World Cup Wisdom

career coaching, career change, find work you love


Disclaimer: I personally guarantee that this article will not waffle on about football (too much).  To get regular updates from Less Ordinary Living, click here to sing up.

Love it or loathe it, everyone has been talking about the World Cup.

The adventure of football on a new continent, the impact on South Africa and its people, the endless drone of the Vuvuzela, the excitement (if you’re that way inclined) of the games.

For me, I’ve been fascinated by the implications of this global melting pot for how to live life in the 21st Century, so here goes:

1) Teamwork trumps talent

The French national team imploded under the African sun. We had sulks, feuds, players going on strike, and even a player getting sent home for insurrection (top tip: don’t call your boss something unrepeatable in front of all your colleagues).

On paper, the French team is littered with some of the most skilled individuals around.  They should have easily qualified for the knock-out stages, yet they flopped in all their games.  Now they are on their way home to Paris – flying cattle class.

This group of 23 individuals ended up in rival factions, fighting each other and their manager.  On the pitch, they wouldn’t even pass the ball to each other.  The substitutes refused to sit on the bench and sulked off to stand behind the goal.  In short, zero teamwork, or desire to sacrifice for the greater good.

Le Flop Francais shows the importance of teamwork, being interdependent with others, collaborating and caring about those around you.  These elements combine to create something much greater than the sum of individual parts.

2. It’s not how old you are – It’s how good you are

career coaching, career change, find work you love

Viva Blanco!

Cuauhtémoc Blanco – Mexican legend – 37 years old.  By football standards he should be in the great retirement home in the sky dribbling on about his glory days to anyone unlucky enough to get stuck with him.

This guy couldn’t beat any of Less Ordinary Living’s readers in a race to the post box and has a pretty ample beer belly.

Yet, Blanco has inspired the Mexicans to qualification with a series of cameo substitute appearances and even knocked in a vital penalty goal along the  way.

In a game obsessed with fitness and strength, Blanco uses his brain and acute positional sense to do his talking.  He refuses to believe that his time is up and is confounding his critics with his great performances.

Anyone who has ever written themselves off as too old to try something new or make a change should take Blanco to heart.  He shows that with application and playing to your strengths, almost anything is possible.

3. Cheats never prosper

Keidar Keida and Kaka.

Any idea what I’m talking about?

Kaka is the Brazillian wunderkind who is steering his team through the knock-out stages.  Keider Keida is the Ivory Coast midfielder who conspired to have Kaka sent off from their game.

Kaka backed into Keida and bumped his upper chest gently with his elbow.  Keida hit the floor like he’d been hit by a volley of machine gun bullets clutching his face.  He preceded to writhe in agony.

The referee, not seeing the incident put two and two together and made 27. He brandished a red card and sent Kaka packing.

The catch?  In the 21st Century we have multiple TV cameras recording everything and replaying it in super slow motion.  The cheating was obvious and the world saw Keida’s deception in full.  Brazil went on to win the match comfortably and Keida’s reputation is in tatters.

In life, integrity is vital in every action.  Any attempt to cheat, deceive or generally be dishonest tends to get found out eventually.  Thanks to Kaka and Keida for reminding us of that.

4. Take nothing for granted

Espana – glorious European champions.  World number 1.  In more than 30 matches leading up to the World Cup, only defeated once.  Dripping with talent and playing expansive attacking and goal laden football.

Switzerland – dour, unheralded and no record of success.  27th best team in the world.  Patchy recent form.  No star players.

Spain were expected to wipe the floor with everyone they played and march to the final.  Switzerland are well known for poor performances at major tournaments.

Spain 0 – Switzerland 1

In life, nothing is certain and making assumptions can be dangerous.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

5. Practice is the way to master change

career coaching, career change, find work you love

The roundest ball ever... who knew!

One of the stories of the World Cup is the Jabulani ball.  Years in development, this is the roundest (hard to believe I know) and most aerodynamic ball ever created.  So what?

Well in the first few matches, this extra slick ball kept flying like a leaping salmon up a waterfall.  The players ballooned passes, crosses and shots miles further than planned.

