Tag Archives: talent

Everyone judges a book by it’s cover

A woman teaching my daughters held up a copy of a magazine with scantily dressed women on the cover. She asked, “What do you expect to find inside?” The answer was, “Pictures and articles about sexy dressing and attracting men.” 

She handed the magazine to a girl and said, “Open it and read from any page.” Inside those covers was a religious magazine. The teacher made the comment, “If you dress on the outside like the women on the cover of this magazine, no one will bother to find out that inside you are a woman of character. They won’t even consider it a possibility.”

In the last article I wrote that perception really is everything. How you are perceived is always critical, especially to yourself. Over time your character is altered by all the little things you do. At first you act to give an impression, but eventually you act from the bone deep character you have developed while impressing others. 

Benjamin Franklin was brought up short one day when he realized he had developed a less than brilliant character. He was a smart, hard working man, and becoming successful. He had noticed that some people would cross the street to the other side when they saw him coming. He realized he had a poor reputation in many things. In his autobiography he describes his plan to improve his character. The simple device he used thrust him forward to prominence in the fields of writing, science, diplomacy and politics. 

As Benjamin Franklin started working on his character he wrote, “I was surpris’d to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish.” He found that if he pretended to have a virtue long enough, he developed it as a part of his character.

I strongly recommend reading and re-reading Benjamin Franklin’s short autobiography.

Become the person you would admire.

Something to do today

What’s on your cover?

You can’t make a silk purse out of a buggy whip

A while ago I talked to a very good programmer whose skills are hopelessly out of date. She was hoping to get a job as an intern so she could upgrade her skills. She has only one problem in her job search.

Only antique collectors say, “I like things that are outdated, frustrating, inefficient and dangerous.”

Train, Railway, Old, Abandoned, Outdated

Luckily she knew she might only be hired as an intern. Some people think that they should be hired as rocket scientists even though they have outdated skills. I have people severely infected with archaic abilities approach me every week. They freely admit their problem and then tell me they deserve a great job, a raise and happiness without their own effort.

Bosses want to hire the best people they can. They aren’t social workers. Some companies train the people they hire, but they are going to try and hire the best worker who needs the least training. It is pure common sense; they hire the best person.

If you are a master of buggy whip technology, don’t expect a job at NASA. There will always be a few buggy whip makers scraping by, but you won’t get rich working for them. Invest in yourself. Get the updated skills you need to be employable. Get out of the buggy whip age and into the computer age. Leave the stone arrowhead tools behind and become an engineer. Learn to be an expert.

That means YOU need to invest in yourself. It may be as simple as asking your boss for training. More likely YOU will have to study on your own. Read a new technical, sales or business book each month. Subscribe to journals and websites about what you do. There are community and online colleges that you can use to get a degree or advanced training. 

You can’t make a silk purse out of a buggy whip, but with time and patience you can turn a mulberry leaf into a silk purse. It takes specialized knowledge and a silkworm. Learn the specialized knowledge you need for your job. Go make a silk purse.

Something To Do Today

Think about what skills YOU have that are outdated. What can you do to update those skills or replace them?

Ruthlessly exploit yourself – 9 good ways

Don’t do something illegal or immoral to get a job. Lying, blackmail…you know better than that.

Mountaineer, Climb, Rock Climber, Mountain Climber

However, Ruthlessly exploiting everything good about your life is not wrong. Let me give you some things people have said to me that I think are crazy.

You are crazy if you say:

  • I will not use my family connections to get a job.
  • My friends are too close to my heart for me to ask them for help.
  • I refuse to use their emotions about my situation.
  • Inviting them to lunch is brown nosing and sucking up.
  • I won’t tell them I left because I was sick. I don’t want their sympathy. 
  • I want the job, but I don’t feel right pressing them to choose me.
  • It is greedy asking for more money.
  • Taking this job to get experience, when I plan to leave later, is wrong.
  • I’m a veteran, but it is not fair to use that to get a job.

Let’s look at that last point. A few veterans actually forget that the leadership, teamwork, calmness under fire, discipline and fortitude they developed is uncommon. They feel they just did their duty. No big thing. Why bring it up?

Your life experience makes a difference, whatever that experience is. You need to use it and exploit it. People connect emotionally and help each other all the time. Don’t be afraid of that.

Because so many people have a problem ruthlessly using every advantage they have.

Something To Do Today

What is unusual about your past and your experience? Think about it and write it down. How can you use this in an interview or on a resume?

Why career plans don’t work

Career plans often fail because people don’t know what they really want.  Do you want security?  Challenges?  Thrill rides?

The hottest technology today is the Amazon Kindle Fire.  It is simply a small computer. Its rise was carefully planned.  The most significant pieces of the plan included a snazzy look, rugged portability, and simple secure paid download of books, movies and music. Amazon, the creator, has a plan to continue making money forever.

