Archive for July, 2018

Success To Significance

July 18th, 2018

“No one stumbles upon significance. We have to be intentional about making our lives matter” – John C. Maxwell

What we do matters. For most of us building a purposeful and successful career is something that we all aspire to do. After all no one really aspires to be unsuccessful or to have a meaningless career. The reality is we invest way too much time and blood, sweat and tears for it to not provide a degree of reward, enjoyment and fulfilment. But are we missing out on true reward by focusing all of our efforts on being successful rather than creating significance?

As John Maxwell notes, no one stumbles upon significance. It requires intentional effort, time and planning. It takes time to explore and answer the ‘big’ questions that help us define what significance means for each of us. Questions such as: How do I create greater purpose and impact? What mark do I want to leave and where – in what communities? How do I build and maintain relevance and purpose in my career for the next 5, 10 or 15 years? Does my current role / company provide me with the right future opportunities to help me on this path? These big questions are hard questions to answer and as a result are often relegated to the too hard basket or for ‘later in the year’. After all nothing is actually broken, so for many there is no urgency to change or we tell ourselves that ‘we should just be grateful for our lot’. The danger is ‘later in the year’ can all too easily become next year or the year after.

In working with many senior executives, it is not uncommon to hear of highly successful career stories that have offered wonderful foundations – stability, security, challenge and reward. However at some point these pillars no longer seem to be the ultimate driver and questions start to be asked about creating greater value. Often our motivations change with career experience and what was once really important has slipped down the focus and priority ladder. This is not to say that success is not important – it is and it is a vital component of creating significance. Too often though when these questions arise there is a temptation to think I just need a new job, try a new company or perhaps try a new career. Fundamentally though what you need to ask yourself is ‘Do I want to switch jobs or companies; or do I want to switch to a life that matters through what I do?’

Author of Intentional Living, John Maxwell talks about the trap that many of us fall into when we focus on success: ‘If I do enough and have enough I will be fulfilled’. The challenge with this mindset is when we aren’t fulfilled we tend to question our capabilities, our value and ultimately ourselves. As Maxwell notes, success is great but significance is lasting. The added bonus is it also generates higher levels of energy, purpose and opportunity.

Creating lives and careers of significance require us to fundamentally switch our focus from what can do for ourselves to what can we do for others. This does not mean that we live a life denying what we want for the sake of pleasing others. Rather it is about drawing upon our innate knowledge, skills, strengths and motivations to contribute to the success of others.

Creating significant lives and careers takes time. It is a journey and much like climbing a ladder requires us step up the rungs to reach the top. The problem is too many of us stop before we reach the top rung. Maxwell talks about moving through the ladder of significance: survival (focus being on stability) to success (focus on ourselves) to significance (focus on others).
So how do we build career significance? I would encourage you to consider the following 5 tips:

1. Know your strengths, and stay with them: It is much easier to create a career of significance when we know what our strengths are. We are in a position to give freely and generously and operate with greater intuitiveness, insight and impact.

2. Identify demand: Know where your strengths are valued and required and place yourself in a position to generate demand for them.

3. Establish your plan: Be intentional about what you do, where you do it and with you do it.

4. Define your position: The ability to articulate your plans, intentions and direction not only provides you clarity but also allows your networks to actively and confidently support your path.

5. Connect: Let people know what your intentions are and most importantly why. When others can see the genuine motivation you have they are more inclined to support and contribute to your path.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts,

The Power of Reconnection

July 4th, 2018

“We are in the connection economy, where trust and relationships are the new currency” – Seth Godin

Last week a card arrived in the post from a long lost uni friend which both caught me by surprise and delighted me in equal portions. I was also particularly touched with the obvious time, thought and effort that had been taken to reach out and reconnect. It was clear that the card had already been returned to sender once, with the second effort made to track me down through an old family address, which in turn somehow made it to a more current address before making it’s way onto me.

With both of us leading lives that had seen us relocate around the country and globe we lost touch several years into our careers for no other reason than the busy-ness of life. Spurred on by some recent significant events my friend explained how they had given her cause to think of me and wonder what I was up to.

Not only did her letter really make me smile, it also made me realize just how much power there is in the act of reconnecting. In working with many senior executives who are working or who have recently worked abroad, reconnection is a hot topic. Often there have been years between the proverbial drinks and there is huge reluctance to re-engage for fear of being perceived as disingenuous or feeling awkward. However when we do learn how to genuinely re-engage the benefits are enormous. In fact it is in failing to reconnect that can all too easily be the real missed opportunity.

Adam Grant, Wharton Business Leader and author of Give and Take explores how our success has become increasingly dependent on the interactions we have with others rather than on the individual drivers of success such as commitment, hard work and passion. In analyzing our networks he classifies them into three groups: strong, weak and dormant ties. It is this third group – defined as people you used to know but don’t keep in touch with – that he believes is the most easily dismissed and undervalued.

In a recent Inc. article he explained why he believes that dormant ties can be better for networking weak (people we’ve met but don’t really know) or even strong ties. All too often our strong ties give us redundant knowledge – they are likely to know the same people, operate in similar environments and do similar things. Dormant ties however tend to give us better information because they have a much more diverse network with different thinking and experience. Invariably they have been meeting new people, learning different things and ways operating so they can potentially open up whole new worlds you didn’t know existed

So how do we reconnect with our past networks genuinely and with purpose? I would encourage you to consider the 7 tips below.

1. Plan to reconnect: Get clear on who you want to reconnect with and why – the initial contact will always be made easier with a clear sense of purpose.

2. Identify the best way to connect: Determine what is the most appropriate way to connect – do you pick up the phone, send an email or initially engage on social platforms such as LinkedIn?

3. Embrace the awkwardness: It will feel a bit awkward and will require you to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway!’ Pretending that you are the best of friends and it is only natural that you would be making contact is inauthentic and can actually be more harmful than helpful.

4. Acknowledge the lapse in time: As with all communication, honesty is imperative. Be up front about the lapse of time and provide some sort of context for that time period – studying, working abroad, family commitments, new roles etc. When you admit it’s been a while and you want to catch up, it ‘s more genuine.

5. Explain ‘Why Now?’: Understand why you want to connect and be transparent about it. Draw a link between what has prompted you to get in touch and why eg: I have recently made the decision to relocate back to Australia and I know that you have successfully made that transition so was keen to hear what your tips and insights were.

6. Ask how they are: Seeking to understand your connection’s story is critical. They will no doubt also have been developing new skills, knowledge and connections so it is important to build awareness on what they have been doing. It also makes it easier to create genuine dialogue and opens the door for you to reciprocate in kind.

7. Offer to reciprocate: None of us like to feel as though we are doing all the asking or taking so it is important to offer your knowledge, skills and experience in return. You are also much more likely to want to engage when you work to establish a two-way benefit.

Why not set yourself a challenge to re-engage with 3-5 people who you believe can add value to what you do today!

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

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