Job Craft your way to a new role!

“Are you a rule follower,” I was asked by an elder friend one day while riding bikes in Newport Beach.  “Sometimes,” I answered, “depending on the rule.”  My friend, who was turning 80 the following month, said she was a life-long rule follower and she was going to start breaking them! She promptly swerved her bike to the left side of the street and continued to ride. It was a simple act, but I remember the joy it brought to her face when she realized that no one was watching her; that no one was stopping her from riding on the wrong side of the street.   She was gleefully free!  

I’m not advocating that we all go out and break laws and rules of safe travel but I am asking you to think about the normative behaviors and unwritten rules that you follow without considering the alternatives and potential opportunities. The pandemic has created a giant disruption in everyday life and work on a global level. It has changed so many cultural and work-life rules that we are all left creating our way forward and will be for a long time to come. 

I see this as a time to craft a new way of working, relating to each other and to ourselves.  

To start you off on your crafting journey, I have outlined a few basic tenets of Job Crafting: a practice that you can use to create a more ideal work situation for yourself and perhaps change the meaning and purpose of your work. Use these tenets to assess and edit different aspects of your work and to design your way forward. You spend hours each day doing it..why not make it the best it can be? 

  • Locus of control.  Part of what my friend was experiencing on her bike that day was the joy of taking control. The pandemic has limited some aspects of what we can control in our environment, but it has also given many of us flexibility that we didn’t think was possible. We have more control over where we work, when we work and how we work.  Ask yourself if the ways you are choosing to work give you the freedom you desire.  
  • What makes you tick. I like to use an inside-out approach to crafting optimal work. This approach recognizes that we already have most of the skills and knowledge we need to create meaningful work. We are all unique individuals who need different things to thrive. Consider these aspects of yourself to drill down on what makes you tick and make decisions about how and where you work: personality, values, strengths, skills and interests.  
  • Task Crafting:  If you have worked for a few years, you will have accumulated many skills. The idea of task crafting is that you choose the skills and tasks that you enjoy using and performing so that you spend more of your time enjoying the work. Task crafting also allows you to expand the boundaries of your role to take on more tasks or change how these tasks are performed. One example from my early career in hotel management was taking on a few night audit shifts at a small bed and breakfast property where I was working at the front desk. I loved math and was interested in accounting. The night audit tasks were easy for me to learn and I ended up earning extra money along with my additional skills. 
  • Networking: True networking is an exchange of ideas and information. You can change the nature or extent of your interactions with other people by having a networking conversation.  You may be thinking about a lateral move within your organization and a networking conversation can give you important insights into the role you desire. A networking conversation can also lead to a role in a new organization as you are speaking in your area of expertise and passion. Try elevating your next conversation by talking about some aspect of your work that you are really excited about!
  • Reframe: You can change how you think about the purpose of certain aspects of your job; or you can reframe the job as a whole. I remember one of the nurses in the hospital where I gave birth to my daughter reframed her role as a newborn nurse to include the role of welcomer. She was a reiki energy practitioner and silently treated all of the newborns she interacted with to soothe their fragile nervous systems. It was a beautiful gesture of healing that she added to the routine tasks of a newborn nurse in order to give her job more purpose and meaning.

Tetris anyone?

I feel as if these last 5 months I have been playing a big game of tetris trying to keep up with a constantly changing landscape due to the pandemic.  With the recent news about some schools beginning the year online, I am jostling my pieces around yet again.  On a hike with a friend yesterday she noted that we are not just dealing with the familiar tetris game shapes, but now are being thrown triangles, circles and the occasional rhombus.  How do we keep arranging our various tetrominos (yes I looked that word up) before we reach overwhelm and it’s game over?   
Here are some tips I have come up with to improve game play. I would love to hear more about your struggles and strategies for this ever-evolving situation!
  • Break it down: Break projects into smaller tasks that you can do at a variety of times throughout the week. Get started on something and get those few tetris blocks in place.
  • Try scenario planning: Have a few ideas rolling at once and always be looking for the third thing. There are some great ideas forming in the grey areas right now.
  • Focus on what you can control: So many things are out of our control that we are walking around in a constant state of anxiety. Human beings are not meant to be on high alert for this long. Practice focusing on the things you can control even if they seems like small things. Getting one block in place can be hugely liberating right now!
  • Look for the opportunities: Here are some I have been finding lately – outdoor haircut parties, office swaps, volunteering, riding my six-year-old neighbor’s big wheel (crazy I still fit), outside yoga, connecting with old friends and new!
  • Feed your brain: You are done with Netflix. Try something new and commit to learning it with a friend or loved one.

