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Video: Cool things happen at the fringes from “Transition as the New Normal” with Douglas E. Welch

February 3rd, 2015 No comments

Video & Transcript: It’s Your Career, After All with Douglas E. Welch

February 3rd, 2015 No comments

Here is playlist and transcripts for all the video clips from this talk and series. You can watch all of the clips in the series using the video linked below.

Video & Transcript: It's Your Career, After All with Douglas E. Welch

It’s Your Career, After All with Douglas E. Welch

Today, we’re talking about something that’s probably quite a bit different from what you’ve heard in all the other talks today. in all the other talks today we focused on the externals — the resumes, the interviews, the dress styles, making the best of your job, pleasing your managers, pleasing your coworkers, please everybody else. Something that I have always done in my career column, Career Opportunities, since 1997, is I’ve done exactly the opposite. when I started writing that column I always figured there was plenty of people out there who have better advice about resumes and interview skills and all that stuff. What I wanted to talk about was the personal side of careers. The fact is, there are a lot of externals that go on — we have to worry about our resumes and our interviews and do we have all our ducks in a row and our paperwork and that’s required. Part of, any part of career or life, there are always those hoops you have to jump through. It’s not fun, but it is required. You’ve just got to do some of that, but I am going to say something a little heretical — I am going to say a little career heresy here and say those things are not the most important things about your career. In fact, those externals are some of the — in the big picture — least important things about your career. The fact is, your career is about you. It’s not about someone else. It’s not about your manager. it’s not about your boss. It’s not about the company you work for. It’s about you. You have to live within your career 24/7. You’ve got to deal with it. It’s about you.

We spend all this time serving the needs of other people. There’s a time in your career when you need to serve yourself and, unfortunately, I think most of us forget that — or perhaps we never learned it. Perhaps we’ve been indoctrinated in the 1960’s style of management of “Be luck you’ve got a job.” How often do you hear that? Right? Yes, you are somewhat lucky to have a job, but that doesn’t mean you have to be happy about it. A job that is sustainability is not a career that services you for the rest of your life. So, yes, be grateful you have a job. Go find a better one. That’s always my mantra that I put out there.

You’ve got to balance between your work and your life and people, nowadays it’s been common to say “There is no work/life balance.” There’s balance in everything. Everything I do in my life and this sounds very zen-like, very Buddhist-like, but i believe that everything in your life is about balance. You know. as a joke about, if you like a cocktail every once and a while, is “Moderation in all things, including moderation.” The point is, balance. Yes, you can have those times when you go out and you have fun with your friends and there’s time when you stay home and work. There is a balace in all things and it’s a constant seeking of that balance — because you are never, ever there. Life is a constant ups and downs and cycles and everything else. You’re never really there, but it’s something you seek. Any goal is something you reach for. You’re never going to reach the goal. Because a goal is an ideal, but you need to be trying to aim towards that goal. I’ve talked in some other talks of mind about the fact that, if you’re on a shop, you’re never really on-course on a ship. Ships are being constantly pushed by the tides, the winds and everything else and if you were to plot the course of a ship — not under auto-pilot — and even then its just to a lesser degree — it’s like this. You look at Columbus’ trip across the Atlantic it’d like this, because they were constantly fighting to remain on course and that’s what you do in your life and your career. You’re constantly trying to head in the right direction, knowing that you’re never going to head directly there in a beeline.

So, you spend all your time — get your resume in order, get your interview skills down, get that new suit, that new dress — get all those externals set down. Get all your ducks in a row. Once you do that, the hard work begins. Once you do that, then you’ve got to go to a nice quiet room, out into the woods, down by the lake, wherever, your favorite place and think. I tell people about this all time in my column, you’ve got to do some hard thinking. Because that’s where the work really gets done in your career. You have to think very deeply about the internal aspects of your career. Now, the great thing about this is as you think more about the internal aspects, as you talk more about yourself and what you want, it actually helps with the externals. How are you going to write a goal on your resume if you don’t really know what you want to do.How are you going to write a cover letter about what you want to accomplish in the world if you haven’t really thought about it. Now, I say this because I meet so many people who don’t ever think about these things.

I have a little booklet I wrote called the Career Compass — I’ve actually given a presentation here on Career Compass about how to decide what you want to do in life. One of the aspects of that is, most people are wanting to head North and they are heading due south. It’s not just that they’re of course. They’re going the entire wrong direction. I’ve seen it in my own life. I’ve seen it in all the people I talk to. If you let it happen, it will. Knowing what you want to do will let you make a better resumes. I will let you make better interviews. It will let you write better cover letters, because you simply know more what you want to with your life. The more you know about what you want, the more you can communicate that with others and help them understand not only what you can do for them — which is highly important to the person on the other side of that interview table — What’s in it for me? — How do you make my life easier? They also learn about what you want out of a career, hoping to find a combination of skills and talent and personality that allow both of you to win. Because, if it’s not a win-win, get out. If it’s not a win for both parties involved, in anything you do in your life, get out, because someone is losing.

You have to learn about your person wants, needs and desires. These are three words that I come back to again and again and again and again in my career columns and everything I do. Wants are those cool things we want. We want the flashy car. We want the nice house. We want the you know, whatever accoutrement or luxury that you would like to have. Needs are what you need to survive. You need the money. You need a place — a decent place — to live. You need a decent family life. You need to live geographically close to your job, if at all possible. And you desires are those things that go far beyond wants or needs and these are the intrinsic parts of your life that reward you. It’s a little difficult to talk about, but your desires are those things that — given your druthers, to use and old fashioned phrase — given your druthers, these are the things I love to do. These are the things that would give me the most joy. Well, as you might imagine, the ability to combine those three things together in a career — chances are you are going to have a darn good career, because your thinking about those three, necessary parts of any career that combine to make a whole that is much bigger than any of the three individually.

