Don’t Be Fooled By the Self-Reinvention Myth

Self-ReinventionHave you ever thought about reinventing yourself? Did you try? Did you succeed?

I have to admit, the idea of reinventing myself has, at times, been something I’ve flirted with. Even if ever so briefly. Perhaps you have too. And why not? After all, reinvention carries with it an implied sense of renewal, reinvigoration, rejuvenation, and …well… rebirth! It can be an attractive idea, especially when we crave a better quality of life. Let’s face it, reinvention is appealing, and it does sell books. And if, like me, you’re a fan of personal development, it’s easy to believe you can stake your claim to happiness on creating a new release of you.

It’s Not About Human Potential

On some level, I think my initial attraction to self-reinvention emerged from my long-time fascination with personal development. In fact, as a psychology major in the 1960s, I was absolutely enthralled by the human potential movement, which was rooted in the theories of many influential thinkers, therapists, and personal development gurus. As well, I was influenced by humanistic psychology, which promised creative, fulfilling, happy lives via something called self-actualization.

Yet, what’s clear to me, now, is this: It’s a mistake to equate self-reinvention with human potential or personal development. [Tweet This]
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Are You Defining Success By What Matters To You?

Word definition successfulHow often do you stop to think about your success? How do you define it? As you may have surmised from the name of this site, I’ve broadly reimagined success as “your career, your life, your way.” It’s a position that has guided me for a long time, and is rooted in my philosophy of personal responsibility: “It’s your life, own it.”

I’ve lived much of my life based on this idea. So, I tend to take for granted that true success is achieving meaning and fulfillment based on personal choice and self-direction. It’s my bias, and has shaded my perceptions, making it easy to see evidence for it in my work with clients, over social media, and especially in what I read.

Believing that conforming to defined roles in compliance with organizational authority limits freedom, I saw in Dan Pink’s Free Agent Nation, the dawn of true independence. Added to the mix was my work in personal branding. I saw with many clients that “permission to be yourself” resonated. It made sense in helping them map their career strategy, stand out, and gain more visibility and credibility.

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Could It Be Time For You To Get Real About Your Career?

girl with two faces“Oh, come on, get real!” Chances are good that you’ve heard this from friends more than once in your life. Me too. In fact, you’ve probably offered up this gentle guidance yourself. I know I have. Actually, I’m about to do it again…

Like a lot of people, you’re no doubt aware of lots of realities about the world of work. You know the results your company expects of you, you know you need to be prepared for your annual performance appraisal, …and you know making your boss look good is usually good for your career. You also know you need to give office gossip at least some credence, you know you have to watch your back, and you know you’re expected to do ever more with even less.

And most importantly, you know how to fit in. After all, it’s something you’ve been doing most of your career.

Actually, like many people, you may have gotten so caught up in your career adventure that, even now, you may be as eager to fit in to your profession, industry, and organization, as you were on day one. Over time, this desire has been reinforced by seeing that if you perform well, and have a little luck, your career advances. You also get to keep your job, and you become even better at doing what’s expected.

Sure, it can be difficult at times. Generally, however, you’ve progressed in your career by being astute enough to figure out what others want from you – and agile enough to provide it. Yet, I think this kind of success holds a danger, and it’s this: You form a picture of yourself that meets work specs, even if it’s several beats short of who you truly are. [Tweet This]

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Why Uncover & Tell Your Story…? Here’s Why!

Your StoryHave you ever been urged to tell your story? Chances are good that you’ve heard this advice more than once. And yet, perhaps like many other people, there never seems to be a very compelling reason to do so. Well, unless you’re preparing for a job interview.

Yet, the question, “What’s your story?” is neither idle nor superficial. [Tweet This]

Still, it can be helpful to know why uncovering and sharing your story – as well as listening to other people’s stories – can be good for your career … and for your life in general. As Lisa Cron documents, in Wired for Story, there is solid brain science behind storytelling. Specifically,

“Neuroscientists believe the reason our already overloaded brain devotes so much precious time and space to allowing us to get lost in a story is that without stories, we’d be toast. Stories allow us to simulate intense experiences without actually having to live through them.  … [In fact,]… our expectations [of a story] have everything to do with the story’s ability to provide information on how we might safely navigate this earthly plane.”

Put another way,

“Story is the language of experience, whether it’s ours, someone else’s, or that of fictional characters. Other people’s stories are as important as the stories we tell ourselves. Because if all we ever had to go on was our own experience, we wouldn’t make it…”

Benefiting from a good story is, on some level, like hiring a coach or consultant. Someone who has the kind of information you need to survive and improve so you can live successfully. And while you might not think about it, your story matters to the people who you want to hire you!

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Play Your Part: Make “Typecasting” Work for You

CastingHave you ever imagined yourself as a movie actor? If so, what roles do you play? More importantly, how similar are your imaginary roles to who you are in real life? I ask because I think the world of acting offers us a useful lesson in career success.

