Awake The Giant!


Many people, maybe you perhaps, go through much of life living their days in a relatively state of complacency and routine. Each morning is a regular routine, the trip in to work is essentially the same route, taking approximately the same amount of time to travel. The work day might vary every so often with training or a unique encounter with a customer, but as you look back at the past month’s or years in a job, the days blend pretty much in a sea of normalcy.

At the close of the work day, the trek back home is made, another meal prepared and consumed, an evening spent and the cycle repeats itself. This life you’re living isn’t bad; it’s far from it perhaps. Your happy in fact, and generally content. Sure you have your moments with problems, challenges, frustrations and setbacks – we all do. However, you’ve also got your moments of challenges overcome, tasks completed, successes realized. Nothing is really wrong at all.

So if all this is true, if nothing is really wrong, why is it that from somewhere deep down inside, you occasionally feel this tremor; this stirring of something slumbering? Physically there may be nothing going on; it’s not indigestion, nor is it your last meal breaking down into nutrients and waste. No, something else is stirring restlessly from within; something far from physical – much more metaphysical. It might be hard to put into words beyond what I’ve done here but if you’ve felt it you know what I refer to.

It starts with a general awareness you get that something is stirring. That stirring is in response to what’s going on around you; your stimulated in some way with your environment or maybe someone you’re interacting with. If you fail to tune in to that deep inner feeling, it passes. There’s no harm done, you return to the life you’re leading and it subsides. It never really goes away completely, but it slumbers again for a period. Ah, but if you’re dialed in, attuned to the stirring; if you really live that moment in full self-awareness, you my friend, have the opportunity to awake the giant!

Some of you will never know what I’m referring to here. For you, this will be simply a romanticized post of whimsy and theatrics; a poetic rambling of nonsense to be dismissed. Might actually be the majority of you come to think of it. No matter. There are only so many Harry Potter’s, Frodo Baggins, Christopher Columbus’ and Sir Edmund Hilary’s in our world.

Or is that a falsehood? After all, don’t each of us star as the leading character in our own life stories? We are the ones that compose our lives, write our tales and no one else. So what kind of story are you writing? Is it a story filled with highs and lows, repeated defeats, struggles of mental health, loved one’s lost, and interjected moments of triumph and victory? Or is it a huge volume of mundane, commonplace, daily routines; where your decisions are which cereal to have at the start of your day?

What makes you come alive? What shakes the Giant within and gets you feeling invigorated? Have you found that yet? If you’ve had that feeling why aren’t you doing more to feed that feeling more often? And for each of us it’s different isn’t it? For we are on a quest of sorts. We’re on a journey from our present to our future self. In the stories that make good adventures such as Treasure Island or The Lord Of The Rings, hero’s don’t always recognize themselves as such. They start expecting life to be ordered and highly predictable and then some event comes along that changes all that.

If you’re waiting for pirates to abscond with you or some dwarves to come knocking at your door to take you on a quest, you might be waiting a rather long time – waiting your life away. Your stimulus; your calling, might just be internal and not external – the giant within. If you feed it, it grows. If you ignore it, it diminishes until it’s such a far cry from itself it’s barely recognizable.

For there are many adventures still to be found in 2018. While some are thousands of miles away, some are right where we live – where you live – all around you. There are tyrants and victims, the oppressed and the hungry, lives to be saved and people to be helped up. There are those to advocate for, some to be rescued, and the hero to do all these things and more isn’t charging in on some distant horizon. The hero my friend is – perhaps – the giant that slumbers within Y-O-U.

Sure, go on and nod your head in disbelief. Jim Hawkins didn’t believe it, nor did Frodo when talking to Gandalf. Most hero’s at some point say, “But I am only one! What can I do?” Ah, but there is a slumbering giant within us all my friend. Imagine how powerful we might be if we not only awoke the giant within us but stirred the giant in others to join us; to work with us, to journey with us! Then what could we not do collectively together?