It is that very internal thing to, the desire is something that –well, I’ll give my own example. I love presenting to people. I love sharing what I know. I love teaching people. I’ve heard the word passion about it. That is something that drives me. You get what’s called a “teacher’s high”, I’ve heard it called when you come out of a class and you’re like, “I’m all wound up.” It gives me as much as I hope it gives you. That is one example of a desire that perhaps can go unspoken for a long time if you don’t think about it. You need to find those things. You need to notice those things. Those things that just, Wow, you come out of them with more energy than you went in. Even if you go on a long hike and your dead, physically dead tired at the end of it, but you just feel great! ok. Maybe you need to be a ranger. Maybe you need to lead wildlife hikes. Maybe you need to learn about birding. You know, what’s that telling you? That feeling is telling you something that you need to notice and look into more deeply.

You have to live with your career every day. Your boss doesn’t have to live with your career. Your wife doesn’t have to live with your carer. Your husband doesn’t have to live with your career. Your children don’t have to live with you career. You have to live with your career every single day. It better fit or you are going to drive yourself mad. As just a poor example, imagine a pair of shoes that don’t fit. Remember how agonizing that can feel if you are in a pair of shoes — or a dress, or a suit, or pair of pants, — that don’t fit. How just annoying it is. Now multiply that by about a million and you have a career that does not fit.

So the object is not to have a career that doesn’t fit, because it’ll effect everything in your life negatively. It will effect your family life, your work life, your personal life, your relationship with your children, everything. There is no way that a bad career can not effect your life. We like to think, “Oh, I just divorce that part. I go home and I turn off the job” and I say good luck to you, because I can’t do that. I carry that right here with me every single day all the time. Is it just the type of person I am? Yes, to dome degree. I tend to carry those things with me, but I’ve talked with enough people to realize that I’m not the only one. When I have an irritant in my life like that I carry it everywhere.

No one can care about your career as much as you can. no carer counsellor can care about your career as much as you can. No boss can care about your career. Certainly a company can’t care about your career as much as you do. It’s not their career. It’s not about them. Your career is about you. It’s just a simple fact of human nature that you’re the one that can care about it the most — or should. We can all be altruistic. We can all do good works for people. We can go out and we can volunteer and help our families and take care of our parents — our elderly parents — or whatever is required. We can do those altruistic things, but at our very heart we have to take care of ourselves. I always like to say that we can’t help others until we’re at a position of being stable and in a good position ourselves. if we try to do that we end up further diminishing ourselves. If we’re constantly putting out work as a caregiver and not servicing our own needs at all, we will burn out. Who was talking about burnout the other day — before we started? You will burn out. You simply use up your energy in trying to do that, because you’re never refilling the well. You’re never refilling that tank.

And I talk with caregivers a lot. At the age I’m at and my wife and I are “of a certain age” and when these start to take place and I am always counseling them — I always praise them for what they’re doing and I say, “What have you done for yourself, lately? What have you done for you?” Because I know that it of they don’t do something for themselves — if they don’t get away — if they don’t have those regular breaks that they can take — they will burn out and they will fail. Same thing applies to your career. You have to refill that tank and concern yourself with your own career, and develop your own career otherwise you simply will burn out and you will end up in a job that you hate and you’ll feel trapped. And will talk a little bit about trapped in a bit.

People ask me at age 50 “What do you want to do? What do you want to be when you grow up?” I really don’t know. I am one of those people who doe snot have a single point of goal out there in the woods. Mine is more like a starfield. I have a variety of interests. Often they are totally divergent. If you look at my blogs, I write about careers. I write about food, wine, and other,stuff and books on my other blog. I write a gardening blog. I write a blog on New Media and I write a bog on technology. Those are kind of my basic star points out there and I’ve never been able to decide between them. I always have some interest in all of those things, so I pursue them. One will be more active than another at any one time. They are all kind if in the farming terminology we say something lies fallow. Which means you let a field, you don’t plant that field that year, you let it lay fallow to rejuvenate and some of the projects will go fallow for a little while and some will come back up and that’s just the way I live my life.

I’ve talked a lot about how your career is about yourself. It’s about you. You need to think about yourself. The first pushback I get from people is “Well, that’s just selfish. You’re just being selfish.” You’re not being selfish. I take the term self preservation. It goes back to the concept I said about you can’t help others unless you are in a position that is stable. You will simply chew yourself up, eat yourself up, burn yourself out, whatever. So when thinking about these things, there are certain times you need to say, “No.” You need — if you want to use the term — you need to be a little selfish. You need to practice self-preservation. You need to understand what your limitations are. What your feelings are. What your desires are and service them.

If you’re constantly doing what others want, you’re not living your life. You’re living someone else’s idea of what your life should be. It’s like those people who are always telling me to Focus! They have no idea. They are capable of focusing on one thing. I am not. We are different people and if I try to live to their standards, I’m going to chew myself up, because that’s not who I am. We all need to realize that. Don’t try to be the square peg in the round hole. (inaudible) I actually had to read it, because I liked so much when I wrote it, I actually had to read it here. If you’re constantly doing what others want, then you’re not living your life, you’re living someone else’s idea of your life — and i actually added a little here — a life that better serves them than you.

