Previous month:
December 2012
Next month:
February 2013

January 2013

The Preference for Your Own Potential

Things that grow are generally better. Whether you are trending on twitter, the equity in your home, your GPA, or your sense of well-being.

Things with potential growth are considered the better investments. Every financial investment, every hire selected considers the upside of the candidate.

Think about the recruiter for your favorite NFL team in the Super Bowl. Consider the incredible track record of Kevin Rose, arguably the best picker of start-ups. Or the admissions offices of the top universities. They require evidence of past performance AND evaluate the future trajectory of the candidates. How do these experts balance the value of track record with the upside of potential?  Potential

Recent research out of Stanford and Harvard called: The Preference for Potential revealed:

When people seek to impress others, they often do so by highlighting their personal achievements.  Despite the intuitive appeal of this strategy, we demonstrate that people tend to prefer potential rather than achievement when evaluating others.  Indeed, compared to references to achievement (e.g., “this person has become a leader in the field”), references to potential (e.g., “this person could become a leader in the field”) appear to stimulate greater interest and excitement, which translates into more favorable reactions.

It makes sense that there is this preference and bias for potential, especially in hiring and promoting. In any investment of time and money you should expect growth and a greater return. Upside matters! The intangibles become very influential. Desire, passion, and character add credibility to potential. 

The fact that you have done it in the past is not enough to prove or demonstrate potential for the future. Competence is a starting point.

Some may say that this smacks of ageism. That younger candidates have an advantage in the race for  potential. Probably true. But if you need experience AND potential, then youthful enthusiasm is not enough. The question is how can you translate your achievements into an adaptable investment that is relevant now and into the future? How are you able to show that your skills, knowledge and abilities are in sync with the future needs of the organization and the industry?

The future is not what it used to be.  Yogi Berra

"What have you done for me lately?" is morphing into,"What will you be capable of doing later?"

We tend to over focus on our past achievements. We start to believe our own press releases, rest on our laurels  and forget our potential. We rarely talk about our own potential. We hesitate because of our humility and our uncertainty. Deep inside we know what we are capable of and what we want to do, but if no one knows but us, what good does that do?

Do you see the trajectory of your career? Can you describe it?

I meet many people who can not describe their potential at all. 

What is potential that is invisible? 

Untapped potential is a sin. I think the greatest indictment a person can hear is "you have so much potential" and not know what they are talking about.

Get to know your potential. Start by finding role models of people that are doing what you think you want to do. People who are doing what you want to do and doing it the way you want to do it. Connect with these people.

Continuous effort--not strength or intelligence--is the key to unlocking our potential. Winston Churchill

Dive deeply into your work and your field--even if you are uncertain if this is THE one. 

Then start to push yourself to gain more experience, confidence, and understanding of your potential. You will discover your strengths and your weaknesses. You will better define what you want and don't want. 

Other people want to be associated with people who are growing and knowledgeable about the trends, the field. People who are well connected, well-read, and well versed. In other words, people who take their careers seriously--people who want to be leaders in their field. 

Maybe you don't know exactly where you are going but you see yourself moving up the ladder. Then act like it! Read the trades. Follow the industry thought leaders. Join the industry associations. Take on visible roles at your employer, in the industry. 

Potential can't be a latent undefined blob within you. It is revealed by your actions and your words. You show it and people see it. If it is a genuine pursuit of your interest in the field, some may see you as a "climber", but if you are not showy and egotistical, then the preference for your potential will be realized.

You prefer potential in things and in others. Now hold yourself to the same standard! 

Thanks for reading. John

 


Sabotaging Yourself in Interviews

I think it was Dennis Miller who said he has a rare case of ADD/OCD. He says he is afflicted with constantly changing what he is obsessed about. :) 

Hmmmm maybe all of us suffer from this......

Every week I get to hear how people intend to improve their live, pursue new careers, and search for their next resume filler. I can now predict what what most people say. Not sure where this downloaded verbiage comes from, but the vast majority utter a pablum of memorized (read non-authentic words) about their future. These words inevitably and inexorably sabotage their chances to achieve their goals. Let me explain.   Self-Sabotage-300x300 (1)

I was recently interviewed by a executive coaching site to provide some advice to their subscribers. One of the questions was:

What three interview questions are the most effective? 

