People too often forget that it is your own choice how you want to spend the rest of your life
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Posts Tagged ‘clarity’

What’s Next: Are You At A Career Junction?

February 27th, 2017

At some point in our careers you will inevitably arrive at a critical career junction. Not because something has gone wrong, but often because lots of things have gone right. You have worked hard, delivered great work and built great teams and then all too easily you can find yourself asking ‘what’s next?’ In the early stages of our career the what’s next is often easier to answer as there appears to be more options available. However when this happens midway through your career after significant investment has been made to get to where you are, these junctions can feel a bit confronting.

For me, my significant career juncture was in making the decision to globally relocate and return ‘home’ to Australia. After seven years in the UK I was offered a very attractive role that offered significant career progression with the consulting firm I had been working with. On paper, the career benefits were obvious – career progression, fantastic learning, regional leadership responsibilities and greater profile in both the organization and the industry. I had loved living in the UK but ultimately I knew that I wanted to live in Australia and accepting this next position – which I was absolutely ready for –also meant staying in the UK for probably another 2-3 years minimum if I was to derive the benefits of the role.  Given the organization did not have a presence in Australia there was no option of internal relocation so the decision was not a light one.

Career junctures are largely arrived at as a result of movement or from the desire for movement. Whilst my career juncture was driven by a decision to move locations, for others these junctures may be the result of decisions made about types of work or ways of working. For some people it is about internal movement such as secondment, promotion or sideways moves; whilst others are about external movement out of an organisation. Some are looking to expand their opportunities whilst others are looking to reduce it. Some of these situations are within our control whilst others are not (eg restructures and redundancies). Regardless of why you have arrived at the juncture all involve conscious decision-making and often a shift or movement of mindset, approach and engagement.

As individuals most of us recognize the challenges of moving from one path to the next can be challenging and yet very few of us take the time to invest in the planning for it. For many the failure of focusing on this phase means that their desires for movement never materialise and we stay exactly where we are. Needless to say this can be extremely dangerous as we risk not only fulfillment but a loss of momentum and impact in what we do. For others this failure to plan can prove costly in terms of time wasted, loss of opportunity and misplaced energy.

Like many things in life, the best learnings in life often occur because of hardship and failure. Personally for me, I completely under-estimated the challenge of relocation and as a result had no real plan. I returned to a new city with few networks and to a market that largely didn’t exist in Australia. The lack of planning proved costly in terms of how I positioned myself to the market and the level at which I re-entered.

Whilst we all appreciate that we are operating in times of unprecedented change and volatility we all need to develop long term career goals. This is not about defining the name of the role (for many there is a good chance that these roles may not exist and will almost certainly not exist in their current form) but rather about what you want from your career: what you want to contribute to; how you want to work; and what you want to gain from your career.

So what are the critical elements of establishing your critical career goals? I would strongly encourage you to consider the 3 following building blocks:

  1. Build Clarity: Around what you can do (Skills, Knowledge, Experience); what you want to do (Values, Career Anchors) and where you think you best fit (Personality, People, Culture).
  1. Build Demand: Become the expert in what it is that you do and the way in which you do it. Learn how to position yourself as the expert and give people and organisations a reason to want to engage with you.
  1. Build Transferability: Identify where your skills and capabilities also apply. Remain relevant to the future of your business, your industry, and your networks and become nimble enough to adapt and leverage with the inevitable changes ahead.

Ultimately we are all free to choose what we do, but we are not free from the consequences of our choices. Choosing great career paths that continue to grow, provide fulfillment and purpose takes careful consideration. If you would like to explore ways to build clarity, demand and transferability, why not get in touch today.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

If you are currently at a career junction and would like to explore your options with a focused and actionable plan please call Margot on 0400 336 318.

What Are You Pinning Your Career To?

