Writing that moves readers to action

Posts tagged ‘Employment’

WHO ARE YOU and how’d you get here, ANYWAY…???

As I pondered and began to write the content for this particular blog, something seemed out-of-whack – maybe even a bit backwards.  Feeling a somewhat disoriented, I asked myself “Shouldn’t I have posed these questions first before pondering and processing the questions that lead to my last blog – “FITTING IN…”?  Hmmm…?!@^

Well, as my mysterious (read:  twisted) fortune would have it, a relevant article that ignited my juices happened to appear after I wrote that earlier blog (isn’t that always the way it happens – what you really need to help you create or make decisions comes after it’s needed).  So, if it’s okay with you, I’ll just shift gears – from forward into reverse – for a while and attempt to continue down this exploratory path.  Hope that works for you – is not too confusing – and that you chose to continue to tag along?!

yep…me at 7 years old

Over the years, I’ve never stopped long enough to ponder or consider whether I would classify myself as a “geek” or not…however, after reading “The Rise of the New Groupthink and the Power of Working Alone,”I was nudged to suggest to myself to re-position my viewpoint and impose upon it a bit more reflection and thought.  I’ve shared my thought process below…as it might offer or shed some helpful insights…in case you’re in a similar state of mind.

WAS MY CHILDHOOD UNUSUAL…and/or DID IT OFFER ME UNCLEAR MESSAGES…?
Growing up in a large, extended family (Mom and Dad’s combined sibling count was 22 which, of course, was compounded  by at least 2-5 more each to account for mates and kids), we were continually surrounded by people and events (drop-ins “on-the-way-to” somewhere, picnics, volleyball tournies, weddings, funerals, etc.).

me-160001

yikes…me at 16 years old

Hedged into this type of “community,” therefore, created a natural feeling (or was it “assumed” to be natural?) about being pigeonholed into an extrovert classification  – you know someone with a gregarious, outgoing personality  – a marketing/sales-ish type who thrives on being surrounded and energized by people.

Given those non-grounded, unstable “assumptive” feelings and thoughts about myself and my interactions (hmmm, right…remember those slogans encouraging us to be wary of “assumptions”), the gravitational pull, force or natural inkling dragged me towards and propelled me into a career in Marketing and Sales.

WHERE MIGHT I HAVE FOCUSED (or what thoughts might have better served me and my needs)?
Within Susan Cain’s article, her book, and her repeated references to Stephen Wozniak memoir – iWoz, I found myself settling in and aligning with certain words, phrases and descriptions.  A few of those included:

  • Appeared “serious and bespectacled”
  • Possessed “an endearing mixture of stiffness and good cheer”
  • “Listens quietly”
  • Lived in one’s head “like artists”
  • Viewed solitude as “an important key to creativity”
  • Preferred to “work independently”
  • “Obsessed with reading, writing, researching, and sewing (you can fill in the blank) since the age of three”
  • Preferred control over “design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee.”
  • Constantly attempting to “create privacy and autonomy”
  • In work settings “always by himself” – Considered “quiet midnights and solitary sunrises = ‘the biggest high ever’”
  • If with others, preferred to be “surrounded by kindred spirits or like-minded souls”

Now, after many twists and turns, I realize…had I paid a bit more attention to certain attributes or aspects of ME and my personality – and stuck with or accepted (maybe even emphasized) my “geekiness,” I might have been able to journey along a different life’s path – one that might have been a bit smoother…with a few less bumps…and enriched by a my unique “realness”).  As I position Ms. Cain’s words, phrases, and descriptions shared above alongside my photos (and recall memories from those times), I definitely see (and recall) a bit of “geekiness” in me.  In many early career work settings, I felt “stifled”, suppressed, and often deprived of my natural ability to truly exercise and deploy my skills.  Just as with all things in nature, balance offers the key…especially when it comes to being social and allocating solitude.  Balance provides the remedy or elixir to ensure the whole, functional individual surfaces – rather than being encouraged to relegate oneself to a “geek” or “non-geek” designation.