Sitting in Limbo 6 tips to get more out of your liminal experience!

liminality (from the Latin word l?men, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete. (Wikipedia)

How many of you have experienced the disorientation of this liminal space over the past 10 weeks of Sheltering in Place (10 weeks..WHOA!)?  We are all stuck in a seemingly endless new normal of social distancing and working from home without clear guidelines for landing in the next phase.  As a result, many of us are feeling a little edgy with the uncertainty and extreme challenges this global pandemic presents. Liminal spaces are a normal part of life as we prepare for changes like going to college, having a baby, moving and job shifts. When these life stages have clear boundaries, it is easier to be in the liminal space.

However, this pandemic is presenting new challenges without good information and set boundaries.  We are collectively “feeling around in the dark” which can create feelings of fear, depression and anxiety. Even during life’s normal transitions, we often miss the real potential of these liminal spaces by freezing or fleeing. If you are willing to listen, sense and sink in to this space, you can become aware of what is unfolding next and begin to direct that process forward. I would like to offer some tips to help you navigate the next few weeks and months and experience the creativity that is bubbling up through this period of liminality. 

  1. Create back-up plans for your back-up plans. Planning is a creative process and will foster new ideas or unearth plans that were prematurely cast aside.
  2. What is now possible? Now that our structures have mostly dissolved, set aside time each week to hang out in the land of possibility…it’s where the good ideas hide! Think about what is now possible that was seemingly impossible before.
  3. Identify some Silver Linings. Focusing on the positive aspects of the situation will put you into a generative state where you feel more compelled to create. Perhaps you have created new rituals and routines, spoken to people who you haven’t reached out to in a long time, dusted off an old instrument..what is coming forth for you?
  4. Simplicity is where I have landed. There is a certain grace that simplicity provides that makes everything okay. Exploring new places in your own neighborhood…pulling out the shave ice machine my daughter received for her birthday 6 years ago…going through old photo albums…howling with my neighbors each night. 
  5. Pay attention to your dreams. Dream experts believe that the withdrawal from our usual busy lives and daily stimuli have pushed our subconscious mind to explore themes from our past. As a result, we are getting at thoughts we may not have explored for years.  Are your dreams more alive? 
  6. Focus on what you can control. Grounding rituals always help to bring us back to the present where we have agency over our thoughts and actions.

I hope that you are all well and you are finding ways to include humor in your daily lives.  Please remember to laugh when you can, as science has proven that laughter and humor can help us stay healthy. May you be gentle with yourselves and loved ones as we all muddle through this together!

Using Prosocial Emotions to Lift Us Up!

We are learning, stretching, growing even if it feels that we are isolating and folding in on ourselves. The global pandemic is creating a new normal in the world that includes social distancing and voluntary isolation. Many of us feel some anxiety and potentially the beginnings of depression as we are uncertain about our future and cut off from our fellow humans. 

To combat these feelings, we can cultivate positive and prosocial emotions. Prosocial emotions provide a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves and offer us a way to connect and lift each other up.  These emotions include curiosity, surprise, amusement, gratitude, kindness and awe. Interestingly, these emotional states also spark creativity and lift us out of boredom which may be feeding the depression settling in.  Try some of these action items to boost your mood and lift others up!

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Tips for transitioning to WFH

Proven techniques for working from home

I would love to share some techniques I have been using to coach clients for a successful transition from the office to working at home. I spent the better part of last week helping people who are used to lots of social activity move to social isolation and social distancing and for many of them, it was harder than expected. Let’s all remember to keep our distance so that we remain healthy and safe.

It’s getting more challenging to maintain focus and keep anxiety to a minimum as Covid-19 comes closer to our homes. I compiled 10 tips to ease your transitions and help you all thrive in the new normal at home.

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Everyday Awe

In the wake of some recent tragic deaths I have been doing some soul searching about my place here on this beautiful planet we inhabit. I am also about to turn 50 and realize that I have been blessed to live an abundant life thus far and plan on experiencing and participating in so much more! I am struck by how, during these times of contemplation, we can feel small and understand how precious life really is. I learned recently that this feeling is actually associated with the emotion of Awe and that experiencing Awe can make us feel more connected to one another and the natural world.

Awe experiences are self-transcendent. They shift our attention away from ourselves, make us feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves, and make us more generous toward others.

Dacher Keltner

What exactly is Awe?  It is a complex emotion that gives you a feeling of vastness and connection at the same time.