Now the next time you feel this stirring from within, pay heed my friend. Ask not where it comes from but rather what is it in response to around you that stirs it?

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Not Feeling As Grateful As You Should?


If you count yourself among those in the workforce, think back for a moment to the last time you were unemployed . If it was a brief period where you were out of work you might not have felt any desperation, but if it was a prolonged period, you’ll appreciate the state you emerged from. Appreciate not from any endearment of course, but appreciate from the point of having great respect for what it felt like.

If you go back in your memories, you might remember the anxiety and worry; the fear of not knowing how long it would be until you found a new job. Maybe you can recall the constant mental energy that your unemployment consumed. Any time you took a break from your job search to do something else, you felt like you should be job searching, so things that typically brought you joy failed to do so. Even if you did escape the concerted thought required to job search successfully, it was for the briefest of times, and then you’d be right back consumed with your unemployment.

At some point, I wonder if you thought to yourself, “When I do get my next job, I’m going to be so grateful; I’m going to do my best to work hard at rewarding the trust somebody will show in hiring me.” Did you think something along these lines? Maybe you even went so far as to make a promise down on your knees in a prayer? “Help me find a job and I’ll (fill in the blanks)”.

Okay now back to the present. Here you are and yes your thankful you’re back among the working. So about that prayer where you promised something in return for a job…? So about that gratitude you’d feel and hard work you’d show everyday once you were working…? How are you doing?

Have you slipped back by any chance into the old, comfortable you? Has your status as a working person and the income it provides that offsets your expenses lulled you back into old habits that might have been responsible in part for your previous unemployment? If so, why is that? Did you or didn’t you promise yourself that things would be different if and when you found your next job? So what happened?

One explanation might be that the job you ended up getting is a far cry from the job you’d imagined at the time you made those promises and had those feelings of future gratitude. Had you known you’d end up where you are now, you wouldn’t have been so grateful or desperate. Really? If that’s the case, you wouldn’t mind returning to being out of work? Think on that. You don’t really want to be back there again do you? I mean, thinking all day long about finding a job, watching what you spend, doing without and the only things rising are your worry, anxiety, fear, desperation, debt and depression.

Human nature being what it is, maybe you have slipped back into the old you – behaving the same way, as your actions are products of your thoughts, and your thoughts are similar to pre-unemployed days. There’s a saying that goes, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” Does this saying in this respect apply to you?

Okay so grudgingly you admit you’re not as thankful as you were when you got that call that offered you the job. That’s a day you don’t mind remembering at all. Oh it was good! So were the moments you told someone close to you that you’d been hired and of course the first pay.

Of course this job you have now might not be your dream job. Yes, it could be that you took this job you’ve got now as a transition job – just to curb the financial bleeding of money out. The thing is, it’s taking longer to find the right job than you’d ever have imagined, and there is a part of you that resents this current job,  as it seems to be a reminder some days of the difference between were you thought you’d be and where you are. Is that however, any justification for taking your own feelings of poor self-worth with you into your current workplace and spreading that disappointment and negativity around? Is this how you show gratitude for their faith in hiring you back when you were feeling desperate?

If we’re completely objective here, or if we look at things from the perspective of the employer, no it’s not fair. The baggage you’re carrying with you about your career aspirations and how things have worked out is yours and yours alone. This employer who brought you aboard by hiring you doesn’t deserve anything but your best. If you’re moving on to something better soon (well that’s the plan anyhow), that’s fine, but while you’re in the here and now, you’ve got a job to do.

In other words, as you go through your day, make sure your invested in the work you’re getting paid to do. Don’t let your thoughts wander too far into the future, thinking about what you’d rather be doing. These thoughts can, if not checked, make you miserable in the present and miserable workers aren’t attractive to employers. The last thing you want is to be let go.

Gratitude is best shown in the attitude you bring and the value you add.

Anyone Getting Asked What Animal They’d Be?


“If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?”

