New Leaf Blog
I find myself in a dilemma every time I write one of these newsletters. I suspect a lot of you have signed up for this newsletter because you think it will give you step by step guidance to get a great job. And what you get instead is musings and insights on how to ‘find yourself.’ Perhaps you are out there thinking ‘this is not what I was looking for.’
The reason I do it anyway is this… there is no point in helping you to find just ANY job. What I do is help you find work that is truly meaningful to you. Work which speaks to your heart and soul. Your life purpose.
That work has a totally different quality to it. Outwardly all may be the same – you commute each day, sit at a desk, use the computer and phone, go home tired. But inwardly, what satisfaction and connectedness might you be feeling as you write, create, connect and make a difference to people’s lives. How energising to be in that flow.
The practical and the possible
So, I could teach you all that practical stuff about CVs and applications, interview technique, the state of the labour market, presenting yourself… you know, all that stuff careers advisers are meant to help you with. I am, after all, a qualified careers adviser who lands almost all the jobs I apply for.
Or I can tell you the deeper secrets. That the reason I get those jobs is that I apply for jobs that I would truly love to have and that bring out the best in me. That when I go to interview I can’t help but enthuse and bring energy and ideas with me because I want to do the job so much I can barely contain it. That sense of possibility and connection is what makes me attractive and employable.
Practical steps built on deeper insight
What you need is both. So, not just a CV, but a CV that captures you and what is special about what you bring to a prospective employer. A CV that is insightful about the employer. A CV that builds a connection and makes you and the employer feel excited by possibility.
Not just job search, but seeking what speaks to you most powerfully. What environment you flourish in, what culture you want to swim in, what cause gets you in the gut.
Not just an interview, but the ability to be yourself and connect to others from that sense of who you are.
And the hardest challenge for most people is knowing themselves, accepting who they are and what they actually want (not what they feel they should want). Therefore my primary focus is on helping you to understand that: creating space and permission for yourself, connecting to your natural talents, tapping into your creativity, dealing with your negative internal voices, allowing yourself to grow into your own inner resourcefulness. Because that resourcefulness is what will actually get you the job, and the life, that you truly want to live.
I notice that my clients are a creative bunch. When they come to me they say they want to find a fulfilling job. It doesn’t take long before it becomes clear that what they want is to create work that makes a difference to the world in a way that they find fulfilling.
That word ‘create’ is important.
On one level it means that I get a lot of artists, entrepreneurs and leaders as clients. Sometimes they don’t know it when they arrive, but deep down these people are visionaries – they have a powerful vision of themselves and the difference they would like to make smouldering inside them. One of the first things we do in coaching is start to see what really matters to them in that vision.
But creating the work you love is important for people with a job or seeking a job too. It is a way of being – an authentic way to behave throughout our lives that allows us to proactively choose to build possibility into our work. Employers love it.
How can you bring creativity to your job search?
A couple of weeks ago I suggested a new way of writing a CV – starting from what problem you are solving for the prospective employer. That is a creative approach to job hunting. It gives you the ability to explore with yourself what you bring to the employer, demonstrate your insight into their needs and build a relationship of trust from the first contact you make with them.
Fundamentally it is based on insight, authenticity and connection. Insight into you and what you can bring, into the employer and into how you might fit together for mutual enrichment.
Now imagine you brought creativity and authenticity to work every day
The thought is awe inspiring. What powerful qualities would you tap into if you were able to be truly authentic in your work? Which parts of you could be expressed that you currently hold at bay in case they are not ‘appropriate’ for the office? How inspiring would your vision be if you had permission to believe in it?
Imagine a world of people operating like that in their jobs, whatever those jobs were. The thought of it fills me with awe.
Nice idea, but surely its not realistic – is it?
Some of the things that hold us back may be external: a petty or bullying boss, an over-heavy workload, a job that is so dull that you have to drag yourself there each day. If those apply to you, you might think about what changes you can make to give yourself space. But I believe the most powerful inhibitors are actually the messages we tell ourselves. Do any of these sound familiar?
- If I did that, people would think I was crazy / dangerous / a dreamer
- I’ve never done that before – I don’t know how
- That feels arrogant – who am I to tell people how to run things
- I need more experience / a qualification before I can do that
- But I have responsibilities – mouths to feed. I can’t be irresponsible
- Add your own messages here – what does the little voice in your head tell you?
What if you gave yourself permission? What if you were allowed to try and perhaps to fail? What if you took the risk of truly being yourself?
This week, choose a personal quality you would like to bring authentically to your work. Perhaps it is ‘love of adventure’, ‘artistic creativity’, ‘love and personal connection’. Try bringing that quality with you when you go to work and see what it generates in yourself and others.
I had an insight today. A really important one for me. You see, I help people to achieve their big vision. You know, the one where you really get to live the life you want. The one where despite the imperfections and set backs you are in the flow and feel true to yourself.
When people tell me about their visions, I can see how achievable they are, even when they can’t see it for themselves. I can see how my clients could get there in small steps and make it real.
And I have a big vision for myself too. I believe I can attain it because of my personal qualities, including clarity, energy, insightfulness and hard work and because I have lots of practical support and encouragement from others. So what on earth is the problem?
Seeing the vision as something for the future means we never attain it
If the vision is of an ideal life some time in the future, our brains have decided that it is something we can’t have right now. Because the vision is not just about what we are doing, but who we are being. It is something we are working towards, not how we have decided that we are. We hold the achievement of it at a distance.
