Tag Archives: Goal Setting

Do You Ever Think About Your Legacy?

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This has been a tough week.  A dear friend’s husband had a stroke.  A young acquaintance died.  A friend lost a job.  Another friend had a baby girl. The juxtaposition of all these events has made me think of  mortality and therefore, my legacy.  What will people remember about me?  What difference will I make in the world?  Whether today is my last day or I have 50 more years, what impact will I have on my world?

Steven Covey, in his best seller, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, made one of the habits “Begin with the end in mind.”  Obviously, it is hard for us to begin with our legacy in mind.  As children, we can’t grasp the concept of a legacy.  We feel immortal and think in the present.  As children we aren’t able to grasp how we can/will have an impact.  We live our lives, usually as best we can, and we get smarter.  At some point, we suddenly realize that our existence in this world can change the world and that we can influence that.  That’s the really cool part.  We can influence it.

Have you thought about it?  I probably first thought about it when I attended a Leadership Development program in my late twenties.  I was about the same age as the young acquaintance who died this week.  They had us write an obituary.  Begin with the end in mind.  When you read obituaries, you get a snapshot of people’s  lives–what was important to them–

  • their families
  • their military record
  • their accomplishments
  • their publications
  • their interests

(For one of the most interesting obituaries, read this one.)

Obituaries take it down to the most important things in your life.  So for you, what is that?  Are you focused on the things that are most important to you?  Is that how you spend your time?  Or do you spend your time on what other people think is important?

When you encounter life events like I have this week–a death of a young person, a friend with a stroke, a birth of a baby–it helps to re-focus you on what is important.

The most important things to me are:

  • my family
  • my work
  • my students and clients
  • learning

What about you?  What will people say about you?  What are you focused on?  What are you ‘wasting’ your time on?  Are you proud of what you have accomplished so far?  What else do you want to accomplish?  What are you going to do about it?  You have the ability to influence it.  Today.  Tomorrow.  As many tomorrows as you have.

Enjoy.

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Do You Need More Education To Grow Your Career?

Do You Need Education?How Do You Decide?

I recently have had a couple of folks let me know that they have completed the next level of their education.  One of them reminded me that I had responded to his “I’ll be x years old when I finish my PhD” by saying “You’ll be x years old anyway, you might as well have a PhD when that happens.”  That sounds like something I’d say.  And I stand by that.  I don’t believe that you’re ever too old to get more education, and I think education by itself is extremely valuable.  Given that, though, with the price of education today and the sacrifice it takes—away from family and aspects of work—I think it is worth asking whether or not you need more education to accelerate your career.

Let’s Start With What Are Your Career Goals

What do you want to do with your career?  What are your career goals?  What industry, company, level, function, job?  In what time frame?  I know, I know—you don’t know.  You don’t have to know precisely—you need to know generally.

  1.  What industry?

Industry is important.  Do you want to be in the same industry that you’re in now?  Do you want to be in a different industry?  Does your industry require a certain level of education for you to be credible?

If you industry requires a level of education to get to your career goal, or if you want to move into an industry that requires education then, YES, you need more education.

  1. What company?

What is the standard in your company?  Look at the Executives.  Do they all have advanced degrees?  Do most of them?  Are there classes of those with degrees—those who’ve been around for a long time don’t have degrees and those who are newer do have degrees.  When they recruit, what are they looking for?  (It’s important to do this analysis on a pretty regular basis and look at everything the company is recruiting for, not just education).  If your company has a record of promoting from within, and those who get promoted don’t necessarily have advanced degrees, then NO, you probably don’t need more education.

There are many ways to get your ticket punched.  Quite frankly, getting education is the easiest.  Degrees come with the assumption that you know what you need to do.  You can certainly know what you need to know without formal education.  It is just harder to prove to decision makers (including those who hold your career in their hands) that you know what you need to know without that degree or certification.  In fact, I am self-taught in my primary area of expertise—organizational change management and organizational effectiveness.  People who decide to hire me are generally looking for a degree in this area for confirmation of my abilities.  I have to show them experience and writing and references to overcome my deficiency of related formal education.  I’ve always managed to do it.

 

 

  1. What function?

 

Within companies and industries there are different education expectations within different functions.  Finance people may be expected to have an advanced degree in Finance or an MBA or be a CPA, while technical resources may be expected to have a first degree in computer technology, but experience or certifications in certain systems or languages are much more important than additional degrees.  On the other hand, portfolios may be more important than education or certifications for graphic artists.

The standard within the function within the company can help you decide whether you need more education.

