be transparent and bold. Own who you are. Show the team where the wins and failures are. Be the leader the team needs and one that others model.

Best Practice

Use your weekly check-in meetings to talk about the challenges you face with the team.

Be honest and transparent with where the team is in meeting their goals. Share the perceived challenges and weaknesses of the team. Apologize for any way you may have mistreated or disrespected any team member.

When apologizing, make sure you have thought through when and where this is needed. You shouldn’t be apologizing to them weakly. Yet, when you know you made a mistake, then own it.

Above all else, continually strive to be as transparent as possible with the team you have been given.

Final Thoughts

Cross-team collaborations can cause some level of anxiety. Working within one group is challenging, but working within one group that is working with several other groups can be overwhelming. If you implement these five tips on boosting cross-team collaboration, you will begin to see the success you are longing for.

It will take time, effort, and work, but you can do it. Work on the steps every day, and you will be on your way toward a successful cross-team collaboration.

Featured photo credit: Smartworks Coworking via unsplash.com


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5 Tips On Overcoming Career Stagnation

You’re sitting at your office desk, blankly staring at your computer screen and second-guessing your life choices—especially your career. At that moment, when you’ve lost all motivation to continue with your decisions, the realization of career stagnation hits you hard.

Do you feel like you’ve had enough?

Whether working from home or commuting to the office every day, there comes a time in some people’s careers when they question their judgment around their professional decisions.

It builds up gradually as major obstacles at work test your patience or even as mundane tasks pick away at your frustration with each passing day. Until one day, you realize that you have had enough.

What Causes Career Stagnation?

You might find plenty of reasons why you have reached your limit at work. It could be your boss, colleagues, a broken coffee machine, the compensation, overtime hours, or everything at once. Or, it could be none at all.

While there may be external reasons guiding your frustration at work, sometimes, it could also indicate your fuel is running out. Ultimately, it takes a little introspection to discover what might have been a projection of one’s doubts all the while.

So, let’s explore the reasons why you feel like your career is at a standstill.

1. Lack of Clear Goals

Do you feel aimless at work? Do you often ask yourself why you’re doing what you do? Does the lack of direction in your professional life make you feel incompetent?

With time, some of us tend to lose focus of our motivations, making it difficult to stay oriented on a said path. When that happens, our interest wanes, and we feel disconnected from work.

In addition, we feel lost due to the absence (or shortage) of one of the most intimate things we can have—dreams. And that deficiency drives us to feel disoriented.

2. Absence of Challenges

Regardless of how tiring challenges can get sometimes, they are also why we keep pushing to do and be better. If your work is not challenging and offers you a dull and monotonous work routine that lacks creativity and freedom of expression, you can feel burned out.

Unfortunately, this can also take away from your ability to innovate and think outside the box.

Challenges frustrate us into trying out things differently until we come up with a solution—a process that takes time and energy, gradually refining our abilities as we progress. Before we know it, we’re better than we were yesterday!

This system keeps our intellectual drive alive, so slowing down can rust our spirits.

And this also brings us to the next cause of feeling stagnant in your career.

3. Understimulation

It’s no secret that some people sell themselves short, despite their skills and abilities.

When individuals are overqualified for a job, they carry out tasks below their skill (and pay) grade. And when one’s existing skills are not put to good use, the foundation upon which new skills can be built is weakened.

The result of this negligence? There is no growth in professional terms. And no growth means no fun, which can lead to boring work life.

4. Insufficient Compensation

Money is a vital driving factor in many people’s professional lives, and that’s completely okay. But when people work hard to multiply their rewards and that doesn’t happen, the desire to put in any effort fades away—and rightfully so.

You might feel that your career has become stagnant because you are not paid well or even enough. This is a very legitimate and common reason to feel listless, especially when you’re doing your best.

5. Overstimulation

Some professionals lose their patience due to being overloaded with work. Cranky bosses, inconsiderate coworkers, and a massive pile of work contribute to overstimulation.

When work starts penetrating one’s personal life, things on both sides get challenging to manage, ultimately leading to burnout. There needs to be a balance between understimulation and overstimulation, and that optimal stage is where all the contentment lies.

6. No Acknowledgment/Appreciation/Reward

Money isn’t the only form of compensation when it comes to jobs. Not feeling appreciated at work for your contribution and not receiving (monetary or non-monetary) rewards for your efforts are justifiable reasons to feel low and underappreciated.

While money pays the bills, acknowledgment feeds one’s ego, which is crucial for keeping one energized and in high spirits.

Ego is not always a negative thing. It plays a pivotal role in building self-esteem and self-worth—the lack of which can cause self-doubt and loss of confidence.

5 Things You Can Do to Overcome Career Stagnation

If you feel like you’re experiencing career stagnation, do not worry. All hope is not lost. There are still things that you can do to overcome this and achieve your career goals.

Here are five things that you can do to overcome career stagnation.

