Thoughts for Today: Their Shoes and Your Mind

Thoughts for Today: Their Shoes and Your Mind

Today I’d like to share some thoughts I’ve had recently about two seemingly-unrelated topics that have been on my mind (and they are actually related, as I will explain).

 

One topic I’ve been thinking about is due to my work with students and young professionals for their careers. I often find that individuals are so stressed and concerned about getting a job that they keep thinking in terms of what’s best for them; they’re not necessarily thinking about the potential employer. In other words, they are not putting themselves in the shoes of the potential employer who is thinking, “Why should I hire this person?”

 

While it sounds straightforward to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, very few people do it. They think they’re bringing out the most important points in an interview, but it really takes a level of “mind mastery” to put aside your own ideas and to put yourself in the shoes of the manager.

 

The manager wants to hire someone who is going to make his or her job easier. That means hiring someone who can think ahead (anticipate problems and propose solutions, as an example). It’s extremely hard for people to get past the anxiousness they feel in order to achieve that level of thinking, and it’s especially hard to demonstrate that in an interview. The ones who can are typically the ones who can get the jobs or get the promotions. I know from first-hand experience after interviewing hundreds of candidates at career fairs or in my office for jobs over the years. Often their resumes looked good, but many of the interviews suffered.

 

This brings me to the second topic, that of “mind mastery.” Our minds are what make us so powerful as humans, and yet we can be limited by our minds at times. This is one of the reasons I study this area so much. I don’t like being limited by my mind, and I’m always looking for ways to feel like I’m in charge of my mind (and not the other way around)! As an example, if I wake up and I know I’m supposed to work on something, but I say, “I don’t feel like doing it today,” and consequently don’t work on it, I’m a victim of my mind. Most people wouldn’t look at it that way, but I do.

 

While this can get into a lot of philosophical thought (who am I if I’m a victim of my mind, for instance!), the bottom line is that we can often get hung up by our minds. Many people will say these are due to habits, willpower, etc., but it in the end, it all comes down to getting past our minds. Working with our habits and willpower are actually methods that can help us. So if we can figure out how to get past the voice telling us not to do something, using some of those techniques, we’ll have won. And getting back to the interview example, if we can master our mind to the point of putting our own agenda aside and demonstrating how we can provide value to someone, we’ll have succeeded in the interview.

 

I don’t have all the answers but I will continue to study this area and also help others, because to me this is one of the trickiest things to manage in life (in terms of success or overcoming a challenge).

 

So the next time you say, “I don’t feel like doing this” yet you feel frustrated that you’re not achieving what you want, remind yourself who’s in charge 😉 and in the future we’ll get into more techniques on how to master your mindset to overcome your challenges.

Additional Resources:

Books:

Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams

Optimize Your Productivity: The Counterintuitive Approach to Get More Done in Less Time (Today) 

Success Blueprint: Get Out of Survival Mode, Regain Control of Your Life, and Get Ahead at Work and in Life

Course: Design Your Success Academy

Check out my #AmazonInfluencer page!

Optimize Your Networking Using LinkedIn

Optimize Your Networking Using LinkedIn

For many years, I did not make the platform LinkedIn a priority. In fact, my friends and family would probably tell you that I’m not a good participant on social media in general, because I don’t engage or post much on Facebook. I’m really more of a private person when it comes to the internet.

 

Since I launched my first book last year, however, I’ve been challenging myself to “get out there” more on social media. Fortunately I’ve had  success growing my following on my public Facebook page and Twitter page for my coaching/consulting/book marketing, but I truthfully continued to neglect LinkedIn until recently.

 

One of the reasons I neglected LinkedIn was because I wasn’t that familiar with how to use it. I noticed it had changed a bit since I first joined ten years ago. Another reason I avoided LinkedIn was because of the attention I was drawing in my network (you would be surprised how many profile views I get from people I used to work with…and especially how many “private profile views” I have also been getting!)

