2020 Your Opportunity?


About this time of year, I read a lot of posts from colleagues or listen to them as they talk about the year ahead. What I read and hear is brimming confidence and hope that, “This is going to be my year!”

Well, I wonder about that. I mean, what do they mean? Generally they mean that things are going to be different; they plan on taking advantage of opportunities as they come up, really commit to something they want (and this generally in turn means self-improvement of a fashion).

However, I don’t see the required change in behaviour much of the time; oh there’s short bursts of it yes, but not the sustained, repetitive actions that in sequence result in real change. These false starts are sparked by initial good intentions, but without being repeated, no pattern of new behaviour comes about; the very behaviours that cumulatively form new reputations, nurture commitment and enthusiasm to keep going. Without a change in behaviour on a consistent basis, the, “This is my year!” rant fizzles out and is replaced by a defeated-sounding, Same old, same old.”

Opportunities you see are around us every day no matter what day of the year the calendar proclaims it to be. Sure January 1st is a good time to mentally adjust our thinking. However, the first of January is an external cue not an internal one. The internal cue is that voice that you know is there deep inside you that whispers all the time what it is you want most. It’s so palpable and real too isn’t it? I mean you know what you want most; whether it’s losing weight, a new job, the courage to tell someone just how much you love them, ask for a promotion, etc.

That internal voice is no louder on January 1st than it is the rest of the year. It’s just that the flipping of the calendar gives us permission to pay that voice a little bit more attention. And with people all around us making new year’s resolutions, that collective energy makes it easier for us to proclaim our own good intentions to change something and feel universally accepted and supported. In short, it’s easier to make a resolution to do something when others are doing the same thing.

However, there are those who believe that the slightest little slip up puts the whole resolution bit in jeopardy. So you have a slice of cake when out with friends and your inner voice that’s been at you to lose weight is drowned out by another voice that says, “Failure! Told you so!” And there goes that unblemished resolve to not eat fatty foods that taste great but detract from your goal. Well might as well pack in the, ‘lose weight’ resolution for another 12 month’s and try again. Nonsense! Don’t be so hard on yourself. Just start again.

Opportunities come up every day and many in any given day. I suspect however that many people fail to see opportunities for what they are until they pass. I include myself in this number too. On a small scale, we all have the opporunity to get up, walk over to a colleague and compliment them. Perhaps it’s something they’ve achieved at work or in their personal life. Or perhaps it’s the risk they took that you compliment them on rather than the result. (This by the way is one of the things the enlightened recognize and do more than others).

That doesn’t sound like a big opportunity does it? I mean choosing to get up, go over and say something nice to a colleague. Big deal you might think. Do it once and it’s noteworthy for it’s uniqueness. Do it a second time and a third time and it’s establishing itself as a new pattern. Continue with a pattern and you build a reputation. This is true whether it’s complimenting a coworker, visiting the gym, reading a book, going to concerts or anything in fact.

It’s the small every day choices we make that in the larger context we look back on and say we either seized an opportunity or let it slip past. Could we have lost that weight last year or three years ago? Sure we could have, but we missed those opportunities out of the choices we made. However, it’s 2020. On this day we could make the decision to seize an opportunity and resolve to commit to some new behaviours. Be kinder, be more forgiving, go a day without dessert – then maybe another, drive the speed limit rather than 20 km’s above it.

I’ve resolved to ask of three people how I might be better. I’ve yet to decide who the three will be, but I’m wanting to choose people who know me well. Why three? It’s manageable and until I hear what they have to say, I’ve no idea the effort required to be better will take to sustain such change over time. We’ll have to see…

Consider yourself one this day as you read. What opportunities are you hoping for and looking forward to in this coming year? To bring them about, what are you doing this month, this week and this day? For most opportunities require us to do things that put us in position to take advantage of them as they arise.

Cheers to you, to me; to us! For we are in this together.

 

Connect With People I Don’t Know? Why?


Every time I speak about social media and LinkedIn in particular, the question of who to connect to comes up. There’s obvious benefit in connecting with those you already know, as they can testify to your good work attributes, support you with leads on job opportunities and they can introduce you to others. But connect with people you don’t know; why would you do that?

First of all, connecting with people you don’t know is the only way you’re going to expand your current network of contacts. It’s the only way humans have ever done so in the entire history of mankind. The difference here is we’re meeting digitally and electronically rather than in person… at least the first time. By expanding our network, we increase the possibilities that somewhere in those connections, there will arise opportunities. When those opportunities arise, some you know will say you’re lucky, but by connecting with people you don’t know, you increase the odds of being considered for these opportunities. You make your own luck.

One of those opportunities is networking itself. You might start with people who also work for the same organization as you do, but whom you’ve never met. They may work in different departments or different physical buildings. So for example, you might connect with someone who works in Digital Communications and later consult with them about what guidelines you’re supposed to follow when communicating outside the organization. Having a relationship with that person prior to needing them can accelerate your need for a quick response and their level of engagement in responding to your request.