*******Remember, however, that career portability is always a consideration.  Does the company you are using to make user decision follow the standards for the industry? *********

  1. What level?

 

What level do you want to reach?  CEO?  A recent U.S. News analysis of Fortune 500 CEOs indicated that of the 500 CEOs,  35 didn’t graduate from college.  Two hundred had M.B.A.’s and about 140 had other graduate degrees. So . . . do you have to have a degree to be a CEO?  Probably YES, you need an undergraduate degree, probably NO, you don’t need a graduate degree.  But then, it depends on the other factors—industry, company, experience, getting your ticket punched.

People could argue that some of the best CEOs (and then they could argue about ‘best’ too) of our times—Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Barry Diller—didn’t have undergraduate degrees—why do you need one.  You don’t.  Do you have a killer idea and the energy, stamina and luck to drive it to market and beyond?  If you don’t have a killer idea, then what skills do you have and how do you provide that you have them to the computers and people who are screening your resume and track record.  Do you get results (and can prove it)?  Then you are less likely to have to have additional education.

What about to be a mid-level manager or entry-level Executive?  An MBA or other business degree helps.  It helps because it provides you with an overview, with some depth, on how you run a business and how you get an organization to deliver results.  To be a mid-level manager or entry-level Executive, YES, probably you do need a formal education. (Again, it depends on the industry, company, function . . . but it does help get your foot in the door and provides you credibility that you know what you’re doing.)

 

  1. What job?

 

Obviously, if you want to be a medical doctor, you need a lot of formal education.  If you want to be a hospital administrator, it probably it isn’t a requirement.  If you work at an organization that requires all Executives to have degrees, then you do.

Even If You Don’t HAVE to Get a Degree/Certification, Should You?

 

Again, it depends:

  • How important is a Degree/Certification/More Education to YOU?

 

Many of us were raised to think that people with an education were “better.”  Our families valued degrees, and we were taught to have that as a goal.  Many of us think that we need a degree to be more valuable.  If this is a big deal—even if you went through the analysis above about whether your career goals require more education—you should consider getting that education.  Self-respect and pride are important for personal happiness and career success.

 

  • Do You Find Learning Fun?  Do You Do That More Easily In A More Formal Setting?

 

If you can afford it, and have the time, then by all means—get more education.  It can’t hurt (except in some cases, a PhD—I’ve seen hiring managers not hire PhDs because they thought they were too academic).

Can You Afford It?

Start with a ROI analysis.  What will it cost?  What will the return be?  It’s perfectly ok to  put intrinsic returns in—that’s what you’re evaluating when you decide to buy a big boat or a vacation home—but you do have to weigh the costs too.  The dollars spent for the education v. the dollars spent for a better school (which might help with being a more credible candidate for career acceleration –65 (13%) of Fortune 500 CEOs have degrees from Harvard) v time spent away from family v likely increase in income over your lifetime v how much better you’ll feel about yourself.  Just don’t do this assuming that it will automatically pay off in all the ways you think.  Investigate this carefully.

 

 

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Stick with Your New Year’s Resolutions: Find Your Gateway Habits

new years resolutions

Another Year, Another List

Do you make the same New Year’s Resolutions year after year?  Save money.  Lose weight. Get a new job. Get a promotion.  Spend more time with the family.  Do you ever get your resolutions done?  How about trying something new this year.

Look at your resolutions.  What is the one key thing that you could do that would make a difference on all of them?  What behavior could you change that would help you achieve your goals for the year?  For example, if this were your list of resolutions:

  • Lose weight
  • Start a blog
  • Spend more time with the kids

What behavior change could you make that would help achieve all of them?  What about if you increased your weekly and daily planning?  What about if each week–let’s say on Sunday–you planned your meals for the week, calendared exercise and writing and time with the kids-and then followed up each morning (or evening if that works better for you) with specifics re:  food you’re going to eat, review of what you have eaten, when/where you’re going to exercise and activities with the kids?  If you put weekly/daily planning into your life, then your success with your yearly goals is much more likely.  If you add a “gateway” habit into your life that serves your goals, then you are much more likely to be able to stick to achieving your goals.In this case, the weekly/daily planning would be a gateway habit.  If you want to increase your exercise, parking far from the door or walking up the stairs could be a gateway habit.   If you eliminate an existing gateway habit—eating in the car, starting your day with the Internet–then you can impact the follow on unconscious habits.

