Friday, June 28, 2013

Passion and Success

Published with permission
Passion is the first principle that underpins the Yes For Success Platform. Several years ago Denis Smith held a high pressure sales job, was drinking too much and suffering from depression.

His life lacked passion despite all the trimmings of a successful sales career.

Fortunately he knew 'something' was missing from his life and he went on a search to discover his passion. He quickly found photography and realised that he was somewhat of a natural with the camera. Upon uploading his photos to sites he discovered that his 'good' photos were the same as everyone else's. But he didn't want to be the same as everyone else.

So his evolving passion took him on a journey of discovery where he came across the concept of 'light drawings' through photography. With passion comes innovation and he decided to 'play' with the concept, creating surreal 'Ball of Light' images in his photographs.

Today Denis has turned his passion into a business. More importantly he is living a life full of positivity and energy. View this short video to learn more about Denis' story.

Personally I feel energised when I hear about stories such as Denis' and I thank my good friend Andrew Scott (an amateur photographer himself and a personal friend of Denis') for sharing the story with me.

How present is passion in your life?

Learn about the Yes For Success Platform here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Change Perspective To Create Success

A member of the Yes For Success community shared his struggle with 'getting the word out' about the great work his NGO was doing.

"How should an NGO get the word out so that people know about what we are doing?" he asked.

 Jock, an extremely successful consultant, author and illustrator who is one of the members of our community asked, "Michael, if you were a retail organisation, how would you approach this situation?"

"Oh! That's easy. I'd use testimonials from happy customers, ask them to spread the word, use traditional advertising and social media to highlight these points, share 'good news' stories, invite key people and media to events..."

As it transpired I was able to learn that Michael had a view that because an NGO has limited financial resources it would be difficult for it to spread the word about what it does.

His mindset had blocked him from taking action because his mindset had predetermined what was possible and what wasn't possible.

When Michael reviewed his answer to Jock's question he was able to 'see' that the vast majority of his suggestions, while requiring effort, didn't require a lot of funds. A change in perspective enabled him to see his problem in a different light which opened up possibilities that had previously been impossible.

This is a major strategy that successful people utilise. When you are stuck, find a way to see your issue from a different perspective. Look at what that perspective suggests and implement what you can.

If you struggle to imagine a different perspective because you are so close to your own issue, then find people who genuinely want to help and are prepared to propose a different perspective. Ask them what they think. Their answers could be worth their weight in 'gold'.

How are you accessing different perspectives? Visit our community to see how you can join an ever growing community of like-minded people who are all striving to create their own version of Life Balance and Personal Success.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Your Stories Matter For Career Progression

If you are looking to prepare yourself to take on a new career challenge, how do you capture your experiences in a useful way?

Your stories are important in the context of both creating your resume (The Essay Expert’s specialty!) and preparing for an interview.

Are you the right fit?
Once you are in front of your prospective employers, your goal is to communicate that you are the right fit for their organization. The interview is largely about testing your personality. The interviewers already know that you have the right technical skills or a demonstrated ability to learn them. What they don’t know is whether or not you will fit in their company culture.

This is where your stories about your employability skills kick in.

95% of interview questions are behaviorally based. This means that you will be asked questions that require you to provide an example about how you have demonstrated your employability skills in the past. If you haven’t prepared your answers, you will likely fumble your way through your interview.

Tell us about a time…
As an example, imagine being asked, “Please tell us about a time when you had to work with a difficult person.”

This question is meant to elicit how well you will interact with your fellow employees. Will you be a good team member to have around the office?

If you have prepared stories about teamwork, communication, leadership and problem solving, you will quickly be able to modify one of your existing stories to provide a succinct and coherent answer to this question.

If you haven’t prepared your stories, your face could turn white, the blood draining from your brain: “I’m not sure. I can’t think of one right now. I know that I have worked with difficult people before but I can’t think of one right now. Sorry.” It is not unusual for these sorts of responses to be heard in an interview.

How do you think the interviewers will judge your organizational “fit” with this kind of response?

A structure to rely on
Now here’s the good news: Interviewers have formulas that they listen for with regard to how your answers are structured. If you know the formula, you can prepare so you don’t get caught off guard.