1. Have Intention And Make a Promise to Yourself and Others

What do you strive for? What drives you to put on work clothes, attend meetings, and take on challenges at work? What do you aspire to do and be in your professional life?

Each individual is driven by an innate desire to achieve something. Once you vocalize that intention to yourself and others, you build accountability for making those desires come true.

Doing so can positively push you towards your true goal, even if you’re occupied with immediate distractions.

2. Set Up Clear Time-Bound Goals

Many people take their occupation as nothing more than a source of livelihood. As much of a driving element as it is, working to simply earn money can only fill your pockets, not stimulate your mind.

Goals—short-term and long-term—give a person the reason to look forward to each day, every challenge.

Over time, our plans change with priorities and needs, but we’re never aimless. So, it’s imperative to harness that sense of direction in a specific order so you never feel like you’re going nowhere.

3. Have Realistic Beliefs

The other day, I was on a video call discussing the value of setting realistic goals with a client when my 8-year-old daughter Marissa showed me her handstand that she had been dedicated to learning over the past couple of weeks. Of course, it wasn’t perfect, but it showed her diligence and commitment to the goal, and I could tell that she wouldn’t give up until she mastered it.

Jeff Bezos said that most believe that they can master the handstand in about two weeks if they work hard. However, it takes six months of regular practice to become adept at striking the pose.[1]

Suppose somebody thinks that they can learn it within two weeks. In that case, they are setting unrealistically a high standard for themselves while running the risk of quitting when the goal is not met within the presumed period of success. It also kills one’s desire to achieve high standards because they’re selling themselves short by looking for an easy way.

So, if you wish to meet a goal successfully, you must form and proactively communicate realistic beliefs about how hard something will be. Acknowledge its difficulty level, and assess it against your capability. It makes things much clear, doesn’t it?

4. Constantly Upgrade Yourself and Show Up Every Day

If you wish to keep up with the rapid changes in your industry, so you don’t feel left behind, you need to step up your game.

Work on acquiring new skills, polish your existing skills if needed, and stay updated with the recent trends to keep yourself ahead of the game. More importantly, use your drive and diligence to show up every day, putting in the work and hours to symbolize your commitment to the goal.

Meanwhile, it is also important to remember that the difficulty level of your goal should not waver your resolution. Some journeys can be longer and more tedious than others. The key is to persevere with patience.

Good things take time, so hustle and wait for yours!

5. Use the Above as a Source of Internal Motivation

An individual is at their peak performance when they are internally motivated to achieve something.

The above tips aim to give you the willpower to take up challenges and push through difficult times, not because you have an external reward to seek but because you are driven to become a better version of yourself.

When you are motivated internally, your career stagnation—which could be an indication of something lacking from within—becomes easier to overcome. This is because you identify the cause of your issues and tackle them from the root up, motivating yourself to seek gratification from within instead of depending on external elements as means of reward.

Final Thoughts

Every moment passes rather slowly when you are dissatisfied with your professional life, often caused by career stagnation. Reaching within, however, can help you discover plenty of things about yourself as you find a solution to your situation in the process.

As a closing remark, I’d only advise you to be unique and memorable in your approach and deliver what connects others to your values. Make an impact worth remembering!

The true reward lies in watching yourself bloom with each passing day, crossing hurdles, and giving yourself a reason to test your limits and break free from what might be holding you back.

Featured photo credit: Nick Fewings via unsplash.com


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How To Turn Mundane Tasks Into Meaningful Work

Let’s face it—there are many things we don’t want to do. How many people wish they didn’t have to prepare dinner, do the laundry, write Thank You cards, make their beds, or do their taxes?

But it’s not just at home where we must deal with mundane tasks. At the office, we’ve got emails, administrative reports, and all sorts of paperwork that half the time seems unnecessary.

Not wanting to do these tasks doesn’t mean we don’t have to do them. In fact, they are often much more important to our lives than say Netflix, the Playstation, or YouTube (aka the things we enjoy).

But that’s life—part fun, part mundane. Not everything is meant to be fun.

That being said, mundane tasks don’t have to be the equivalent of a root canal. There are ways to turn mundane tasks into more meaningful work.

Can You Turn Mundane Tasks Into Something Meaningful?

I started my career teaching kids, and if there’s one thing I learned from teaching them, it’s that getting some of them to do homework or other mundane tasks was excruciatingly painful.

As a teacher and parent, I often have to figure out ways to turn the mundane into something entertaining or, at the very least, not so mundane. I’ve learned that the secrets of turning mundane into meaningful or enjoyable are threefold: acceptance, speed, and distraction.

What I’ll offer in this article are some possible solutions for dealing with mundane tasks and, therefore, improving your attitude and overall well-being.

Step 1: Acceptance

First of all, we must accept that many mundane tasks cannot be avoided. Doing one’s taxes is about as much fun as watching paint dry, but the option is having your bank account frozen or even ending up in prison.

Just because we don’t like something, doesn’t mean we get to sweep it under the rug. It still needs to be done. Otherwise, there will be repercussions (sometimes painful ones).

In AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), there is a 12-step program that they use to rehabilitate addicts. The first of which is admitting they have a problem. The same is true when it comes to mundane tasks.

Simply admitting that a task needs to be done is the first step to doing it. There are those people who like to excuse doing a mundane task by simply saying to themselves it’s not that important.

That might be true if you leave your laundry for a day or two. But a week and your hamper might say otherwise.

Instead of viewing a mundane task as unimportant, it’s wise to approach it from a different angle. What are the consequences of not doing it?

Thinking of the negative effects will push us to take action.

What if my partner sees a pile of clothes in the laundry room? What will my mother do if I don’t make my bed? What will my boss do if this isn’t done?

Bestselling author Brian Tracy wrote a book entitled Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. It was devoted to one single concept: doing what we don’t want to do first.

Mundane tasks are often things we don’t want to do, so they fit the bill.

Do the laundry first thing, and you won’t have to worry about it later. Kids that do their homework when they get home can enjoy the rest of their evening without worry.

Step 2: Speed

As I mentioned earlier, I started my career teaching children, which taught me a lot of valuable skills in my present vocation as a productivity consultant. I would rack my brain for ways to turn dull, boring games into high-octane ones that got the kids’ blood pumping.

I found that one way to get kids excited was to simply ramp up the speed. So, how does that help us?

The problem with mundane tasks is that they are often time-consuming. We might have to listen to a lecture on statistics as a requirement for our work, but how helpful will it be for most people? Answer: not much.

As such, there’s no need to sit there for two whole hours listening to it. The solution? Speed it up!

Most software today offers the option of changing the playback speed. It’s even available on YouTube.

What many people don’t realize is that increasing it to 1.25x does not change our ability to understand that material. In fact, with some materials, you could increase it to 1.5x and still be able to keep up.

That’s a 25% or 50% reduction in time invested, meaning we get to get back to doing what we want to do or other things we need to do faster.

Always Look for Ways to Speed Up the Process

There are other ways speed can be applied to mundane tasks.

A few years ago, I wanted to learn how to edit audio files, so I popped over to YouTube and spent a few hours learning the ins and outs of Soundforge. No heavy lifting and it got the job done.

During the lockdown though, I wanted to learn to how master an audio file. In a nutshell, mastering is a way of taking audio files and getting them ready for professional use. It turned out that doing it in Soundforge was rather tricky, so I moved over to Adobe Audition.

One YouTuber gave me step-by-step instructions on how to do it and I was off to the races, but the real secret came at the end of the video when he explained that after going through the process (which took roughly ten minutes), I could save the whole process and apply it to any new files I might have.

This means that the next time, I wouldn’t have to go through all the steps again. All I’d need to do is apply the saved process to my audio file and I’d be done.

A process that would have taken me an hour in Soundforge ended up becoming a five-second process in Adobe Audition.

The lesson here is two-fold. First, always look for ways to speed up the process. That might not work for things such as ironing or cooking, which require precise amounts of time to accomplish.

But while we might not be able to speed up the cooking process, we can improve our preparation time by working on our cutting skills, keeping our knives sharp, and using the right tools for the job.

Second, sometimes the solution is to change how we do it.

Again, it doesn’t always work, but when it comes to tasks done with Excel, Access, or other programs, some alternatives may suit your needs better. Be willing to explore them.

Step 3: Distraction

One of my favorite ways of dealing with mundane tasks is by chunking. Chunking is doing two tasks at the same time where neither one affects the other in any substantial way.

My favorite form of chunking is combining yoga with TV. Most people who watch TV simply sit on their couch and munch on their favorite snack. I prefer to kill two birds with one stone.

The older I get, the more I understand the importance of stretching and keeping in shape—enter yoga. Now, I could do what my wife does and simply dedicate 30 minutes each morning to doing yoga.

But as a productivity consultant, I am always looking for ways to speed up processes. I simply do yoga while watching Netflix.

Do I get the full relaxing benefit from yoga? No, not entirely. Do I sometimes miss a few lines from the show because I’m doing a pose? Sure. But what I do is get both activities done in 30 minutes.

Another example is driving. We drive to our kids’ swim practice. We drive to the supermarket. We drive to work. We spend a lot of time in our cars. The problem is most people use that time to listen to the news on the radio or sing along to their favorite songs.

Not altogether bad, but it’s not the best. As the late great Jim Rohn used to say, “Turn your car into a mobile classroom.”

That’s precisely what I did. I got rid of my Beyonce CDs (I’m dating myself here) and started listening to the likes of Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Dan Kennedy, Brian Tracy, and Brendon Burchard. Let me tell you, not only did I not miss listening to music, but I found myself more energized and excited about life.

The point is we want to distract our minds from mundane tasks. Try and forget we’re pumping iron and our muscles are burning by listening to music or, better yet, some personal development material.

Final Thoughts

Mundane tasks are, by nature, dull. Doing the laundry might not seem like much compared to giving a presentation to a multi-million-dollar client, but it still needs to be done. Not only that, but they can also be time-consuming.