After years of training with and playing with balls that had more drag and were less round, this change put the players of their stroke.

The response – practice, practice, practice.  The teams all went away with the new ball and worked like mad to master it.

By the second round of games, everything looked pretty much back to normal.  Successful adjustments were made (except sadly by the England team).

The bottom line.  When you are trying to make a change, or faced by change the key is practice.  Building up the skills to develop and adapt is vital in life.  The players used their years of intense practice and experience, and a short burst of hard work to adapt to the new ball.

When you face new challenges, learn the sustainable skills needed to overcome them and succeed.

Over to You

What have you enjoyed about the World Cup?

What lessons have you learned?

Photo Credit: DundasFC (Flickr Creative Commons), Celso Flores (Flickr Creative Commons), Shine 2010 (Flickr Creative Commons)

Is Work Working for You?

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Career change, career coaching, find work you love, revitalize your career

Is work working for you?

Your work has a huge impact on your quality of life and personal happiness.  Answering the 14 questions below will help you reflect your work and where you are in your career journey, and what to do next.

Please rate each statement according to your level of agreement (1 = never agree, 5 = always agree)

1. The work I do reflects my most important values.

2. I really look forward to Monday mornings.

3. I have lots of upward mobility in my current role.

4. My job is helping me to develop the skills I need for career growth.

5. I’d be delighted to be working in the same role and company in 5 years time.

6. I never complain about my work to other people.

7. I can balance work success with achieving significant personal goals.

8. My job lets me use my personal strengths.

9. My career is exciting and energizing.

10. I am recognized and rewarded for the work that I do.

11. I love the culture that I work in and it allows me to thrive.

12. I have a clear vision for career success and am actively working to achieve my goals.

13. I have the right career support (mentors, advisors, network) in place to allow me to thrive.

14. I feel like my work makes a significant difference to the world.

How is well is work working for you?

Now add up your ratings for each question.  If you scored:

0 – 35: This probably isn’t news to you, but your work just isn’t working. Don’t despair.  Now is a good time to revitalize your career journey.  A good place to start is to go back to basics and do some career planning.  It’s hard to be successful without having a clear definition of success.

If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, look for support to help get you out.  Remember, every great career journey starts with a single step.  Take a look at this article on Finding Work that Matters to get started.

35 – 55: Your work is ticking some boxes and there are other areas that need a tune-up. You may be able to address some of the challenges by shaking up your current role, or making a change in your current organization.  However, it may take a more radical career shift to address some issues.

Take a look at where you are not scoring well and create a plan of attack to revitalize these areas.  Our guide to Thriving at Work in the 21st Century is a great place to start.

55 – 70: Congratulations, your work is providing you with a lot of satisfaction and success. Take a look at the questions where you scored less well and think about how to polish the halo.  Here are some ideas for setting a clear vision and goals to keep your career journey moving forward.

Please share this with your friends and network, and if you’d like to stay up to stay up to date on the latest thinking about thriving at work, click here to join our mailing list.

Photo credit: Arenamontanus (Flickr Creative Commons)

Break free – Learn to beat procrastination for good

Reading time: 2 minutes and 51 seconds

career change, career coaching, find work you love

Time to get moving...

If you’re ready to beat procrastination for good, click here to get regular email updates from Less Ordinary Living.

I’ve been meaning to write about procrastination for ages, but I never seem to get round to it…..

Procrastination is nothing to be ashamed of – almost everyone gets a bout from time to time.  I realized it was time for me to get off Facebook and share some powerful ideas to help you kick time-wasting for good.

Beating procrastination can buy you more time, increase your sense of accomplishment and take away the frustration of feeling stuck.

Learning how to  kick start work projects, do what really matters and sieze the day can have a huge impact on your happiness and success.

What is procrastination?

Psychologists define procrastination as something “counter-productive, needless and delaying” – and that is no fun at all.

We all have some great techniques for procrastinating – some of my personal favourites include:

“I’ll start doing that this afternoon / tomorrow / next week / next month…”

“I’ll just clean the house / bathe the dog / take out the recycling / check Facebook / cut my toenails first….”