As I now pause to reflect on my current work, setting, and lifestyle, I innately know what “natural” feels like.

As Ms. Cain so aptly articulates…an ideal setting would be one in which “people are free to circulate in a shifting kaleidoscope of interactions…” one where flexibility exists to disappear into “private workspaces when they want to focus or simply be alone.”

So, I ask you…do you know who you are – deep down – or are you being prodded to “fit in”?  Do you know how you “do your best work”?  Are you willing and able to express who you are and what works best for you…in work…and in all other aspects of life?

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

Graphic credits:   Yep, that’s me at 7 YO and, me again at 16 YO

FITTING IN…

real jobDo you ever sit in your office, cubicle or fishbowl space…and wonder “what the heck am I doing here – in this space, surrounded by these people, emblazoned with this title, performing these functions?  Is what I’m doing meaningful and is the setting (or culture) right for ME?”

Over the years, as I traversed the work world, I’ve often asked myself these questions – actually so many times that the number of pauses/blips might be embarrassing to reveal.  Often, I’d sit in quiet solitude and reflect on these questions – trying to constructively answermission-statement-cartoon or at least sort out where and why I’d landed where I had.  I’d spend this time alone to consider and ponder – people, events, happenings – and to unfold what might have caused these questions to flare up or resurface.  Answers rarely materialized.  In most cases, I believe – deep down – I knew I didn’t “fit in.”  But, settling in and occupying space in various places or situations just seemed to be “the right thing to do” (plus, doing so ensured the bills would be paid).   So, extinguishing these questions or other conflicting thoughts assisted me in aligning with “the right thing to do.”  Strolling down the “chosen” career path – one that appeared to allow entry into what appeared to be a new and different “adventure” every four years – seemed to make the most sense.

Working for someone else has consistently baffled me – creating confusion and challenges.  Taking up residence in those traditional-type settings – job descriptions, hierarchies, restrictions on vacation and sick time – did not allow my free-spirit – filled with unique or unusual ideas – to meander in the way it was designed.  Initially, selecting and remaining in a field of study (Marketing) that was highly intriguing and offered many opportunities to gather, grasp, and interpret the human thought process was extremely rewarding and insightful.  However, embedded in these cultures – even within smaller organizations – were way too many rules, regulations, titles, hierarchies and reporting structures which dampened and hampered any real creativity and squelched any momentum toward execution of those ideas.

Being raised in an extremely traditional family/lifestyle, my desire to “break away” – maybe even rebel130520.womma_ – began to surface shortly after my father’s passing when I was 16 years of age.  During that period of time, nothing made sense – so, trying anything (even failing at) offered an option or alternative.  Actually, truth be told, my inner spirit craved to be set free of the structured, unexplained and angst-ridden life I was subsisting within at that time.  The series of twists and turns this event evoked would propel me into a continual, never-ending life of questioning – a constant search for meaning.

Little did I realize at the time, that although I had been deposited into a structured, guided life, the fragileness of human existence (and my father’s passing) offered me the possibility of wiggling out and trying on new and different aspects of life which might not have been encased in my on-going existence.

Throughout my career, it seemed natural for me (despite the reluctancy and hesitation of others) to:

  • Apply for (and be invited to interview for – even land) jobs I was barely 40% qualified for;
  • Create numerous positions (3) for myself within a tight/traditional organizational structure;
  • Negotiate self-driven/directed work hours;
  • Elect to commute between two work locations in two states (every two weeks) just so I could work with a specific boss/manager/team;
  • Find unique methods for coaching, guiding and managing my manager; and
  • Select (or even create) specific projects I specifically desired to work on.

Despite all of my efforts at this “work style creativity,” I remained perplexed – by the environment, the spirit/nature/ attitude of others, and much more while working within these highly formalized and structured traditional (Industrial Age hang-over) settings.

Now, years later and with a much healthier outlook and focus – feeling like I “fit in” – I’ve found my way to a fascinating book that not only situates my questioning in a new and different light…but, puts rational, productive teeth into answers that offer concepts, terms, attitudes, and approaches to re-stitch my understanding.  While reading this book, I was thrilled (and even felt vindicated) to learn the sources of my feelings of alienation – in those Industrial Age settings.