Even though I know the purpose behind this question, I cringe every time I hear it. For starters, it’s old, tired and used so often as an example of a bizarre question that I wonder if anyone out there actually asks it any more. If you’ve been on the receiving end of this question recently, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Okay, so the point of the question; I mean, what purpose does it serve? Fair enough. That’s a good starting place for any potential question coming your way – know what’s behind the question; the purpose it serves. This type of question was often included in an interview to see how a candidate thinks on their feet when given something unexpected.

These days many people prepare for their upcoming interviews by enlisting the help of a Job Coach, Employment Counsellor, Career Counsellor etc. These people typically help by readying the applicant to succeed by having mock interviews. They anticipate questions that employer’s may ask, then coach their clients on how best to go about answering those same questions.

As an employer, it makes sense that in evaluating the applicants they interview, they want to see a person think and respond as themselves, not someone who is just regurgitating what they’ve memorized or been told what to say. To safeguard against this possibility, they may throw in the odd question that no one could reasonably be expected to ask. For decades now, some interviews have used the animal question or some version of it such as, “What fruit would you be?”, “What colour would you be?” or “What superhero would you be?” and of course “Why?”

Some think it is imperative to choose an animal that has qualities that relate to the job being applied to. A commissioned Salesperson choosing an aggressive animal, someone being expected to make a long-term commitment choosing a dog because of its loyalty etc. As for colour, fruit, superhero etc., it’s the same idea – pick one that you can relate to the desired qualities of the job you are applying to.

Me? I’ve found very few employer’s are using these as much anymore. Their questions are limited by the time set aside for interviews, and the information they need is better obtained asking directly relevant questions.

When I’m conducting mock interviews with those I serve, the closest I come to this is my last question which is simply, “Impress me.” I find it serves the purpose of being unexpected and as I observe their reaction I can see it has the desired impact of having them pause to think. It then gives them the latitude to tell me whatever they feel would best sway my opinion of them in their favour. Think of it like being asked what your greatest accomplishment has been, what you’re proud of, what I would truly find remarkable or something to note about you as we draw this interview to a close. In other words, it’s a chance to make a last impression on me the interviewer. And yes, relate it in your own way to the job you’re applying for now.

The animal question specifically though? I cringe. The way to answer this is easy. Answer quickly instead of stalling for time and stay away from anything questionable such as a weasel, snake or rat. Even if you like these personally, stereotypes don’t endear them to a lot of interviewers. Or be contrary and provocative if you wish and take your chances.

The thing about this question is its comparatively weak and has questionable benefit to anyone contemplating whom to hire. If you nail all the other 8 questions asked and bomb the animal question, you’ll likely still impress. Conversely, answer the animal question well but fail to impress when asked the more relevant questions and all you’ve got is the knowledge of what you’ll choose to be if/when you get asked to choose your next life form. How likely is that to happen?

There are all kinds of versions of the bizarre, unexpected question. “If you were a brick on the wall, which would you be and why?” is another. These also get asked if the interview suspects your answers sound too rehearsed, too practiced, anticipated and the answers simply robotic. So yes, they serve a purpose beyond just playing head games with poor unfortunate interviewees. Most interviewers respect their own time – and yours by the way – far too much to add unnecessary questions.

So I wonder, as an applicant in an interview, when was the last time you got asked such a weird question? Could be this question and others like it are out-dated and not worthy of being delved into much anymore, or perhaps they are confined to certain types of jobs.

Do they ask potential Brokers and Financiers what currency they’d choose to be and why? Has Richard Branson ever been asked to choose between being a Snail or an Aardvark and explain his rationale for making such a choice? I doubt it.

I ponder if Donald was ever asked, “If you could be a playing card, which one would you be and why?” Maybe he answered belligerently that he’d be a Jack of course because they are the ‘trump’ card? Ooh, a groaner!

 

Want To Get Past Probation At Work?