You have to make your own decisions. We let people make decisions for us way to often. Whether it’s our spouse, our family, our co-workers, our boss, whatever, we let people make decisions for us too often. And that leads nowhere, for you personally. I don’t know if you have ever heard of it, this is kind of an odd example, there is a couple of apps out there for the iPhone right now called Secret and Whisper and these are apps — you don’t need necessarily want to download them these apps, but these are apps that allow you to anonymously post things in your life. And they can get pretty wild sometimes when you see what people post, but the things that just keeps recurring — I keep seing these similar messages again and again and again in these anonymous sites are, “I wish my boyfriend would do something stupid so I could break up with him. I wish my girlfriend would find someone else so I could break up with here and have an excuse to break up with them. Have an excuse to leave. Have an excuse to…” Why are you looking for an excuse to do something, If you want to break up – BREAK UP! Why are you letting them make the decision. In a form — and I am going to use a very charged word here — it’s cowardice. You are being cowardly with yourself. You can be cowardly with the world. I can understand that. Life is scary sometimes, but don’t be cowardly with yourself. Make the decision that needs to be made and live with it. Now, I’m not asking you to make wild, crazy, off the cuff decisions. Think about the decisions you are making. What did say here, I called it a particular thing…You only need a reason of your own carefully decided. Ok? I think, sometimes, when we think we’re making decisions, we’re jut doing it off the top of our head — even ourselves. “Well, I’m just blowing this off.” Carefully decided decisions. But make them. Don’t hope to be fired. Find a new damn job!

There is a great book called Radical Careering that I love by Sally Hogshead — great book! Radical Careering and one of the things — it is more of a picture book almost. It’s like pithy quotes and stuff and one of them says, “Being in crappy job is not your fault. Staying in a crappy job is your fault.” (inaudible) That’s right. Crappy Anything. Staying in that, when you know better, is your fault and you need to see it that way. Please, don’t ask for excuses from others, because often times they won’t occur and you’re just sitting there going “Do da doo, not my problem. I’m unhappy but it’s not my problem because no one gave me an excuse.” No! You’re unhappy because you have haven’t made a decision. Make the decision.

When you are between a decision between you and your company, you have to make the decision that is best for…you. Ok? The company will only ever make a decision that is best for them. You should put yourself on the same level. If they’re going to do what’s best for them, I HAVE to do what is best for me. Even if you manager, your co-workers, company may not think it is a good idea for them, well, so what! If you don’t make the best decision for you, you are basically giving up any power you had to them and saying. “Oh, I guess your better than I am — smarter than I am. You tell me what to do.

“Your job search should never be an iterative process. A job search should always be something you are doing every single day. It ties back into serendipity, too. You should always be looking for those opportunities. You should always be doing things which create new opportunities for you, every single day. Looking for a new job is never — in my mind — something you do just when you need a new job. It is something you do all the time and that helps. I find that helps a lot. Because then it keeps you from feeling trapped. You can be trapped out of fear. You can feel trapped out of obligation to a family member, to whatever. You can — sometimes you just want to be nice. You don’t want to be seen as a bad guy. “Well. I’ll stay here because they really need me her at this job even though I hate — even though I hate doing purchasing, they don’t have anyone else to do purchasing so I’ve got to stay here and do it.” Wrong. Why? That’s not serving you well at all. Again, they’re winning and your losing. No. Win-win. I know it’s cliche these days to say it, but I really believe that. Both of you have to be getting something out of the agreement or one of you is losing and sometimes losing very, very badly.

There’s a large difference between being loyal and being trapped. I hear that loyalty word a lot bantered around today. Being loyal requires that your work situation be reciprocal, as I was just saying. It has to benefit both sides equally or at least as equally as possible. And that typically goes far, far beyond when “I do the work. They pay me the money.” That is like the lowest level of equality in any position. We all tend to forget ourselves that that company has something — we have something the company needs from us. Otherwise, they wouldn’t hire us. Right? They’re not paying us for nothing. We have a skill they need. They need to see that and you need to see that. That’s when you get in a situation where you’re working with someone, rather than working for someone. Unfortunately, the “working for someone” has come out of the history of work. That’s how we always register it. I wrote a column the other day — someone wrote about — “such and such GIVES you a job.” I said, “Now they don’t! You earn that job. If you didn’t do something to earn that job, they wouldn’t be hiring you.” We need to abolish that term out of dialogue entirely. Because what it immediately points up is the power dynamic — the distorted power dynamic that exists int hat work relationship. It’s never going to be equa, unless you’re working as a partner in a business you partially own, but you want to get that power ratio as close as possible as you possibly can. Your boss needs to understand that you’re bringing something useful to them and they are paying you for that usefulness. And if you forget that, you are precipitating — uh — participating in your own demise. You are punishing yourself. Don’t do that!

We end up trapped in situations because we’ve decided to what others want, not what we want. Simply, bare laying it out there. Don’t be the creators of your own traps. Too often, in our minds, that’s exactly what we do. And again, I’ll hold my hand up and say, “Me, too!” We trap ourselves in situations. The fact is, if you feel trapped, you are. So, if you are ever feeling trapped in a job, — red flag, Les Miserables-style, waving on the stage — there is a problem here. Ok? That feeling of being trapped is a clear sign that you are and you need to recognize it as such and then you need to whatever you can to make that feeling go away.