However, by making a few simple changes, you’ll be surprised how mundane tasks can become meaningful work.

Featured photo credit: Magnet.me via unsplash.com

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15 Career Milestones To Celebrate (And How To Set New Ones)

When you look at your professional life in terms of career milestones, it can be very exciting and rewarding. By honoring your successes along your professional journey, you build your confidence, pride, and courage and open your eyes to new opportunities.

Career milestones happen every day. They may include completing a project, landing an interview, or getting kudos from the boss. Unfortunately, too often, smaller career milestones are discounted, with professionals focusing only on the big ones—like a new job or retirement.

But when you diminish smaller career milestones or ones that are less overt, you’re taking away a tiny bit of your professional soul. Instead, celebrating each one provides the required internal fuel to go after and achieve the next one.

Achieve Career Milestones By Setting Achievement Goals

Setting achievement goals is important. These goals can be big, like landing a promotion, or small, like accomplishing thirty minutes of uninterrupted focus time.

The size of your goals does not matter, just that you set achievement goals and go after them.

Moving toward these goals, even if you don’t fully realize them yet, is huge. It helps you move the needle further toward your professional and personal success.

When you have a visual career path, it makes achieving success even easier. This career path can only be followed when you know where to go.

So, enter the career development map.

Create A Career Development Map

A career development map is just what you would imagine it to look like—a treasure map. In the end, it is the ultimate goal for this year, or in five years, or whatever target time you have in mind.

Even if your ultimate goal isn’t totally clear, it will tighten up as you move forward. The key is not to get stuck sitting and waiting for that ultimate goal to be perfect. You need to move!

The purpose of a career development map is so you know which direction you are going. This map may be your guide for your life path, including career milestones from graduation to retirement.

The interesting thing about this career development map is that it’s dynamic. Like the one you might find at Hogwarts, this map will have new and unexpected milestones that pop up along the way. And remember that your goals can evolve and change as you evolve and change.

As you move forward on your career path, life also simultaneously happens. What you want now may be very different in ten years. That’s okay.

If you’re willing to be flexible and put in the work, this career path will take you on a journey of a lifetime—literally.

15 Career Milestones to Celebrate

Ready to get started? Here are fifteen big and small career milestones that you should strive for and celebrate along the way.

1. Graduation

Many successful professionals have graduated from somewhere. This could be high school, college, a university, or a personal milestone that is less to do with education and more to do with life.

The university of experience is a career milestone that has shaped many a success story, while other icons attribute their achievements to more formal educational pursuits.

Whether it be a traditional academic program or a non-traditional self-development program, graduating from an intensive learning endeavor is the first major career milestone worthy of a celebration. But don’t stop there. This is one of those career milestones that should have a ripple effect.

Continue to set up courses, programs, conferences, and self-study endeavors throughout the remainder of your career journey so you can continue graduating and growing along the way.

2. First Interview

You probably remember your first interview. It’s a career milestone that one never forgets. The nerves and the preparation won’t go away as you embark on more interviews—nor should they if you want to succeed—but those associated with your first interview have a lasting impact.

This career milestone sets the tone for future interviews. You experienced a lot, and you learned a lot. And the great thing about interviews is each future one is a mini career milestone, moving you closer to the job of your dreams.

3. Important Move

This could be your first apartment, or maybe you transferred to a corporate division across the globe. Perhaps you moved into your parent’s guest house. Whatever the move looks like, it’s a career milestone.

Yes, I said “career” because it is the milestone that asserts your independence and that has positive future consequences.

When you step into your own space and become an independent person, you learn the nuances of life and leadership. This is a fantastic learning lab of transferrable responsibilities for future career milestones.

Budgeting, planning, self-care, networking, and self-awareness are just a few of the skills that you will hone in on when you finally own your own space.

4. Inaugural Job

Your first job is a huge career milestone. Many professionals start early with a newspaper delivery service, running a lemonade stand, babysitting, or wait-staffing in high school and beyond.

Your first job is a career milestone that comes with a heavy crown. This is where you find yourself in a professional boot camp of sorts, trying to figure out what it takes to succeed and get a paycheck.

Even if you consider your first real job to be the one that gives you a nice salary and benefits, each day of your first 90 days is a mini career milestone.

As you navigate the process and learn how to apply what you know and integrate your style into the corporate culture, celebrate the fact that you are on your way to the rest of your life. This career milestone is one of the biggest leaps on your career map and should be honored accordingly.

5. Next Job

After your first job, you may stay with that company for the remainder of your career, or there may be many more jobs along the way. As you build your career profile with successes, accomplishments, and career milestones, recruiters and decisions makers will reach out.

If you choose to take another job or take a hiatus from work, celebrate the transition without guilt or worry. This is the professional path and provides endless opportunities for you to use your talents in new and exciting ways.

6. Big Promotion

This is one of the more enviable career milestones. Too many people shoot for the big promotion but forget to acknowledge that increasing responsibilities is just as valuable as a new title or salary.