August 30th, 2016

Most of us will recall many a childhood party that involved a game of ‘pin the tail on the donkey’. Blindfolded and invariably spun around numerous times to disorient, we walked aimlessly towards a board with a picture of a donkey, firmly holding the missing tail and hoping to get lucky as we aimed to pin it to the right end of said animal. Many of us considered ourselves lucky if we even managed to connect the tail to any part of the donkey let alone the right end! Generally speaking there was lots of ensuing laughter at how ridiculously misplaced our judgement actually was.

Interestingly I meet many people who seem to have adopted a ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ approach to their career. Progressing through their careers blindfolded, directionless and hoping that their knowledge and skills are ‘pinned’ to the right job or manager inside their organization. Often they too find themselves disoriented and making poor decisions due to a lack of career planning or clarity about what they want.

Whilst we all know that rich and rewarding careers don’t just happen, too often career planning is something that is relegated to the ‘too hard’, ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I don’t know what to do’ baskets. Why? Because it is hard; and it does require time and action to figure out what you do want. It requires us to reflect, get curious about what is possible and challenge ourselves on what actions and directions to take. The risk though of not planning is finding yourself stuck or overlooked for new opportunities when they do arise. With no plan, how can we be ready to position ourselves for the right opportunities when they are presented?

Creating lasting relevant careers that offer genuine challenge and fulfillment requires you to ‘dig your well’ long before you are thirsty. As leadership expert John Maxwell explains, ‘if you are preparing today, chances are you will not be repairing tomorrow’. Preparation as he notes, doesn’t just begin with what you do, it begins with what you believe. If you believe that your success tomorrow depends on what you do today, then you will treat today differently.

As leaders we need to do this not only for ourselves but also with the people that we lead. Failing to understand what our people want, can and will do sees us risking retention of key performers, engagement and ultimately productivity. How can we ensure that we have the right people, in the right place at the right time if individuals don’t know what they want and leaders don’t know how to help them work it out?

Creating career choice and confidence requires us to build knowledge in three key areas: Clarity, Demand and Transferability. These three elements should form the basis of your career plan and be underpinned by strong networks that allow you to understand how you are regarded and to position yourself effectively.

  1. Build clarity: Around what you can do (Skills, Knowledge, Experience); what you want to do (Values, Career Anchors) and where you think you best fit (Personality, People, Culture).
  1. Build demand: Become the expert in what it is that you do and the way in which you do it. Learn how to position yourself as the expert and give people and organisations a reason to want to engage with you.
  1. Build Transferability: Identify where your skills and capabilities also apply. Remain relevant to the future of your business, your industry, and your networks and become nimble enough to adapt and leverage with the inevitable changes ahead.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


Creating Career Wealth

June 14th, 2016


“Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do….
If you’ve got talent, and you’ve maximised your talent, you’ve got a tremendous asset that can return ten-fold” – Warren Buffet
Essentially wealth really is anything that holds value. It is about creating a sense of prosperity and abundance in in the areas of our life that are important to us. A quick Google search reveals that the three key attributes of wealth are utility, scarcity and marketability.

In thinking about our careers, these attributes are not too different. Clarity, demand and transferability are three career attributes that will build value and drive your career forward. Given that we spend up to 70% or our waking time engaged in work related activities – week after week and year after year – it makes sense that we aim to create a high degree of value and reward in what we do.

So how do we use these three attributes to create genuine career wealth?

  1. Build clarity: Around what you can do (Skills, Knowledge, Experience); what you want to do (Values, Career Anchors) and where you think you best fit (Personality, People, Culture).
  2. Build demand: Become the expert in what it is that you do and the way in which you do it. Learn how to position yourself as the expert and give people and organisations a reason to want to engage with you.
  3. Build Transferability: Identify where your skills and capabilities also apply. Remain relevant to the future of your business, your industry, and your networks and become nimble enough to adapt and leverage with the inevitable changes ahead.

As with all successful components of our lives, habits play a key part in seeing us reach our potential. Building high value careers is no different. Below are 10 key habits that I believe underpin truly wealthy, successful and satisfying careers. How many do you practice?