Gateway Habits

A gateway habit is a habit that leads to other behaviors and habits.  According to research done at Duke University, more than 40% of the actions people take each day are unconscious habits.  Autopilot.  We’re aren’t thinking about it.  We just do it.  Like what we eat for lunch.  Like the snacks we grab as we walk through the kitchen.  Like the TV in the background.    One of these unconscious habits leads to the next–drinking and smoking, watching TV and eating–and at the end of the year, we’ve made no progress.  The secret to making changes is to identify key gateway habits that will lead to other changes that get you to your goals.  Changing gateway habits helps make all the related habits conscious and puts us more in control.

For example, if you need to lose weight, you could cut out eating after 7 pm.  Make your eating after 7 a conscious no-no.  Once you’ve mastered that, all of your eating will be more conscious.  Then focus or what you eat for lunch, or decide to always eat breakfast.  This will make your eating much more conscious.  Before you know it, you are in control of your unconscious eating.  Losing weight is easier when you are focusing on specific eating-related habits, rather than all the deprivations of losing weight.  Add new habits as you succeed with changing and before you know it, you’ve succeeded.  You can have as much success through eliminating existing gateway habits.

Great books to help you with getting control of your unconscious and conscious behavior:

Try Something New This Year.  What Do You Have to Lose (or Gain)?

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Filed under Books, Career Goals, Executive Development, Goal Setting, Personal Change

Personal Change Management

Personal Change Management Is More Important Than OCM

“Organizational change management” is usually listed on job descriptions as a required skill for executives.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a critical job skill.  Personal change management is just much more important.  When you are good at personal change management, you can come across as a “can do” person, instead of a nay sayer.  You can help others with the change because you aren’t wrapped up in your own issues with the change.  In order to be good at personal change management:

  • You must understand the normal human reactions (including yours!) to change and learn how to manage yourself through those reactions while you help your team through them.
  • You must be able to recognize when you’re resisting and be able to ‘lead’ yourself through that resistance.
  • You must be able to recognize when you have hit your capacity to deal with change and find ways to expand that capacity or eliminate some of the stress that is filling it up.
  • You must be able to initiate personal change in your life in order to accomplish your goals through understanding the steps, incentives and processes that it takes to change the habits and mental models that are controlling your behavior.

As a leader, you have to be able to manage yourself through change while you’re helping others.  As an executive, you need to be able to initiate and control the personal change it takes to accomplish your personal and career goals.

Personal Change Reactions

People going through changes, good and bad, have some pretty standard reactions.  Not every person has all these reactions for all changes, but most people have most of these reactions for most (big) changes.  Think about when you found out you got a job or when you lost a job, when you found out you were having a baby, or you had a car accident–you had most of these reactions.  Change means you go from the status quo to some new state.  That shift requires some mental gymnastics to get you from one to the other.

In order to get good at dealing with personal change, it is critical that you become self-aware enough to recognize the reaction in yourself, and then learn how to move yourself through the change curve to exploration to acceptance to commitment.  There are two important things to remember in this process:

  • These reactions are completely normal.
  • You will get to the acceptance  and commitment stages, and it will feel like a ‘new normal.’  It will get better.

Personal Change Resistance

Again, resistance is a normal reaction to change.  One of my favorite change management gurus, Peter de Jager, says people don’t resist change, they resist being changed.  Unfortunately, we experience many of the changes at work as ‘being changed’ rather than choosing to change.  We resist change  because:
  • “I don’t know how” (An ability deficiency)
  • “I don’t want to” (A willingness deficiency)
  • “I just can’t” (A capacity deficiency)

When you notice resistance in yourself, ask yourself which kind of resistance is it?  How can you help yourself get past it?  What would it take for you to know to reduce your resistance?  Why don’t you want to?  How can you persuade yourself to try?  What can you change about the circumstances that make it better?  What about your capacity to change?  Can you do something to increase that?

Capacity to Change
EVERYONE hits a wall from time to time when it comes to change.  We all have a capacity to deal with change.  Some of us have a naturally high capacity or a naturally low capacity.  Then things start to happen.  Beginnings and endings–relationships, marriages, babies, jobs, deaths, illnesses, living arrangements, finances.  These things ebb and flow.  I have four kids and I used to say, as long as no more than two were off the tracks at once I could handle it–if another one had problems, then I had a hard time dealing with it over and above everything else.  If you add in big changes at work–new boss, reorganization, downsizing, job loss, then your capacity gets used up.  This overflow ebbs and flows too.  When you’re aware that your capacity is filled up, then you can reframe the situation, change the way you’re thinking about it.  You have control over managing your capacity.  This does NOT mean that you ignore or deny what is happening.  It means that you help yourself reframe what is happening so that you relieve some of the overflow and increase your capacity.
Initiating Personal Change
Organizations need Organizational Change Management because they are initiating strategic change–new processes, new systems, new organization structures–to achieve organizational goals.  Executives need to learn to initiate the same kind of personal strategic change and do personal change management through the process.  We all try to initiate personal change from time to time (New Year’s Resolutions, anyone?), but statistics say that few of us actually succeed at them.  It takes an accompanying personal change management approach to make those changes stick.  You must understand what behavior, motivation, incentive, learning, communication and metric changes it will take to make the change stick.  Then, treat it as if it were the same as making a change happen with your team.  Put the things in place that will incent, motivate, inspire and reward you to make the change.

