Tag Archives: job

F r e e yourself

Free yourself

Of expectations

Money

Restrictions

Constraints.



Free yourself

Of limitations

Material bindings

Wants and needs.



Free yourself

Of ambition

A job

Stress

Demands.

Free yourself

Of competition

Hype

Frustrations

Pain.


Free yourself

Of order

Routine

Planning.


Free yourself

Of  obligations

Rituals

Guilt

Remorse.


Free your “self”

From your body.


Be a stream of consciousness

With ideas

That take flight

And soar.


Free yourself

Just for a day

And live

Life.

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Professionalism matters

I am surprised at how many people lack professional etiquette in the workforce. Too many unprofessional encounters have led me to believe it’s because people don’t quite understand what professionalism is. So, here goes:

1. Dress appropriately: There’s not much latitude when it comes to office attire in a regular cubicle environment. While niche offices (beauty salons, artist’s studio, etc.) might not have certain constraints, in most work-environments people are expected to dress professionally. So, no halter tops, no cleavage-showing, no micro mini skirts, no stockings with holes for women. No vests, no sweats, no clinging shirts, no bling for men. In short — you’re not there to party or express your personality. You’re there to work, so dress accordingly.

2. You are the organization: For an outsider you’re your organization’s ambassador. You’re the talking head. The representative. Keep that in mind when interacting with clients. What you say, do, or wear reflects on the organization you’re working for. If you don’t demonstrate pride in your work or respect for it, no one else will.

3. Accept critique: A lot of people take critique personally. Please don’t. If I were to cry every time  an editor told me I needed to write a second draft (Boo hoo! So, you’re saying the first draft wasn’t PERFECT!?!?!), I’d be drowning in a sea of my own tears. You’re there to learn, stretch your mind, expand upon your skills . Welcome critique with open arms. It’s only helping you grow — even if it isn’t helpful, it still teaches you patience! It doesn’t mean you suck; it’s just a way of telling you there is potential for something better. Embrace it.

4. Don’t socialize your day away: We spend more time at work than we do with our families any given weekday, so it’s natural to develop “friendships” in the workplace. But remember to keep social banter to a minimum. Your first priority is work and while everyone enjoys a bit of office gossip here and there, your water cooler conversations shouldn’t take over your day. Go for lunch or dinner with your office pals, grab a mug of beer or a cup of coffee outside office hours. Your office space wasn’t meant to be your personal living room. Also, remember that perception is reality — you may get all your deadlines met and be a top-notch worker, but if people know you for your rumor-milling or domestic-adventure stories more than your work ethic, there’s something wrong with that picture.

5. Beware of social media time sinks: Sure everyone’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Buzz and all those other time sinks, but if it isn’t part of your job profile, you really shouldn’t be using your work time to update your status or send tweets by the minute. I’ve had people make clients wait just so they could finish posting their latest photos to Facebook. Nothing tells a client that you’re not serious about your work as peering over your shoulder to see the Facebook logo staring back.

6. Don’t whine all the time: Nobody likes a whiner. Period. Everyone has loads of stuff to do. Everyone is spread thin. Everyone has zero budget. We get it. It’s ok to vent once in a while, but if you’re always complaining all you’re doing is bringing everyone’s morale down. It’s bad enough to begin with — no one needs it slapped in their faces all the time. Also, if you’re whining all the time, it won’t take long for people to mutter under their breaths: “If it’s so bad, why don’t you leave?”

7. Watch how you speak and how you write: Wassup?  See ya later dawg! Dude, hurry up! — not exactly office speak. You’re a white-collar worker in a professional work environment — act the part. Also, watch that slang in your professional communication. While emoticons and CUL8Rs may be alright when chatting with your buddies, office e-mail requires a certain amount of “seriousness.” Typing full words and coherent sentences makes a difference.

8. Don’t tie your emotions with your job: Some people take everything you tell them personally. Your job is not you. You are not your job. Stop getting your emotions in the mix. Don’t be detached, but don’t be so invested in your job that if roadblocks occur, you experience a nervous breakdown. Be civil even if you don’t get along with someone.

9. Respect other people’s time: Never leave people waiting. When you show up late you’re telling folks that you don’t really care. It’s insulting. It’s disrespectful. Just as you have a gazillion things to do, so do they. If you absolutely can’t make it on time, it’s professional courtesy to call ahead and let the other person know you’re running behind. When you say you’ll be there, mean it.

10. Don’t be cocky: Remember, everyone is dispensable. And you’re not above this rule. So, do your job well. But don’t forget that the machine will carry on just as well without you. You may be great at what you do, but you’re not the only one. Be proud of who you are and what you do, but don’t go rubbing it in people’s faces. With talent, comes humility.

This isn’t by any means a comprehensive list. Just the “top 10” compilation, if you will, from my personal experiences with those snooty, self-absorbed nincompoops….eh…no need to be uncivil — let’s just say “those unprofessional people.”

Have more tips? Do share.