  • Conduct Regular Audits:Gaining clarity on the areas highlighted above is not a once off event. Regularly check in and take a close look at where you are and where you want to go. Are your personal values aligning with your goals? Making this a regular habit will help maintain clarity and focus and more importantly make any required changes in a timely manner.
  • Value Your Time: Know your own strengths and play to them. Learn to identify the strengths in others and how you can best collaborate to achieve mutually beneficial goals and save time, effort and wasted energy.
  • Embrace Learning: Never assume that you know all there is to know about managing your career. Begin by investing time to acquire the right intelligence and know-how that will accelerate your career. Investigate key industry trends and challenges; recent business success stories; know who the key influencers and thought leaders are. Be proactive in educating yourself in what is required from both an industry and individual perspective.
  • Position yourself for recognition: This is not about endless self-promotion. Rather it is about building up your portfolio of accomplishments and positioning yourself for more opportunities and achievements. To do this successfully you need to seek feedback and input from your leaders and mentors both from within and outside your organisation.
  • Become curious: Ask questions – lots of them! Your outcomes and direction are greatly determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself and those around you. Seeking understanding and not merely responses will help create and open up new opportunities, solutions and pathways.
  • Practice Bravery: Low risk is often associated with stability. However continually opting for the low risk options leads to increased vulnerability as it reduces our resilience to deal with sudden and high level change. ‘Playing it safe’ with your career can in fact create higher risk through an inability to cope with the volatility and rate of change which is all to common in the market place today.
  • Strengthen your network: Invest in the right relationships and dedicate time and energy to them. Identify your key influencers and thought leaders, and a meaningful pathway of how to approach and engage with them. Build a networking plan that fosters authentic professional relationships where you can also offer valuable contributions.
  • Give generously: Acting with generosity requires you to be open. It is not restricted to just opening up our wallets but also our skills, ideas and knowledge. When we actively acknowledge the contributions and needs of others and are generous with providing recognition, time, networks etc. we often find that we are the unexpected beneficiary with increased levels of success and satisfaction.
  • Invest in the business of you: Understanding that our capacity to give and give generously is dramatically enhanced when we look after ourselves, is a critical part of our success. Investing in your health, your relationships, your learning and interests is not a nice-to-have it’s a must have!
  • Have fun! Seek out work that you love, with people you love and in environments that you love. You won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face or dispute the level of satisfaction and purpose you experience!

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways to enhance your career wealth for yourself and your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Why Strong Leaders Need Courage

May 17th, 2016

“I think I can, I think I can. I know I can”

– The Little Red Engine That Could
During a recent meeting with a client we found ourselves laughing about the need for a ‘little engine that could’ mindset: ‘Yes I think can, I think I can.… I know I can’, despite the apparent obstacles that lay in the way.

Most of us will recall the much loved childhood story about the train filled with toys for children that breaks down before reaching them. After asking several trains passing by for help over the hill and being derided for doing so, a little blue engine agrees to help. Even though she is small, the blue engine digs deep within herself to find the energy and capability to bring the train carrying the toys to the children on the other side of the hill.

We’ve all faced times where we have felt like the train loaded to the hilt with expectations and responsibilities, facing an uphill journey only to find ourselves without the resources to get over the hill. It might be that you are embarking upon a major project, looking to change jobs, streamline systems or managing difficult situations.

It’s normally in these times when there is little opportunity and limited support that the obstacles seem larger than life. It’s in these times that courage is required. Courage to think about alternative solutions, take a risk and step out. Courage to simply say ‘I can’ and not, ‘I can’t’.

Tapping into your personal courage takes some grit, but when you do, you can overcome uncertainty, intimidation, apathy and doubt. It also helps you move from situations where you find yourself ‘stuck’ to a world of expanded opportunities.

Courage is crucial in our rapidly changing world. However somehow it always seems easier to recognise, encourage and applaud it in others. Stepping out and applying it in our own lives often requires a great deal of risk and vulnerability, which for some invokes sheer terror or a feeling of weakness.