You may also benefit from connecting with someone you don’t know who is in the same field, with the same job title as the one you hold, but who works elsewhere. When you do this, you have an instant commonality; you can openly discuss best practices, new innovations, problems that require solutions and of course, opportunities. Each time you reach out to comment or offer up an idea, your reputation improves and so does your value proposition.

What you definitely don’t do is connect at 10:00 a.m. one day and at 10:05 a.m. ask this new connection who was a stranger 5 minutes ago to give you a job. If you do, don’t be surprised to receive no reply at all, find yourself disconnected or be told in some way that your request is inappropriate. Why would they feel any compulsion to help you when they know nothing about you? They aren’t going to risk their own reputation within their organization endorsing the application of someone they don’t know.

Yes the best way to help yourself is to extend yourself to assisting others. You’ll feel good for starters and what you may or may not hope for is a future reciprocal act. But don’t fret and think connecting with others is going to mean you’ll just end up helping a lot of other people and taking up more of your precious time. You might read an article they’ve posted and like it or comment on it. You could ask a question of someone (other than, “will you hire me?”) that pertains more to what it’s like to work where they do, what challenges they are facing or even simply letting them know you’re open to helping them if they’d ever like a conversation with someone in the field who works outside of their organization. See where it goes.

Many of the connection requests you accept will be from people who understand connecting is a good idea, but they never do anything other than connect. No matter, don’t fret about it and use this as your reason for not connecting with folks you don’t know. Sometimes the people I accept a connection request from suddenly reach out after a year or more of having no dialogue. What I don’t know is they’ve been reading some of my posts, felt they’ve come to know me and then when they’ve felt comfortable, it’s then they reached out. I suppose you could say they were evaluating my trust and sincerity; which they derived from what I post and the consistency of my messaging.

Make a friend before you need a friend. Look, we all need people to help us along. The most helpful people are those who feel some true connection in the relationship that’s been established. I hold in high regard some people I’ve never met in person and whom I likely never will. They come and go in my digital life; some I’ve helped quite a bit as evidenced by their words of thanks. Others have helped me and some have helped people I know by way of referral.

You may not want to be on social media for privacy and safety reasons. Enough said. No need to convince me as you may not want to be found by people from your past.

If you count yourself among those I’m connected to yet never met in person, thank you. I appreciate my connections, even the ones with whom the conversations have yet to begin. But there are many with whom I have conversations with on a regular basis and to you I extend my biggest thanks. I hope you see our connection as worthwhile too. It’s cool to think how much we can say with just our 8 fingers and 2 thumbs!

 

Work With Your Head And Your Heart


You can tell when people are in the right job. Conversely, you can also tell when people are in the wrong occupation, or perhaps when the person who was in the right job has lost something and should really move on. So what is it that makes a job right or wrong? In short, you need to have both your head and your heart in the work you do.

By, ‘your heart’, I refer to your passion or love for the work you do. It is this love that will get you through the hard times by delving deep into your reserves, pushing you to deliver more and succeeding. It is this love for the work you do that will have you seen to have a smile on your face and some energy in your actions as you go through your day.

By, ‘your head’, I refer to your knowledge, education, experience; in short, your know-how. This the training you’ve had, the skills you bring to the work you do and the focus you have during the time you’re on the job.

So the best people are in positions where they love what they do and they’ve got the skills, education, experience and general know-how which complement each other. I’m extremely confident you’ve experienced people that have one or the other but not both.

Take the person who as the heart to do the work but not the other. Here you’ll see someone who really wants to succeed, who tries hard, who is honestly doing their best because they really believe in what they’re doing. Unfortunately without the skills, education and experience behind them, they falter. They may not have the knowledge required to perform well. When you see a job posting requiring a certain degree of education and several year’s experience, the employer is attempting to make sure that the applicants they meet bring with them the, ‘head’ part of the two elements.

The opposite is just as common; people who have the skills, experience and ability to do the work, but who lack passion and heart for it. These people frustrate employers to no end because employers know just how amazing they could be if they’d just put more passion into their work. However, when it’s not there to begin with, no one can manufacture heart and desire; it has to come from the person and it has to come from within.

Now an interesting thing that many of us lose sight of is that we all evolve and grow; the result of which can be that the love and passion we once had for the work we do, can evaporate and depart. No doubt you’ve seen this too. The person who has lost their spark, seems to be doing just enough to get by but isn’t pouring any more of themselves into their work than the minimum required in order to get by.

I know some people who have lost their passion and love for what they once did and haven’t replaced that with something new. These are sometimes the folks that are trying to figure out what’s next in their working life, but who have yet to have anything really excite them enough to pursue it. You can find them all over the internet in chat forums, where they comment with negativity and cynicism – although they’ll pitch it as reality. It’s not that they want to be cynical or negative; they’ve just become jaded in their view of work. These people often have skewed views on employers, supervisors and management in general.