 

Truthfully, all this activity makes me feel awkward, especially all the attention from old colleagues. Some people have talked with me and don’t understand why I’m not pursuing traditional paths in industry or academia for chemical engineering at the present time. But I’ve deviated from those paths for important reasons, especially so that I can have more flexibility to spend time with my son. Further, I feel that skill development is important, and I’ve been learning so much the past year business-wise.  I also don’t believe careers are so linear anymore, as Sallie Krawcheck explained in her recent article “This is the Future of Work…and What it Means for Your Career.”  And in the end, it’s my life — and my choice on how I want to live it 😉

 

I now realize how important LinkedIn is, especially since people participate on it from a career/professional standpoint. I’ve committed to learn it better over the next year (especially after my book launch — given how tight my time is!). Currently I’m learning more in a program called “LinkedUniversity” by Josh Turner of LinkedSelling. I have also read his books Connect and Booked. Additionally, I also came across another LinkedIn expert, Stephanie Sammons, and recently downloaded a book she wrote, Linked to Influence.

 

I’m bringing LinkedIn up in today’s post because networking is not something I typically discuss on the blog, yet it is another area of our lives we can seek to optimize; by adding value to the people in our network, and the people we’re adding in our network, we can forge better relationships and eventually open up new opportunities for growth or even employment. Therefore, many of us should probably leverage LinkedIn more. Since I’m not at the point of being able to share too much from my own experience, I thought it best to share who I’m learning from, and also share this presentation that Stephanie Sammons did on Slideshare (embedded below):

 

 

Perhaps LinkedIn may be helpful to you in the future.  Feel free to share and comment below!

PS You are welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisakardos

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Lisa Kardos, Ph.D. blogs about how we can optimize our lives for the better! (achieve happiness, success, and what we hold in our hearts!) She enjoys helping people overcome challenges to achieve their dreams.

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Lisa Kardos, Ph.D.

Dr. Lisa Kardos has experience in chemical engineering, management, higher education, public speaking, and career development. She is the Founder of the Lisa Kardos School of Excellence and the Amazon Bestselling Author of Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams.

5 Concepts Every College Grad Should Know

5 Concepts Every College Grad Should Know

College students and new graduates often seek advice from me. Typically, they want to know how they can maximize their chances to gain employment at various companies in industry. What we often don’t get to discuss, however, is what they can do to maintain their jobs once attained – and even better, how to grow their career inside and outside of the company going forward.

 

Interestingly, it is the “soft skills” that often defines a young professional’s chance for professional growth. Typically, people have fairly comparable technical skills for the roles in which they have been given. But it is the soft skills, the ability to have a bigger vision – for themselves and the company – and how they can best serve and provide value to their colleagues and leaders, that distinguishes them.

 

Unfortunately there are some cases where politics and workplace issues may negatively impact one’s chances for career growth at a particular company. The other issue that comes up is that individuals often think that career growth means jumping from company to company. And while it is true that we can often get a better title and salary by changing companies, we also need to make the most of our current roles, to develop our experience and demonstrate why we can handle the next level roles. If there is no leadership experience, as an example, it’s hard to make a case or justify hiring someone from the outside applying for a leadership position.

 

Ultimately, regardless of the paths taken, if one’s goal is to truly grow as a person, and provide value in his or her profession, then cultivating and incorporating the following five concepts will be beneficial for that individual:

 

Growth Mindset

As discussed previously on my blog, recent psychology research from Carol Dweck, Ph.D. emphasizes the importance of having a growth mindset (click here to access that post).  Very quickly, a “fixed mindset” means that we believe we have a finite amount of intelligence or ability (and wind up defending or proving that in our endeavors), whereas “growth minded” individuals go through life thinking that they can always improve and learn more. Essentially, growth minded individuals focus on the process of learning and essentially don’t pressure themselves into thinking they only have so much ability or intelligence — that ability and intelligence are not necessarily innate.

 

This is something I absolutely wish I knew at 22 years old. Interestingly, I recall one of my first managers talking with me about how it was okay to make mistakes, that it’s part of the learning process. I’m not sure why he mentioned that during a conversation with me, but I suspect he detected that I didn’t want to take much risk with my work! I remember thinking, “How could I possibly allow myself to make a mistake? I could get fired!”