When you do recognise, develop and apply the power of personal courage though the benefits can be enormous. Not only can you break down the limitations of any situation, you can realise greater job satisfaction, career advancement and experience greater confidence and personal fulfilment.

Be clear on your direction /path: In order to bravely step out and ‘get over that hill’ you need to know that it is where you want and/or need to go. Confidence in your direction will be a solid anchor that supports your decisions.

Adopt a solution-oriented mindset: Barriers will always be there whether you look for them or not. Adopting a solution-oriented mindset not only allows you to focus on where you are going but forces you to consider alternatives that often prove to be more relevant, timely and efficient.

Ask for help: No one can do it alone. Harnessing the energy and talents of others will not only lighten the load but also bring fresh new approaches, ideas and ways to overcome obstacles.

Surround yourself with ‘Can Do People’: Don’t let the ‘nay-sayers’ derail you! Collaborating with people who also bring a ‘can do attitude’ will see you achieve your desired results faster and with less stress and angst.

Focus on one step at a time: Whist it is critical to know your end destination, it is just as important to know what the incremental goal posts are and ensure that they are achieved with quality and purpose. Acknowledging and celebrating these milestones will also build momentum and drive further forward action.

Start moving: ‘Clarity comes through engagement not thought’ (Marie Forleo). Often we don’t have all the answers at the beginning of the journey but upon moving we come to understand what works and what doesn’t. Momentum builds momentum but it does require a start.

To shift thinking and find solutions in both our businesses and careers we need to embrace courage on a daily basis. It sometimes means being comfortable operating in shades of grey rather than a definitive black and white. However when we do, it provides us with the power, knowledge and strength to take a lead role in solving workplace issues and enhancing both our personal performance and organisational effectiveness.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.


Is Your Career On Autopilot?

April 26th, 2016


“Your life is your story. Write well, edit often”

Susan Statham
How often have we travelled home at the end of the day, only to arrive with no real sense of time or conscious thought to the direction we were taking? We simply found ourselves there before we knew it because it was something that we had done a million times before. We didn’t have to put any real effort into the directions or paths we needed to take. We could quite simply step out and zone out.

Whilst most of us can travel on all to familiar paths in autopilot, we can’t afford to run our careers or businesses in this mode no matter how familiar or well worn the path before us has been. Yet all too often it is not until a jolt out of the blue occurs – a business restructure, the resignation of a key team member or the loss of a major client – that we seem to click back into an acute awareness of the landscape around us. All too often when this jolt happens we find that we have assumed way too much and responded way too little to the everyday events and things surrounding us.

Recently I have found myself working with several organisations navigating significant business change. For many individuals this has meant substantial changes to roles and the way they do business or at the other end of the spectrum, redundancy. What has been interesting is the varying way in which these individuals have responded to their situations. Whilst nearly all have found it initially difficult and confronting, some are navigating the changes with a strong sense of awareness about what the opportunity means for them and a feeling of control and ownership.  For others however the options are met with nothing short of significant loss and fear for the future.

Whilst the autopilot mode of going through the motions may yield results in the short term it can have a significant impact in the long term on how we think, assess, make decisions and move forward with our roles as leaders and in our careers. It can all too easily leave us feeling disempowered and lacking control. A key danger of the business and leadership autopilot mode is assuming that the past will ensure the future. The reality is the knowledge, skills and relationships that have got us to where we are today are not necessarily going to take us to where we want to go tomorrow.  What will is our ability to embrace new understandings, new solutions and new mastery. AND you can’t do this without being acutely aware of what is happening around you, how you respond and acknowledging that it is you who is sitting in the driver’s seat of your career. As is so often said, businesses own the roles whilst you own your career.

