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Always in transition — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

July 7th, 2014 Comments off

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I frequently find myself speaking to careerists who are in transition from one job to another or one career to another. I have also been involved in my own career transition over the last year or so. While we all might like to think that transition is a short term process, I have discovered, looking back over the past year and my whole life, that transition is not a fleeting process we fall into and out of. Rather, life is truly nothing but one long transition — a state of constant flux. We might have dreams and desires for stability, but in a world that is constantly changing, stability is only an illusion and a temporary one at that.


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When you first realize the you are always in transition, it can seem a bit frightening. It can feel like you are the mercy of the time and tides, being buffeted about without any ability to control what is happening around you. You do have some control, though, but it requires that you pay deep attention to the your life, your thoughts and your actions. Yes, if you let the world push you around, it will gladly (and easily) do so. If you, instead, take your life directly into your own hands, you can ride the waves of change and transition in ways that best benefit you.

In many ways, I think that humans have been living their lives with the wrong goals for several centuries now. The history of Man has been a constant striving for stability, for safety. While this may have served us well in the days of hungry predators stalking our camps and deadly diseases running rampant through the land, I think think it serves us less well now. While there are some people in the world that still lack the basic necessities of life, for most of us, the days of starvation, disease and early death are gone. Our basic needs are met. Given this basic stability of life and limb, we now need to look outwards towards the new, the different, the change, the transitions in our lives and embrace them

So many people bemoan the boredom of their work and life today and I think this comes from an overabundance of stability into their lives. They probably fought long and hard to make enough money, buy that large house, the fancy car, but now, having focused exclusively on stability, they don’t know what to do next. Fear of change and fear of transition has ruled their life to such a point that they are stuck in place, stalled by their own success. We all need to learn that once basic stability is established, it is time to embrace a little risk, a little fear, a little change, in order to continue growing both personally and professionally.

The hard truth is, stability is a fragile state. Just because you have it today, doesn’t mean you will have it tomorrow…or the next day. Our lives can be turned upside down overnight and if you have let your transitional skills atrophy through disuse, you will find it even harder to adapt to change in the future. We have all seen people who are nearly destroyed when their carefully ordered life falls apart. They have been comfortable for so long that, not only do they not want to uncomfortable, they have forgotten HOW to be uncomfortable, how to transition, how to recover.

Challenges will come in your life, unwanted, unbeckoned and unforeseen. You can better deal with these challenges by remembering that transition is a constant in our lives. If we see ourselves as being in a constant state of transition, we are better able to weather the storms that break upon us. We are able to roll with the waves of change rather than letting them swamp us, capsize us and drive us under.

No matter how stable, or unstable, your life is today, I think a change of attitude is in order. I know I have had to adjust my own thinking of late. We need to see transition and change as a force for good in our lives, not evil. Change isn’t something to be avoided, but rather cultivated, engaged and used as a tool to improve our lives. Rather than seeking out stability as a end goal in itself, we need look to the edges, the transitions and see what marvellous new lives we can create there. As I wrote last week, the most exciting events in our lives don’t happen in the stable middle. They happen at those crazy edges, the fringes, where different ideas and actions rub up against one another. If we truly want to improves our lives and careers, we need to be looking there.

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Categories: Audio, Podcast, Show Tags: , , ,

Creating Opportunity — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

January 7th, 2014 Comments off

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In this Year of Opportunity, one of your biggest goals should be create opportunity around you. It may sound odd, but yes, you have the ability to create your own opportunities through your own, direct actions. Creating opportunity requires some work your part, but the results should be more than worth it. Take some of that energy you have spent searching for a job and start searching for — and creating — your own opportunities this year.


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 Books by Douglas E. Welch
  
 

Know and become known

The most important part of creating opportunity is to know others and to make yourself known to others. Opportunities come from the people you know, both individually and as part of various groups. It only makes sense that the more people you know the more opportunities you will be exposed to. Too many of us cocoon ourselves away from the world, refusing to interact with others because we feel inadequate, unaccomplished or just plain scared. You must break out of this. You are a unique, capable, interesting individual and you deserve to know and interact with others and they you. Insecurity can trap you in a hole of your own making and actively prevent you from climbing out.

This week, I want you to take some direct action to re-connect and know others. Meet with a friend or family member. Find a new interesting meetup in your area, no matter what the topic, Give yourself permission to explore and re-engage with the world. After my own year of transition, I am having to do the same myself. Sometimes I have to nearly force myself out the door, but I always feel better for having made the effort. Even more, I always benefit from the effort in some way. Each new person I meet, each old friend I reconnect with, is another step towards creating new opportunities.

As well as knowing others, you must also seek to be known. You must share your expertise, your thoughts, your ideas, your feelings with those around you. Sharing develops deep connections with others as it often helps to solve a problem they might have. If you want to truly become a friend with someone, solve a problem for them. Nothing creates a deeper bond immediately and over time. Start blogging. Start sharing great tips and links on Facebook or wherever you prefer to spend your social media time. If you are a musician, find a place to play your music in public — for pay or not. If you are an architect, share your dream designs so that others can be inspired. If you are a caregiver, share your experiences so others can benefit and feel that they are not alone in their challenges. We all have something to share that can help those around us, if we only share it. Be known by your good deeds, your great information, your caring and your conversation.