One common formula is the CAR (Challenge / Action / Result) method. When answering a question such as the one above about working with a difficult person, you might choose a CAR story that you had prepared.

Let’s break down the components of a CAR story so you can create some of your own:
‘C’ is for Challenge or Circumstance. What situation sets the scene for your story? What was the context? Who were the players? What goal were you (as a team or individually) trying to achieve? What roadblocks stood in the way?

Although the first place to look for CAR stories is in your work experience, some of your best examples might come from family, recreational, or other extracurricular activities. This is especially true if you are a new graduate, but might be relevant even if you are a seasoned professional. If you planned a wedding, for instance, you learned skills that will apply in any paid position where you might be asked to organize a project or event. And if you get along well with your family, that’s a great sign that you will be a great person to have in the workplace!

‘A’ is for Actions. This is where you differentiate yourself. What did you do that made a difference? Be specific and include the most pertinent actions that you undertook. In the example above, you may have recognized that part of the reason for the “difficult” person’s behaviour was that you hadn’t been clear in your communication. So you may have stopped talking and just listened. Perhaps you discovered that they had misunderstood what you said—enabling you to communicate your message in a way they could comprehend.

‘R’ is for Results. This is the “So what?” part of your story. The results you have produced are some of the most important employability skills you can demonstrate. In the above example, your effective use of communication through improved listening may have resulted in a clearer understanding for the entire team of what it was trying to achieve—which in turn created a high level of focus and ultimately a successful project. You might even add that a big lesson from this experience was that through effective communication, you realized that the “difficult” person in question wasn’t that difficult after all. By sharing your results, you emphasize the positive impact you can have on an organization.

Reap the benefits of preparation
Preparing your CAR and employability skills stories, complete with results and lessons learned, provides you with flexibility when answering questions. You will be able to simply listen to the question and then select the most appropriate story to answer it. Your answers will be well-thought-out and evidence-based, and will make your interviewers engaged and favourable toward your application.

The power of telling your stories through a structure such as CAR is that it enables you to shine and reveal your personality, in addition to demonstrating how well you prepare for important meetings (yes, an interview is a meeting!). Your interviewers are then in a position to objectively judge how you would fit in the organization.

If you’d like to learn more about how to prepare yourself to be a successful interviewer and Young Professional, including another powerful formula for creating your stories and examples, then access What Really Matters For Young Professionals!

Gary Ryan is the Founder of Organisations That Matter, author of What Really Matters For Young Professionals! and creator of the Yes For Success online platform for creating and executing a life of balance and personal success! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Optimise versus maximise

The word 'maximise' is used far to often by managers. 

"I have to maximise the performance of my team members. I have to get as much out of them as possible."

Think of your car. If you drove your car to it's maximum potential, how safe would you be driving? Even if it were possible, how long do you believe that your car would last before it broke down?

When systems work to their 'maximum' they are operating on the edge of breaking down. Keeping with the idea of cars, drag cars are designed to operate at their maximum for a quarter of a mile. Very often something goes awfully wrong when the attempt to drive the car for that short distance breaches the maximum capacity that the car's engine can tolerate. The cars explode or crash and the driver loses the race. Think about it. A huge amount of time, money and effort goes in to ensuring that the drag car completes a quarter mile. Yet, because they are operating at the maximum, a high number of them don't make it.

In this context, and given that humans aren't machines, why would we even consider trying to 'get the maximum' out of people?

Instead we should be trying to optimise output. When we optimise a system we are considerate of the long term effects of running our system 'too hot'. Pushing people to work long hours, day after day and requiring them to work on weekends just to keep up, week after week, month after month is an example of a human system trying to maximise output.

It is interesting how the everyday language that people use reflects what is actually going on.

"I've hit the wall."

"I crashed and burned."

"I have nothing left in the tank."

When people are treated like machines they will often talk as if they are machines!

But people aren't machines. They need time for rest, relaxation and re-energising.

Remember folks, relative to an organisation's goals, an employees personal goals will always come first. So leave some room for them to achieve success in their personal lives and help them to perform at their optimum. They'll be better for it and so will their performance for the organisation over the long term.