I was sitting at dinner once with a group of people that I really didn’t know. I had only met them for the first time — it was at a conference or something and I listened to the person next to me describe a horrible job situation. To the point of definitely mental abuse and approaching physical abuse and they had not yet decided in their mind that maybe it’s a good idea if they left. And I am like, “Ok, I’m sitting here as a neutral, unknowing 3rd party and I’m hearing your story. GET OUT! I’m going to call social services for god sakes.” You are trapped in this situation. I can’t believe you decide to stay there. We like to say that financial issues are our trap. Sometimes they are. I think they are far less than we think they are. I think our fear of financial issues is more powerful than the financial issues themselves. But we really have to find a way through that fear and back to our own self-respect and say, ‘You know what? I have more to offer. Even if they don’t see it. If they hired me, then there is someone else who will hire me.” That is another thing I often say. “I got this job. I can get another job, because obviously I have something to offer of they wouldn’t have hired me.” So, let’s look for the next thing.

Everything about your job search is external — resumes and interview skills and dress and all the other stuff. That’s fine. That’s required. Really those things are kind of “yeah, I know. I know what I need to do there and I’ve got pretty much a handle on what I need to do. Most of us, I think, in this room, have a handle on that. look to the internal factors — look at your wants, your needs and your desires. Don’t let one outweigh the other. Focus on your desires, if nothing else. Your desires are telling you something about yourself that maybe even you haven’t listened to in the past. Listen to those little voices in the back of your head — little prickles in your heart that when you know you do something really, really, enjoyable — those are pointing you in the right direction — if you listen to them. And that, at least gives you somewhere on your compass — “I want to go that way! How can I go that way?” It gives you a direction. If you get to know yourself better, you can’t help but be a better worker, a better job candidate, a better employee, a better “whatever you do.” The more self-knowledge you have the better you will be at doing whatever you do, because you just understand yourself more. You understand your limitations. I have limitations. I tend to worry way to much. It’s just part of my makeup and I have to things to adjust to that. The fact is, though, because I know that about myself, i can work against it. I can modify it. I can bring it back into balance whenever I can. You can’t help but being better if you learn more about yourself. It can be a little scary. There are some things about all of us that we don’t like about ourselves. My worry is one of the things that I so glad my son did not inherit from me and I tell him that regularly. He is much more chill than I am, which is great, but it can’t help make me better at what I do by knowing it. It’s in our ignorance that we lose ourselves. When we start to do what everyone else wants, not what we want.

Don’t allow others to trap you in a bad situation through coercion, being demeaning, — funny you brought up what you said again about the demeaning behavior — or being dismissive. Those are the 3 common traits that people will try to do to you. Don’t. Recognize them for what they are. Recognize them as what they’re feeling, not what you should be feeling. (inaudible) Demeaning, Dismissive and — oh, — through coercion, demeaning behavior or dismissive behavior — that’s the way I wrote it here. Most importantly, let me reinforce this in the conclusion — do not be the creator of your own traps. We all do it. We all do it! Been there. Right there beside you. Don’t do it to yourself. There are enough challenges in this world without creating more of your own. Do not do it to yourself.

Define, Control and Create the Career yourself and others need and desire. The fact is, if you are fulfilled in your career, people around you will feel fulfilled as well. You wil percolate good feelings out there, because you will be in the position where you can help others. You will be in a position to provide a good example, which sometimes in this world, the only thing we can offer is a good example. People don’t think about that, but just because everyone else is doing something bad doesn’t mean you have to. Be the good example and other people will follow it. Trapping yourself — doing any of these demeaning, dismissive, coercive things is NOT the way to build the career you deserve and that’s what it’s all about. We are not entitled to a great career — entitlement doesn’t figure into this, but we all deserve it. Because deserving it as part of our native, human rights and nature — we deserve a good career and we shouldn’t let ourselves — which often happens — too often — or someone else stops us from doing that. Or at least striving towards the best we can get. Does tat make sense to everybody? So we’re all going to go out there and fight the good fight, right?

I want to thank you all so much for listening to me today. I hope that this has been useful for you. As you mentioned, yes, you can find everything that I do on http://DouglasEWelch.com. You’ll find links to all 5 of the blogs on the left hand side — the books I’ve written. The videos — the most recent videos are on the page. You can also check out my YouTube Channel. There’s a link to that as well. Where you can find out — I try to record everything I do, so a lot of the stuff is there and the weekly column is also a podcast, so you can listen to it on audio or you can read it, if you want.

***

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Video: Can you domesticate transition? from “Transition as the New Normal” with Douglas E. Welch

January 27th, 2015 No comments

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I want you to feel when you leave that you can use transition as — first of all — something to be cultivated in your life — not something to be avoided. Don’t slam the door in the face of opportunity when it shows up. But I also want you to engage in it and do as I try to do. I’m not perfect at this either in any way, shape or form, but try to use transition and change as a way to improve your life and career. Don’t be afraid of it. it can be scary sometimes, yes, and that’s humans — we do get fearful sometimes — but I think if we co-opt transition and instead of thinking of it as the sabertooth cat coming in the cave door, think of it as the kitten sitting next to us that we are petting. Maybe that’s a better metaphor for it. It is something that is part of our lives, that needs to be part of our lives, and something we can cultivate and perhaps even domesticate a little bit and make it work for us rather than constantly fighting against it. 