Hooray! You’ve landed yourself a new job! If you were unemployed, all that stress of looking for work is behind you now. If you left one job for this one, you’ve got a lot to look forward to, presumably this opportunity has more for you than where you worked last. Congratulations either way!

Your goal has actually shifted in any event, from finding a job to maintaining this job. So how long is your probationary period? 3 months is a good guess, but it might be longer. Oh, and if it’s a contract job, you’ll be hoping perhaps to perform so well they’ll keep you on. The same is true for many of you out there who land yourself a seasonal job for the holiday season approaching. Unless of course you’re the new Mall Santa; your job has a definite end date just before Christmas day!

Here then are some things to do to maintain that new job. Again, congratulations!

  1. Show up when you’re scheduled. It sounds completely obvious I know, but I’m continually surprised by the number of people who upon taking a job, think it is well within their rights to show up late or not at all. When your name is on the schedule, you’re being counted on to be at work. You might have good reasons to be absent or running late, but just the same, your new employer has a business to run and needs employees there to do the work.
  2. Get your childcare in place now. This isn’t exclusive to single parents. Get childcare arranged now – before you start a job – and work on getting a back up on call if your primary source of childcare isn’t available. In other words, a private sitter won’t watch your child if they are ill, or on vacation, have an accident; maybe even if they have medical appointments of their own one day – and they will. Don’t plan on figuring this out after you accept a job; you’ll be too busy.
  3. Dress the part. You want to last don’t you? Okay then, fit in. Now I know that individualism counts, that it’s your right to express yourself as you see fit, and yes, if people don’t accept you for who you are then that’s their problem. Sure, this all sounds noble and under many circumstances I’d agree entirely. It’s also just a tad self-serving too. If the job calls for safety equipment to be worn, wear it as it’s designed, not how you think looks most fashionable. If you interact with the public, keep in mind it’s not just your right to express yourself that’s on display, so is the reputation of the employer who hired you. Keeping up that desired image is expected of you.
  4. Be positive. Be friendly and accentuate the positive. People generally like being around people who are optimistic, personable and yes the odd smile goes a long way. Try a little experiment today – smile and see how many people smile automatically back at you. It’s a reflex motion!
  5. Stay until your shift is over. Cutting out early gets noticed. If you expect to get paid right up until your shift ends, you are expected to work until your shift ends. When you’re off at 5 p.m., that doesn’t mean you start putting on your coat and heading out the door 10 minutes early so you get to your car at 5 p.m.
  6. Pitch In. When appropriate, lend a hand to others. By appropriate, I mean make sure your own job gets completed and helping others doesn’t distract you from doing what’s expected of you. Where possible, a simple, “Hey can I help?” might win you some goodwill, get you noticed and signal to others that you’re a team player.
  7. Be careful who you listen to. At the start of your job, you haven’t any idea who the gossips are, the idle workers, the ones Management has targeted as in line to be let go. Be wary of comments, advice or conversations that just feel wrong, paint the employer in a bad light, or taint anyone badly.
  8. Focus on the work. Make sure the job you were hired to do is actually your focus. While you want to get along, you’re under the microscope more than the other long-standing employees. You’re being evaluated and if you can’t hit targets, seem to be standing around more than working etc., they’ll cut you loose and hire someone else.
  9. Ask for feedback. If you’ve got a 3 month probation period, ask how you’re doing long before you get surprised with being released. It’s too late to say, “What? Why?” You should have been told any concerns so you could improve in any areas they identified as needing attention, but it’s still your responsibility to find out how you’re performing. Ask your Supervisor this one, not a co-worker.
  10. Show some enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is my mantra; it’s the number one quality employer’s want in their employees. It’s no longer enough just to, ‘do the job for a pay cheque’. Employers look for workers with some passion, some investment in what they are doing; people who understand WHY they do what they do and HOW what they do contributes to the overall success of the organization.

I’m happy for you! Yeah! Follow the above and I you’ll hopefully keep your job long past your probationary period. Getting hired and staying employed are two different skills; don’t start coasting now.