However, when your big promotion is realized, it’s a huge leap along your career path.

7. Noteworthy Projects

Projects come in all sizes, but there will be one that really stands out from the others. Accomplishing all the work involved to seeing it through to completion is a huge career milestone.

This confidence-boosting achievement—along with future noteworthy projects—should be noted on your resume and summarized in interviews and annual reviews.

8. Day-to-Day Accomplishments

Just as projects are career milestones, accomplishments will take place on your career journey that is worth celebrating. Some may include running a successful meeting, completing your first ninety days on the job, negotiating a better price from a vendor, or landing a new client.

Depending on your job and industry, you will want to make major accomplishment goals throughout your career journey.

9. First Speech

There comes a time in every professional journey when you will make a speech. This could be in a public forum or in front of your team, but your first speech is a great step toward shoring up your leadership identity and becoming a successful communicator.

10. Critical Conversations

At first blush, this may not seem like a career milestone, but trust me—it is.

There will be a time (or times) throughout your career when you successfully engage in a crucial conversation that changes outcomes for the better. Standing up to a difficult coworker or persuading your boss to make a change may count as a few.

It becomes a career milestone when the stakes are high. You prepare thoughtfully and engage in critical conversations with grace and professionalism. You will remember these conversations for the rest of your life.

11. Great Evaluation

Evaluations are delivered more modestly these days. Instead of glowing and five stars, most companies have policies that encourage their leaders to stay in the middle zone when documenting evaluations.

That shouldn’t rob your enthusiasm from a great outcome. When you have a successful annual evaluation, celebrate it.

Treat yourself to a sweet treat or lunch out with a friend who will give you the time to share. Then, after celebrating this career milestone, make notes on what you’ve learned so you can continue the path of positive feedback.

12. Leadership Role

A leadership role doesn’t necessarily equate to management. Rather, this career milestone takes place when you step into the driver’s seat of a project, an initiative, a company, or a team. It’s a big one, and it comes with heightened responsibilities.

As your leadership journey takes off, so will the amount of work and authority. Honor this path respectfully and authentically so that more leadership opportunities will come your way.

13. Boardroom Seat

Not everyone seeks to sit on a board, but it is a major carer milestone for many. Sometimes, boardroom seats are voluntary, whereas others are by appointment.

Regardless of how you land your seat, focus on doing great work for the organization that you serve. Your career profile will be positively impacted, and so will your reputation if you conduct your board seat with respect and servitude.

14. Career Retirement

When the time comes to leave your current occupation and step away from the grind, go all out in celebrating this career milestone. It’s one of the biggest goals most professionals strive for.

15. Encore Career

Don’t stop learning, growing, and impacting others. An encore career, whether that comes at forty-five or the influential age of eighty, is designed for you to live your best career life.

With that in mind, start thinking about what your professional journey will look like beyond the formal career. When you are no longer tied to an eight to five, you can explore whatever you fancy.

This encore, or second career, does not have to align with your experience or training or be full-time. A little side-hustle or an entrepreneurial endeavor or common choices—or volunteering or going back to work in an entirely new occupation for some—is a career milestone that speaks to your soul.

Final Thoughts

When you reflect on your career milestones, look back fondly on the journey today and be proud of all that you’ve achieved. You’ve got a long way to go, and in some instances, milestones will be revisited time and again. But that’s what makes the career journey exciting and insightful.

Start celebrating all that you have achieved and planning for the critical career milestones yet to come.

Featured photo credit: JD Mason via unsplash.com

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Networking For Introverts: 9 Tips On How To Meet New People

Networking for introverts may feel scary or intimidating. Introverts typically enjoy time being alone or with only one or two people rather than spending time with a large crowd.[1] Meanwhile, networking usually involves a lot of interacting with a lot of different people.

But upon learning the effective methods to approach the process, you’ll realize that network is something you can get comfortable with and even excel at. It is a process that can be both authentic and impactful for your career growth even as an introvert.

9 Networking Tips for Introverts

Here are nine tips on how to meet new people and grow your network, even as an introvert.

1. Get Comfortable With the Idea: Goals and Purpose of Networking

First and foremost, remember that networking is simply a process whereby you can build relationships with and learn from professionals in your target roles and industries.

Here’s what else it’s for:

  • To explore and clarify which career path would be the best fit for you by gleaning insights from their experience and vantage point.
  • To swap tips, guidance, advice, resources, and learnings with one another.
  • To understand more about an upskilling, educational, or learning opportunity that you’re considering pursuing.
  • To understand more about a role, team, company, or industry that you’re interested in pursuing.
  • To explore if they can provide a referral or introduction to someone else that may be helpful to you.
  • To help you land your next role (80% of jobs are landed through networking.[2])

2. Dispel Your Myths and Hesitations

Know that while, yes, you are asking someone for their time and help, it is very much an acceptable, polite, and professional thing to do. While many people assume networking is sleazy, recognize that a majority of professionals employ this tool to learn and grow.