When your head and your heart are in the work you do or the work you’re pursuing, your days are more enjoyable, you’re happier in general and others can tell. Outside the workplace, these are the people who light up when asked about their jobs, who smile and are happy to speak of what they do because of the satisfaction they feel and the purpose in what they do. They can cite successes and our reaction is typically to say things like, “Wow, it sounds like that job is perfect for you”; and it is.

However, there are still many people who feel work is just work. It’s toil for money and employer’s just want zombie-like staff who perform work unquestionably. Often it’s their own experiences that have them making sweeping statements in which employees are not valued, management pushes to get the most out of their people and do so without care or regard for the staff. Watch out for these people; they truly believe what they say and they can sour your own outlook if you aren’t prepared.

Ah, but find someone with both their head and their heart in the work they do and you’ll be fortunate to have that person serve you. Whether it’s in a coffee shop, a manufacturers’ warehouse, looking down a microscope or up a birth certificate, that employee will be a joy to have around. How you experience working alongside your co-worker will often come down to whether or not they have both their head and their heart in the work they do.

Now me personally? I’m always on the lookout for these people, and what’s more, when I find them, I do two things; point it out as a compliment and do what I can to work closer with them.

May you find work you invest in with both your head and your heart.

Skills Needed To Work In Retail


Like any other occupation, working in Retail requires skills. What irks many Retail professionals is the assumption that anyone can work in retail; that it’s a job for people with no experience or just looking to put in some time and make some easy money. To excel in the Retail field, you need these essential skills:

Initiating contact. There are two kinds of employees: one who waits for you to speak to them, and the one who approaches you and initiates contact. If you want to be successful, you must identify and acknowledge people as they enter your store, welcome them and offer assistance.

Be pleasant. Everyone enjoys spending time with friendly people. When interacting with customers, a smile goes a long way to demonstrating you’re approachable and happy to provide advice.

Look for work to do. Nothing is more of turn off to both employers and customers than see staff stand around doing nothing. No, actually there is something worse and that’s the employee standing around doing nothing while texting or watching a YouTube video. There is always work to do if you look for it. Dusting and tidying are two examples.

Math. Customers can’t always figure out how much an item will cost them when the signs say 30% off. They’ll often ask you the employee and so you’ll need some basic math skills – unless you plan on looking it up using the calculator app on your phone. Oh, but you can’t because phones aren’t allowed on the sales floor. No, it’s not your right to have your phone in your pocket while at work. Oh and if the power to the register is out, yes, you’ll have to have math skills to figure things out like making change manually. You can do that right?

Taking inventory. All retail stores have to take inventory so they can check what they believe they have against what they actually have. This is sometimes done after stores close, every employee is called in and is expected to take part. You need a good attitude too, because no one goes home until its done.

Product knowledge. “What does it do?” Your job is to know all about the features of the products you’re selling. A lot of stores have moved to self-service, where the staff in the store are good at taking your money but don’t know much of anything when it comes to the products they sell. These stores don’t typically last long. What’s the different between a Training shoe and a Running shoe? If you sell shoes, you’d better find out.

Marketing. Knowing your products is a good start, but now you have to be skilled at marketing that product to the potential buyer. Why do they just have to have one? How will they benefit from owning what you’re offering? Will it make their life better in some way? How?

Flexibility. A set schedule is a wonderful thing – when every employee shows up as scheduled. However, you might be called to come in with little notice. You might be asked if you can work late, You might find your employer wants you to take your vacation in February or March, work on long weekends and longer hours when the stores extend their hours. No flexibility on your part could mean no job.

Dependability. Showing up when you’re expected to work is pretty basic. People are counting on you to be at work when your name is on the schedule. It’s more than just being physically present though; you’ve got to do what’s expected of you when you’re actually at work. You could find a note telling you to unpack a shipment and check the inventory. You might find directives to change the location of items in the store or put together a marketing promotional kit that arrived just as the store closed the day before. Do what’s expected.

Listening. Great sales people are always listening to customers; listening for opportunities. As customers talk, good employees determine customer’s needs and wants, then produce goods that fulfill those needs. And the best sales people get customers to purchase and leave with products they didn’t even know they needed – until they were shown the product and just had to have one!

Know your policies. Nothing gets customers more upset than being told something by an employee that turns out to be false. Don’t tell people they can bring something back if all sales are final. Don’t promise you can order in an item if it’s being discontinued. Don’t say you’ll hold an item until the end of the next business day but then find out you’re not allowed to do that and it gets sold to another customer. You set people up to be angry with both you and the store.

Shrinkage. No not the Seinfeld episode. Shrinkage is when inventory that supposed to be in stock disappears. Don’t plan on helping yourself to the merchandise when no one is looking. That’s theft and it can not only get you fired, it could lead to criminal charges, a police record and make getting future employment extremely hard or even impossible in some cases.