 

But in hindsight, I think his real message was to adopt the growth mindset. I now realize his true warning, that by pressuring myself to be perfect all the time, I wasn’t giving myself the permission to grow. And putting that undue pressure on myself was making my life more stressful and perhaps inhibiting my learning.

 

Therefore, when we start our careers, it’s best to acknowledge we don’t know everything and to do our best to keep growing, that we “just haven’t mastered it yet.” This mindset will be more fruitful in the long run.

 

Optimization Framework 

If you’re familiar with my first book, or a member of my coaching program, the Design Your Success Academy, then you know what the “Optimization Framework” is. But if you haven’t heard of it, it can be boiled down to this:

 

We can apply engineering concepts to our lives. We can look at ourselves as a “system to engineer” and put all extraneous things outside of our system.

 

While it may sound simple, I explain in my book that most of us do not operate that way. The world is so complex, with so many distractions, and it often requires conscious effort to separate ourselves from everything entering our attention. That’s why we have to consciously realize that the only thing we can 100% control is ourselves, and therefore we can look for ways we can “optimize” (as an engineer would) our success by optimizing ourselves.

 

If we applied this concept as new grads / working professionals, it would be so helpful. I have had hundreds of conversations with friends over the years about stressful work situations, managers, colleagues, etc. But the fact of the matter is, we really can’t change the things we complain about (and yet most conversations always ended with the glimmer of hope that the other entity – the perceived source of the issue —  would change!) The best we can do is control ourselves, and perhaps by being our “best selves,” we can influence things for the better.

 

Adopting this framework would help reduce the stress, thereby allowing management of the multitude of issues that come up to be better. In turn, we can focus on our growth more and spend less energy on being upset about everything else.

 

 

Perspective: Practice Different Vantage Points to Develop Strategic Thinking

This is a concept I touched on it a previous post (click here to access it). The bottom line is that we need to develop strategic thinking. One of the best ways to develop strategic thinking is to practice looking at situations from different perspectives. For instance, if I start to get stressed by something in my life, I take the 30,000 foot view of it. Somehow, pretending that I’m in a plane, looking down on an issue, helps me separate and get the clarity and objective view that I need to make better decisions in a situation. Learning this skill is very valuable, especially when you start working and need to be objective as you manage various issues.

 

Entrepreneurial Mindset: Be the CEO

Thinking of myself as the CEO of my own company, as if my company is being paid to deliver services where I’m employed, is a subtle but powerful mindset shift for a working professional. This entrepreneurial mindset is an advanced version of the optimization framework I mentioned earlier, where you are learning to take responsibility for yourself. If you can get to this point, where you are taking full responsibility for every action (or lack of action) and looking at everything as an entrepreneur, you can really boost your effectiveness.

 

One of the reasons I think this is so powerful is because many working professionals I know don’t read any personal development books; however, entrepreneurs often do. I find it so interesting that “career development” and “personal development” are often different in terms of topics. One of the reasons I like to frame everything in the “engineering” or “optimization” framework is because it actually brings all of this together: figuring out how to optimize or be your best self;  it doesn’t necessarily boil down to having the best resume. It boils down to having both the best resume and a DEEP foundation in terms of mindset, skills, approach, etc. — essentially the best of both the “career development” and “personal development” worlds.

 

Adopt a Productivity System that Works for You

I have experimented with many different approaches to be productive (hence my inspiration for my productivity book). There is no one system that is perfect for everyone, which is why it is important to find the system that works for you. Some systems are very complex while others are simple. My focuses on a system you can use if other systems haven’t really worked for you, and furthermore will focus on root cause analysis and deeper issues to help you in the future.

This post is only the tip of the iceberg (many books could be written on this topic); I hope it served you. Feel free to comment below!
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Lisa Kardos, Ph.D. blogs about how we can optimize our lives for the better! (achieve happiness, success, and what we hold in our hearts!) She enjoys helping people overcome challenges to achieve their dreams.

—————————————-­———

Lisa Kardos, Ph.D.

Dr. Lisa Kardos has experience in chemical engineering, management, higher education, public speaking, and career development. She is the Founder of the Lisa Kardos School of Excellence and the Amazon Bestselling Author of Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams.