Thought for the day: Day 15

“Beaten paths are for beaten people.”

This one really speaks to me.  Every day in so many ways we have a world telling us to do things a certain way…that THIS must be the way to do a thing.  It’s incredibly difficult to find your own way with all the cultural and societal forces working against us.  Stepping out on your own is a big risk.  People everywhere will tell you that you are making a mistake or not to do it.  If you aren’t meant to follow the crowd, don’t follow the crowd.  Listen to your heart instead.  Create your own path.

Advertisements

Thought for the day . . .

Years ago I started the practice of writing motivational quotes on a note card and carrying the card with me.  Several times throughout the day I would take out the card and read it.  That practice kept me focused.  When I started to feel down or was getting knocked off track I would pull out the card and reflect on it.  The topics of the cards ranged widely.  That’s what made it so fun and easy to do.

I want to share this daily practice with you.  Over the next sixty days I will be posting a motivation.  While they won’t be listed in a specific order, they will fall roughly into the following categories:

1) Taking Stock 2) Facing Your Fears 3) Being Courageous/Taking Risks 4) Taking Action.

My desire with this daily exercise is that you will reflect on the words and what they mean to you.  If a particular quote strikes you and you want to comment, please do.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  If the quote makes you think about something new or about something in a different way, that’s great.

The quotes come from a variety of places.  Many are from books I’ve read, some are from famous people, some are from speakers at conferences I have attended through the years.  When I know the source, I will cite it.

See you tomorrow.

A heart filled with gratitude….

I have had a remarkable year.  As it winds down I can’t help but continue to feel incredibly blessed and humbled for all that I have.  And today, as I prepare to spend the day with my extended family and eat an incredible meal, I want to share a few thoughts with you.   Thank you so much for being a part of my life and helping me on my journey.

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson

“Be on the lookout for mercies.  The more we look for them, the more of them we will see…Better to lose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings to counting your troubles.” – Maltbie D. Babcock

“Every dog has its day, but it’s not every dog that knows when he’s having it.” – Winifred Gordon

“Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.” – Elizabeth Aquith Bibesco

“Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do which must be done, whether you like it or not.” – Charles Kingsley

“When I first open my eyes upon the morning meadows and look out upon the beautiful world I thank God I am alive.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Most of my major disappointments have turned out to be blessings in disguise.  So whenever anything bad does happen to me I kind of sit back and feel, well, if I give this enough time it will turn out that this was good, so I shan’t worry about it too much.” – William Gaines

“You will never be the person you can be if pressure, tension and discipline are taken out of your life.” – Dr. James G. Bilkey

“God brings men into deep waters not to drown them but to cleanse them.” – Aughey

“Failure changes for the better, success for the worse.” – Marcus Annaeus Seneca

“Too many people miss the silver lining because they are expecting gold.” – Maurice Setter

“Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.” – Henry Van Dyke

“Thank God for dirty dishes; they have a tale to tell.  While other folks go hungry, we’re eating pretty well.  With home and health and happiness, we shouldn’t want to fuss; For by this stack of evidence, God’s very good to us.” – Anonymous

 

A new day

Self Employment Tax Form - Schedule SE

Self Employment Tax Form – Schedule SE (Photo credit: Philip Taylor PT)

“Not to dream boldly may turn out to be simply irresponsible.” – George Leonard

Changing the wallpaper.  That’s how I used to describe the job changes I’ve had over my career.  I would start a new position being very excited about the possibilities and before too long, the old way of thinking would creep in.  Just like changing the wallpaper in your home, at the beginning of a new job, it’s exciting and different.  But over time, you begin to realize it’s still the same room in the same house in the same neighborhood in the same town.  Before I knew it I was out looking at samples again.  I was changing the wallpaper hoping for a different outcome but I was neglecting the structure I was living in.  The very foundation of my career is what needed to change.  I thought another new position would be enough.  But it was never enough.  It was only enough to quiet the yearning in my heart for a year or two or three.  No matter how long it took, that little voice in the back of my head would start whispering again.

