12 Things I learned (or re-learned) about life and careers this year

‘Tis the season for lists and reflection on the year that is nearly ended – and far be it from me to break that tradition!  

I set a personal goal for myself to learn something new every month in 2012.  Not sure how that list stacks up but I do know that the wonderful coaching clients and workshop participants whom I have had the pleasure of working with this year have taught me a lot, or caused me to “re-learn” many things about life and careers:

1. Resilience – it never ceases to amaze me how truly resilient people are.  In the face of an endless array of adversity, people keep going.  I saw unbelievable resilience at the London Olympics in both athletes and the people who work in the business of the Olympics, but I see it every day in the people I work with in all walks of life.  Humbling.

2. Hold yourself – and others – capable – this is a lesson from the Royal Roads University executive coaching program I took a few years ago but I continue to learn and re-learn it.  The number of times I have been on the verge of offering an unsolicited opinion to a coaching client – only to have him/her come up with their own better solution…  I am constantly reminding myself to not only hold myself capable but hold others capable of their own decisions as well.  Try it!

3. You are not alone – like many people, my worst time for fears and doubts is the middle of the night.  Waking up and realizing that there are people around you who can truly help is a lesson we all need to refresh frequently.

4. Accept help – once we recognize that we are not alone, the next step is to actually accept help.  I think I signed up for  “I can do this myself” martyrdom at birth.  Constant reminder that I do indeed get by with a little help (or a lot of help) from my friends.

5. When it’s over, it’s over – some of you will recall that I made this statement after finishing work at the London 2012 Olympics.  It has been a very liberating experience to recognize, declare and move on from this statement.  Whatever it is that may be over in your life/career, I recommend calling it!

6. There is life beyond  I was connected in some way to the Olympic movement for nearly 15 years and longer than that to the world of major events.  It was a great run but so is what has unfolded outside of that world.  I am LOVING my career in business and career transition coaching!

7. Still searching for a cure for being a workaholic – nobody but me really sets how much work I take on or what I turn out in the space of a day, week, etc.  My new motto is: “just because I can, does not mean I should”.  I am a work in progress on this one.

8. Sometimes where you are is where you are meant to be  in my work with people in career transition, it is interesting to watch how sometimes people go full circle and realize the change they need to make, is to stay where they are.  I have learned that this realization is as big a change as any.

9. Story works – I have learned to be guided by the fact that “sometimes the turning point in our lives and careers is more obvious in the telling than in the living”.  Get your real story down on paper and you may be surprised by what it tells you.

10. Networking works  apropos of the point above about not having to do things alone and accepting help, I have decided that the care and feeding of your personal and professional network is as important as anything else you may do in your career.  Stands you in excellent stead when you are ready to make a change.

11. Action works – take a step, any step!  Action is the key.  At least make a plan to make a plan!

12. Life is truly short  having recently lost yet another dear friend who was too young to leave us, I am again reminded of this sad truth.  Don’t waste any time – make the best of life!

I wish all of you the opportunity to reflect on what you have learned in 2012, along with the health and wisdom to make 2013 a year that truly counts!  Very best wishes,

Linda Oglov

Promoting You! 5 ways to help you get better at asking for what you want.

I have a client who is so articulate, compelling and charismatic that she could pretty much sell you anything.  Unless it was selling her own professional services or asking to get paid to do them!

“I can sell anything but myself”, she says.  Other people have variations on the theme: “I have trouble articulating what it is I can do” or “I can ask for a raise for people who work for me but when it comes to discussing my own salary, I am at a loss.”

Why is that?  Of course some people are just plain shy.  Even the idea of talking about themselves is abhorrent, much less asking for something.  There are also people who are not shy, but still go into freeze mode when it comes to making the ask.

And yet, we know that there are times when we have to promote ourselves and ask for what we need.  Others may sing your praises but can you count on them to get your story right?  As an example, I have some wonderful colleagues who have always been generous in promoting me, but they really know me as an Olympic marketing expert – work that I no longer do.  It is my job to equip them with the tools they need to continue to promote me for the business coaching and development work that is now my passion.

I am of the belief that you need to take personal responsibility for promoting yourself in a manner that is natural and works for you.  And it starts with exhibiting self confidence, even if you do not feel it.

If this is you – not feeling confident but you still want/need to promote yourself – here are some tips that may help get you rolling:

  1. Get your story right – at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it really does all start with having a personal career story that reflects the “why” you do what you do, not just the what, how and when.  Get it so you believe it first, then crisp it up and get ready to take it out into the world!
  2. Develop a list of the people in your network – think beyond the obvious and be strategic according to what you are currently looking to do (get a new job, start a business, etc).  Then prioritize that list and keep it as a living document that you revisit and update on a regular basis.  And START NETWORKING – begin with the people that are easiest for you to approach and use them as a training ground.
  3. Pick a friendly venue – if it is easier for you to start promoting yourself to someone whom you are comfortable with inviting to your home or meeting in a coffee shop, do that.  If it is intimidating meeting someone in an office setting, you can build up to that.
  4. Dress the role you want – if you are looking for an office job, dress in business attire even if you are just meeting a friend.  This is true for both men and women – you don’t want the person you are meeting to sit there the whole time thinking “really?  Dressed like that he thinks he is ready to work in X?”
  5. Act the role you want – we all know the old adage “fake it till you make it”.  Maybe faking it is not in your definition of a natural approach, but use those first test grounds to act the role you want, in whatever way you can.  Want to start a consultancy?  What would it take for you to look and sound like a consultant?

ASK!  A belief in fundraising is that one of the biggest reasons people don’t donate is because they are not asked.  I believe the same is true of asking your friends and colleagues – your network – for what you need.  Set the stage, relax and just ASK.  The person may say no or it may not be something they can do, but you will not know until you ASK!

Your immediate network of friends and colleagues is a great place to get started.  Practice may not make you perfect but it will move you along the continuum towards being able to promote yourself and ask for what you need.

Linda Oglov