“Every time I’m about to start, the phone rings / my boss comes by / I get an urgent email….”

What makes us come up with these fiendish avoidance tactics?

Check your Head

According to the Mind Gym, procrastination is typically driven by our deeper beliefs about the world.  If we can identify the underlying assumptions and motivatiors, we can start to understand and beat our procrastination.

They suggest some common beliefs that lead to time-wasting:

  • Perfectionism – do you strive for absolute perfection in everything you do?  Perfection is such a high bar to reach, this creates a huge amount of pressure to perform.  Trying to write the perfect CV, create the ideal Powerpoint, have the perfect call with that customer is such a daunting task.  It is easy to understand why starting such a task feels scary and is easy to put off.
  • Certainty – “Before I take my dream trip to Australia / start this project on marketing to pharmaceutical companies / go to that yoga class, I need to know all about it”.  The need for certainty can push us to spend years in the research phase and never pull the trigger.  We fear that unless we’re an expert, we’ll be exposed as a fraud, look stupid and everything will go wrong.  So we never start.
  • Fear of failure – starting is the first step on the downward spiral to failure, public humiliation and destitution.  The demonic spectre of failure has stopped many great ideas and projects in their tracks.  This is probably the single largest cause of procrastination.
  • I’m not good enough – when we don’t believe we can do something, we’ll find every reason and excuse in the world not to do it.  The most debilitating thought in the world is “there is no way I can do this”.

Next time you find yourself cleaning out the cellar or re-tweetig that latest fascinating post, take a second.  What are you putting off and why?

Changing Minds

To beat procrastination, start by changing your thinking. Once you’ve identified what is behind your procrastination, try this approach:

Step 1 – Redefine your belief

Start to take the pressure off yourself by rephrasing your beliefs in a less harsh way:

I must get a perfect result” becomes “I’d like a perfect result

I must know everything about this” becomes “It would be good to know everything about this

I’m terrified of failing” becomes “It would be better not to fail

I can’t do this” becomes “I’m not sure if I am ready for this

Immediately, these beliefs become less imposing and less of a barrier to getting starting.

Step 2 – Create a safety net

Now to further crumble your belief.  Add in a get-out clause that makes the belief even less daunting.  For example:

I’d like a perfect result but if I don’t get one it doesn’t matter.”

It would be good to know everything about this but I already know enough to start and I’ll keep learning as I go along.”

These statements take away the terrible future consequences we’ve already imagined for the task.  It is fine if we try our best and we don’t quite reach perfect.  If we do fail, we may learn more than if we succeed.

Step 3 – Go for it

With the newly minted belief in place, it is time to launch in and get started!  When I’ve used this technique, it often feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I always find that just taking action is the best way to beat procrastination

Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” Johann von Goethe

Penny for your thoughts

What are you procrastinating about?

  • What beliefs are holding you back?
  • How can you rethink those beliefs?
  • How do you beat procrastination?

Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Brilliant ideas on beating procrastination

Positively Present on 5 ways to amp up your morning

Farnoosh at Prolific Living on finding focused intensity

Practical Ideas to avoid distraction from the Art of Great Things

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver (Flickr Creative Commons)

Secrets to your Successful Career – Part 2

Reading time: 3 minutes and 33 seconds

Career coaching, career change, find work you love, fulfill your potential, find your career genius

Don't take it personally....

Less Ordinary Living is sharing 15 secrets to career success in the 21st Century - click here to subscribe and get them delivered straight to you.

    Secret 4: Don’t take it personally

I believe that one becomes stronger emotionally by taking life less personally. If your employer criticizes your report, don’t take it personally. Instead, find out what’s needed and fix it. If your girlfriend laughs at your tie, don’t take it personally. Find another tie or find another girlfriend.” -Marilyn vos Savant

The old adage says that “business is business – it’s nothing personal”.  This is a healthy lesson for the world of work.

Whether you’re an employee, temp, contractor or entrepreneur, you’ll face criticism, rejection, anger, fear and disappointment in the world of work.

  • Your brilliant project that you worked all night on will be torn up by the partner.
  • Your best customer will suddenly quit with no explanation.
  • Your boss will unload on you for no reason.
  • Everyone in your new workplace will treat you like a pariah and make you get the tea.