Time; How Much Have You Got?


“I’ll get around to that one day.”

“I can do it tomorrow”.

“That’s important sure, but I’ve got lots of time.”

So how much time do you have and how can you be so sure? Honestly, you don’t know how much time you’ve got; none of us do. Generally speaking, when we’re young we don’t even think about how much time we’ve got, we just enjoy the here and now. As we move into our teens we start looking a few years ahead – milestones like getting a driver’s licence, graduating from high school, our first jobs, plans for the upcoming weekends have us looking ahead, but not too far down the road. Soon we look into the future and see the day we’ll move out, maybe plan a wedding date, think about having children, a better job, etc.

Fast-forward a bit and we’re suddenly much more appreciative of the concept of time; but we still believe we have lots left. For the first time we start seriously regretting some of our previous choices. Sure we might have regretted things in our childhood, but it’s hard thinking of any major decisions we made that had long-lasting implications. Ah, but as a teenager or young adult, we’d go back if we could and take back some of the things we said, actions we took, hurt we caused.

Some of those regrets might even be preventing us from doing things we’d like today. Dropping out of high school or taking college-level courses instead of university prep courses . Who would have thought we’d change our minds and actually want to go to University? Didn’t see that coming!

In the latter stages of our lives, we’ll hopefully look back and not have too many regrets; if we don’t, we’ll have lived a life worth living we assume. Maybe we’ll have made a difference in the world, had a big extended family, seen the world, lived in the dream condo or home we pictured as a young adult. Who knows? Depends what we consider important enough. One thing seems pretty clear now: the older we became, the more we appreciated the saying, “Time flies.” Where did it go?

Of course you’ll have noticed I skipped over the 30 – 75 or so time period. Rather a large part of one’s life to skip! You might figure that 45 year period or so is enough time to make some readjustments, mend some mistakes, figure a few things out that we thought we had right. Maybe we have that time and maybe – just maybe we don’t. What if life expires at 33? 53? 96? 25? Time is one thing we haven’t solved – how much of it is ours to spend.

How we perceive time decides whether we see ourselves as having a lot or a little. I could show you two people – each 32 years old, and one would tell you she’s too old to head on back to school; that time has robbed her of that choice. The other would say she’s going back to school because it’s the rest of her life in front of her and that’s a lot of life to live. How can they both see things so differently? Perception.

How we perceive Time (the big one with a capital, ‘T’) becomes our reality. We might figure – YOU might figure to be more accurate – that time is one thing you’ve got a lot of. Because you can’t know with any certainty how much you’ve got, why worry about it? Just enjoy things in the here and now. What’s so wrong with figuring it will all end in our 80’s or 90’s so there’s no rush to choose a career, save for the future, start a retirement savings plan or fix that relationship. As Mick and the boys sang, “Time is on my side.”

Hmm… imagine you’re in a gift store and you spot some hourglasses. The sand is yellow, green, blue, etc. and catches your eye. Each holds a finite amount of sand, and there’s a multitude to choose from; 1 minute, 3 minute, 10 minute timers. You choose one you like and whatever one you chose, you get no more or less than the contained amount. Life is like that – except we are given the timer without knowing how much sand we’ve got in our hourglass. When it runs out, it runs out. The only thing wrong with the analogy? You can flip the hourglass over again and again and it goes on and on. When your life timer runs down, there is no flip.

Imaging we have a lot of time left to live can be wonderful as we plan for the future. It can motivate us to get going and start working to achieve our long-term goals. However, think back to school where the teacher gave you some essay to write and you figured you had weeks to get it done. You put it off for precisely that reason didn’t you? Then as it dawned on you that the deadline was looming, you got down to work – you had to – and you pulled it off. Sometimes therefore, believing we have a lot of time left can hinder and not help us get going.

Whether you feel any urgency to get going on your goals is entirely your business. Put off getting started at your own choosing but realize time might rob you of that chance – or rather, you might rob yourself.