While this list isn’t complete, it’s a great list of the essentials. You get to practice and improve your interpersonal skills, build self-confidence and assertiveness and if you’re lucky, get some employee discounts or bonuses on what you sell!

Safe At Home? Be Grateful


I did a fair bit of driving this weekend. Saturday it was the trip from Lindsay to Toronto and home again, then Sunday the drive from Lindsay to Mississauga and back again. As I made the final turn onto our Crescent both evenings, the Christmas lights on the front lawn and house itself brought me a measure of both happiness and relief; we were home.

Home is sanctuary; the place with which within I am calm, protected and at peace. It’s where I recharge, relax, settle back with a blanket and at this time of year, enjoy the festive decorations, the Christmas tree, and perhaps a cup of tea. Yes, every time I make that last turn in the road and ascend the hill to our home, the promise of such sanctuary awaits me.

I imagine many of you might have similar feelings as you travel home from both near and far, whether it’s a house, condominium or apartment you return to. Once inside, it’s your space; your private sanctuary from everything beyond your door.

Of course it’s not the case for everyone. I can’t truly imagine what it must be like to live without that promise of a safe and secure place to take my rest at the end of a day. When temperatures outside are below zero degrees Celsius, not only does being homeless rob a person of much of their physical energy, it has to be incredibly taxing on the mind to constantly have to focus on finding a place to spend the night. Can you picture having to spend much of your day scrounging for shelter and then when you wake up the following day from a restless sleep, you have to move on and repeat the same process; wondering again where your head will rest that night?

Now were it you or I, we likely believe we wouldn’t be in such a predicament long. We’d likely use our resources acquired over time, including our interpersonal skills to locate and secure some place of safety and warmth. We’d turn quickly to finding work, then use our earned money to rent a place and begin to improve our lot.

The difference I suppose though is were we truly homeless, the mind that we rely and trust to make good decisions each day would be adversely affected. The mental strain upon us is not something I believe we would be prepared for. The lack of a place to shower and clean ourselves would be an eye opener, then even if we had such a basic resource, how upset would we be putting on the same garments, unwashed themselves and thus carry with us the grime, the odour? Without money, how would we feed ourselves? How might the quality of the food we do consume when we find it differ from what we eat now?

You and I, we not be rich, but we are rich by comparison. We can not only close our doors to the world each night, we sleep in comfortable beds, we eat without having to guard our plates; when thirsty we find options in our fridges. We don clean clothes each day, we snuggle in against the bitter cold, raise a thermostat if we so choose. Lucky? Well, yes I suppose we are.

Now yes, we do make our own luck I’ll affirm, but what we make our luck with is an educated mind. We have had resources our entire lives some never will have. If you grew up with a mother and father, lived in a house, had three meals a day and went to school, you likely took much of that for granted. As a child,  perhaps this is how you believed we all started out. Not so. If you’ve never had to visit a foodbank other than to drop off a donation, or never had to leave some items at the checkout because you haven’t got enough money to pay for them, you’re lucky indeed.

The nights are dark and cold, the daylight shorter at this time of year in my part of the world where winter is upon us. The streets are often slushy, which makes it trickier to walk for some in heels and harder still to push those shopping carts and buggies with worldly possessions in them for others.

If you think the simple solution is to get a job and be self-supporting, think of what herculean effort that must take. A homeless person has to concentrate on where to sleep, where to eat. They have few items to improve their personal hygiene and fewer to clean and maintain the cleanliness of their clothes. They are often shunned for their appearance, their smell, their cleanliness and much of the time lack personal identification such as birth certificates, health cards and social insurance numbers.

Luxuries are things like haircuts, dental visits, prescription glasses, non-processed foods, undamaged fruits and vegetables. Families are typically dysfunctional, relationships hard to establish and harder still to maintain. Without an address, services are hard to get, being always on the move, they have no sanctuary at the close of a day, sleeping with one eye open out of fear until absolutely exhausted.

Enjoy your home as do I, but be benevolent when you can. Consider a donation, be it a used article of warmth, food, toiletries, or your time. Be grateful, be humble.

What Hopes Do You Have For 2020?


Start thinking about January 2020 and what you’d like to see happen for you personally in the new year. It’s the 13th of December today, so we’ve got 18 days left in this year to come up with a few things.

So what are you after? A job perhaps? Perhaps a better job. Maybe you’re considering a return to school in order to finish your high school diploma or launch yourself into a new career by attending College or University. Could be a change in your diet is in mind; getting healthier, being kinder, showing more patience and forgiveness or even getting around to popping THE question to your special someone. There’s any number of things you might be hoping will happen in 2020.