In his new book,“Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea”, Chuck Blakeman offers terms, phrases, and concepts that explained the reason for my feelings of not “fitting in” – I am more of a creative Capitalist who managed to wind up in workplace structures driven by Industrial Age mores.  On his web site, Blakeman offers the type of environment I’ve been seeking much of my work life…a place that offered support (and a culture) to allow ME to be ME…a place where I could find meaning for myself and contribute to a world within which I co-exist.  Blackman encourages us to…

IMAGINE A COMPANY OF ANY SIZE:

  • With no titles, no departments, no corporate ladder, no office hours, unlimited vacation time, and profit sharing for everyone.
  • That invites the whole person to work, not just the part tied to the machine.
  • Where leaders hire people they will never have to manage. In fact, where there are no employees or managers at all, just Stake Holders.
  • With no written policies or HR department, because rules destroy creativity.
  • Where the driving force is Making Meaning, not just money, and as a result, everyone makes a lot more of both.

It goes without saying…we now live in a very different world.  That being said, regardless of our generation, age or stature in life, we each need to continually remember (and embrace the fact) that we own the ability to “grant ourselves permission” to identify and be who we are – even at work.d-man-who-you-illustration-person-holding-question-mark-standing-phrase-rendering-human-people-character-44176547

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

Graphic credits:  http://www.gocomics.com/theargylesweater/2015/05/30, www.internationalmuseum.com, www.tomfishburne.comwww.dreamstime.com

DECEPTION…a way of life…??

As I sat in those expansive auditoriums soaking up details about brain processes – particularly learning and memory – along with social implication of our actions, I became mesmerized by certain key words and concepts.  In light of recent events (Robert McDonald, Brian Williams, Lance Armstrong, Bernie Madoff, and so many others), these processes put a strong-hold on me and held my attention and curiosity.  In simplistic form…these processes include:

 Attention->encoding->retention/storage->retrieval/reproduction->motivation…

As I stared at these basics and even dug deeper into the process details, I could not help but wonder how – given the true biological way in which our brains operate – is it possible for an individual to encounter, experience, and recall, replay, or retell events in a much different way from how that specific event actually occurred.

MY BOSS TOLD MELittle white lies aside, I paused to ponder if there had ever been a time in my life when the relaying of a personal experience or observation had not been fact-based – not told exactly as it had occurred (and was verifiable by others).  Had I ever been “motivated” to distort or fabricate facts (or the truth) of an event or situation?  If so, what might have inspired me to do so – an ideal job, fame, friends, cash?  Was that inspirational element worth the compromise of my principles, integrity or sense of self?  Despite my desire to understand through personal experience, I was unable to uproot any examples.

Although distortions, miscommunications, misrepresentations, dishonesty – call it what you may – lurk and lie in wait…attempting to influence and impact many aspects of our lives – from sports to investing to journalism and even to government – much weighs heavily on how we present and represent ourselves – especially in the details we each choose to include on items such as our resume or CV (curriculum vitae).

As someone who has assisted others in job search preparation including market strategizing, search techniques, and particularly the gathering, compiling and presenting of work experience and details, I’ve never encounter distortions, fabrication or even deception (verifiable through job specific contact checks) on the part of those I’ve chosen as clients.  Actually, my encounters have been just the opposite – my clients have consistently been reluctant or hesitant to even “boast” about or elaborate on their experiences and credentials.  Oftentimes, when I’ve proposed a change in verbiage or a sentence realignment in order to convey a more engaging, powerful execution statement of their acquired or innate skill…they tended to cringe or express hesitancy in making and embracing the suggested change.  When I’ve probed why, they’ve shared that it’s due to their commitment to be true to themselves and their understanding/perception of the positions they held rather than out of a fear of “being caught.”