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Starting a New Job? Hit the Ground Successful!

First Steps to Success in Your New Job

The first thing to ask is why they hired you?

What do they need you to do? How does that compare with what your predecessor did? You can’t assume that you were hired to do what your predecessor did–frequently people are hired to do more or do it better or do it different.  Go back to the job description that was posted.  Look at it through new eyes–eyes that aren’t trying to figure out how to get all the keywords from it onto your resume.  What would it take to be really successful at that job?  Can you tell?  If not, ask the decision makers who chose you what would it take to be successful at the job.  Ask them why they chose you for the job–what did they see that gave them assurance you could do it.  Do this carefully.  You don’t want to come across as bewildered by their choice.  You want to validate their choice by being extremely focused on delivering successfully and reassuring them by asking questions that focus on what success would be through their eyes.

What does your boss need  you to accomplish?

Look at it through your boss’ eyes.  What does s/he need you to accomplish?  What does s/he need to have happen so s/he can be successful?  How can you help him/her achieve success in his/her job?  Take the time and energy to look at you and your deliverables in the context the organization and of your boss’ deliverables.

What is the power structure in your organization?

Who are the four or five most powerful people in your organization?  Where are you positioned in relation to them?  Where is your boss positioned?  When you look at yourself, your position, your department through the eyes of the power structure, what do they want you to accomplish?  How do you support their agenda with your deliverables.

What do successful people in the organization

  • Act like?
  • Look like?
  • Seem like?

What are your personal goals for your new job?

Why did you take this job?  What do you hope to get out of this job?  What do you want to learn? What do you want to be able to do next because you took this job?  What visibility do you want?  What improvements do you want to your reputation because of this job?

Next:  Make a Plan

Based on the answers to the questions above, come up with a plan that addresses them:

  • How are you going to make sure you accomplish the key deliverables
    • That they hired you for
    • That serve your boss’ needs
    • That gratify the power structure
    • That deliver your personal career goals
  • Who do you need to know?  Who do you need to partner with? Which people in the organization have access to the resources, skills, knowledge and systems that you need to deliver successfully?
    • How do you connect with these people?
    • How do you extend the relationship from acquaintance to partner?
    • What do you have to leverage these relationships.
    • What alliances can your create?
  • How do you manage your image?
    • Image is not WHO you are.  Image is the perception that other people have of you.  What do you need to do to create/improve the image you need in this organization?
  • Your plan should include:
    • What do you need to accomplish in what time frame (early, quick wins should happen within 30 days–first impressions are critically important.
    • For each thing that you need to accomplish, who do you need help from?
    • How are you going to cement the relationships you need to be successful?
    • What will you do to build the networks you need in the organization?
    • How will you manage your boss?
    • What will you deliver to help your boss?
    • How will you find a mentor to help you understand how to succeed in the organization?
    • How will you learn the unwritten rules in the organization?
    • How will you measure your success?
    • How often will you evaluate your progress?  (Weekly isn’t too often, monthly probably isn’t often enough.)

A new job is a tremendous opportunity to take control of your career and to begin to learn to master your own success.

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Get Your Business Started. What Are You Waiting On?

It’s Time to Put Up or Shut Up

So you want to start a business.  Someday.  Someday will come and go and where will your business  be?  What are you waiting on?  You want to get everything set up first? You want to do the business plan first?  You want to analyze the potential market first?  You want to find money first? You want to come up with the killer idea first?

Let’s Start At The Beginning

Why do you want to start your own business?  That’s the first question to answer.  The answer to this question can actually help you figure out what kind of business.