Video: Transition is a force for good in our lives from “Transition as the New Normal” with Douglas E. Welch

January 20th, 2015 Comments off

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Transition is a force for good in our lives. I know it can feel really like it isn’t a lot of the times, but — if you’ve ever had the situation of feeling happy that you got fired from a job (LAUGHTER). that right there should show you that transition can be a force for good in  your life. Sometimes it is forced upon us. Sometimes it is something we have engage in ourselves, but either way, I think we really need to look at it that way. Because we can get stuck sometimes. We can allow ourselves to get stuck — and that’s the best word I think I can come up with. It’s applying those rules — those physics rules — of inertia, Bodies at rest will remain at rest. People with a job will remain in that job no matter how crappy that job may be — because, it’s a job, but if you can just nudge the snowball — that’s what I call it — if you can just push the snowball downhill just a little bit — one small action, one small change, one phone call, one email, one thing you read whatever — if you can just get the snowball rolling, it starts to gather its own momentum and gets bigger and bigger and bigger and can lead to a variety of things and, as you sometimes see with a large snowball rolling downhill, sometimes it will split into parts as it’s headed down the hill. That’s cool. Now you have all these other options that you can investigate, as well, and see where those snowballs lead you down the hill.  

Video: Should stability be our end goal from “Transition as the New Normal” with Douglas E. Welch

January 13th, 2015 Comments off

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I think we need to leave behind — a little bit — the concept of stability as this end goal. Stability is always nice, again, to have those good foundations to put your feet on and stand on to do other great things, but so many of us have adopted stability as the end goal. We see something out there that’s our end goal in life, is that. I’m not sure that serves us really well. It can certainly can help us be less fearful sometimes about what’s going on in our life, but I’m not real sure that’s the right goal in our mind. I think maybe we need more than one goal — Maybe — I described it as a star field on Saturday. You need to have a series of goals out there — a series of points that you are all kind of headed towards — that you can work on a little bit on this one, a little bit of this and a little bit on that one, but not one dot out there. I don’t think that serves us very well.

Career Compass Presentation Clips – Combined Transcript

January 8th, 2015 Comments off

I recently completed the clips from my long talk, Career Compass: Finding Your Career North. This is a combined transcript of all the clips which should provide a distilled version of the entire talk. You can view all of the video clips using the playlist below. You can watch the entire presentation at Career Compass: Finding Your Career North on YouTube — Douglas

Career Compass Presentation Clips - Combined Transcript

Career Compass: Finding Your Career North with Douglas E. Welch – Combined Clip Transcript

This is the session, Career Compass: Finding Your Career North. Come on in. I did this talk a few years ago. This is based on on a column and podcast I wrote many years ago for my Career Opportunities podcast and column. Because I run into a lot of people — myself included — who don’t really know what they want to do for a living. The old adage of asking the young kid, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Well, people ask me that question and I am sort of like, “Mnnnnnn–I don’t know.” Because I do — what I’ve decided to do instead is I do a lot of different stuff. That is not usual. Typically most of us have some driving passion that pushed us through things or at least one or two. It is rare you will find someone like myself that has 5 different blogs and 3 different organizations and all this other crazy stuff. But hopefully, the Career Compass can, first of all, help you find a way to the work you truly want to do and also give you a guide for evaluating new opportunities that come along throughout your career.

So I’d ask you to imagine that you had a magical compass. Your had a compass that would lead you through your life and show you exactly where you should be going. Like Jack Sparrow’s magic compass in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, it would tell you exactly where you wanted to go to what you most desired. The fact is, you already have this magical compass. We all have it inside of ourselves. It’s our desires. It’s our wants, our needs and our desires. We instinctively know oftentimes what we want. The problem arises when we start to ignore those things and do things that go exactly due south of where we want to be headed in our lives. We have all done it. I’ve done it myself. Everyone of my friends has done it. We’ll be going along and working in this direction when all of a sudden a job will appear and we’ll say, “Well, it’s a job. It pays. I’ll do that job for a while,” without every realizing it is nowhere in our desires to actually do that job. Perhaps it’s work we don’t want to do. Perhaps it is a business we don’t want to be in.

When we’re following our desires, in the terms of the Career Compass, we are headed due north. Now, typically, when you’re on a ship and you’re navigating somewhere, you might want to go any of the directions, but I use North as the point where we all want to be. If we’re going against our own better interest — our own desires, our own wants, our own needs — we’re headed due south. I am going to draw a little compass on the board a little bit later that will illustrate this and give you some ideas of how to figure out where you are on the compass.

People sometimes ask me, “Why should I chart my own course? Why don’t I just go into business, do what everybody else does and go into the same job that everyone else has and so on and so forth?” The fact is, we’re all unique individuals. Look around this room. Just by our shear looks, we look different. We are unique even more so in our thinking and our attitude and our actions. Why wouldn’t we all have different desires of what we want out of our career? It only makes sense.

Too often, though, we let sameness be forced upon us by the outside world. Many companies out there are looking for cog to fit their machine. They’re not looking for something neat, cool and unique and funky and all this. They’re looking for a cog that they can hire and go Pbbbflt. The fact is, those aren’t necessarily the companies you want to work for. Your goal is to find a company that works well with your wants needs and desires, not simply a cog that plugs in . The other reason for that, of course, is cogs are easily replaceable. If I can pull one person out and stick another person in there, your job’s not secure. Your career isn’t secure. so, you want to avoid simply being a cog in the machine.

There are those that manage their career at every step. Every time they evaluate a job or opportunity or an interview they look at that and say, “How does that fit with what I want to achieve in my life?” There’s the other side, which many of us I am sure know and in some cases I have been this person, who have simply let their career happen to them. They take the first job that offered. Whether it has any interest to them at all. When it has any direction to where they want to go in their lives or their career. It’s simply they take one job, then the next, and the next, and the next, and they wake up 20 years later and go, “How did i get here?” Because they had no plan. Because they weren’t watching where they were going. They weren’t setting their course. Someone else set their course for them and I will tell you, that if you don’t manage your own career, there are more than enough people who will gladly manage it for you. They will say, “You need to go work over there and you need to work over here” and you’re going to wake up in 20 years and wonder, “How did I get here? How did I get from there to here?” You’ll have no idea, because it has simply been a case of taking whatever presented itself along the way.