Okay so have you something that came to mind? Something you’re hoping for in the coming year? Let’s go with whatever came to mind. Of course, we’re only in the third paragraph here, and you might need a few more hours or days to come up with what you really want to see happen next year. But even in this short time since you first started reading, think for a second about what DID come into your mind first and foremost. Hmm… why did that surface? Could be that whatever it was came to mind for good reason.

Now hoping for something is always good. Hope is a wonderful thing, because it can keep us going in tough times and it can sustain us when things look bleakest. I’m a big believer in hope. However, while hope is a good thing to have, you’ll likely find that hope alone doesn’t always bring about the things we hope for. Confused? Okay, I can understand that.

Hope often needs a plan and action to bring about the realization of whatever it is we’ve hoped for. You can hope to play a musical instrument, but the odds of picking up a trumpet and playing it instantly or sitting before a piano and bringing your favourite song to life are minute as best. You’d agree I think that planning to take some lessons, finding someone to instruct you and putting in the practice to actually learn how to play is increasing your odds of success. Hoping to play an instrument in 2020? Find a teacher, rent, borrow, buy or get gifted an instrument and you’re giving your hopes a fighting chance.

Now supposing that you’re hoping to find a job in the new year. That’s a good thing. You feel mentally up for it and 2020 is going to be your year. Congratulations on coming up with a commendable ambition for the new year. So the question now is what has to happen in order for your hopes of employment to come about?

These days you typically need a resume, computer skills to apply online, interview skills to perform well when meeting with someone from an organization, and a little self-confidence and self-esteem thrown in would be a big help too. I’m simplifying things here for the sake of illustration, but let’s go with that list: basic computer skills, a resume, interview skills and practice and some self-confidence.

By listing the things above that you’ll need to successfully find work, you can then move to the next phase which is turning to the community in which you live and the people you know in it, seeking to find the help in acquiring the skills to check off each need. You may believe you have a good resume – well, good enough at any rate – but having someone look at it who can make some helpful and intelligent suggestions for improvement would confirm your belief. If it’s good, that’s great. If however it’s not as good as you believe it is, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and disappointment by learning how to improve it and then doing so.

As for the computer skills? Well, basic skills needed to compete for jobs these days means you have to be able to send and receive emails, attach your resume and cover letters, know how to upload a resume to a job site online, and of course being able to sit down and type out that resume and cover letter is required too. Can you do these things? If so, again, great! If not, a basic computer class is all you need to learn these essentials.

Okay so on to the interview skills. Mom or dad might be okay to practice with, but I would guess they aren’t up on using the STAR interview method or know much about behaviour based interviewing. For interview help, you’ll want to tap into someone perhaps at a local employment centre, maybe even going so far as to hire the services of a self-employed Employment Specialist or Recruiter. These are options you might want to look into.

Hope as I say is really good to have. Hope alone however usually doesn’t bring about whatever it is you’re hoping for. Action is what you’ll need, and your action is best put into place only after you first settle on a plan. With no plan, your actions might give you the illusion of doing something to move toward your goal but in reality just be one step forward and two back. Plan your work, work your plan.

A job, a relationship, a purchase. Whatever you hope for in 2020, here’s to hoping it comes true.

Finding Happiness In Your Work


Yesterday someone said, “You really love your job don’t you.” (It was more of a statement than a question, so that’s why there’s no question mark at the end of that opening sentence.)

I immediately answered in the affirmative, but then within two seconds, I said, “Actually, what I love is the people I meet while doing my job.” I think I stand by that answer.

Pausing to look back at the many jobs and careers I’ve had over my lifetime, the one thing that’s made each one a pleasure or not has been the people. In this case, both the people I’ve worked with and the people I’ve met in the course of the work I performed. You learn to appreciate many things over a lifetime, and some of the things you learn replace or change things you believed years earlier. However, one thing I learned early that’s never changed is that for me personally, I’ve always made it a goal to surround myself with good people.

Good people make your days more enjoyable. Sometimes they roll up their sleeves and help you complete your work, they contribute ideas and tell you you’re a good person to work with yourself. Good people are positive, go about their own work with enthusiasm and contribute to the energy of the space you work in. As for the people that you come into contact with such as clients or customers, these too can make your hours more pleasurable. When you provide them with a great product or service, your interaction with them will by association be that much better. Deliver sub-standard services or goods and you’ll likely deal with dissatisfied people and you’ll feel less positivity from the experience of interacting with them. This it seems, is just logical to me.

And so it is that I’ve come to realize – for me personally – that the more I invest myself in the success of others, the better my own days go. This might be the recipe of success for you too, but not necessarily because we’re all unique and we have differing values, likes and needs. But for me, the more I extend myself and put in the work to make people’s interactions with me better, the greater the odds are of me having a good feeling walking away. And I do want to feel good.