How does anyone survive this?

The answer is to not take these things personally.  A few thoughts that have helped me with this:

1)   Most people spend their entire lives in a self-obsessed bubble, barely noticing people around them.  If someone is ignoring your email, 90% of the time it is not because they hate you, but because they are too busy worrying about buying their new house, the fight they had with their husband, or which pair of shoes to wear today.  Don’t take it personally

2)   Knock-backs, failures and rejections are great.  They mean you are trying.  The more you fail, the more you are likely to succeed.  The rejections don’t mean you are doomed to eternal failure.  They mean you weren’t the right person at the right time, this time.  Keep knocking on doors and the right one for you will open.

3)   You always have a choice.  If things are getting out of hand and consistently unbearable, you have a duty to yourself to find another way to make a living.  There are always better choices.

    Secret 5: Ask for help (and give it back)

I’m just no good at asking others to help – I feel like I have to do it myself”.

If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard this phrase, I’d be writing this post on the beach in Waikiki, rather than on a train in Wakefield.

If you’re an expert in everything, skip this step.  If you’re a normal human being then you’ll have strengths and things you’re not so good at.

Whatever you are hoping to get out of work – enjoyment, learning, growth, meaning – there will be times when you need to ask for help.

It’s amazing the lengths that people will go to in helping out.  Since I started my business, I’ve had friends and acquaintances help me with my marketing strategy, my PR approach, my web presence.  I’ve had a huge amount of feedback and help from people I really respect.

In my office based days, I got help on any number of things – how to use Excel, how to deal with a difficult team member, what to do when the boss melted down 24 hours before the end of a long project.  Without this support, I’m not sure I’d have made it through and I certainly wouldn’t have learned much.

The bottom line is learning to ask for help can make you better at your job, help you learn and grow, help you enjoy your work more and build solid relationships that can transcend jobs and even go beyond work.  Learn to ask for help.

In return,  help others generously if you can. Do your best to genuinely and graciously give back when you are the expert.  If you believe in karma, its good karma – if not it’s just the right thing to do.

And, no this lesson doesn’t clash with Secret Number 1 (You get out what you put in).  You will only get help if you know exactly what to ask for and who to ask. You have to actively seek the right help at the right time.

    Secret 6 Know why you are at work

If you haven’t seen the movie Office Space, it is one of the best films ever made about the world of work.  In this scene, the hero Peter tells the management consultants about his typical day at work.

Peter is the ultimate demotivated employee – “The truth is I probably only do about 15 minutes of real actual work” Peter’s attitude is “It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that I don’t care”.  He has no motivation to be at work.

The average human works for somewhere in the region of 75,000 hours during their career. There is no right answer for anyone to be at work, but without a good reason to be there it can become soul destroying.

Some of the most important reasons to be at work include:

  • Doing something meaningful – making a difference to the world around you
  • Learning something new – developing new skills that you can use profitably
  • Doing something you enjoy – work can provide energy and fun
  • Enjoying and being surrounded by great people – finding a great work culture
  • Making a good living – this is a good reason to work, but on its own sometimes this isn’t enough

Knowing why you are at work provides the motivation to get out of bed every day, and to get through the inevitable tough times.  If you’ve been spacing out for an hour a day and living on Facebook in the office, it may be time to take a long hard look at yourself and figure out a better way to get through those 75,000 hours.

To check out part 1 of career success secrets, click here.

If you want to get started figuring out why you are working, click here to find out more about career coaching.

Photo credit: Taylorkydd (Flickr Creative Commons)

15 Secrets to Thriving in the 21st Century Workplace –Part 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes 12 seconds

career coaching, career consulting, find work you love, careershifters

21st Century Office?

The world of work has changed beyond all recognition in the 21st Century – learn how to survive and thrive in the new world of workclick here to subscribe and get  every instalment delivered to your inbox.