I’d like you to really to think about your careers — to manage your careers. You deserve a great career. The tagline for CareerCamp is “Helping to Build the Career You Deserve” and that is actually the tagline from my Career Opportunities column and podcast. And I was sitting writing one night and that phrase came to me and I truly believe it. You deserve not just a good career, you deserve a great career. And the way to get that — what you can do for your own best interest — is to manage your career yourself. To take interest. To be actively involved and not just bouncing from one job to the next. That’s not to say that that won’t happen to you on occasion. it happens to all of us on occasion, but when you see it happening, you recognize it and go “Ah!”. Ok. I see what happened here. Now I need to get back on course.

Now, after I’ve said that about being on course, I’m going to somewhat contradict that and say, in reality, you can’t ever really be on course totally. If you think about a ship navigating the ocean or a plane navigating the airways, you’re dealing with tides and currents, wind — in the case of an old sailing vessel. Ships never go in a straight line. They’re always being pushed one way or the other and so they’re constantly correcting their course. So, they figure out “I’m here and I want to go here. This is the main direction I want to go.” So, i realize, “Oh, I’m a little too far to the east. I need to go back to the west. Oh, I’m a little to far to the west, I need to got back…” and you have to constantly manage that course. You have to correct that course.

Imagine a poor airplane that also has to deal with the third dimension of up and down. You realize that, they draw these perfectly straight lines on those maps on the airplane. No. That’s not they way the plane is flying. The plane is constantly going back and forth and sometimes its the autopilot correcting it and sometimes it’s the pilot correcting it. That’s the truth when you’re navigating through your career, too. You’ll lean to the east a bit. You’ll lean to the west a bit. The point is getting back on course and knowing where you are wanting to head because, the trouble is sometimes you get off on this course and then you don’t watch the compass. You don’t think about your career and what happens? You go shooting off and the longer you allow that to happen the further off course you are. That’s why they say that space travel is such an amazing thing, because it’s like hitting a postage from a universe away. Because they have to navigate through all this gravity fields and everything else and yet put it, after several million miles, in the size of a postage stamp on the other planet. Well, you can imagine, if they ignored it for even a fraction of a second that’s what’s going to happen. They’re going to miss that planet entirely and end up in deep space somewhere because without correction the error simply multiplies every single day.

The first step of the Career Compass is plotting your presents– your present — figuring out where you are today. Now the way — again, forgive my drawing skills — but here is our Career Compass. We have north at the top. South at the bottom. East and West. Going back to what I said earlier, being “on course” is considered due north, in my little metaphor here.

If you then divide the compass into 4 quadrants like that, you get northeast, northwest, southwest and southeast, these take on a certain meaning. First of all, upper-right. Upper-right deals with our present. It’s work we are doing today that we actually enjoy doing. And when I say work, I don’t necessarily mean your job. I want you to think about aspects of your job. “Oh, I really like dealing with the customer, but I hate cashing out my cash register. That drives em nuts because its all fiddly numbers and stuff.” Or “I don’t like dealing with people, but I can be on the phone with people or I love being in the back room working on fiddly bits.”Think about all the tasks you do in a given day and how much you like or dislike them. This isn’t about whether you HAVE to do the work. This isn’t about saying, “Well, I gotta do it so its part of my job.” This is about actively thinking about what you want to do. What you like and dislike. Then you start plotting those tasks on your compass. And things that you really like doing you may put up here. I really like talking with people. I really like dealing with the customer. Boy, I really hate dealing with money and numbers. Kids? Yeah, I like working with kids. Maybe seniors I like working better with. I don’t like managing. Or maybe I do like managing. I want you to step through all of the tasks you do in a given day and think of it in the way of “Things I am doing today that I like. Things that I am doing today that I dislike.” Using South as the negative We’ll say that things in the southern quadrant, the southeast quadrant, things that I’m doing but I really wish I didn’t have to.

So, a couple of days later, I want you to come back and look at your compass again. See if you have any further thoughts about what you’re doing today. Maybe this one shifted down into here a bit. Maybe this one shifted out a bit. Maybe you thought of a few more things that you liked or disliked as part of your job.

Then, I want you to think about the future. The future entails Northwest and Southwest. North again being more positive is the good stuff. Northwest is the corner where you put stuff you’d like to be doing but you are not doing now. Maybe you would like to be a deep sea fisherman. Put it on the board. Maybe you would like to work with numbers more. Maybe you really like numbers. Maybe you like math. Maybe you have facility for it that you have discovered over the years. Maybe you like music, but you’ve never really pursued it. Think of all those things that you would like to do but you’re not doing today.

We all have interests in our lives that we’re not pursuing. My joke is that I’m the world’s biggest dilettante. I’ve sold a piece of artwork. I’ve played music for money. I’ve one other things, but that’s not my job. It’s stuff I do on the side and I am sure that all of us have things like that. Maybe you do arts or crafts or gardening or landscape design or whatever in our own lives. Think about it. Maybe, well if I really like doing that why can’t I make that part of my job. If you like being outdoors and you like gardening and you have a facility for it and your knowledgeable in it — or you feel you could become very knowledgeable in it with just a little bit of work — then why are you working in an office 9 to 5 punching keys on a computer? You might begin to realize right away that that’s probably not the best place for you. Why not investigate that interest in gardening and see if maybe I could do a job that has something to do with that?