  1. Why do you want this job?
  2. Why are you leaving or left your last job?
  3. How will this job advance your longer term career goal?

I try to get to the candidate's story--the story of goals, passion, and self reflection. The true story, not the half truths of a resume--but the inner thoughts and persona of the candidate.

Intuitively we know that the job of a candidate is to differentiate oneself. It is the ultimate marketing challenge of telling the interviewer/employer what sets you apart from the sea of "qualified" humans who seek the same spot. Right? 

Here are the typical and predictable and yes, you guessed it, worst answers to my questions:

  1. Why do you want this job?  I love what (employer name) does. Seems like a place I could make a difference. Really looking for a place to grow. 
  2. Why are you leaving or left your last job? My current position/place of employment limits my mobility. I  am looking for new opportunities where I will have more mobility and opportunity. 
  3. How will this job advance your longer term career goal? Eventually I want to head my own/division/company/non-profit and I see this position as helping me achieve this. 

Why do we spend so much time and energy demonstrating why we are like everyone else? Why is our pitch-- our story, our marketing materials--resume and cover letter, and our approach to interviews like every other candidate?!!

Laziness, apathy, perhaps ADD/OCD and our rush to act, play leading roles in this regression to the mean. We want quick solutions--so we plug in generic phrases and ideas to to keep the engine of progress going--even if the result is mediocrity.

Not sure how these oft repeated answers get embedded in our brains and process but I have seen this pattern over and over again. Reading these answers you get a distinct idea that "this job" is not the focus of this conversation. You learn little about the person. Everything in these answers speaks to the future--what the candidate will need to advance. No attention is paid to learning and contributing to "this job". No expression of awareness of what the candidate needs to advance in their career--in other words what they hope to achieve/gain to lighten their intended path. 

  1. Why do you want this job? How does this job align with your purpose? Everyone wants to "make a difference and a place to grow". What are your personal reasons to work here?
  2. Why are you leaving or left your last job? This is a delicate and important question that needs to be addressed. Layoff is an answer that requires details. Dissatisfaction with the job, the growth, the purpose need attention and inform the question above. Lack of prep on this question demonstrates lack of readiness to move on. 
  3. How will this job advance your longer term career goal? Another softball question that tees up your chance to solidify your answers above. This is the space you use to talk about how you expect to grow, what opportunities that you found lacking in your previous job you hope to uncover here, and what areas you hope to hone, refine and master to become more confident. In other words, "How will this job challenge you?" Is this merely a stepping stone. This is not the place to say, "I want to be the head of (employer)." Or some other ambiguous ambitious sounding words about becoming the head of something. Often "this job" will probably not lead to this goal (even if you believed your own answer) raising serious doubts about your understanding of "this job" and your attention span for "this job."

Cover letters, interviewing, networking, mentoring, answering questions, and telling your story are more about vulnerability and authenticity than regurgitating your quals and resume. 

Otherwise your auto-pilot average answers to the questions unwittingly sabotage your candidacy.

Get compulsive and obsessive about your story--your real story. Invest time into it and develop the words that convey your ideas and your candidacy. Let your greatness, goodness and needs shine!

Thanks for reading. John

 


When? Calendar your Connections and Schedule your Priorities

If you are anything like me, if it is not on the calendar of life it does not exist.

After you have decided why you want to do something and what you want to do---the question is always when? Now Later

I calendar reminders to call/e-mail people that are on the top of my list. Most are once a month until forever. It pushes me to take an action versus waiting for the "free time" moment that never comes. 

People always ask me for "tips", quick strategies, easy fixes, three easy steps to a better life through networking and mentoring. Of course, they don't use these exact words but in our short attention span theatres where an extra nano-second starts our minds to wander--we want instant gratification and success. Clearly this is a very dangerous mode--impatient, get to the point, give me the answer--mindset that can be the ruination of relationships--the heart and soul of networking and mentoring. Not going to lecture you on the power and wisdom of attention, presence, and smelling the roses. We all are well aware of how much of life, the density, complexity, the magic, the wonder we miss everday. 