And in moments when I was truly honest with myself, it wasn’t merely a little voice whispering in the back of my head.  It was what God had written on my heart that was speaking.  How long did I want to continue to go through life ignoring what God has written for my life?  Not much longer than I already have.

So I took a few small steps that have changed everything.

When I was unemployed earlier this year (fortunately only the months of March and April) I attended several networking groups regularly.  During one meeting, one of the facilitators was speaking and he said something to the effect of “You are all here looking for a job.  Many of you have gifts that can be used in other ways.  Maybe it’s time you stopped looking for a job and you BECAME the job.”  For those of us in attendance with a certain mind-set or inclination, we knew he was talking to the aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners; those wanting to step out on our own.

The seed that had been planted in my heart long ago had just been fertilized.  And that seed sprouted.  Over the next several months that sprout continued to grow almost to the point it became a weed.  I couldn’t stop it from growing and sprawling.  I knew well enough I wasn’t going to pull it or cut it back.  I was going to let it grow.  And before too long I had created a LLC for my own company.  I was talking to attorneys and accountants and health insurance brokers and I was out looking for clients, building a web site and creating marketing materials.  Most importantly, I submitted my resignation.  That small act was actually huge and incredibly significant.  I am no longer an employee.  What I am now is a free agent and business owner.

All the fears I had carried through the years about being my own boss held me down.  They prevented me from acting.  They prevented me from liberating my gifts and sharing them with the world.  Taxes?  Healthcare?  Insurance?  Company-formation documents?  In a previous life all those factors tied me down.  All it took was a few phone calls and asking a few questions of people I already had in my life and trusted.  You would be surprised what it takes to start a company.  The short answer is not that much.

My 7-year old son asked me several weeks ago as I was tucking him into bed “is your company going to be a big building?”  I love the perspective kids can provide.  His question brought me into his world and how he sees it.  I value that perspective.  I told him a company isn’t necessarily a big building.  A company is simply a few signed pieces of paper sitting in a file folder in some office somewhere.  The reason there are big buildings is that some companies have lots of employees and they all need somewhere to work.  I won’t have lots of employees so I won’t need a big building.

The person I am today is not the same person I was even 4 weeks ago.  The switch that gets flipped in your brain when you make the decision and change from employee to business owner creates a whole new paradigm.  The changes I have gone through have been profound.  The way I view and think about things are what have changed the most.  How I view myself has changed.  I’ve had to get comfortable and re-acquainted with who I am in my new role.

Up until several weeks ago my wife and I were talking about how difficult Christmas was going to be.  Money has been very tight and two of our kids have December birthdays.  We were wondering where the money was going to come from.

What a difference a few weeks and a little preparation make.  Now, we’re having discussions on how we’re going to get Gustafson Power Recruiting, LLC to be a $500,000 company.  When we get that figured out and reach that goal, the next step is a $1,000,000 company.  With a company like that I can bless many people in many ways I could never dream of in my previous life.

Being an employee with an employee mindset was restrictive.  Now, the possibilities are limitless.  Now, I get to spend time thinking about the person I must become to create a million dollar business.  I like that thought.  I like the idea of the person I will be when that day arrives.  Clearly, the person I am today is not the same person I will be years from now.

I walked through my fear.  I let it fool me almost my entire life up to this point.  Shame on me.  Now I know better.  Fear is a vapor.

I’m under no illusions there won’t be storms and rough water in the days and years ahead.  But I’m prepared.  Louisa May Alcott said it best: “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

Be abundantly blessed!

And please let me know how I can help you on your journey.

Always Assume Positive Intent

You’ve been there.  You know what it’s like to interview for a position several times over the course of a few weeks.  The interviews seem to be going well.  Why else would they have you back time and again to talk to yet other person if the interviews weren’t going well?  At each stage of the interview process you find yourself inching up the food chain; first it was the recruiter you spoke to.  Then it was the hiring manager, then their boss, then their boss.  And just for good measure they have you talk to another high-level individual in the company for another perspective.