Someone will help you, and that person also asked someone else for help before, and at some point, you, too, will help someone by sharing your professional experience.

It is very much okay to have a “networking” or informational call with someone without having all the information. The very point of the call is to ask questions and learn.

People are often happy to help others and share their experiences. Worst case scenario, they either don’t respond to your inquiry or don’t have time, in which case, you can just find others who can help.

Just remember to show up in a prepared, thoughtful manner. Send outreach that is specific, clear, authentic, and shows that you will use their time wisely.

You know yourself the best. So, if you feel like it would help, try to ask for support from a coach, a mentor, or a peer to work through any uncertainties so that you can reach your goals.

3. Use Tools and Processes to Make It More Natural

Remember that you can use tools to organize the process, such as LinkedIn to identify the right people, or a spreadsheet to track where you’re at, who you spoke with, and when.

Luckily, you can use email professionals to ask for their time, which is likely a tool you’re already comfortable with. You can use the phone to have a 15 to 20-minute informational call rather than video or in person.

While you could send questions over email, try to challenge yourself to see if you can get comfortable over the phone, as you will learn higher-quality information and value that way.

Know that once you rip the bandage off and pursue just one networking call, you will get better and more confident over time.

4. Know Whom You Should Reach Out to and Network With

There are a few categories of connections you can leverage, and you can decide which of these you’re most comfortable with.

Be open-minded in considering your network’s network.

We often assume we know who people know. But you’d be surprised that if you were to ask a family member, a friend, a neighbor, an acquaintance, or someone from your gym or wine club to see who they may know in your target roles or industries, they may just be able to introduce you to someone.

You can also consider finding and using your alumni network on LinkedIn.[3] It’s a very powerful tool where you’ll find people directly in your target roles or industries, and you’ll have something in common with these people, too.

People are much more interested to help when you have that warm connection by sharing an alma mater.

LinkedIn also makes it easier to look for mutual connections. That way, you can see directly if someone you know is connected to a target connection, and then you can kindly ask for an introduction.

Lastly, you can consider cold connections who you haven’t but would love to learn from. Try to find people around your level career-wise to make it more approachable for them to respond and want to help.

When we think about introverts and networking, we often worry about people thinking about what we’re doing. But remember that people are more often wrapped up in their own worlds for them to think about you.

The call is a very forward-looking concept—you learn from their experience and gather ideas for your path forward. Your background is almost irrelevant to the call itself, as it’s not an interview. Rather, it’s an opportunity to learn from that person.

5. Use Dedicated Platforms to Find Networking Connections

LinkedIn is an amazingly powerful research tool to find mutual connections, alumni, and more. You can also explore other creative avenues like virtual webinars or in-person industry events that are either relevant to your field or are just geared for networking.

Also, you can consider communities that are meant to connect people (e.g., Ladies Get Paid, Elpha, Reddit, Quora, etc) or other digital spaces where you can find industry-specific groups (e.g., Slack groups).

6. Learn to Properly Phrase Your Outreach to Networking Contacts

Learning to properly phrase your outreach is a key part of getting comfortable with networking.

Remember to write how you would talk. Be authentic and concise. Don’t overthink it. It can be a thoughtful yet brief note.

Also, focus on what you want to learn from that person and be specific. Try to list two to five topic areas that you could learn from them on a call. That way, they can see that you’re prepared and will use their time wisely.

Finally, have a call to action that will help them easily help you, whether you’re looking for a 15 to 20-minute call in the next week or two or an introduction from their network.

7. Learn to Prepare and Run Effective Informational Networking Calls

Learning to prepare for and run an effective informational networking call is another key component that will help any introvert feel confident while networking.

To prepare for a networking call, allot 20 to 30 minutes to reference any prior research, notes, or questions you already had jotted down about the target role or industry. You’ll also want to draft 10 to 15 questions in order of priority.

Ask yourself what questions you have as these will be the most valuable to ask.

Consider coming up with questions that relate to:

  • How do they divide their time for their role
  • Example projects and the roles of the various stakeholders involved
  • How the role may vary across industries or companies
  • How people typically break into the role
  • Where people typically take their careers after this role
  • The breakdown or structure of their team, department, and organization
  • Reputable, worthwhile learning-based resources, opportunities, or programs
  • Learning about the competitors or players in their industry
  • Trends in the industry

When running an informational call, you should come prepared with an agenda. But if they mention something that sounds interesting, you can lean in to learn more about it.

You want to leverage their vantage point as they are exposed to things well beyond just the day-to-day of their role. Use the time to be authentic and honest with what concerns, hesitations, and questions you need help with.

When understanding a company’s culture, get specific about what elements of the culture you want to pinpoint and ask for examples so that you can get a more accurate read rather than a generic answer.

8. Follow Up With Your Networking Connections

Always send a thank you note within 24 hours after any call. It’s a great opportunity to reiterate what was valuable about the call and to follow up on any offers they mentioned to help you after the call, whether it’s another introduction, a referral, sending resources, or something else.

