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Problem Solving. Inate? Learned?

My take on the question is both, actually.  As I watch my 8 month old grandson I realize that he spends most of his day solving problems.  How can I get to that bright, shiny object across the room?  How can I get them to feed me?  Pick me up and the list goes on.  I see him watching, examining, assessing, thinking.  All this leads me to the conclusion that we are born to solve problems.  And some pretty complex ones at that.  Like learning to walk and talk by the time we are say 2ish.

The reason I even bring it up is because in the career transition world we hear a lot these days about the “skill gap”.  That a lot of current job seekers lack some really basic skills like the ability to communicate well, solve problems, serve customers, think critically.  I’m perplexed by that because  I think that we all have a certain amount of ability to do many if not all of the above.  The question really is what’s happened to that ability?  When did we lose the edge?  Those of us who may appear to have lost it?

Seems like when we have kids we are constantly encouraging them to keep trying; telling them “You can do it”.  “Don’t give up.”  “You can learn it.”  Then somewhere down the line either we’re not as enthusiastic as we once were with them; someone else has told them “they can’t” for whatever reason or they stop believing in themselves for some reason.  Maybe it’s a combination of things.

Our challenge is to help people rediscover their ability to solve problems, think strategically and critically, regain their natural affinity for risk taking, all that stuff that gives them the confidence to work to master even more skills and develop more of their talents.  We’re missing a great opportunity to participate in the development of others when we don’t encourage them in these areas.  For that matter sometimes we need people to encourage us too.

I guess I hate to see all that potential left untapped.  That’s what I love about coaching and training.  The opportunity to participate in helping someone else grasp their potential, develop and even maximize it in certain areas.

What’s your opinion on the problem solving question?  We’d love to chat about it.

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Whose dream is it anyway?

Here’s another one that I come across pretty consistently when I’m meeting with people who are in a job search right now.  I really always wanted to do “X” but my mother/father insisted that I go to college.  Or my parents weren’t supportive of my passion to be a hairstylist, plumber, doctor, attorney, you name it.  Or my dad was an attorney so it was always pretty much understood that I’d go to law school.  My mom was a nurse and that’s the path that I thought I was supposed to follow too.  I come from a long line of (fill in the blank) ______________.  Even, well, all my friends were going to XYZ University so I just applied there too and thought I’d figure the rest out along the way.  And now here I am wondering how I got here exactly and where I want to go/what I want to do next.

I know a lot of this is potentially or maybe really deeply psychological.  I am by no means schooled in the subject.  Just a curious person wondering how we get ourselves into “these things.”  That leads me to ask a lot of questions about it.  There’s a lot of fear, uncertainty and anxiety right now because we have a lot of time to think, consider, assess.  Maybe it’s better to just follow the path that was expected, understood; go with the flow.  Right now in most cases there is really no “flow”.  We are at a dead stop.  That means we have more time than ever to contemplate, consider our path, beat ourselves up for all the things we could have, should have done etc.

What if we choose to view it as an opportunity?  To take a class (academic or technical); go for the whole degree/certification?  Do some serious self-assessments and ask some introspective questions?  Consider all the possibilities of where our skills, gifts, experience, contacts could take us?  Map it out?  Chart the course?  Be unapologetically who we are?  Who God designed us to be?  Define success for ourselves instead of allowing someone else to do it?

Does it require strength and courage?  Absolutely.  Will it be easy?  Unlikely.  Will everyone else be doing it?  Doubtful.  Is it going to be uncomfortable?  Most assuredly.  Then why would anyone want to put themselves through it?

Just ask someone who has a genuine passion for what they do all day?  They’ll say it’s worth it.

If you can relate to the opening paragraph, have had a real transition during this economic downturn or are someone who truly loves what they do please comment.  I want to hear from you.

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When did you know?

I’ve been running across some interesting circumstances over the last 2-3 years or so as a career coach/job transition specialist and maybe it’s because of the sheer numbers of people I’m working with since the economy has tanked.  I’ve met a lot of people along the way who stayed in jobs they didn’t particularly enjoy or weren’t passionate about necessarily.  They are lukewarm at best about what they had been doing and in many cases want to make a full blown career transition.  Although they miss having a regular paycheck and maybe would not have voluntarily left the job/company now that they have a blank slate they look at it as an opportunity to pursue something they have maybe wanted to do for a long time.

What I’m most curious about is when did you know what you wanted to do career wise? 

 What, if any, introspection or analysis did you do to come to that conclusion? How’d you make the decision?  What contributed most to it? 

 Did you make the decision before you went to college or on to trade/technical school? 