I share this glimpse into my outlook because I often get asked about my apparent and obvious happiness doing my job. Many of those I work for tell me that they wish they could find work that would make them as happy as I am, and they’d like to feel as good about what it is they’ll do. Now let’s be honest. My days aren’t all roses. There’s a lot of running around getting things organized, planning in advance, recruiting participants, updating electronic files, documenting other’s experiences. There’s refreshments to prepare, rooms to set up, handouts to print and all of these take precious time; time that I always want more of to prepare. There’s interruptions, people to cover for, unexpected and yes, sometimes unwelcomed mandatory training that comes at the worst times … sure there’s all that.

It’s all worth it. Why? Because it brings me in contact with some of the best people I’ve ever had the good fortune to know; each one of them makes me better for who I am. For this, I am extremely grateful.

So, are you looking for work that will bring you a large measure of happiness and satisfaction on a regular basis? Most people are – unless of course they’ve already achieved that goal. There are some of course who don’t believe they care at all about job satisfaction. As long as money is deposited into their accounts, they’ll continue to work and don’t really care much about ‘happiness’ in the work they do.

Those people aside, if you truly want to leave for home feeling good about what you’ve just done for 7 or 8 hours, you have to know what it is that will bring you that happiness. My job entails leading workshops, making resumes, sharing interview tips and the career planning process. But – and it’s a huge but – it’s the people who participate in these presentations that have always and will continue to inspire me; bring me happiness. Having determined this, I am rewarded each day when I interact with them.

When people express their thanks and appreciation for something I’ve said or done, it makes me feel good to have been of help. When that happens several times throughout a day, the day is measured by me to have been successful. Not all days are fabulous of course, but most are.

So what would make you feel good? Do you want to feel appreciated and valued for what you’ve contributed? Is it your employer or the customers of that employer, (perhaps both?) that you would like acknowledgement from for your service? Is it a safe, caring work environment you’re after? What is it you want?

When you identify what it is that you want from the work you’ll perform, it makes it easier to focus your energy and time finding jobs and occupations that will bring you what you want.

My hope for you is that you find work that brings you happiness and fulfillment too. That your days find you surrounded by good people too.

Victims And Their Predators


Yes I suppose I’m upset, but more accurately, I’m disappointed; again.

I’m sad too, because once more, some good people have every reason to become cold and hard. Most are women – but there are men too; the victims of abuse. I ask you read on.

Why oh why I ask myself again and again are some people so intent on ruining the self-esteem, confidence and self-perception of others? Why is it that small people determinedly go out of their way to elevate themselves in sick, disturbing and twisted ways by intentionally diminishing others? What makes some people pour their energy into financially, emotionally, sexually and physically hurting and exploiting others?

Her name could be Sandra, Delores, Kelly, Cindy, Fatima, Tatiana or any other. She could be living in poverty, entrenched in the middle class or among the well-to-do. She just might have a degree or her Masters, dropped out before getting her high school diploma or be back in an adult education classroom. Her height, weight, eye or hair colour don’t define her, nor the country of her birth, the family she calls her own. She is at the same time anyone and everyone; your next door neighbour, the person you share the bus with, the driver in the next lane, the co-worker you admire for her good work habits. She could be your daughter; and you could be entirely unaware. And not be excluded, his name could be Dan, Keith, Jordan, etc. with the same realities as those above.

I’ll tell you this: he or she didn’t deserve what’s happened. She didn’t ask for it, he didn’t seek it out, neither one is in the least deserving of being on the receiving end of an abusive relationship. Let’s make it personal. YOU; yes you, you are blameless. You deserve better; you’re worthy and your not at fault. What you looked for, what you thought you’d found, wasn’t the abusive, manipulative relationship you ended up in. Those emotional beatings you’ve been on the receiving end of are just as real, just as devastating as a physical assault.

So what’s prompted this? Well, as you’d have guessed, once again, I’ve encountered victims of abuse; suffering at the hands of their past and current partners. What do these predatory men who’ve inflicted this abuse on these people have in common? Here’s their description:

  •  They are polite, well-spoken, charming and well-mannered
  •  They introduced themselves as caring and loving
  •  They discouraged contact with the victims friends
  •  They separated the victim from receiving help/support
  •  They went too far, apologized, said it would never happen again
  •  They bought gifts, they came smartly dressed
  •  They keep the victim guessing, on their guard and nervous
  •  They set impossible standards, demean and shame

Recognize anyone you know? These are the fellows who can charm parents of the victim into actually taking their side, who act and sound remorseful when it suits their needs and punish, pummel and humiliate when they are in the mood for, ‘fun’. These abusers dash hopes routinely, snoop through purses, get their mutual friends convinced they are the, ‘good’ one. These are the ones that turn kids against the victim; making it out that the victim is to blame for the fights, the arguments, the separations, the divorces. They are often extremely intelligent, convincing, likable and their greatest skill is manipulation. You might even like them very much yourself and come to doubt the truth of the victim’s claims.