KayakHere is a "tip" that will hopefully slow your turbo kayak down. In the rushing river of life, we tend to focus on the rapids and not on the scent in the air, the clarity of the water or the scenery. Parts of the shoreline beckon but we ignore them because we are too busy fighting the river alone.

Using our attention to be intentional.

Think about how many times you experience the following:

  • You encounter an old friend, a former colleague and they say, "Let's get together."
  • You get an e-mail/FB friend or Linkedin request from someone you don't see any more and they say, "Love to see you soon."
  • A friend of yours says we should walk, play golf, have dinner more often.

More often than not WE go into auto pilot/robot brain and respond with meaningless words like "Sure" or "That would be great" or "Let's do it", words that mean nothing to you or the recipient because there is no When!

When someone you just met or want to see again or someone new or known offers you an opportunity to connect--you pull out your trusty iPhone or blackberry and you say--What's convenient for you? Let's book something now.

There is no other time but NOW. There was a past NOW and there will be a future NOW. Eckart Tolle

When is the key here? Otherwise the real answer becomes the day after never. :)

Schedule your priorities. Schedule your connections. Put it into your calendar.

If it is not on the calendar of life then it does not exist.

Let's have lunch   When?

We should catch up   When?

Love to see you more   When?

Two things happen when you practice this. 1. You book a tentative date. 2. The other robot wakes up and realizes what words have fallen out of his mouth and makes an instant excuse by saying something like "Let me get back to you, I'm really busy.... :)

This is especially entertaining when someone is trying to impress you and unconsciously makes an offer to hook you up with special treatment, access to something, some VIP deal... you know what I am talking about. If you say to them, love to take you up on that, when can I talk to you about specifics? I do this almost every time a "big shot" says "love to host you at my club (golf-and a course I want to play)". I shoot back, "I always wanted to play there, what dates work for you?"

I am all for serendipity and spontaneity, but the next step has to get onto a calendar.

Force yourself to schedule things that are important to you. Don't let important people, opportunities and priorities watch you pass by as you are busily fighting the river.

I guarantee you these new scheduled connections will provide you with incalculable benefits.

Stop prioritizing your schedule. Schedule your priorities. When will your  calendar reflect your priorities?

Thanks for reading. John

 PS: When could stand for Why Humans Evade Networking. 

 


Meaning of Mentoring

In honor of National Mentoring Month, we need to celebrate, advocate, and encourage mentoring. Each of us has the power to mentor. Regardless of age and stage--you have what it takes to help others. Mentoring is not the province of the "experts", the "elderly", the "successful" or the "important". We have established this on these pages many times. The keys to effective mentoring is showing up and doling out the truth.  Everyone-needs-a-mentor

More than anything, mentoring is about the meaning. The meaning of their lives. It is about the meaning of their work. It is about the meaning of their relationships. It is about the why not the what. It is focused on getting people to be true to their purpose. 

It is always Meaning over Money.  Robin Johnson  

Don't worry about your stuff. Worry about making meaning.  Seth Godin

Some people confuse mentoring with giving advice, outlining steps, or god forbid, helping people develop a plan.

Mentoring is like the best conversations that leads to the best relationships. Mentoring is about honest exchanges that help the mentee hear themselves. Help them hear their own heart. 

Great mentoring is the process of allowing the mentee to be heard and surrendering to their soul. Mentoring is giving other permission to do this. 

This requires holding one another accountable for what we say and do---or don't do. 

You can't hold back and just be polite when you are mentoring. Not telling you to hurt people's feelings but letting people lie to themselves, live a deception, and/or say and do things that they think sound/look good, is a crime.

Not enough time to be wasted on a life without meaning. 

Holding back is close to stealing.   Neil Young

Mentoring is not being supportive--it is about mining for meaning.

Mentoring is not encouragement--it is about the pursuit of purpose.