 What response did you get from the people closest to you in your life when you announced it or told them? 

 Are you still working in that field? 

I guess I’m curious about it because I seem to meet so many people who when I ask them “what’s your dream job?  Or if every job paid $1.00 which one would you take?”  A lot of times they answer “I don’t’ know”. And to that I say, “I don’t know if I believe that”.  I think there are a lot of things people are passionate about, gifted at and truly enjoy but for some reason they don’t feel comfortable admitting it, don’t think they can actually have/get a job doing it (whatever it is) or have the support they need to pursue it. 

I need some coaching insight. 

This whole conversation brings us back to the initial question. 

When did you know? 





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Should we “level the playing field?”

I’m sitting here wondering if I’m getting my main point across with this whole blog title and the first few messages I’ve posted.  I’m thinking about what prompted it for me and hoping that I can communicate my passion around why it’s such an important subject to me.  I was so fortunate.  My parents supported me in all my endeavors both academically and athletically.  I know that a lot of kids don’t have the same good fortune. However, I have read many stories (Dr. Ben Carson, Barack Obama, Clarence Thomas, Roy Williams, Zig Ziglar, Lou Holtz, Apolo Ohno) written by and about people who came from hard scrabble backgrounds and managed to rise above their circumstances, make no excuses and choose a path to success.  

I think sometimes in our politically correct world, where we don’t want anybody to be left out, excluded, offended, hurt, etc. we have created an environment, in some cases, where people feel like they need to downplay their success so that someone else won’t feel “less accomplished”.  I’m one of those people who believe that “equal opportunity” is available but motivation is internal.  I believe that if someone is resourceful and solution oriented that they can overcome a lot of obstacles.  

I managed to find a way to get an academic scholarship to college.   That along with grants, loans and work-study covered me for 4 years.  It was so important to me to further my education that I didn’t let the challenges of dealing with the mounds of paperwork stand in my way.  Maybe we’ve made it too easy for people to “give up” these days.  I believed that education was a path to more opportunity.  I believed that if I had something of value to offer a potential employer that I could earn a better living.  My parents had not gone to college and I watched them struggle a lot.  It wasn’t what I wanted for my future. 

A lot of times lately I see situations where I feel like overall we are “dumbing things down” instead of “challenging them up”.  To me it makes more sense to lift people up, to see them as they can be and have the potential to be which gives everyone more opportunity.  It’s not going to be easy. It’ll take support and commitment but I think it’s worth if it we want to continue to maintain the competitive advantages we’ve come to know and love in America. 

The challenge may seem overwhelming but I think it’s worth discussing.  What do you think? 


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Go. There’s nothing stopping you!

I met with a gal today who commented that she liked what she had read in one of my blog posts about pursuing your passion and/or “answering the call of your heart” vocationally.  She said “that was the push I needed to begin to move forward on this business I’ve had in the back of my mind for several years.”  I’ve made the decision. Now what?  This is why she wanted to meet with me.  I’ve never met her before.  She found me thru my LinkedIn network.  She’s had some great success in her life and she’s ready to begin the next season. 

I love hearing that someone was moved to action by those words.  I know everybody’s circumstances are different and we can’t all just “jump ship” on our corporate job or current career or whatever and chart a new course.  My point is that the longer you put off putting the pieces in place, the longer it’ll take to make it happen once you finally decide to get out of your comfort zone and pursue that calling.  Lots of people have been pursuing their heart’s desire on the side for years.  As a hobby or maybe a “little part-time business”.   I met a gal a couple of weeks ago who finally left the banking industry (after 30 years) and is pursuing her passion as a personal chef.  The excitement in her eyes and passion in her voice as she talked about finally making the decision to go after it was great to experience.  She mentioned that she’d had a passion for and a dream to start this business for years but got carried along by the stream of life in the comfort zone (versus the fast lane I guess) at the bank. 

I can’t wait to talk to her a year from now.  2 years from now.  5 years from now.  What will you be doing then?  Lamenting that you wish you’d done___________________and feeling like it’s too late?  

So I ask:  “What’s stopping you from getting what you want?”  Or maybe “who” is the better question.

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Dumb it down? Good advice or not?

I got in to this conversation again recently and I wonder what you think about it.  As a job transition and career coach I talk a lot about resumes.  Content, format, key words, results, accomplishments and what’s going to get someone hired?  What I find is that when it comes to resumes everyone has an opinion (shocking). 

 A while back a conversation started about advice someone had been given to “dumb down” their resume so they would be more likely to get hired.  Now I know that you don’t know me very well yet.  I’ve only posted a couple of times on this blog.   However I can say that based on the title of the blog you can safely assume that I personally think that’s bad advice.  In fact I think it’s insane. 

