Exploration: When you are young everyone asks you what you want to be when you grow up. Eventually, expectations change and the question is what do you do? Some people like being defined by one career stop and others want to keep exploring. Both are okay. While the "choose your path and stick with it" method can provide stability, the "explore different fields" route can provide unique experience. No matter the decision, never stop exploring your potential.
Golden Rule: "What Susie says about Sally says more of Susie than of Sally". Similarly how you treat people speaks more about who you are, so treat people not as they treat you but as you want to be treated. Never forget that you are working with people, each of us flawed in our own ways and carrying our own histories. This simple personal perspective will help you to manage difficult situations. As Jay Danzie states, "Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark."
Networking: Most of the available positions are found in the hidden job market and not in online job boards. If you want access to that market, then you have to do more than attend traditional networking events. You have to get meetings. Use your existing contacts to make new contacts. Conduct informational interviews and learn more about your target. Reach out to hiring managers. Use your resources and become an "insider". Make yourself someone worth knowing.
Limits: "Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do." This Irma Kurtz quote reminds us to know our worth, which is especially important for entrepreneurs. As you start to build your brand, you may be asked to do free work. There are many times, when offering your services for free will help your business. As long as you are aware of what you are giving away, setting the limits that are comfortable for you and continuing to fulfill your personal goals, you are doing the right thing.
Just Try: It is usually easier to ask others to try something than to step out of our own comfort zones. When taking professional chances, you either have to (a) be ready or (b) make yourself believe that you are ready. Either way, you will be better positioned for success and avoid missed opportunities. Take the advice you would give to your child, mentee, family, or friend and just try. Knowledge and growth come from experience.
Comparison: Do you ever read an alumni magazine, a class note, an online post or an award list and feel jealous of what others are doing professionally? It is okay as long as you turn those feelings into motivation. Most importantly, don’t allow comparison to eat away at your being. Use those feelings to drive you to towards your personal and professional goals, not those of others. Remember that you are not "what you do" but rather "who you are" Let others motivate you and let your motivation inspire others.
Follow-up: I can't remember how many times, I've seen people make the mistake of not following up. When I attend a networking event or present a training, I remember each conversation I have and each offer to assist. Unfortunately, following up is a learned skill and there are so many who think they are forgettable. When you are meeting with people in an interview process, don't waste your follow-up with a simple thank you note. Add something more to the package you are presenting. Be confident in your presence. Be truthful in your word. Be diligent in your follow-up.
Showers to Flowers: We all know that saying "April showers, bring May flowers" but did you know that the same can be said of your challenges? In other words, if you've had tears, discouragement or disappointment in your past, they were all nourishment for your success. Learn from your experience and remember that it is all part of your story. Don't dwell on the showers, think about the fruit of that labor, the present positives and the blessings to come.
Mothers: "All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." (Abraham Lincoln). Mothers usually hold a special place for us because they helped shape who we have become. As the cycle of life continues, some of us are now mothers with children depending on us to show them the way. There are so many things outside of our control but there are three things the Bible states remain; faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love. Children or those who depend on us, may not understand our jobs, our schedules, or our to-do lists, but they understand love so make sure no matter what you do, you show love.
Shine: There are moments when we are meant to shine, be they meetings, conferences, performances, interviews, or even social gatherings. Then there are people who can negatiely affect our moods, be they competitors, co-workers, family members or frenemies. What do you do when the two meet? You stay focused, and you listen to the inner voice of confidence cheering you on. Most importantly, you remember as I read on a boutique sign, "Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle". Shine on.
Priorities: Ghandi said "Action expresses priorities." When you have a choice, what do you choose to spend your time and energy on? Choose wisely because those are your priorities. Although you may say that work is your priority or your family or your friends, when you have a choice do your actions match your words? If they don't, then it is time to re-order your priroties. Make one small daily change in how you spend your time and align it with your preferred priority. It will add up.
Thank you: Always remember to thank the people who help you in some way. If someone takes time to speak with you, thank them. If someone passes along some information, thank them. If someone offers their assistance, even if you don’t think you need it, thank them anyway. Try your best not to burn bridges throughout your career journey because you never know when you may have to cross that path again. Showing gratitude is one of the simplest ways to maintain healthy working relationships and everyone likes to feel appreciated.
Summertime: Summer is a time for rest and for fun however, if you are in a job search, it is time to get down to business. Continue to research, and get meetings. People may have more time in their schedule to meet with you during the sumer months. Think ahead to the fall when many places may be hiring and put in the time in the summer. Don't take a break from job searching. Continue to apply and get out there. Investing in your job search during the summer months will help separate you from the rest.
Email: Email communication can make or break your daily work-life. Here are a few rules for email excellence: 1) Proofread, including the content and the intended recipients., 2) Try to respond within 24 hours even if you do not have the requested information or can't focus completly, just acknowledge your receipt of the message and make sure to follow-up when you can, and finally 3) Think before you type. Don't allow emotion to dictate your email voice. Take a moment to redraft as many times as necessary to ensure that your message properly conveys the necessary information.
Assumption: Don’t ever make the mistake of assuming that you know everything. We can always learn. You learn from peers, supervisors and those who report to you. We learn from our mistakes and from our successes. The world is constantly changing and know-it-alls never really know it all. The patient who treats themselves may have a fool for a doctor and the pro-se client may have a fool for a lawyer. We all need eachother. Find the experts, work collaboratively and never stop learning.
Clutter: You can not judge a book by its cover and some people are more productive in chaos but clutter is never a good look. Let your work space (including your computer files) and your home space reflect your focus. Stay organized. Make sure that you know where your resources are and can easily access what you need on a daily basis. If something is holding you back each day, move it out of your way. Make time in your schedule to organize and you will save yourself time down the line.