Apparently, this type of response or behavior is not the “norm.”  In a piece published on LinkedIn by Rob Wyse, he states that ”…lying on resumes is common.”  In a study (2002) of 7,000 executive resumes conducted by a recruiter he worked with, “23% of executives misrepresented accomplishments” and “Of those that misrepresent them, 64% exaggerated accomplishments.”

'Push'n 50, but ya still got it!!'Given this – along with the many recent (and ongoing) missteps by influential individuals that continue to permeate our culture – I wonder if deception has become a way of life…the “new norm”?  If so, are we – as a society – willing to accept that type of behavior?  How would we feel if a heart surgeon lied about his credentials; or a pilot (see Catch Me If You Can) about his flight skills and cockpit hours?    Is that what we as a society are desirous of supporting, encouraging, and continuing?  If not, how do each of us find our way to not only sharing our viewpoint but inspiring others to articulate fact-based narratives of the lives we experience and witness?

Maybe, as shared by Dr. Deborah Khoshaba in her article “Self-Deception:  A Defense Against Vulnerability”…it’s okay for each of us to “relax”…and

“Enjoy being an everyday person.  “…give yourself permission to be normal.”

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

EDUCATION…burning desires in THE THIRD AGE (cont’d.)

Once considered a time for “retirement,” the Third Age (50-75) now entices one to explore.  Many journeying through this period are embracing additional education that will allow them to move in the direction of their passion and pursue their dreams.  Encouragement abounds as these adult learners attempt to embark on positive, healthy career transitions and change.

For over two decades, nontraditional students have comprised close to 40 percent of the college population, spanning a range of backgrounds and experiences from Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and GED® credential holders to 55-year-old professionals and skilled workers in career transition.  

The most significant shift is probably the massive growth in the adult student population in higher education. Thirty-eight percent of those enrolled in higher education are over the age of 25 and one-fourth are over the age of 30. The share of all students who are over age 25 is projected to increase another twenty-three percent by 2019.

As a group, nontraditional students have changed the way that higher education operates.  There are some twenty-first century trends in education that promise to reshape the face of higher learning. 

For higher education institutions to effectively mobilize to meet our real education needs, it will be necessary first to recognize the diverse faces of higher education – and that means recognizing the extent to which adult learners are the future of higher education.  

For me, stories shared by others – learning more about individual experiences – helps one gain a sense for the journey.  So, as promised in last week’s blog, (more…)

CARVING OUT YOUR NICHE…

For the past week, I’ve been thrashing around ideas for this week’s blog – like a kid rolling around on the floor with a new puppy.  My head is clearly filled with way too many thoughts.  I now have nine blogs in varying stages of completion – some need a bit more research, others need more refinement and yet others are actually in need of a title.  In any case, it’s now Friday…and none of those half-baked (some even raw) blogs seem ready to hit the public stage.

Then…as I sat there awaiting a meeting with my accountant (yep, I finally made time to focus and create a game plan or strategy for wrestling with my 2014 tax approach)…I opened my journal (remember, I told you how important my ramblings in this journal are to me and how I approach the effort/process in an earlier blog…).  As I glared down at the page, this quote slapped me in the face and demanded my attention – again like an “innocent” golden retriever puppy hunger for a walk:

“Ultimately writing is nothing but carpentry.  With both you are working with reality which is as hard as wood”  by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

KNOTS_MB_wood_carving_revHmmm…”…nothing but carpentry.”  Now that feels a bit perfunctory – especially the use of the words/phrase “nothing but”.  Then it hit me…as a seasoned, professional writer, I “should” be able to rebut, concur, challenge…or in the simplest case respond or lay out my viewpoint for Mr. Marquez (not being fully aware of his fame or comprehensive viewpoint).  So, here’s what I captured in my journal (or spoke out loud to Mr. Marquez)…