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How to Own Your Ask

Have you ever asked for something and heard nothing back?  Are you getting tired of asking and hearing nothing but crickets?  It may be because you are not really asking for what you need. On balance, people like to help one another. Helping someone else actually boosts your own happiness. So, if all this helping is good for us, why do we sometimes not receive what we are asking for?

When you are asking and not receiving a response, take a look at the question you asked.  Are you calling out an action?  Are you giving a deadline?  Is your voice authentic?

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For every two parts happiness add one part meaning

If you want to find more fulfillment in your work follow this equation
 
Passion projects aside, the search for fulfilling work does not need to center around your personal happiness. It is important to feel good while in your work environment and for your work to be in alignment with your values, but happiness as a goal for work may be leaving you a bit shortchanged. Here’s why, happiness is found in the present whereas meaning transcends time to include past/present/future.

Meaningfulness is something we invest energy in without expecting a return.

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Bringing your retreat home

WHY DO WE RETREAT?  

We retreat to get away from it all and collect our energy that is otherwise spread out in multiple directions for inner growth. All the stress, noise, responsibilities and distractions of everyday life melt away and we are able to get back in touch with who we are and what is important to us. We use the fresh perspective that a new environment provides to reconnect with ourselves and find our flow. Sometimes we learn something new or understand a situation that has been troubling us. Sometimes we meet someone who inspires us. Most often we are simply reset and reinvigorated and return home hoping to keep this fresh perspective alive.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE RETURN HOME?

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Cultivating Executive Presence: What it is, Why you need it and 5 steps to get it!

I have a purposeful walk. I have heard this statement many times in my life and sometimes I reflect on how my walk is perceived as purposeful. My head is held high, my gait is quick and I am often not taking in all of my surroundings. I have somewhere to go and I am focused on getting there. People perceive that I am in alignment with my purpose to get there.

But what if my response to the statement was, “Really? I don’t have anywhere to be. I was just walking.” 

The observer who made the comment about my purposeful walk may feel uneasy.  My cavalier response may cause them to question my authenticity. Social science has taught us that when we meet someone, we almost instantaneously begin to create stories about them. We are experts at reading faces and stereotyping based on appearance. But we don’t often discuss that we are also perceiving how aligned someone is with their authentic self. If we meet someone dressed in a formal wear we assign them a certain amount of power and influence. Inside this person may be feeling insecure, tired, or otherwise off, but if they maintain eye contact and have a firm handshake, we buy into their power.

This is the foundation of executive presence.

When we are aligned with the image we project, we have presence that is experienced by another human being. I’m not sure how many of you watched Mad Men in it’s heyday..if you did, you know that Don Draper sets the gold standard for executive presence. He embodies power and influence even if he was not feeling it inside.

Now that we know what executive presence is, how do we cultivate it? 

5 tips to cultivate Executive Presence:

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Accessing Passion is Tricky Business

Passion has been a buzzword in the field of coaching for a long time, yet very rarely does a client show up at my door brimming with passion, ready to put it into action. A direct question about passion is often met with a blank stare from my clients who struggle to find something, anything that lights them up.

Most of us feel overwhelmed when asked about our passion. We may also feel stuck, trapped or anxious. Our creative brain can literally freeze and shut down due to the complexity of the passion question. It just feels too big to answer. Moreover, most people think there is something wrong with them if they do not know what they are passionate about or what their purpose is.

So how do we turn our creative brain back on and find some possibilities for a passion-filled life? Here are four ways to start:

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Are you a Multipotentialite?

This morning I was having a conversation with my daughter about college classes as some of her older cousins are going off to college in the Fall. She was wondering how many different classes you could take each semester and suggested that you could take classes in your major and your minor. I suggested the idea of taking a class just because you may be interested in the subject and she informed me that this was not allowed…she is eleven.

How does my daughter at age eleven already feel that you have to choose a course of study in college and follow that course into the world of work?

Cultural norms support the idea that we have one purpose; that we are meant to do one important thing here on this earth over and over again until we achieve mastery. This general cultural bias towards specialization leaves out the opportunity for one to experience a broad range of possibilities.

In some of us, it creates anxiety over the consequences of choosing the wrong major, or taking the wrong job, or wanting to switch career paths in midlife. What if you want to study many subjects or have many careers or would like to pursue many interests? 

What if you’re an e-Ticket kind of person who just wants to do it all!! 

Well, you may be a Multipotentialite: A person with many interests and creative pursuits. And for you, there are likely many paths.

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