Now is the perfect time for Amazon’s hottest talent to abandon their jobs with the Kindle division.  Now is the time for Amazon’s best job-security conscious talent to move in and take over. Why?  Because the market will be saturated with Kindles.  The Kindle is becoming a commodity.  Prices are dropping.  Even the music distribution system has stronger competitors like Apple.  Kindle is no longer innovative genius.  It is now a cash cow. Cash cows are less exciting, but fairly secure for employment.

Kindle and other once hot products like Apple’s  iPod, iPad and iPhone are no longer what the bold innovators want to be working on.  They need a new challenge.  Kindle is now the perfect product for the long term managers. Of these 4 products, only some aspects of the software are cutting edge now.  All the rest is in maintenance mode.

Your career plan will be a rousing success if you focus on your personal growth curve.  Do you want to innovate and take outrageous chances for outrageous reward?  Do you really want technical challenge?  Is your goal to make enough money, but have a lot of free time for your skiing?

When you know what you want, you can plan your career successfully.  However, what you want will change time and time again.  So you need to be prepared to change your career plan as you see changes beginning in yourself. Your personal growth curve will tell you how fast you are getting to where you want to be in your career.

Career plans work.  They work when they are reviewed every year or more often.  They work when you review your real personal desires at the same time.  Career plans absolutely fail when you think you want what someone else has.  You have to want what you really want.

inferiority vs superiority

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. (E. Roosevelt)

Kids always made fun of the way I dressed.  I had two shirts and two pairs of jeans for the whole school year.  That’s all.  I had cheap shoes.  For dinner our family had beans every night, literally.  We drank powdered milk.  I brought peanut butter sandwiches to school every day with homemade quince jam.

I was different. We were paying a price.  It was worth it.  My friends had nice stuff while we saved and scrimped for every penny.  We did something they never did.  Each summer we went traveling in our VW Camper Bus.  We visited most of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Europe and Africa.  Most summers we left school two weeks early and got back into school two weeks late.

Being different is not being inferior.  It can be a distinct advantage.  Be different in a way that can make you superior. How can you be different?  What can you do to dramatically improve over the long run?

I know two guys who never walk anywhere in the office without having a manual in their hands to read as they walk.  They are both considered a little odd, but they are both the undisputed technical experts in their field.  They are paid well for it.

Your goal should be to out-prepare and out-perform everyone else in critical areas. Critical areas are the most visible areas that:  1. Earn money; 2. Save money, or 3. Improve customer service.

Here’s how you find the critical areas for your next promotion, raise, or job:

Ask.

Your boss wants you to be more valuable, he’ll help you.  The people you look up to at work will want to help.  Go ask them what you should excel at.

Then do it.  Do it in your own way. Eccentric flair or plodding dullness does not matter.  Just excel IN A WAY THAT MATTERS.  It will change your life, not just your pay and job title.

—— Something To Do Today ——

Now ask 3 people you really respect, “What can I do for the company to make more money, save money or improve customer service?”

What is your Olympic class talent?

We are always more anxious to be distinguished for a talent which we do not possess, than to be praised for the fifteen which we do possess. (Mark Twain)

It doesn’t matter how hard I practice, I will never be an Olympic class sprinter.  My muscles are not built for it.  If I had large, efficient lungs, I might be an Olympic marathon runner.  I don’t.  My talents are the natural advantages I have over others.

I have a lot of talents.  I’m good with computers.  I’m a decent salesman.  People trust me.  Some things just are not my talents.  I like running and physics, but they are not my talents.  How do I know?  I am slow at learning the basics.  I’m always in the bottom third when I run.  There are many things I like.  Some things I am good at.  My talents are the things I learn more quickly and do better than the average person, like working with computers.

Some talents are difficult to develop.  They require years of effort.  The average professional concert musician practices their instrument 5000 hours before getting good enough to regularly solo professionally. The book “Outliers” claims the number is 10,000 hours.  Louis L’Amour, a prolific writer, submitted story after story at the beginning of his career and very few were published. He developed his talent until he sold over 100 million books. 

So how do you discover your talents? 

Take an aptitude test.  They give them at job centers and military recruiting centers.  They are designed to find out what you do well, not what you like.  If the test asks a lot of questions about what you like the most, it is NOT an aptitude test.

Honestly assess what you found easiest in school.  Where did you get by with the least effort?  What teachers liked your attitude the most?  When did others come to you with questions?

At work you have probably been given some particular tasks.  Is it because you are better at those things?  Maybe that’s a talent of yours.  Do other people have trouble seeing answers that seem obvious to you?  That could point to a talent.

Discover your talents and you can use the gifts you’ve been given to excel.  That’s what Olympic athletes do.   You will find work more interesting when you are flexing a talent. 

You will also be paid better.  Talents are worth discovering.

If you need help discovering your talents, aptitudes, loves, and potential career options, give me a call or go to www.agicc.com/my-best-future.htm  . 

I do career coaching. That means I help people create their best future.

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Something To Do Today

Write down what you can do easily or what you excel at.  What do you pick up more quickly than others?