Stop and consider your opportunities

Many times we let opportunities slip through our fingers without ever considering them opportunities at all. In this world of rush, rush, rush, it becomes even more important to stop and consider opportunities when they occur. If you don’t stop, other thoughts, other actions, other concerns will quickly push them aside and you will lose them.

The next time you think, “Hey, that’s a great idea!”, stop and write it down, note it on your smartphone, scribble it on a napkin, write it on your palm. Do whatever it takes to capture that idea for later consideration. Not every idea will turn into an opportunity, but a certain percentage will — a certain percentage that would have been lost had you not stopped to consider and capture it.

When you start doing this — capturing your ideas and thoughts, you will be amazed by two things. One, you will be amazed at how much information (and opportunity) you have been ignoring in your life and two, you will be amazed by how interesting your life can be, if you only take a moment to notice it. When you are struggling with challenges in your life and career, it can feel like nothing is important anymore. Capturing your ideas and thoughts can help to snap you out of the stupor you might find yourself in and get you back on the track to productivity.

It is a New Year and a new year requires new attitudes, new actions, new approaches to building the career you deserve. This is truly a Year of Opportunity (as every year really is) but we need to recognize that fact and put in some effort to make it the best year possible. Don’t let the past stop you from pursuing the future. Now get out there and start creating opportunity for yourself!

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Archive: When you Can’t Help — From the Career Opportunities Podcast

February 14th, 2013 Comments off

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As the world of technology becomes more complex, you as a high-tech worker or consultant will start to feel the effects of this complexity. In the past we may have prided ourselves on our ability to provide a solution to every client, but today the world is simply too complicated to allow that. Too frequently these days we find ourselves standing between two, finger-pointing corporations who insist to the end that the problem is not their fault. Despite your best effort, you will have to admit, sometimes, that you can’t help the client any further.


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This week I visited a new client to set up their DSL. Yes, even today there are still many people using a dialup modem to connect to the Internet. Normally, these broadband installations are simple and straightforward, as long as the telephone or cable company has activated the line. There are times I have to contact tech support to solve a small problem, but even these questions are usually handled quickly. In this case, though, while the connection was somewhat active, it was not stable. I had it working at one moment, only to lose it the next. After contacting tech support, they ordered an on-site visit to check the line and insure there were no problems.

Of course, the telephone company checked the line, only to say that the line was ok, but the modem that had been delivered by the ISP was faulty. Subsequent calls to the ISP resulted in a stonewall and a refusal to deliver a new modem. There we were, stuck between two companies. As of the writing of this column, we have not come to an agreement yet. I am sure it will take several more phone calls and hours of wasted time. In the end, though, there is little I can do for the client except act as an advisor and technology translator and help them navigate through the problem.

When faced with a problem such as this, you have to insure that you don’t become the focus of the client’s anger and frustration. I am very careful to insure that the client knows I am doing all I can. I will assist them with phone calls to vendors, even to the point of having them create a conference call if I cannot be on-site. I explain very clearly to them the responsibility of all the players and what we, together, can do to resolve the issue. You must be on their side or the vendor’s problem will quickly become yours.

Do everything you can to provide alternatives. In cases where DSL is unavailable or unreliable, I will help the client to investigate cable modem or wireless broadband…whatever might provide a solution. This can sometimes lead to several hours of unpaid work, but I believe that the potential earnings from a client often make up for these initial problems. That said, there comes a time when you simply have to throw up your hands and give in.

It can be very frustrating and disheartening for you when you realize that no adequate solution exists to a client’s problem. I am always reluctant to suggest the purchase of a new computer or a return to older technology, such as dial-up, but sometimes you have no choice. Circumstances such as the environment, utility infrastructure, uncooperative vendors and more can eventually put enough roadblocks in your way that a project is no longer feasible.

It can be difficult, so you must clearly explain to the client the realities of the situation. Carefully go over each step of the process and detail each problem. Next, do everything in your power to return their system to the basic functionality they had before. Make sure their dial-up networking is functioning or their older software continues to work. I do my best to fulfill the ancient Hippocratic oath in my own way and “do no harm.” I think this is the best standard possible to guide your work. Finally, let them know if there might be a time to re-visit the issue in the future. Perhaps they will be buying a new computer or moving to a new location. Let them know that you are still available for any other problems or questions they might have in the future.

There comes a time when circumstances, corporations and technology will conspire against your best efforts. Do the best for your clients and yourself by understanding when you simply can’t help them any further. Do all you can and then move on — and hopefully they will, too, once they understand the road blocks. If you do this correctly, you will retain your client and develop a good working relationship, even if you can’t solve this particular problem. If you handle the situation poorly, you will be lumped in with the creator of the problem and seen as part of the problem, not someone who is working in the client’s best interest. When this occurs, the damage to your reputation and your career will be dramatic.

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