Focus, focus, focus.

3 09 2009

Here I am in China, on vacation, thinking of you, Awesome and Unemployed.  Not only am I blocked from wordpress.com and determined, but I have been thinking about how to help you.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes by Marianne Williamson:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, [AWESOME]? Actually, who are you not to be?  … As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I know some pretty amazing people out there that have been beat down by the daunting prospect of finding the right job.  Eventually, they second guess their talents and, generally, believe that they are not the best candidate that a company could hire.  They tell me, “I can’t, because…” and it’s almost always because of a standard that they cannot meet in their own minds.  Often times, a standard that’s expected from someone far beyond their level.

Don’t get me wrong.  Humility is important.  There’s nothing more obnoxious than the waste of space that can weasel his way into a job.  But, that’s not you.  You work hard.  You have the expertise and skills to prove it.  You have big dreams and you’re not perfect, but you strive to do well and to do things right.

I do notice a trend across these people, though: They don’t know what they want to do.

Gasp.  I said it.  These people are applying to companies like machine guns without rhyme, reason, or focus on what they are good at.  This is where the mis-fits, mistakes, and self-doubt happens.

But a little introspection can help.  (Or for some folks, a lot!  And that’s okay, too.)  Begin to ask yourself some of these questions:

What are you good at (and have something to show for)?
Take some steps to do a personality or career test that helps to identify your strengths.  My favorite is Strengths Finder.  Based on positive psychology, Strengths Finder is based on the premise that you should enhance your strengths, rather than belabor over your weaknesses.  If you are strong at something, you can only get exponentially better.  Take a moment to pay to take the online assessment to figure out what you’re good at.  Or you can buy the book and do a self assessment (read the strengths and choose your top 5).

How does what you’re good at manifest itself in various careers?
Here’s where you consider your options.  When you’re strong at these things, how can you make a career out of it?  Is there one that completely fits your background, interests, and your strengths?

These thoughts can bring you focus and some clarity.  It should also bring you should some newfound confidence in who you are and what you’re looking for in your job.  Most of all, now you believe that you’re great for the role, because you took a test that said you were!!!

Focus yourself, own it, and deliver it through and through.  You can do it.  And must I say it again?  Yes, because you’re awesome (you’re just unemployed).

Zai jian, peng you!
Stefanie from Shanghai
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2 responses

4 09 2009
Valerie

I’ve never read a book of Marianne Williamson. I do really think I should though. The life coach I’m working with can’t stop talking about “A course in miracles”. I think that’s her last book, right ?

In the quote you shared with us, one phrase in particular really resonated with me: “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented?”. This is such a negative thought but we can’t help but thinking it. A few months ago and even some times now, I tell myself: “how the hell do you think you’re gonna make it”, “what do you have other people don’t?” or “you’re coming from a small French city, why would you manage to get out of there and come to the US when thousands of people try every year and fail ?”. My answer should be: because I am brilliant, gorgeous AND talented.

I am lucky to already know what I want to do with my life. It is a long road though and I’m sometimes scared not to make it but then I try to remind all my achievements, I take a deep breath and I just go for it.

Great article !

5 09 2009
Sami

Thanks Stef! You’re absolutely right about focus. I’ve been hiring manager for a number of positions and nothing screams poor fit like an applicant who doesn’t know what he’s looking for. I get all these resumes from people whose background is unrelated to the job posting – did they even read the description before firing off an email?? But on the otherhand, it’s clear when you see someone who really knows what he wants, has pursued this interest in a measurable way, has done his research about your company, and expresses his passion directly in the coverletter and interview.

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