1. You get out of work what you put in to work

I have a friend, let’s call him Stan.  Stan had been at the same employer for 12 years, in the marketing team.  Whenever I met Stan, this is what I’d hear:

Those b@st@rds don’t appreciate me, they work me so hard and I sweat blood for them.  Every year, they give me a terrible performance review, no bonus and a rubbish payrise.  They pass me over for promotion.  It makes me sick, I just don’t care any more.

Stan was notorious in his office for his legendary procrastination skills.  He spent all day complaining to anyone who didn’t manage to avoid him.

His nickname was Levi, because he was always out the door at 5.01.

Stan had told me many times that he didn’t care and wasn’t prepared to work his fingers to the bone for no gratitude in return.  He had given up.

When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, Stan’s employer let him go.

Stan was mystified, angry, indignant and talked about suing.  Of course he didn’t.

No-one else at his office was surprised.  They saw it coming a mile off.

Stan walked straight into Secret Number 1 – you get out of work what you put in to work.

He was barely in the office and when he was he did nothing productive.  He distracted other team members with his negative attitude. In return, Stan got poor performance reviews.  In fact he’d been on three performance plans over his career.

He was passed over for promotion because he gave out the signals that he couldn’t care less.

However you make a living, your career will have ups and downs. There will be times when you are flat out and giving everything and calmer fallow periods.  Learning to make this choice consciously and being aware that you will get back what you put is key to managing this flow.

Please, don’t be a Stan.

2. You have to take ownership of your career

career coaching, career counselling, new career, work you love

Suited and booted

Picture me as a tender 21 year-old dressed in my three-piece pinstripe suit with natty pink shirt back in the mid-1990s.

I’m striding into my shiny corporate office for the first day of world domination.

I’d arrived – from now on my benevolent employers would shower me with money, support, training and appreciation.

All I had to do was show up and collect the daily kudos.

I deluded myself that it was in my firm’s interest to take care of me, promote me and sky-rocket my career for me.  I barely put in any effort for the first year.

When it came to review time, I showed up expecting a pat on the head, a bone for being a good boy and a dazzling review.

My bubble popped.  It seemed that I was somewhere below half-way down my peer group and my managers were questioning my attitude.

It slowly dawned on me that I and only I really cared at all about what happened in my career.  It was my responsibility to set the direction, ask for the good projects, demand the training I needed, find the right mentor, look for ways to use my strengths and skills.

If I didn’t do it, these things simply wouldn’t happen.

You have to take ownership of your career – no-one is going to hand success and career satisfaction to you on a plate.

3. Everyone should learn how to make money independently

This lesson hit home to me the day I got my first cheque from a client after starting Less Ordinary Living.

Ten years of sucking at the corporate teat had brainwashed me into believing that the only way I could possibly make money was through steady employment.

Without a job I felt as vulnerable as a baby seal wandering through an Eskimo village.  When I quit my job, I really did see myself “living in a van by the river” as Pam Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation eloquently puts it.

It took a week or two to start finding clients and in that period, I was close to running back to the corporate edifice and begging forgiveness.  The prodigal son, on a rapid return visit.

Yet when the work started to come and I took that first cheque to the bank, something amazing happened.  I felt liberated.

I actually managed to make some cash, under my own steam, without anyone else’s benevolence.

This feeling is not to be underestimated.   It symbolises that you have the ability to fend for yourself.  I almost felt primal – like a prehistoric man bringing back the first woolly mammoth to the cave.

I’d recommend that everyone tries making some money independently.  Figure out something you are good and passionate about and find a way to make a little bit of money from it.

Sell a service (doing someone’s garden, being a handy man, helping someone write their CV, wallpapering, painting, anything really) or something you’ve made (at a local fair, on ebay, through a website you made).

Once you’ve done this, you’ll realise that having a job is not the only way – even if you never choose to freelance or be an entrepreneur, you’ll know more about how to make ends meet in the worse case scenario.

You’ll take away some of the doomsday fear of redundancy and see that you have more choices than you might appreciate for making a living in the 21st Century.

A great way to do this would be the start a small business for $100 in 28 days program from Chris Guillebeau

Please leave a comment and share your thoughts on these secrets and what you’ve learned about the 21st Century workplace.

Photo credit: jhderojas , Laverrue