During the process you’re minding your P’s and Q’s, sending thank-you notes and asking questions about next steps.  You are doing what you should to stay on their radar.  But after that last interview, much to your dismay, the lines of communication have been cut off and you don’t know why.  You are not getting any feedback or responses of any kind.  That’s odd because all through the process they had been fairly quick to respond.  The fact you are not getting communication from them is uncharacteristic of the process to date.

So, it’s been several days since the last time they communicated with you.  Everything had been going very well.  You have every reason to believe you are (or were) a top candidate.  What do you do?  The short answer is: keep communicating with them.  You have no idea why you haven’t heard from them and you have no way of knowing what is going on on their side.  So until you hear otherwise, assume things are still on track and move forward accordingly.

People get sick.  Their kids get sick.  Decision makers go on vacation.  Offer-letter approvers are out for a few days.   Maybe the position hasn’t even been approved yet and they are frantically working to get the position approved in order to move forward.  I know it would be nice if they let you know that but they haven’t.

Until they tell you “no”, you are still in contention.  So send them a professional, polite note once a week.  And let them know that’s what you are going to do.  Let them know they will continue to hear from you until you hear from them.

I don’t know why we are wired the way we are.  Humans too easily gravitate to the negative.  “They didn’t like me after all.  I haven’t heard from them in so long. I know I didn’t get that job.”  We start to assume the worst, second guess and start spiraling.  I’m as guilty of that as the next person.

A great piece of advice I received from a former boss told me “always assume positive intent.”  Until you have reason to believe otherwise, believe in the positive.  Maybe they did go ahead and hire somebody and didn’t have the decency to let you know.  It happens.  Keep communicating with them and make them tell you no.

I once interviewed for a position where I was communicating with the hiring manager several times a week.  It was a position I really wanted.  Then all of a sudden, there was nothing.  It got to the point I put a note on my calendar a couple of weeks out to remind me to send one final email.  Three days before that reminder was to pop up and remind me I received a message from the hiring manager.  She asked if I was still interested.

I was certain the position went to another candidate and they didn’t have the decency to let me know after all the time I invested in the process.  But it only proves my point you never know what’s going on on their end.  There are all kinds of stumbling blocks that can get in the way.  When I finally connected with the hiring manager she offered me the position.  Her reasoning for the delay made sense but it would have been nice if she sent a quick email at any point along the way to let me know.  It wouldn’t take much.  But if I hadn’t stayed positive in the emails I kept sending her, if my weekly emails had grown more testy and snarky, I have no doubt they would have moved on to another candidate.  That’s why you should always remain positive.

And I might add this; as a recruiter, I don’t do this and never have, but I am convinced some companies go silent on purpose.  They are gauging your interest level and evaluating how you handle it.  So handle it professionally and always assume positive intent.

Happy hunting

Dream big and keep at it

Have you ever had the experience of reading something or experiencing something that stops you in your tracks because it makes you see something in a new way?  Those moments are called paradigm shifts.  I had one this week and it actually scared me (but in a good way, if that makes sense.)

I subscribe to Jim Rohn’s newsletter.  If you are not familiar with Jim’s work I strongly encourage you to investigate.  A couple of times a week I receive an inspiring and motivational article in my inbox.  As often happens, there are articles included from other motivational speakers.

This week, after I read Jim’s article, The Rose, there was another article by Chris Widener.  The title of Chris’ article was Dare to Dream Again.  And in reading that article I had my paradigm shift.

He started off by recounting how when we’re all young we dream big.  But “Eventually we started to let our dreams die. People began to tell us that we couldn’t do the things we wanted. It was impossible. Responsible people don’t pursue their dreams. Settle down, get a job, be dependable. Take care of business, live the mundane, be content.”

That’s a scary thought but it’s not the one that actually scared me.  Chris then goes on to list several areas where we can begin to dream again and the advantages of doing so.  Dreaming, says Chris, enables us to avoid regret.  Dreaming gives us personal and family fulfillment.  Dreaming makes the world a better place.  True, true and true!