So before you find yourself in situations that see you calling out Mayday or sending off the emergency flares, I would encourage you to consider the following 6 steps that you can take to flick off the autopilot switch and regain a sense of career control:

  • Mix up your routine: Undertaking the same routine day in and day out often heightens the danger of ‘status quo’. It dulls our senses and ability to spot the opportunities and obstacles that lay before us. By changing up our everyday routine we are more likely to accurately recognise, assess and act on the current state of play in a more informed and timely manner.
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses: Gaining an accurate view of what our strengths and weaknesses are allows us to focus on what we do best, identify ways to collaborate with those whose knowledge and skills compliment ours and stay out of what we don’t do well.
  • Focus on honing your strengths: All too often we spend wasted energy and time on trying to ‘fix’ our weaknesses, when what we should be doing is focusing on how to hone and elevate our strengths. It is only when we do that we will be able to maximize our productivity, efficiency and levels of fulfillment in the tasks at hand.
  • Identify where they are most valued: To recognise where your knowledge and skills are best regarded – both immediately and in the long-term future – requires an investment of time, energy and planning.  Build a road map that identifies where they are currently being used, how and with whom you should be engaging with to ensure that you build future currency in your career.
  • Invest in your own learning: All too often we relegate our future learning and professional development opportunities to the organisation we work for. The danger is when business belts are tightened often the first thing that disappears is training. By taking proactive measures to invest in your own learning you will ensure that your skills, knowledge and networks remain up to date, fresh and relevant, which in turn sees you well positioned for your future preferred opportunities.
  • Build purposeful networks: Invest in the right networks – both internally and externally – and dedicate time and energy to them. If necessary conduct an audit to ensure that you have the right people to support where you want to go and you eliminate those that detract you from your path.

Switching out of auto pilot mode and back into ‘go-mode’ requires a shift in both mindset and habits. Whilst it does take an up front investment of both energy and time the benefits are enormous and long lasting: career confidence, clarity and purpose. What can you do today to flick off the autopilot switch?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways to reinvigorate your career with confidence, clarity and purpose, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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Remember Me? The Art Of Reconnecting

April 12th, 2016


“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold”
– Joseph Parry
During a recent discussion I overheard the statement that ‘your net worth depends on your net-work’ which in turn sparked lots of commentary around what and how people were doing to build, approach and engage with their networks. Interestingly many found it easier to discuss what steps were being taken to tap into new networks rather than reconnecting with old ones.

When speaking of ‘old’ or past networks many referred to them with a disappointed sigh as a missed opportunity or simply placed them in the too hard basket when talk arose about how they would actually re-engage. At the heart of it was a fear of being perceived as disingenuous or as a ‘taker’ only reappearing because of a need or agenda.

This fear is no more evident than when individuals find themselves looking to take on a new role or relocate cities or countries. There is no denying that our networks are critical during these times and often are sources for new roles and / or play a key part in how smoothly we transition. However our past networks can also play a critical role in our immediate success simply because of the way we now do business. With a much stronger need to innovate, collaborate and identify key outsourced business partnerships, our networks can be powerful influencers on how we achieve our outcomes.

Learning how to genuinely re-engage with our past connections can prove not only to be a key determinant of our future success and career direction it can also be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. 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 than 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 of operating so they can potentially open up whole new worlds you didn’t know existed. Reaching out to dormant ties rather than weak ones is generally more comfortable because of the shared experience and common history even if there has been a lot of water that has passed under the proverbial bridge.

So how do we re-engage 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.
  1. 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? Consideration should also be given as to whether or not it is easier to leverage a reconnection through any other known networks.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 and authentic.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

Reaching out to reconnect is often not easy – it requires an element of vulnerability and bravery to pick up the phone or push send on that email. Invariably though you will find that the person you are reconnecting with is delighted to learn that they their background and experience can offer support, insight and value to what you are now doing. Needless to say it is all in the way that you ask and approach but learning how to overcome our own fears and hesitations is the critical step.

Building and fostering your networks is an investment. As such it requires time and planning. 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.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways of building your own purposeful professional network including how to genuinely reconnect, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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