 

Has Your ‘Get Up And Go’, ‘Got Up And Gone’?


Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut? You know, floating along day after day, not really mentally invested in things the way you used to be? Things you once found stimulating and couldn’t wait to get at no longer give you pleasure and they haven’t been replaced with other things to do?

I suppose it depends on how long you’ve been in this state, but if this lack of interest in things has been something you’ve noticed is becoming your new normal, you want to pay attention. Oh and by the way, I don’t mean pay attention to what I’m writing here, I mean pay attention to your inner voice that might be telling you something is up.

It’s that inner voice that tells you something is amiss that you can’t get around isn’t it? I mean, to friends and co-workers, you can generally fool most of them, smile robotically instead of genuinely being happy, be present in body even if you’ve left the scene in your mind. Yes, you can fool a lot people and seem to be your old self, but on the inside, where you know yourself more intimately than anyone else ever could or will, you know something peculiar is going on; something isn’t right.

Now you can do what a lot of people do, which is figure you’re just going through a phase, put it down to a change in the seasons, some mid-life crisis that’s normal etc. In short, you can do nothing and assume things will work themselves out. Maybe in the short-term, this might even be the case.

However, when you notice that your lack of interest and motivation to take part in activities is happening more often and you just don’t find pleasure in many of the things you once did, there could be a greater cause for concern. I mean, how long should you wait before getting some professional opinion on your mental health?

Not being a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist, nor a Mental Health Counsellor, I’m certainly not qualified to give you the expertise those practitioners do. At the same time, I’ve interacted with them on a professional level enough that they’ve passed on things to look for; warning signs if you will.

Now it’s normal to have your interests change over time. So yes, you might have once found bowling was an activity you really enjoyed once a week, but your interest faded and you started spending more time working on needlepoint or you turned to rock wall climbing. The activities themselves aren’t anything to get hung up on, it’s that you moved from one thing to another. What I’m referring to here is to be conscious of when you lose interest in something and it’s not replaced with an interest in anything new. Were it one thing, that wouldn’t sound any alarm, but when that pattern is repeated again and again, such as at work, around the house, the family, friends, etc., well, now you’ve got to pay attention.

Reclaiming the motivation and interests you once had can be quite the process. You might choose to start with a medical check up. Please go and do this for those around you but more importantly do it for yourself. You owe yourself this one. Don’t wait until you have some full-blown major issue and the Doctor says, “Had we caught this earlier we could have done such-and-such but that’s no longer an option.” Yikes! Then you’ll be saying, “I thought I could handle it on my own” or, “I thought this was normal.”

You might have Depression, but I’m not diagnosing anyone – I’m not qualified. Sure things might pass, but not always or likely, not without an intervention and possible treatment. Maybe the Doctor recommends a Mental Health Counsellor, medication or some other options, or maybe they do in fact tell you not to worry. No matter what they might tell you, it is better that you check in and lay things out so they can make a proper assessment.

You are the expert of you. You know when things aren’t normal. In our hustle and bustle society, pressure comes at us more often and from more sources than ever before. Yet, we have more options to take part in things from which we should derive pleasure too. If enjoyment and happiness are becoming harder to find in more parts of your life, heed the signs.

Take work as an example. You may have found that the job you’ve got has become truly a labour. It’s taking an exhaustive amount of energy to drag yourself out of bed, go through the routine of getting ready and you’ve come to just hate going in. You’ve called in sick when you’re not more and more, you’re taking a low profile and only doing what is necessary to keep your job, and you get out as fast as you can at the end of the day – maybe even skipping out early. But when you’re there, you’ve never really mentally checked in at all.

Looking for another job is something you pay lip service to, trolling websites but really there’s no concerted effort to update your résumé or keep any social media profile up.

If you see yourself being described here, reach out to a Doctor or Mental Health Counsellor and sooner rather than later. You’re worth it.