What he had to say about leaving a legacy is what stopped me in my tracks.  This is what he said:  How will your children remember you? As one who sought all that life had to offer, using your gifts and talents to their fullest extent, leading the family with a zest for life, or as an overweight couch potato who could have been? Our children need to see that we dream; that we search for something better. They in turn will do the same!

Wow!  Who in the world wants their kids to remember them as an over-weight couch potato?  Not me.  I’m not over weight but I do have five fantastic kids.  The last thing in the world I want to be remembered by is that I watched a lot of TV.

If they see you setting goals and pursuing dreams, they’ll do the same.  If you are in near-constant motion in pursuit of your dreams they will assume your tempo.  If you tell them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, they will come to understand and can even help you in ways no one else ever could.  It’s funny.  I’ve learned that the younger they are, the more apt they are to understand.  My 9-year old daughter doesn’t miss a trick.  She doesn’t let anything pass.  Everything has to have an explanation.  I then get to see the world from her perspective.  It is very useful and helpful information.

When it comes down to the choice of how I want my kids to remember me, it won’t be as a couch potato; you can bet your @$$ on that.  It will be as a dreamer and goal-setter.  The one who helped broaden their horizons by not only teaching them how to dream but having them grow up watching me do it.  After all, the best parenting advice I ever read was this: Preach the gospel at all times.  When necessary, use words.

I can live with failure; knowing I tried and didn’t succeed.  I refuse to live with regret.

At the end of the interview are you prepared with questions?

You’re nearing the end of your interview.  The interviewer asks you “do you have any questions for me?”

Now what?

Hopefully, you have been asking questions all the way through your interview.  But if not, you better have a good list of questions at the ready or you will be viewed as unprepared and/or disinterested.  Neither option is good.  Here is a quick list (certainly not all-inclusive) of questions you should be prepared to ask.  You can ask questions about the job, the company/culture, your responsibilities or the rest of the interview process.  You can tailor any of them to meet the specifics of your situation.

Here are some examples or thought-starters:

Questions about the job and your responsibilities:

When I start, what would be the top 3 things I would need to address or focus on in my first 30-60 days?  (This is important to ask because regardless of what the description says or what has been discussed in the interview up to this point, their answer will tell you what’s important to them and what they need you to focus on.  It also mentally places you in the position.  You want the interviewer to see you in the position.)

Based on our conversation, do you feel there are any issues with my background and experience that would keep me from receiving an offer?  (Take the opportunity and a pro-active stance to address any objections they may have about your candidacy.  You may not feel comfortable asking about your perceived deficiencies regarding your candidacy but it’s better to ask now in the interview setting where you can address them immediately and get an idea of where their head is rather than to wait to hear you didn’t get the job.)

Questions about the company/culture:

How long have you worked here?  (Are they brand new too?  If so, they may not have great insight into the company just yet.  If this is the case, follow-up with this question: why did you decide to work here?)

What do you like best about your position?  (Do they provide a ‘canned’ answer or do they provide something specific?  Their response could be telling.)

What do you like best about the company?  (Is it the free soft-serve in the cafeteria or is it the autonomy they’re given to do their job?  There’s a wide gap between the two.)

What would you change about the company is you could?  (This will give you a glimpse into how they view the company.)

Questions about the rest of the interview process:                 

Is there anyone else I need to speak with as a part of process? (Companies these days are notorious for not wanting to make a hiring decision. To support this behavior, many of them will throw in additional interviews at that final stage for additional reinforcement of their decision to hire or not hire.)

What is the rest of the process? (Do they know or does it sound like they are making things up as they go?)

When do you intend to make a decision? (Listen carefully to their answer. You will be holding them accountable to this if the process drags on.)

How many other candidates are you talking to? (You want to know as much about your competition as possible.)

When can I expect an offer? (You know what their offer would look like because the salary has already been discussed.)