“Wow, Gabriel  (yeah, I took some liberties here to be on a first name basis – especially since he recently passed and is only here in spirit)…what a profound (and thought-provoking) statement.  For me, it’s fascinating how oftentimes with writing, the writer (this one, anyway) tends to feel as if they are wandering or traveling into some remote land where everything in the “real” world needs to either be improved upon or rebuilt (or restated, re-invented, and so on).  Recrafting reality, as one re-purposes wood seems to be an extremely tangible and valid analogy/concept.  Reality, like wood, can be soft or hard, pliable or stern – much depends on those challenges or life adventures one is attempting to grapple with.  I often wonder….  is there really such a thing as one true “reality” or is it more like our own individual interpretation, version or perspective on events that create or map out “reality” for us?  Reshaping “reality” – like repurposing wood – seems to be in the hands (and minds) of each individual soul/spirit who lands on earth in human form.  As wood is carved and whittled into a table or a chair, we each have the ability and power to take the “piece of reality” we’ve got and mold it into the style, type or mode of reality within which we will reside.  It seems somewhat like building a house to live in – we get to use the materials, supplies, skills (wood included) we were given to whittle out (as hard as it may sometimes seem) a residence or “reality” that works for us.  That’s why I write – I enjoy whittling and working with an imposed reality…that often “can be” as hard as wood.”

So, now I wonder…do you live or exist within someone else’s reality.  Is that reality as hard as wood?  If so, do you think you have the tools or skill set (maybe even as a carpenter, artist or cobbler) to whittle, paint or sculpt a new reality for yourself – or at least one that might better fit your needs or provide a bigger, brighter landscape or a greater degree of comfort –  one that might be like a new couch or a new pair of shoes but that actually feel more like your own comfy couch or pair of shoes?

Crafted, researched and written by:  | LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2014 EM Carlock

Graphic credits:  tri-citieswoodcarvingclub.blogspot.com

WORKING…on being YOU…

Oftentimes when we go in search of a new or different job, we valiantly attempt to align our skills and interests with those crafted and described by organizations seeking employees or service providers.  Their descriptions tick off a list of functional requirements, skills, disciplines and more in hopes of finding the “right” person to fulfill the job or complete the project.  As I read these lists (and work with clients to assist them in aligning their skill sets to those expressed) I am often challenged by that type of approach as it seems so limiting – one-sided even one-dimensional.  After all, aren’t each of us whole living beings – a unique blend of feelings and functionality?

Cartoon from Scott HampsonSo, I began to wonder “what would the world be like”…if we could turn the tables…and instead of simply “responding” to an employer’s functional pursuit…we could write our own holistic job description – a description that would allow each of us to clearly state (and post for viewing) details of who we truly are, what we genuinely have to offer, and what we would love to accomplish (maybe even follow a dream) – both personally and professionally – within the workplace which is a component of our lives.

Would you be able to do that – identify and reveal those details and write that description?  How hard would it be to explain those deep felt likes, dislikes, favorite environments or settings – even describe the kinds of folks (or characters) you align best with and would prefer to spend 8-12 hours per day collaborating with?  Whether you’re an employee, an entrepreneur or a volunteer…are there certain activities (or people) you would simply prefer not to perform, interact with or contribute to in exchange for cash?  How difficult would it be for you to blend your feelings with functions?

dilbert cartoonIf I were to create and post an integrated job description, details on my own interests, desires, and functions might include a few of the following:

  •  Loves to write

–  Rarely experiences writer’s block – occasionally encounters writer’s cramp;

–  Is inspired and able to write on many topics and in many arenas;

–  Especially enjoys the research aspect that allows for well-balanced writing; and

–  Inspired by:  (more…)

FLATTERY and COMPLIMENTS…elixirs or poison?

Over the past week, I’ve been pondering the nature of the current workplace.  As clients, associates, and friends share their experiences within corporations, government agencies or non-profit settings, my mind reaches to identify words that might help capture and summarize those experiences.

What I hear is that these folks tend to work long hours to sustain an increased workload, and they continue to express concern that they do not believe they are compensated for the expanse of work and/or the level of expertise expected of them; yet, they appear to be “appreciated” which is conveyed to them via “kind” words.

As I listen and absorb, two words consistently blaze across my horizon – flattery and compliment.  These words are often deployed interchangeably.  So, they seemed worthy of (more…)