Maybe you’re a musician, like my friend Andrea, and you have to make things work out. Well, one of the ways for musicians that I often recommend — and for other people that have outside interests — is, if you can’t do the job fully — if you can’t be a full time musician, perhaps you can be a part time musician while working in a company that deals, in some way, with the music business. You can exploit your interest in music by using it in different ways. You could use your knowledge of the music business to actually end up supporting and financing your interest as a musician yourself. I call them hybrid careers. Often times when people are transitioning I will talk to them and I’ll say, “well, what do you do on the side? What other interests do you have?” And perhaps they’re a lawyer or a paralegal or something like that, but they really don’t like working in a law office. One of the things I recommend to them is, “Have you ever thought about working for a software company that makes software for lawyers? Because you have some technical skills and you actually, sort of like the tech side and playing with computers. Why don’t you take your legal knowledge that you built up and you don’t want to simply throw away, but apply it in a different way?” If you’re a musician, why don’t you work for a software company that makes music software for kids? Or develops other projects for children based on on music. There are ways of taking your interests — the things you’re not doing today, but would like to do — and actually either build them into your current career or build an entirely new career.

The final quadrant — the nasty old, Southwest. We don’t want to spend a lot of time time down here. This is where, I am sure, some of you have spent some time. These are the quadrants — which is, things you don’t like to do and things you never want to do. Say you were a, say you were thinking of being a teacher, but you suddenly realized that man, you really hate little snot-nosed kids. You just can’t stand them and they aggravate you so much. That’s telling you something, right? You don’t want to be a teacher. Or you don’t want to be a teacher at the elementary level. I know it sounds silly and I often say silly things for the effect that they have. If you don’t like kids, put that on your chart — if you don’t like working with kids. Then you will avoid all the situations where you are forced to work with children. You would be surprised how many people don’t pay attention to something like that. They simply ignore it, because a job is presented. Bam! I got to take it.

You will be in situations in your life. I have been in situations in my life where you are truly desperate. Where you are desperate for something. That is the time you take a job like that. If you are not in desperate and dire straits, I consul you, please, look for the next, best, job. It is out there. It is out there and the more work you have on here in the Compass the more you will be able to understand that. You’ll understand that Wow, that job is going to be really tough. Can I do it for 6 months? Yeah, I can do it for 6 months. I wouldn’t want to do it for a lifetime. Go into that job with that knowledge clear in your mind.

Oftentimes what happens to people is we get a job and we simply stop looking for the next job. We’re like “Whew. Ok,” but then we come home every night and we’re just ticked off, because it isn’t a good fit for us. I counsel you that you’re never really not looking for a job. For 2 big reasons. 1. You may need a job, if the job you are currently working in disappears — which we’ve all experienced. 2. Opportunities will present themselves and too often, if we’re in a job, we simply ignore them. The opportunity comes to the door – -“Hey, I got this great idea.” And you’re like, “Nah, I got a job,” and the opportunity goes by and goes to somebody else. if you are thinking about your career, your are attuned and are watching for those opportunities that come out of nowhere. They comes out of a chance meeting at a Starbucks or at a CareerCamp or online somewhere on Facebook. You never know when they’re going to occur, so you have to be ready to take advantage of them. So know, down here, what you truly do not like and will never want to do in your life. I don’t want to be a deep sea fisherman. I get seasick. It’s too much work. I really, Deadliest Catch, I watch it, but that’s it. I’m not going to do that. Knowing this about yourself is very, very important. As much as knowing what you do like.

For me, this is the most important quadrant of the whole compass, because if you are headed in your career here or here, you’re doing great. You’re heading — you’re either doing stuff that you like to do or heading towards stuff you would like to do. You’re understanding that you’re looking for opportunities. If you take a job that is filled with stuff you hate doing or you’re looking at a job you really don’t ever want to do that, you can imagine that is not where you want to be. And yet, I see people there all the time. I talk to people who who are utterly desperate about their work. It is making them sick. i have been in a situation whereI have been made physically ill by my work situation. It’s not fun and it need not happen. Partially, it’s because people have not thought about what they want. Intuitively, they know, but everyday — it’s like the boat wants to go this way and everyday they are turning it to got the other way. You can’t do that. If there is anything else I can reinforce with you today, you deserve better than that and you need to listen to what you want.

If you’re working in these two quadrants — if you’re down here — you are actively sabotaging your life. You might as well go out and shoot yourself in the foot because that is exactly what you are doing every single day. You’re trying to get to America. You’re Columbus trying to get to America and you’re going the wrong way. He’s going to end up in Africa because he turned around and suddenly decided to go East for some reason. It is that ludicrous. Don’t do it if at all possible.

Te next thing about the Compass that really is effective is it allows you to evaluate opportunities that present themselves. If you see an opportunity that is sitting up here in this quadrant, you’re likfe Yeaaaaaa. Score! ANd you pursue that with your heart because that is taking you exactly where you want to go. See something going this way? Still good. Still cool. Cool stuff you like doing. I can do that. Stuff I’m doing now. Ok, maybe I can parlay that into a bigger role, a higher salary, a better title. Whatever. Because I have been doing that already. I’m experienced in that. So, when you’re — when you bump into the guys at Starbucks, and he says, “Well, I need this IT guy to come in and do this networking stuff for me” and you can say “Yeah I can do that.” That’s in my realm of my career that I want to head into.