One of the effects of this is that, even if we do make practical progress and achieve the outward trappings of success, we discount them and immediately need an even bigger vision to achieve before we feel we have arrived. Even if our achievements are impressive – starting a new businesses or charity, attaining a qualification, making a difference to hundreds of people’s lives, raising a family – even if those around us are blown away by what we’ve done, it may not seem like enough.
It is like the person who wants to earn £50k, because then they will have arrived. But as soon as they achieve that they see that only once they have earned £250k will they be able to do what they truly want. And then, yes, if they achieve that it still isn’t good enough – they need a million. It never ends.
My driver is not the amount of money, but the principle is the same. How many people can I help? How much of a difference can I make in the world? Can I solve the problem of poverty and bring fulfillment to everyone? These dreams don’t help me grow, they keep me small and inadequate.
Seeing the power of who we are right now
Don’t get me wrong – a big vision is a wonderful thing. It is something I work with my clients on seeing right away, at the start of our work together. It is motivating and inspiring. And it is especially so if we can see in what ways we are living in our ideal right now. That is about who we are, how we operate every day. It is about accepting ourselves as people who, despite the constraints of life, live truly.
And from that point, from that point of strength and self-acceptance we can build. We can build our powerful dreams and make them real from the bottom up. They are built on a foundation of strength not of neediness or self-justification. They are built on a sense of purpose, clarity and vision.
And wherever we are right now, however far down the journey of our lives, we are present – really with our true selves as we continue to learn, build and grow.
So I leave you with three questions to ask yourself this week. You might like to meditate on these or write as many answers as come to you.
- What do I love about my life?
- In what ways am I living my ideal life right now?
- In what ways do the choices I make reveal my values, qualities and abilities and reflect my true self?
Spend some time really noticing the qualities that have and already live. If you can, connect to the loving feeling for yourself that that generates. And if you want to make changes, do so from that place of knowing what strength you have.
One of the comments on my blog three weeks ago reminded me of this quotation from The Artist’s Way at Work by Mark Bryan, Julia Cameron and Catherine Allen, chapter 2: The Roar of Awakening. It captures perfectly, for me, the fear and pain of being in the wrong place and the struggle of not knowing that you know how to be in the right place. And it captures the power of the recognition, the pain and the celebration of arriving where you should truly be.
“There was once a dragon that was lost at birth by its parents and raised among farm animals. It grew up to eat grass and walk the fields like other tame beasts.
One day an older dragon flew over the fields, breathing fire and scattering all the animals in the barnyard. The young dragon on the ground was fascinated and frozen in its tracks. The older dragon, spying its young cousin, swooped down, grabbed the younger one in its huge jaws, and flew far up into the sky.
When they were so far up the houses looked like toys, the older dragon dropped the younger one from his mouth, causing him to fall screaming toward the ground. Then, just before the younger dragon would have been killed, the older dragon swooped down, caught him in his mouth, and returned him to the sky, where he promptly dropped him again.
This horrible fall happened several time before the young dragon, frightened and angry, finally spread his own wings and with a roar of fire, sailed high into the sky – becoming – for the first time in his life – his real self.”
Awakening to your true self is neither easy nor difficult. It is terrifying when you think you don’t know how. And staying small or “tame” as the story says of the dragon is painful. The young dragon’s fear and anger could have kept him small, but ultimately he cannot stay as he is. It is when the dragon knows that he will not stand for this fear and anger any more that he roars his defiance and becomes.
There is such power in becoming our true selves. We can tell ourselves stories about how we might fail, how people may not like us if we get too big for our boots, how dangerous it might be.
And yet, how much more dangerous never to live as we truly could. How magnetic are the people who take the risk to truly live. How right it is for the dragon to roar and to fly.
I am on my way back from pitching to an enterprising charity to develop a number of new social enterprises to replace and enhance their diminishing grant funding. Amongst the questions we were asked was a query about the differences in charities’ and social enterprises’ mentality when it came to funding.
The answer is that it is very similar to the difference between applying for a job with a CV and application form that you have adjusted to fit the job requirements, or applying for a job with a document that you can call a CV, but which is really a demonstration that you understand the problem that the employer faces and that you can solve it.
Offer the employer a solution to their problem
To make that clear I’ll say that again in a different way.
Businesses don’t “apply” for a position in your life – like plumber, supermarket, clothes retailer. Businesses solve your problem in a way that appeals to you. For example the plumber might advertise “speedy response in an emergency with low call out fees” or “quality workmanship and no mess”. Both are plumbers, but solving different specific problems for clients looking for that solution.
The supermarket says “Quality products at an affordable price” or “cheap and convenient” depending on its customers. And the clothes retailer tries to evoke how fabulous you will feel wearing their goods.
Employers are really looking for the same thing
Think about it. An employer is not really looking for an accountant with five years experience and a professional qualification. They are really looking for their finances to get done by someone they trust to do it properly. That word ‘trust’ is the key.
How do you build trust?
It basically comes down to two things. Firstly, you understand them and their problem. I mean, you really “get it”. That takes some research on your part. And knowing that what you are looking for is to understand what problem they are trying to solve can really focus your efforts.
Secondly, you can demonstrate that you are able to solve that problem. What would you do for them? Not in a theoretical way, but really… what would you do in your first month, three months, a year that would make a difference?
And how do they know that you could? Well that is where all the standard CV stuff comes in – your experience and qualifications. Of course they are still relevant. But now you have really shown HOW they are relevant. If possible, give them real examples of what you have done to solve similar problems and how pleased the people were that you solved them for. Or if it is a new idea, give them evidence of your skills in related areas.
Give it a try
Next time you apply for a job, you could give this a try. Not sure how to do it? My next free teleseminar will take you through it. With real practical steps to follow and the chance to ask questions, sign up now by clicking here.