One of my friends is an actor who is carefully building his career. Fortunately, he has a great day job and an award winning film to his credit.  Recently, during dinner in LA (where else?), we talked about personal branding for actors. During this and a subsequent conversation in Atlanta, I learned some things that seem to have broad application to pursuing success in other industries.

According to my friend, getting started in acting is often based on your type; specifically:

“… typecasting … [or] the process by which a particular actor becomes strongly identified with a specific character; one or more particular roles; or, characters having the same traits or coming from the same social or ethnic groups.”

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Frame Your Career Story: The Pixar Pitch

LampIf you had to describe the bigger story of your career, what would you say?

No, I don’t mean the information that would normally find it’s way into your elevator pitch. Rather, I mean the bigger story that frames what you do – and propels your career. That is, the backstory of conditions that exist before the hero (you) even show up, and the flashforward to show the bright future your work brings about.

Sounds complicated, right?

Well, actually, there are career-related story frames that can guide you. Yet, I have a new favorite that I learned about from my friend Carol Ross. It’s the Pixar Pitch. Described by Dan Pink in To Sell Is Human, it goes like this:

Once upon a time _____. Every day, _____. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

 It’s powerful. In fact, I’ve already used it to help people identify the words to best convey their vision, tell the story of their business, clarify their mission – and of course, quickly uncover the why of their careers.

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Achieving Happiness In Your Career

Achieving Happiness

Does your career bring you the kind of meaning and fulfillment that supports your happiness?

I ask because I so often receive inquiries from people who tell me they’re not happy. They say things like,  “I’ve struggled to find a career I’m truly happy in, and feel discouraged.” Or, “Unfortunately, I’ve made too many decisions based on money but not happiness.”

I could share more, but you get the idea.

Frankly, while career choice matters, finding happiness is journey that involves some more fundamental habits. In fact, I would even go so far as saying, and I’m not alone in this, you need to choose your happiness first. Still, in my coaching work, I find the happiest people are the ones who are able to connect what they do to a deep sense of purpose in pursuing a vision for the world. And for these folks, the true measure of success is not the size of their office or paycheck. Rather, it’s the achievements that regularly result from their determined effort to fulfill their purpose.

Take Sean, for example.

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It Might Be Yours, But Is It Really A Story?

Your StoryHave you ever stopped to think about all it took to become you? Like others, it’s likely that your teenage years launched you on a quest for identity that probably brought a fair amount of disorientation, experimentation, and even fear.

And that was just the beginning! As you matured, you may have developed a sense of identity, but never quite shook the fear of not fitting in.

Yet, somehow you ended up with a sense of identity that supports you. And if you’ve ever been through a structured assessment and introspective process you’ve probably attained even more clarity and confidence in your sense of self. Well, at least until confronted with the need to tell your story. At that point, self-knowledge probably seems to evaporate! [Read more…]

Discover Your Story

Discover-Your-Story-235x300Do you love a good story? I know I do. Over the course of my life, I’ve been captured by the magic of stories, and enriched by the lessons they provide. Yet, to be perfectly honest, I never really gave much thought to what went into developing those stories in the first place. How about you? I suspect that if you’re like most people, you really aren’t a “story geek” either. Basically, you just enjoy the magic, and take away the parts that apply to your experience, and perhaps to your aspirations.

You already know stories have tremendous power that can be harnessed to make an impact! In fact, they have been part of our humanity, since pre-historic times. Scientific research suggests that we are wired for story, and that it has played a significant part in helping us survive, learn, and form communities.

Still, these days, it seems like storytelling has taken on renewed importance in careers and business. The fact that stories are engaging and create strong bonds is not lost on marketers. I believe it shouldn’t be lost on you, either. I think you know this. Right? I mean it’s hard to run a business or career, these days, with the idea of telling your story popping up.

But what exactly is your story? And how do you tell it? [Read more…]

Start With You

Start With YouWe live in amazing times. Today, with high-speed internet and mobile connectivity, we have access to ideas and people that far exceeds what we ever could have imagined, not so very long ago! We spend more time on line than ever – surfing, shopping, and socializing. We read reviews, get news, and even manage our finances!

Of course, we also make use of online resources to better manage our careers and business lives, as well. And if you’re like most people at mid-career, you already know there is no shortage of advice available. Maybe at times it’s too much. Don’t you think?

Regularly read career and business blogs or points of view in LinkedIn Groups, and you soon see that even the simplest of business practices have become complicated. A good example is introducing yourself. Today, preparing to present yourself to others seems to take almost Herculean effort, as you sort out the best structure for your elevator pitch. And for some people, maybe even you, the result is to get lost behind a flurry of words that leave other people baffled.

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