I’m working closely with two victims of abuse at the moment. We’re looking to move forward with interviews that will lead to employment offers. I’ve only a small glimpse of the abuse suffered and endured. I’m hurting for them – and I’m not being trite – I’m being serious. But my hurt is absolutely nothing in comparison to theirs and please don’t think I’m suggesting it is.

What I see is two beautiful people both inside and out. They’ve got a lot to offer potential employers. They are bright, intelligent, well-spoken, educated, have superior interpersonal skills and… they are fragile, damaged, but not for a moment are they anything less than amazing and deserving.

What they want; what they deserve is decent jobs and stable, caring, meaningful relationships in true reciprocating partnerships. What annoys me and saddens me is when good people – strike that – beautiful people become jaded and hardened towards the world; when they distrust (with reason) others and miss the very healthy and secure, loving relationships they so crave. Those abusive, small-minded, evil abusers at that point have won.

If you know an abusive individual, stop pretending they aren’t doing any harm. Distance yourself from them and call them out. Abusers don’t like being in the light. If you know a victim, offer support, believe them and stand with them. Be a good ambassador for humankind. At this point, more abusers are male, more victims female. If you’re a male, you’ve got an onus to be one of the good guys; to keep alive the slim glimmer of hope for some woman that good men, while hard to find, are still out there. This is especially true if you’re in a position of authority and work with vulnerable populations. It falls to all of us however to be decent.

If you’re moved by this, impacted by this, add your voice. A like, a thumbs up, a comment. Let us stand together.

Pressure, Stress And Mental Health


By any chance, have you noticed people around you seem to be dealing with increased pressure? Perhaps too that not only are they experiencing more pressure, it’s coming from multiple sources and rather than being resolved quickly, these pressure linger?

Pressure and the stress that comes with it, seems to be more wide-spread these days. You know, there was a time when a person kept their troubles and stressors to themselves. After all, they didn’t want to appear incapable and put their work in jeopardy. When the worked piled on and piled up, the thinking was you’d roll up your sleeves, bear down and ramp up the speed. You’d come in a little early, work through a shortened lunch, stay a little later, then at some point, that mountain of work would become manageable again. Your stressors would dissipate and everything would fall back into balance.

What I see in 2019 however, is many people are putting in more effort and still falling behind. Not only are they working hard to get through the work they’ve been assigned, there’s more coming and it’s coming more frequently. So many people are playing a shell game; working on something until they have to switch tasks because something has a shorter deadline, then putting some time back into an earlier assigned job whenever they can squeeze it in. The result for many is finished work that isn’t their best; passable perhaps, but they know the result they’d love to have realized just isn’t what they’ve produced.

When a busy person takes on more, there’s two possibilities; they can handle the extra work load or they can’t. If the extra workload is successfully managed, they often get rewarded with a hearty thanks – and additional work, as they can obviously handle the increased work! The person who can’t handle the extra work; albeit they may have said they believed they could take it on – now has a known limit. In other words, the boss knows the maximum amount of work they can handle. In a just world, the boss would ensure the employee doesn’t get assigned or take on more than their capacity, but in reality, that boss is under pressure too. If the pressure they are under is get their team to deliver more, that extra work might just keep funneling down to the employee.

Pressure and stress impact our mental health and our mental health is something we don’t just put on when we get to work and remove at the end of our shift. We carry the state of our mental health in our travels back home, to the supermarket, when we spend time with our families and friends. When we aren’t observed to, ‘be ourselves’, guess what? We now feel additional pressure to be the person others have come to expect us to be not just at work, but at home too.

The result can be consistent and constant pressure to perform. Our homes; traditional places of sanctuary and places to retreat from the world and relax, become places where we are still experiencing pressure. Everyday tasks like washing the dishes, dusting and preparing meals seem taxing. Someone makes an innocent comment like, “we’ll have to buy some milk” or, “have you seen my car keys?”, and well that’s it; we snap back. Suddenly that pressure that’s been building bursts open. It’s not that the car keys or the milk alone are major issues, it’s that they are that one extra thing that you just can’t take on at the moment.

That stress you’re carrying with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is invisible much of the time. There’s no cast as there is with a broken limb, there’s no label that identifies you as stretched, no hourglass in your hands that shows just how little you’ve got left to give. Some of your precious energy reserves have actually been put into covering up your stress. That forced smile, the longer trips to the bathroom where you’re actually just trying to escape and have some, ‘me’ time for 5 minutes alone. When nobody knows – even though you think they should – they are the most surprised people when you act out of character and tell them to get in the car and go get the milk themselves; find their own car keys and stop leaving them just anywhere in the first place.

Sometimes of course we can work past our limits. Typically we do so for short periods and then return to our normal state. It’s even good to push ourselves the odd time to see what we’re capable of. But then, this new level becomes what others interpret as what we’re capable of all the time. That’s not right; that’s not fair and it’s not accurate. When we put extra energy into something at home or work, that extra energy is derived from somewhere; it doesn’t just materialize. Energy is finite.