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Day after day after day…

It’s 7:41 p.m. PST.
An entire day gone by in a whirlwind of activity.
Meetings, phone calls, e-mails, conversations around the office, IMs.
Non-stop exchange of information.
Reactions. Elation. Emotions.

The need for a pause button deepens.
No reprieve from the craziness.
As I splash some water on my face
I close my eyes and let my mind slip away.

The hummingbird reappears.
And the chuckle of my friends’ kids.

I scrub the accumulating dead skin.
Brushing off the tiredness.
The demands. The deadlines. The pressure.
Disappearing like the micro soy granules
Into the sinuses of the sink.

I look at myself.
A streak of red

Brightening the tired kohl eyes.
A quiver of a smile.

Today is over.
Tomorrow is another day.

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A journey of self-discovery

I sat in silence.

The sky engulfed me. So did the greenery.

It was a meditative state … hearing nothing but the chirping of the birds.

The sound of the breeze in the rustling leaves.

The smell of grass.

Everything kissed by the sun.

I was at peace.

As I cocked my head to the left, I saw the freeway … glistening metal and glass edifices.

A mass of civilization. People running from Point A to Point B. Mindlessly.

Trying to make ends meet. Trying to figure out their purpose in life through their work. Trying to survive in a consumerist battlefield.

Perched up on the green folds of the mountain, I tried to blur it out.

All needs, wants, ambition, goals — vanished.

Replaced by calm.

It was so real, that it felt surreal.

And then came a flood of questions.

Why didn’t I make more time for such escapes from a life that continued to stress me?

Why have I built a life that continually demands me to be a robot?

Why can I not just leave it all behind?

Why can’t I enjoy more time with Nature?

Why can’t I just spend days wandering, reflecting, marveling?

Why do I need a routine, a structure to make sense of my existence?

Why can’t I just be?

Escape.

Create my own reality.

I didn’t come back with any answers, but the questions keep nagging at me.

When I know what I really want to do, when I know what brings me contentment, when I know what makes me fulfilled…

What’s holding me back?

Is it a false sense of security?

Is it just because?

I don’t want to go down the “I don’t know” street…it never leads me to any answers, just buys me more time to muster up the courage and ultimately confront my fears.

I want to close some doors and not look back.

I want to open some doors and explore with wild abandon.

One day soon we’ll have to sit and talk it through.

I, me, and myself on a journey of self-discovery.

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Also posted on Writers Rising.

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You are not your job

I watched The Fight Club again after several years and it was interesting that different aspects of the movie resonated with me this time than when I had first seen it. Probably because of where I am in my life right now vis-a-vis a decade ago.

There are a lot of gems in this well-scripted movie, but what stayed with me most was this piece of monologue from Brad Pitt:

You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your f*&%ing khakis.

Aren’t these, though, the things we identify our “selves” with the most? The brands, the paycheck, the number of rooms in a house, the front lawn, the backyard, the mortgage, the rent … but if these things don’t really matter then what does?

We judge people immediately by their titanium watches, their diamond earrings, their leather jackets. We nod our heads as they describe their professions. We “relate” with them when they talk about taxes, phone bills, and the rising cost of every consumable commodity. But do we ever look through to see the person they are?

Do we even look inward that way?

We let material things define us. Armani, Bebe, Gucci, Mercedes.

We let our jobs take over our lives.

We have no time for R&R and introspection because we’re so caught up in the “bling” of life.

We don’t look past the outer shell. We don’t seek answers. We don’t ask questions. We don’t think.

All we do is react.

We’ve let ourselves be shaped by things that don’t matter in the bigger scheme of life.  Some people find their “calling” but a majority don’t even know the answer to “Who are you?” anymore. Not for anyone else, but for oneself.

And perhaps, most of us are ok with that. Perhaps, that’s how society can function “normally.” When folks don’t go out on a limb seeking answers. When people operate like machinery. Like puppets saying the same things in different languages. Pining for the same material comforts. Fighting for the same limited resources. Lusting. Hoarding.

Dying with just the clothes on their backs.

I’ve realized in the last two years that what makes me happiest are the simplest things in life. Things money can’t buy. Things corruption and greed can’t touch. Things like the twinkle in a person’s eyes. A baby’s toothless smile. The smell of the earth when it rains. A croaking frog. A blooming bud. The silence of the hills. The calmness of a lake. A sunset. Writing.

Satisfaction, I have found, comes from within. Peace follows closely behind.

It’s true that I am able to roam the world and enjoy its people and its beauty only because of the paycheck that comes with a 9-5 job. That monthly deposit to my bank account allows me to do the things I really love. But should I let it define who I am and what my life should be? Shouldn’t I let what I love define what I do?

There are things we want, and then there are things we need. Sometimes we confuse between the two.

It’s tough to let go of the lifestyle one has become used to, but it isn’t hard to review and let go of things that truly don’t matter.

This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.

You can choose to continue living it the only way you think you know how. Or you can ask the hard questions of your self and discover a way you never knew. In the process you might just find out who you really are.