Sometimes I think we get into the idea that “Well, that’s a good job!” Well, yeah, it is a good job, but not for me. It’s a good job for someone who has interests in that area, but we allow ourselves sometimes to be (sound of shoving) — whether it’s familial obligations, our parents pushing on us, or whether its our peers pushing us or society as a whole pushing us, –“No No. no, you have to fit into that hole. Right there. That’s your hole. And I said that’s your hole and that’s where you are going to stay.” You need to push against that.

We’ve come a long way, but we are still carrying with us a lot of baggage from the 1950’s and the 1960’s. I would caution you to those ideas that you have in your mind and perhaps that we inherited from our grandparents or our parents and reevaluate them in the light of the 2000’s. Because it has changed so much. The invention of the Internet alone has dramatically changed all of our lives. If nothing else had changed that one thing would still have been just a traumatic change in our lives.

Finally, with the Career Compass, one of the things you need to do is revisit it regularly. Once a quarter. Once a month. At least every 6 months. Sit down — this is work for you. Working the Career Compass is work for you. This is something you are doing for yourself. Not for anybody else. And it’s deserved work. It’s important work that you need to do for yourself. Sit down and re-think the Compass. How have things changed? Maybe you’re in a better job now and you’re working more in these quadrants and you are like, “Hmm, where can I go from here? Now that I’ve got those desires” — what is the name of the guy who developed the scale of need? Once your need at one level gets — Maslow? — Maslow! Thank you! I knew it was an M but couldn’t think of the name. Once you get needs established at one level, you start reaching for the next level. So, that’s what you’re doing in your career. Once you get a little stability in a career you like, then you can start to set those “stretch goals” to use the buzzword — set those goals a little further out there. “Well, now I’ve got this. Maybe I — now I can fine tune this. I want to work over here and do more of this particularly more defined piece of work.” You can do that. But again, you’ve got to correct your course as you go on. Every 6 months, you’re there. You’re correcting your course. You’re making sure you’re still headed where you want to go.

***

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Video: Change is where everything cool happens from “Transition as the New Normal” with Douglas E. Welch

January 6th, 2015 Comments off

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So, I hope you can see — as I’ve seen — kind of come to the — I hesitated to call it a realization — it’s almost a re-realization. It’s almost a rediscovery, a renaissance of thought about stability and transition. But I have to had to kind of smack myself upside the head a few times over the last couple of years and say, “What are doing? You’re not thinking about this in the right way.” You’re not understanding this is — we think this is normal, but this is what’s really normal. We think that stability is everything, but actually change is where everything cool happens in your life. So, what balance, what overlap, can you get between those two spheres of influence in your life.

Video: Weathering the Transition Storm from “Transition as the New Normal” with Douglas E. Welch

December 30th, 2014 Comments off

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Don’t constantly be on the lookout for stability — once you’ve got that base level. You want to stay “in training” — that’s the term I used here — keep “in training.” You want to go to the gym — got to the transition gym — every so often and make sure that you haven’t lost the ability to lift that transitional weight you need to lift.

You want to be able to better weather the storms and I know we don’t sail a lot these days, but sailing metaphors sometimes are some of the best metaphors for our lives. Because we want to roll with waves. We don’t want to be capsized. We don’t want to be swamped. We don’t want to be driven under by the changes in our lives. We want to just, sit like a little cork on top of the water and roll with the changes. Sometimes there are going to he violent changes and sometimes they’ll be smaller, but we want to be on top of the waves not underneath them somewhere. And the way we do that is by constantly engaging in that change.

Video: It’s Ok to engage with change from “Transition as the New Normal” with Douglas E. Welch

December 23rd, 2014 Comments off

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So, again, another reason to be out there engaging with transition — engaging with change — on a constant basis and I don’t want you to be afraid of it, because you’re not deciding the end goal of your life with every single decision. You’re just looking into it. It’s like walking down the shelves of a library and seeing a book that interests you and pulling it off the shelf and reading it. There’s no huge commitment in that. There’s no huge commitment to flipping through the first few pages of the book. It doesn’t mean that’s the only book you’re going to read for the rest of your life. So, why would you think that change that comes into your life has the same effect. You’re not committing to that change forever. You’re just looking at it and investigating it and say “Hey, is this a good change? Could this change lead to something bigger? Could it make my life a little happier a little better, whatever?” Hey, it’s worth checking out.

Video: Revisit the Career Compass Regularly from Career Compass: Finding Your Career North

December 18th, 2014 Comments off

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Finally, with the Career Compass, one of the things you need to do is revisit it regularly. Once a quarter. Once a month. At least every 6 months. Sit down — this is work for you. Working the Career Compass is work for you. This is something you are doing for yourself. Not for anybody else. And it’s deserved work. It’s important work that you need to do for yourself. Sit down and re-think the Compass. How have things changed? Maybe you’re in a better job now and you’re working more in these quadrants and you are like, “Hmm, where can I go from here? Now that I’ve got those desires” — what is the name of the guy who developed the scale of need? Once your need at one level gets — Maslow? — Maslow! Thank you! I knew it was an M but couldn’t think of the name. Once you get needs established at one level, you start reaching for the next level. So, that’s what you’re doing in your career. Once you get a little stability in a career you like, then you can start to set those “stretch goals” to use the buzzword — set those goals a little further out there. “Well, now I’ve got this. Maybe I — now I can fine tune this. I want to work over here and do more of this particularly more defined piece of work.” You can do that. But again, you’ve got to correct your course as you go on. Every 6 months, you’re there. You’re correcting your course. You’re making sure you’re still headed where you want to go. 

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