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.

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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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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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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Have You Met the New You? Updating Your Operating System for the New Year

A new operating system comes out and we rush to update our devices, but what about ourselves?  Are we integrating the newest version of us? This holiday season with all of the rushing around, try to take some time out to update yourself before jumping into a New Year.

Now, you may be one who waits to install the update until you see how it works for others or until the bugs are all worked out. Or maybe you feel you have always been doing something the same way and it is working out for you, like that old chocolate chip cookie recipe that makes everyone happy.  If this is sincerely the case, then keep on doing it the same way! But if you want to do something different or want a different result, you have to update your data to the new you. You have new life experience, new information, new preferences and even new values.  You may wish to work with new people or in a new environment.

Don’t bring the old you to a new situation. Update your operating system before the New Year!

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Are You a Free Agent?

Are you tired of working hard for a company that lacks good leadership?

Are you disenchanted working for an organization that doesn’t share your values, but not quite ready to go it alone?  

I work with many people who are considering working for themselves to make work more fulfilling, but the solitary path is not an easy one and it is certainly not for everyone. For many workers who are feeling stuck, there is a growing movement called the Free Agent economy. Free agents are people who work in flexible environments and set up their own work rules.  They can operate within larger companies on a contract basis, or they can be self-employed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 40% of all U.S. workers now operate on a part-time or contract basis.

What exactly is a “free agent” and what is the advantage of being one?

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Taking the Hit as a Gift

The Hit

About three months ago, my husband was unexpectedly laid off.  It was a huge blow for him and our family as we were unprepared for this situation.  However, as the news started to sink in, I found myself strangely happy and relieved.  I saw his layoff as gift; it presented an opportunity for him to find a more positive environment where his skills and expertise would be utilized and he would feel challenged.

My aikido teacher, George Leonard, called this awareness, “taking the hit as a gift.”  At various times in life we all receive “hits.”  They can take the form of injury or accident, relationship struggles, career pitfalls, family crises or disappointments.  Some are more forceful than others.  When we receive the hit and label it as “bad” or “negative” we lose the opportunity to grow.  If we receive the hit and look at it as a “gift” we can open up to the possibility to change a pattern, belief, behavior or relationship in our life that is no longer serving us.  We are empowered by this wake-up-call to act in a way that improves our health and wholeness thus embracing the pain or challenge for what it is…an opportunity.

Here are a couple of ways that you can take your next “hit” as a gift:

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Setting Goals that Stick

Have you ever set a goal in the waning hours of the year that seemed doable at the time, but fizzled out around mid-January?  Something like, “this year I will smile more, spend more time with my friends and be easier on myself” or “this year I will save more money.”  These are all worthy goals, but what do they really mean? Are goals like this serving your growth?  And can you stick to them?

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