Also posted on Writers Rising.

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What does “a calling” mean anyways?

Over lunch one day a friend was telling me about Chip Conley‘s book, How Great Companies Get their Mojo from Maslow. She was impressed with his philosophy of using the model for personal success and translating that to businesses. Taking it from one individual’s “peak experiences” and applying them to corporate transformation. Part of it was evaluating which slot one puts one’s professional enterprise in: a job, a career, or a calling.

I understand what a job is — it’s the oft-mundane 9-5 grunt work that pays the bills. It usually doesn’t involve passion, vision, or aspiration.

I think I also understand what a career is — it’s when you take off those blinkers at that job and chart a plan for your professional growth. It is a commitment to improving your opportunities, your salary, and provides some amount of satisfaction. In some cases, it defines who you are, what you stand for, and where you’re headed.

A calling … hmm … now that’s a word I don’t fully comprehend. According to various websites, dictionaries, and blog posts, it is work that gives you immense satisfaction. You wouldn’t necessarily even want to be paid for it. It defines for folks their “purpose” in life.

Bu what is our purpose in life? A friend told me yesterday, she thinks it’s something that stems from one’s beliefs. But how do you form your beliefs? Aren’t your beliefs based on the knowledge you have at any given point of time? And if that is so, shouldn’t they change as you grow, are exposed to new ideas, thoughts, people…? And if your beliefs change, then doesn’t your purpose in life also shift?

So, how do we say that a calling is something constant. That somehow you know this is the one and only thing you were born to do. Isn’t that really a way of saying that at this point of time in your life, given all you know about yourself and your surroundings, this is the best you can do with your talent, time, energy, and expertise? And because at this particular point of time you think this is the best use of your potential, that it gives you immense satisfaction? Ergo, this is your calling … for now.

Of course, this led to a whole new stream of questions about what potential is — both perceived and actual — and how we define time. But that’s another blog post.

I hear many people say that their work is their calling — they drop the word around so casually even though it supposedly carries so much weight … but here I am … not even sure what that word means.

I love writing. I always have. In my journey to becoming a writer, I explored many other options but wasn’t very good at any of those. Writing grounds me. It helps me grow as a person. It helps me connect. It satisfies me when I write for myself — like this blog. I don’t get paid for this, yet I do this every single day — so does it mean that this is my “calling”?

Does it also then imply that I have reached the highest point of my potential? That there really isn’t anything in this world besides writing that would give me the same satisfaction? That nothing else will come close to challenging me, uplifting me? That this is the end?

But there are so many things out there I haven’t even tried. Some things I don’t even know about, forget trying. Then how can I limit myself to one calling? How can I tell myself this is all I was born to do? Maybe there’s a host of other things I can do well and derive satisfaction from … how can I say just this is it?

Just like we’re moving away from the idea of having only one career in a lifetime, can’t we at least look at having more than one calling in life? Maybe there is something to that whole concept that needs a little revisiting …

Maybe not?

What do you think “a calling” means anyways?

Also posted on Writers Rising.

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Interview tip: you’re a CEO

Perhaps, you’ve never thought of your name as a brand before and yourself as a company — but indulge me for a minute here.

When you go for an interview, what are you really doing? Selling yourself.

In a stipulated amount of time you present a brief synopsis of your achievements, you gloat over your accomplishments, you showcase your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses, you put your best foot forward and convince people who’ve never met you before to invest in your talents.

This scenario is very similar to a CEO of a startup meeting with VPs to secure funding for his next big idea. He brings to the table a strategic vision and a stable business plan — much like you, the interviewee.

When you look at the job description, check off things you have done and can do, while circling those you don’t have an expertise in but want to learn. You also think five years out (at least three, if not five — stability is important). Where will this job take you? What can you add to it beyond the essential duties? Think about how the company can help you grow…chart a career path for yourself but never forget how you will add value to the company. What do they not have that you bring? Passion is great, but also show them ambition.

When you walk into that room, think of yourself as a CEO, not an interviewee. What makes a good CEO is what’s going to help you get the job.

  • Leadership matters — don’t expect to be babysat. Employers appreciate employees who take initiative.
  • Teamwork is critical — be a team player and a team builder. Respect others’ expertise and inspire trust.
  • Experience is key — internships help and so do part-time jobs.

Good CEOs also:

  • Think outside the box — be open to new ideas. Everyone follows the beaten path because it’s easy. Challenge yourself
  • Believe — in yourself! There’s only ONE of you. Leverage your uniqueness. (How do you do that? Specialize, but remember not to box yourself in).
  • Always look to improve — you may think you’re perfect, but you’re not. Acknowledge your weaknesses and work on them.

Illuminate the room with your personality, ideas and talent. Walk in believing no one can do this job better. Walk out knowing you did your best.

You are your best ambassador. Go get ’em!

(Thanks to Juan Escobar for planting this idea in my head 🙂)


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