  • Do you want to work for yourself?  Get rid of bosses?  Feel an accomplishment that you built something? Control your destiny?
  • Do you want a work/life balance?  Be careful about this one.  Most small business owners work an awful lot—many more than their corporate employee colleagues.
  • Do you want to get rich?
  • Do you like the risk/reward of starting and running a business?
  • Do you want to work people of your choice—and not A$$ho@$?
  • Are you stalled out at your current organization?
  • Do you want to create a business out of something you are passionate about?
  • Do you think you can do it better?

Next Step—What Business do You Want To Start?

Do you have a plan or idea that you’ve been storing in the back of your mind for a long time?  Does it make it to your New Year’s Resolution list or you Life Goal list on a regular basis?  If you have such a plan/idea, look back at your answer to “Why Do You Want to Start Your Own Business?” above.  Does your plan/idea serve that reason?  For example, if you want to start a restaurant but your reason for starting your own business is work/life balance, then the back of your brain probably knows that those two don’t go together.  If you want/need security, than, again, you probably know that deep down inside and aren’t really willing to put that at risk by really starting your own business.

If your idea for a business  is perfectly suited to your reason for wanting to do this, then there is some other reason that it hasn’t happened yet.   Some possibilities:

  • Analysis paralysis.  This was mine.  I wanted to think out every possible ramification and pre-plan for each eventuality.  I bought and read every book I could get my hands on.  I went to seminars, talked to experts and still didn’t move forward.  The key issue here is that you can never be ready enough before you start because some of the most important things that make you ready to run and succeed at your business are the experiences you have in running your business.  Even if you’ve run several businesses before, you will not be able to pre-plan all the things that can happen.
  • Fear of failure. I guess it would be nice to be able to out plan failure.  It just isn’t realistic, though.  Depending on how you define failure:  not meeting expectations, not making enough money, not finding your market, not having enough cash flow, not growing as fast as expected, growing faster than expected (OK, maybe that one isn’t failure), going bankrupt–most start-ups fail.  You make adjustments, you try again, you try something else.  Fearing failure is a lot like a four year old fearing growing taller.  It is a necessary part of the process.
  • Lack of time. This may be the reality, but if you don’t make the time, then it won’t happen.  You CAN make time to do what is important.  Steven Covey taught us to do what was important.  To begin with the end in mind.  What does you business look like in your future?  What does it provide you? Money?  Joy? Autonomy? Isn’t it as important as the other things that you are doing?  Carve out one task a day or one task a week to work on.  After a couple of months, you will have made progress and you will be on your way.  Once your business starts to become REAL in your eyes, then it will be easier to put it at the head of the line, or at least in the line, of what you’re working on.
  • Not enough money.  Build a sufficient business plan to persuade someone to help with the money.  Ask friends, family, skilled colleagues who could help.  Figure it out.

Just Start

There is a great gook about this, Just Start by Leonard A. Schlesinger and Charles F. Kiefer.  Take the risk.  Learn from it.  Move closer to your dream.

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Get Better At Your Job. Now.

How Good Do You Want To Be?

What kind of employee do you want to be?  What kind of a manager?  What kind of a leader?  What kind of a boss? What kind of a sales person?  What kind of a General Manager?  What kind of an Executive?  This is a serious question (or I guess several serious questions).  Do you want to be “OK” at your job?  Do you want to be good at it?  Or do you want to be extraordinary?  What is your ideal performance?  Are you hitting it?

If you’re not hitting it, I’m not going to ask you why not.  That conversation is for another time.  I’m going to ask you what, precisely, would you be doing if you were performing at your ideal level?  Would you be spending more time at something?  Would you be finishing things (in a more timely manner)?  Would you be talking to people you aren’t talking to?  Would you be hustling harder?  Would you be less complacent? Would you be getting better results?  Would your boss be happier with you?

What Would It Take?

Write down the things that you would be delivering if you were hitting your ideal job performance.  Be precise.  Look at the list.  What do you have to do differently than you are doing now to get those results?  Would you be on the Internet as much as you are?  Would you be taking hour lunches?  Would you be wasting your time in hour long meetings that could get the same results in 15 minutes?  Would you be going along to get along?  Would you be delegating better?  Leading more? Would you be more focused on what you are doing–all the time?

Do you work like you want to be the best?  Or do you work like you want to be “OK?”  The difference is a change in attitude.  Get serious about what you’re doing.  Don’t treat it like a job–9 to 5–it’ll be here tomorrow if I don’t get it done.  Treat it like a dead-serious goal.  You’ve GOT to get it done.  You’ve GOT to increase your performance.  You’ve GOT to keep it moving.

Try changing your attitude–even for a day and notice the difference.  It is much more fun, interesting and fulfilling when you are ALL IN.

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