If you’re in job search mode, you can reconnect after 30 to 60 days to have another quick chat, share meaningful updates with them, and ask if they have updates on their end, as oftentimes, team changes and job opportunities open up quite quickly.

For general networking, you should reconnect with professionals who you connected well with at least twice per year, and if you find one great mentor, you can see if they’d be willing to chat with you regularly.

9. Reflect on What You Learned During Networking Calls

Whether you’re in a phase of career exploration or job search, self-reflection is key.

While you’re networking, you want to synthesize your learnings and reflections regularly. This way, you can pivot appropriately to continue learning and find professionals who are most aligned with your career goals.

Final Thoughts

Networking can be a useful, meaningful tool to help you progress in your career. Ask yourself what specifically feels uncomfortable, and find a supportive ear to see if you can unravel any limiting mindsets.

While hesitations around networking are common and your feelings are valid, they can be overcome so that you can reap the various benefits of networking and your career confidently.

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan via unsplash.com


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4 Simple Strategies For Successful Remote Collaborations

The Covid-19 pandemic changed how we live life and do business. Before the pandemic, we were shoulder to shoulder and face to face. There were no masks, and social distancing wasn’t a thing. Then, the pandemic hit, and everything changed.

We were once a hustling and bustling culture that did business within close quarters, and then we became distant and had to make remote collaborations work. Offices that once held lots of people stood empty. The call was for people to stay safe by staying home. Then, the entire world stood still as the pandemic caused our officials to shut down everything.

Yet, as we all stayed home to mitigate the spread of the illness, we still needed to make a living. Bills weren’t going away, and food needed to be purchased.

Remote Collaboration Is on the Rise

Living under these conditions gave rise to remote workers and remote collaborations. It kept businesses open and people employed. In light of all the remote work standards enacted during the pandemic, companies discovered the advantages of using remote collaboration to expand despite the unfortunate circumstances.

The challenges shifted from a desperate need to redefine how business was done to effectively working remotely while creating a culture around healthy remote collaboration. This article will give you tips, tools, and tricks for effective remote collaboration.

Setting Communication Norms for Collaboration

Setting cultural norms around communication is an integral part of effective remote collaboration. Developing the culture before you do the first project together is imperative. Doing this sets the standard of how the teams will be run and how their members will operate.

1. Establish Communication Norms

These norms are how your team will communicate, what channels they will use, and how often they should be in regular communication with you and each other. Without these norms, communication can either become overwhelming or nonexistent.

Lead your team by setting up normative systems and structures on how you will communicate and which method is the preferred method of communication.

2. Don’t Confuse Brief Communications and Clear Communications

Communication can be brief without being clear. The goal of the team is not to be as brief as possible but to be as clear as possible. Striving for clarity will teach the team how to communicate while brevity comes with practice.

Teams that are clear communicators are teams that reach high levels of success.

3. Don’t Bombard Your Team With Messages

There is both a science and an art to communication. The science of communication comes from learning how to communicate. The art of communication develops as you learn when to communicate.

Develop self-awareness of when your messages are more distracting than helpful.

4. Find the Hidden Opportunities Within Written Communications

When you show the group that you value their time, they will value the collaboration.

Can that meeting be an email? Do you need to meet with your team every morning, or can you send a message with the day’s directives? Have you announced to the group how much you value them?

There are many opportunities to grow and develop your team through written communication. You have to find them.

5. Be Intentional About Celebration

What you celebrate, you retain. When you celebrate the team, the team will remain a team. People do not stay where they are not celebrated.

If you want remote collaboration to work, then be intentional about celebrating. Celebrate birthdays, milestones, life events, met goals, etc. What you praise grows.

If you create a communicative culture norm around celebrating people, you create something magnetic that will keep the team together for years to come.

4 Practical Strategies to Promote Remote Collaboration

An idea without a strategy is a waste of energy. Having a strategy gives the idea of the legs it needs to walk on to accomplish its mission.

Here are four practical strategies for effective remote collaboration:

1 . Create a Routine Around Communication

Don’t overthink the routine. Start with something and adjust along the way. Invite feedback from the other collaborators. The life pulse of your team happens when you gather around a standard directive.

With communication routines, you can have daily huddles, weekly “growth” meetings, and monthly info sessions.

Daily huddles are communication checkpoints. There are not long meetings. Their intended purpose is to quickly meet to go over the daily task list, assess if someone needs help, and create a connection point.

Weekly “growth” meetings are team meetings. This type of meeting is where the entire team gathers together to discuss growth opportunities, brainstorm, plan, or get trained.

Monthly info sessions are meetings where the entire team gathers to go over their directive for the month. It is also an opportunity to host training, provide feedback, have breakout sessions, or go over company policy.

Pro tip: Whatever communication routine you decide on is fine. The one thing you must have at every meeting is an agenda. It doesn’t matter how long or short the meeting is. An agenda communicates that you value their time while keeping you on track by sticking to the plan.

2 . Common Tools for Remote Collaborations

When we think of effective remote collaborations, technology is usually at the bottom. Technology being the last of thoughts may be due to the assumption that everyone has access to technology.

Although our assumption may be correct, we still have to address the type of tools that each person will use.

Here are some everyday technology needs that every team needs to address with popular examples:

  • Video conferencing software (Zoom or Google Meetup)
  • Task management app (Trello, Notion, or Asana)
  • Communication app (Voxxer, Volley, Slack, or WhatsApp)
  • Headphones (Don’t underestimate the power of noise-canceling headphones)
  • Monitors (How many do the team need for the tasks?)
  • Remote desktop software (To remotely access office computers for files or repairs)
  • Antivirus app (This is a non-negotiable)
  • Password management app (1password or Dashlane)
  • Cloud storage (Google Drive or Dropbox)
  • Office suite (MS Office)

Pro tip: Create a list of all necessary apps with descriptions. All collaborators should be using the same program to cut down on miscommunication. Also, it is essential to note that each app will have a learning curve.

Picking the best tool for the team with the lowest learning curve while promoting simplicity in the workspace is a win.

3 . Navigate Through Your Expectations

To begin setting healthy expectations within remote collaborations, one must first understand the nature of expectations.

Expectations are thoughts about how we desire people to act and operate within specific contexts. Because the essence of remote work is that each collaborator is working out of a different location, expectations are not suggestions.

Expectations that are correctly communicated are requirements for healthy, remote collaboration communities.

Before you even begin working together, having good communication that defines the team expectations early on in the partnership is key to effective collaboration. When determining the expectations of your remote collaboration, you must be realistic and extremely specific.

An unclear expectation leaves room for confusion. As you may know, confusion causes insecurity and ineffectiveness, which ultimately hinders the progress of you and the team.

To help navigate expectations, make a list that applies to everyone (including yourself). Once there is an outline of your overall expectations in place, bring the team together so that you guys can openly discuss. The goal is to come to a census on how the entire team will operate and behave.

Here are some possible team expectations:

  • Be present for all scheduled meetings.
  • Plan for expected absences ahead of time.
  • Focus on your area of work.
  • Dress appropriately for the workplace.
  • Be courteous at all times.
  • Maintain a positive, helpful attitude.
  • Ensure that you don’t leave gaps that others will have to pick up.

Of course, you would have to define what each of these looks like for your context. However, the more work you put into clarity before the team works together, the easier it will be to navigate conversations and challenges.

Pro tip: Do not create these alone. Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and neither should team building. The more you can invite buy-in and insight from the team, the greater the opportunity for the expectations to be followed and shared by everyone.

Remember, people will never do what they are told. People like to know that their voice matters. Collaborate on the expectations for the team and watch the team become unstoppable.

4 . Call the Team to a Higher Standard

When building a culture that can adapt to ongoing changes and overcome challenges in a competitive environment while working remotely, we must set the foundation of that team with growth in mind.

Think of it as a house. If the house’s foundation is faulty, then the house cannot stand. It doesn’t matter how amazing the house is. If the house has any challenges with the foundation, eventually, the house will fall.

Collaborative teams work similarly. When you are building a remote team, the foundation of that team is the most essential part of the process.

Every effective team is committed to the team members in ways that push everyone to be the best version of themselves. Without high standards and high levels of accountability then, the remote collaboratory team will not work. The team will be about each person trying to look good and be the best instead of putting the interest of the whole team ahead of their own.

We, as leaders, must commit to creating healthy teams and not just effective teams. Effective teams get work done. Healthy teams grow through the work and can eventually handle increasingly complex challenges.

The goal isn’t just to complete the mission but to grow as a team and move from job completion to innovation. This takes accountability, high standards of behavior, and increasing levels of commitment.

Without high-performance standards and strong accountability, even the best teams eventually collapse.

Call the remote team to be the best by thinking:

  • Excellence over perfectionism
  • High performance over mediocrity
  • Accountability over irresponsibility
  • Initiative over laziness
  • Relationship over codependence
  • Respect over contempt
  • Humility over pride
  • Honor over jealousy
  • Collaboration over competition

Then, hold each other accountable in respectful ways. Talk through challenges. Call out inconsistencies. Give the team a right to call you out on something that’s causing you to live at a lower standard.

Final Thoughts

Remote collaboration is a goal many strive to reach, but it isn’t enough to do a remote collaboration. Doing things to do them doesn’t move the needle.

Doing busywork or trendy work only makes us feel like we are accomplishing goals. What sets companies apart is their unwavering focus on remote collaboration as a centralized mission and not just another thing to do.

As a growing company looking to expand your influence and reach, realize that remote collaboration shouldn’t be the focus. Instead, the focal point needs to be on how to be effective at remote collaboration.

Make it a part of the mission and vision of the expanding company. Allow it to be a core value that pushes you to expand and grow.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

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