Replenishing is the key to productivity. What is it you do in other words, that restores your capacity to deliver on the expectation of both others and yourself to perform? Reading? Meditation? Getting out for a walk? Whatever it is you do to recover and restore your good mental health is as important as any work you do.

It may sound counter productive, but in a day when you’ve got a ton of things to do, you may get more done if you go for a walk around the neighbourhood. Thirty minutes outside or with your door shut at work and a good engaging book in your hands. Maybe close your eyes, breathe deep, some quiet music playing through some noise cancelling headphones? Whatever it is in other words, consider building it in to your busy day so you restore some of that balance you have when you’re at your best.

Don’t Apply For Jobs In December


There are many job seekers who see a lot of logic in not bothering to apply for work in the month of December. They’ve determined that companies are soon shutting down for the holidays and the people responsible for receiving all those resumes and selecting candidates to hire are really looking at taking time off.

If you’re one of the job seekers who holds this belief; that it’s pointless to job search in December, you’re making a huge mistake. But please! By all means yes, continue to avoid applying for work this month! You’re making it so much easier for the people I’m partnering with in their job search. In fact, let me extend a sincere thank you for reducing the size of the competition.

As you know, applying for work is a very competitive endeavour. There are more people applying for various positions than ever. Apparently, from the information I’ve gathered from employers, for every job advertised, there are approximately 150 – 175 applications received. The fact that you’re doing your part to reduce that number and increase the odds of those I’m supporting to land interviews and get hired is most appreciated!

Next week I’m holding a two week job search group; that’s December 9th – 20th on the calendar. Yikes! What  tough time of year to job search right? There’s the Christmas traffic, the Christmas hustle and bustle, the kids Christmas concerts in school, people to buy or make Christmas presents for, the house or apartment to decorate for Christmas, the shopping for the Christmas ham or turkey. Why you’re likely exhausted just thinking about it. Best you put your feet up and recline in the lazy boy. Add a job search to all that? No, of course not; you best take it easy.

Still, my little group and I will be at work, researching opportunities, writing cover letters and resumes, practicing our interview skills, and above all else, applying for jobs. While there’s every possibility that we might land a hire or two in these two weeks, it’s probable that the interviewing and hiring won’t actually take place until the new year. That’s absolutely fine with us; we’ll be ready.

Look, any job seeker will tell you how difficult it is to land work and that any advantage they can see they’ll seize. So, when the competition starts to falter for lack of enthusiasm, that’s the very time to ramp up the effort. The same goes for rainy days, extreme cold or heat periods, and Mondays. You see the same folks who have stopped job searching in December are likely the kind who wake up, see the clouds pouring down on them and choose to roll over and go back to sleep. Again, thank you if that’s you!

Job searching IS work. It takes sustained energy and focus to successfully job search. You’ve got to have a willingness to carry on in the face of what appears to be indifference or rejection by some employer’s. All that work researching companies, targeting resumes, writing cover letters, completing online profiles and repeating this process again and again. It can certainly get discouraging. I think this is why the people who have accepted my invitation to join my group are so looking forward to the experience. You see, they’ll partner up with me; someone they believe will motivate them when they feel the urge to slow down. They’ll also be supported by their fellow job seekers, and enthusiasm my reader is contagious!

If it’s true that attitude determines your altitude, we’re aiming high. We aren’t hoping to get interviews and jobs; we’re EXPECTING to get interviews and jobs! You see, the belief I plan to share and instil is the same belief I’ve always held; if we create strong resumes, quality resumes and improve upon our interview skills, the chances of success rise – substantially. If we then work to improve on our quantity of quality applications, our chances of success rise substantially again. Quality first, followed by quantity.

But you can do your part to help us along. If you’re a job seeker yourself, take the month off; nobody is hiring anyway right? If you’re an Employment Coach or Counsellor, suggest your clients ease back on the job search and conserve their energy for the new year; nobody is hiring anyway right?

Of course this advice is entirely tongue in cheek. If nobody is hiring, why then are there jobs being advertised? Do you think companies advertise just to falsely get people’s hopes up? That they have too much time on their hands and want to conduct interviews for jobs that don’t exist just to meet people? No of course not! They are advertising jobs because they have a need for qualified and enthusiastic employees.

Remember this basic truth; if they advertise a job, THEY have a need. Sure you need a job, but they need an employee. It’s not all desperation on your part and no stress at their end. They have to find someone and it can’t be just anybody. They are looking at hiring the right someone, and this is where your research comes in. Present yourself as the right candidate.

Of course, if you were looking for a sign that you shouldn’t bother looking for work until 2020, take this blog as your sign. Pack it in, put on, “White Christmas” and cover yourself up with that warm throw.