Mentoring is not comfortable--it is about the uncomfortable

Mentoring is not about responsiveness--it is about overcoming resistance

Mentoring is not necessarily a program but a way of life

Mentoring is the greatest reality show ever--starring the mentee.

Everyone is a role mdel and indirectly mentors others through their actions. Other people are watching you and they learn by what you do more than what you say. 

And in the end, every mentor gets more than any mentee. Great mentoring forces both mentor and mentee to walk the talk. To align themselves to their meaning. You can not help others without helping yourself.

Adopt the lifestyle of mentoring by helping others to SWiVEL---Strengthen What I Value Enjoy and Love!

Who will you mentor next? This month? And next?

Thanks for reading. John


Best of SWiVELTime: 2012 Remix

These are excerpts from my fifty 2012 posts. My unbiased selection of my better thoughts and and attempts to push you further towards your goals. Enjoy! Best of 2012

To understand where you are going, talk to people who are going that way.

Stability is a mirage. In fact, you don't even want stability. Do you really want world peace, global warming to end, animals to be protected, cancer to be cured, a promotion at work, your kids to have better lives, your company's stock to rise, your home value to increase etc etc? Then you are very dissatisfied with the present. You want lots of change at the macro and the micro levels. On personal, professional and even global levels.

Miss Stability is a fleeting femme fatale that has no intention of marrying you.

I wanted to help people get back on the old networking horse and see it from a different perspective. That networking is not a selfish skill but a community building skill. That networking is not a technique but a lifestyle of engaging others and learning about oneself. 

Passion is an itch that needs to be scratched and never goes away. It feels good when scratched but just persists. It is not just the source of joy but the source of great discomfort. That is what surprises people. They are looking for happiness and they find passion and passion is not pure joy, it is the essence of your life. It usually is triggered by the needs of others. And all needs are painful. Passion is discovering who you are and what is your purpose.

What time is it? Time to move! Time to get off the road of self deception, procrastination and ambiguity. Time to help others make and take the time to get where they need to go. 

 I do therefore I am--makes no sense.

Becoming the accumulation of what you do is a resume not a life. Your storyline past, present and future needs to incorporate who you are not what you have done!

Nurturing and aligning your soul around your beliefs and your life portfolio is our challenge and should be our joy.

We will all be a "freshman" many times during our lives.

Today starts a new semester of study. What classes are you taking? And who are your professors? What do you want to learn? Life is an endless series of degree programs and commencements. When is your next graduation? Re-enroll today!

Everyone is busy and we are busy all of the time. We breathe air, gravity keeps us put, the earth circles the sun, and we are busy? Anyone not busy?!! The question: What are we busy doing? 

The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.

It would be much easier to live a life that "happens". You take what comes to you. Settle for what others want for you. The authentic life is the opposite, you chase it. You hunt it down. You stalk your passion and purpose. 
So think first to mentor, then to be mentored.
Mentoring gives the mentor  the courage to tell the truth and to open up and discuss how they are overcoming their weaknesses and foibles. And the mentee musters the courage to hear the truth, confront their own weaknesses and discover themselves.

I believe unlearning is as critical a survival and success skill as learning. Unlearning is literally and figuratively deleting "files", forgetting the past, abandoning assumptions, then learning again, by starting over. Unlearning is breaking off your rear view mirror and focusing on the new landscape in front of you and seeing it for the first time.

No matter what age you are. No matter what stage of your life. The advice is aways the same: Stay curious and pursue your passions.

Our networks also reflect our habits, our qualities, our pasts, and determine our futures. Our networks have also become obese. Generally, they are too big and have too "fatty". We add FB friends like junk food. Our time with others is increasingly superficial and transactional. We want a diet of deeper and meaningful relationships but we more often opt for the fast food drive thru lane of life. 

Get off of the junk food and unhealthful habits of hanging with the crowd that limits your ability to pursue your life. Go look in the mirror and meet the person holding you back. Make a deal with that person that your network needs a makeover!

Who do we know that needs our help? Who needs our help that we need to know?

Thanks for reading and for your support. Happy New Year!  John