Success

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”


— Maya Angelou

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You can do it!

two business women shaking hands
Image courtesy of patrisyu by FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”
– Richard Branson

 

 

When I read Richard Branson’s quote, I thought of opportunities I passed on because I didn’t have as much confidence in myself as someone else had in me. Ranging from assignments that had the potential for positive exposure, to freelance work I thought was too much of a stretch, I avoided scenarios where the possibility of failure loomed overhead.

It’s not that I never took a risk or challenged myself, but when I did the decision came from within. External confidence expressed by others was the core of the issue. This reminds me of the Groucho Marx quote, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” If someone thinks I’m worthy, does it mean they know me better than I know myself or they’re not as smart as they seem?

Branson’s quote reminds me that high achievers weren’t born that way. Likely, an undercurrent of tenacity, luck and timing propelled them to the pinnacle of success. I would make a conjecture that along the way there were times when these superstars were ill-prepared for the task at hand; that trial by fire set the course for the day; that they exposed themselves to risk; and that someone else took a risk by investing in them, their product or service.

Fear of failure prevails when there is an illusive notion that successful people are on a higher plain, elevated and showered with angel dust by the success fairy who passed over the rest of us. The realization that this is a delusion hits me when I meet professionals who lack professionalism, managers who cannot manage and executives who fail to execute. When I have a negative experience with someone at the top, it serves as a reminder that there’s room for me in the club of success. Maybe, it’s not an exclusive club after all. This is not meant to downplay what accomplished people have attained, but to bolster those who are reticent when invited to join the desired club that would have them as a member.

The next time someone I respect offers me an opportunity that leaves me dubious about my capability, I vow to err on the side of imprudence rather than caution, and tell myself, “You can do it!” How about you?

Does delivering and receiving feedback make you uncomfortable?

If feedback makes you uncomfortable both giving and getting, you’re not alone. I dread every performance appraisal even when I am confident it will be positive. It’s just so personal. Then I found an article on ProjectsAtWork.com that offered a refreshing perspective in the form of 9 great tips. If you are studying business management, this may help:

business coaching
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net
  1. Approach the conversation with curiosity about the other person’s point of view.
  2. Set the stage as partners in the conversation by gaining consensus on the purpose and mode of communication.
  3. Avoid the long-standing assumption that negative feedback is easier to swallow when sandwiched (positive/negative/positive). Ask the recipient how they would like to receive it.
  4. State your concern and ask for their point of view – don’t make people guess.
  5. Ask how you may have contributed to the issues.
  6. React to defensiveness with curiosity about how they’re feeling.
  7. Do not use anonymous feedback – the reaction is sure to be defensiveness.
  8. Honor a statute of limitations – waiting too long erodes the value.
  9. Solicit feedback on your ability to give feedback.

Number 7 is my personal favorite. In my opinion, being told that someone said something, but their identity cannot be revealed, is frustrating and of no value.

These pointers are useful for situations outside the workplace too. What works for you?

Smart resume writing

resume
http://www.cv-templates.info/2009/03/professional-cv-latex/

An article I read on LinkedIn today, “Why Smart People Don’t Get Hired,” seemed to rattle many LI members and I concur with some of the comments. However, there were a few good takeaways with regard to the way we position ourselves in our own mind and how that comes across in a resume.

Job titles

A job seeker once asked me to create a winning title for a LinkedIn profile. My response was that the job seeker is the product being sold and therefore their name and actual occupation, whether Financial Intern or CFO, is the appropriate title. As Maurice Ewing, PhD, pointed out, flashy titles like “financial wizard” are unlikely to draw attention in search results by recruiters or applicant tracking systems.

Establish relevance

Although it may seem like a tactical move to exclude irrelevant work history and skills, some experiences not directly connected to the targeted position offer pertinent information. Illustrate how your experience demonstrates the knowledge, skills, disposition, ingenuity or drive essential to success in the proposed role. Experience may include school groups, clubs and volunteer activities.

Imperfect match

Even though a job description may read as though the responsibilities extend beyond your capability or experience, consider if it is a doable stretch. Read past the activity bullet points and compare the skill and knowledge prerequisites to your own. Good opportunities are not always obvious.

Focus on the employer’s need

Of all the advice in the article, my favorite is the recommendation to convey “accomplishments, talents and skills in succinct ways that speak directly to how they can help an employer.” Remember, from the hiring manager’s perspective, it is not about what you need but why they need you.

Show your value

Being humble has its place, but not while you are selling yourself. Sometimes the most qualified people miss opportunities because they don’t appreciate their own talent. This is your time to shine, so accentuate your accomplishments  on your resume and during interviews.

Please leave a comment to let me know what works for you and if you have other suggestions.