Call me crazy, but I don’t think that if you spent your life and career earning an MBA, a Project Management Certification, a Vice Presidency in your company or anything akin to one of those that you should “apologize” for it.  Since when was the competition won by the mediocre?  Me?   I never wanted to work for a company that thought that mediocrity was OK.  Do you want to? If so I’m curious as to why?

How will either of us begin to reach our potential if  we are surrounded by people even less experienced, less driven,  less intelligent, less competent, etc. than we are?  And I know for sure that I don’t want a boss who is any of those things.  If someone is threatened by my drive, ability, knowledge or credentials then I don’t want to work for them anyway. They can’t get me to where I need to be.  I know we have to start somewhere but I’m assuming we’ve already done all that stuff.  I’m talking very accomplished, professional level people here.

It makes me sad to think that somehow some people  have been convinced that be being apologetic about what they’ve done, to the point of hiding it, covering it up, not bringing it up or whatever, is a path to success.  It might be the path to a J-O-B but these are people who are used to real careers. 

I think it takes a certain moxie to let yourself shine and since your accomplishments are real, I say “why not shine?”  What say you?  And please know that I am talking about confidence in your accomplishments because you have been gifted with the ability to achieve them.  Not arrogance or pride that is boastful.


Be yourself. No one else is qualified.

That’s what my favorite t-shirt says.  People always comment on it.  I like it because it’s a conversation starter.  I enjoy talking to people about who they are and what they do.  Why they chose their vocation and what they love most about it.  My passion for the work I do as a job transition specialist and a career/professional coach comes from the opportunity to encourage people to look into their heart and ask themselves what really stirs them.  As an eternal optimist I see the opportunity in this economic downturn. 

I see the possibility of taking a look, from a different vantage point, at what all the potential is for the future.  I’m a big proponent of doing some self assessment, getting better acquainted, if you’re not already, with yourself and your gifting.  Evaluating that in light of where you’ve been and where you hope to be going next on this journey.  Then maybe taking a serious step out of your comfort zone and following the passion.  Now I realize that everyone’s circumstances are different and there may be serious reasons why it’s not a good idea to take such a risk at this time.  If that’s the case and you are really feeling like you want to follow a new path and see where it goes then put the daily plan in place to begin to move in that direction. 

Will it be easy?  No.  There’s no silver bullet, no shortcut, no secret to success.   The question is how bad do you want it?  How bad do you want to set yourself up to be in a situation that allows you to look forward to what each day has in store versus dreading getting out of bed and facing the day?  How loudly is the sound of your heart calling you to something new?  Something that’s been “on the back burner” for a long time? 

Sure it takes guts.  I’d say it’ll take some moxie.  But I think you can make it happen.  I think you can be who you were designed to be “unapologetically” and you’ll love the experience. 

What do you think?

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The moxie of a title

Moxie.  Now that’s a word I’ve loved for a long time.  I guess because I love people who have “moxie”. Myself I have endeavored to have moxie.  Unapologetically so in fact.  It’s taken me a while to get to a place of peace with who I am. Hence the title of this blog.  I have decided to fully embrace who I am (moxie and all) and go with it.  It’s gotten me this far.  There have been ups and downs.  “Wins, Losses and Lessons” according to Lou Holtz in his book of the same title and I agree.  Isn’t that what we’re all doing?  Winning, losing and learning along the way?  

 I recall when I was younger being pretty comfortable in my own skin.  My parents were supportive.  I had a lot of friends and I was a pretty good student and athlete.  Involved in a lot of activities.  I generally tended toward leadership and even when I wasn’t actively seeking it I usually ended up in a leadership role.  I took some ribbing from time to time because I tended toward talkativeness and drama (imagine that from a girl).  I was pretty outspoken in those days too.  My philosophy was “if you don’t want to know what I think (or can’t handle it when I tell you) then don’t ask”.  Now I admit that’s pretty brash and I was young and inexperienced.  I didn’t feel like I had any shortage of friends so I didn’t much consider whether or not people could “handle” what I had to say. 

I’ve had some lessons and losses since then and 18 years in corporate America to soften the rough edges of a strong-willed, competitive girl with a side of moxie.  Thankfully I still have a lot of those friends that I treasure from long ago.  I also had a marriage experience that made me question everything I thought I was.  My confidence took a serious hit and I worked really hard to remold myself into something that I thought would be more acceptable.  Then I realized that the message I was getting from my former husband and his family was different than what I was getting from the other people in my life that seemed to love me just the way I was.  I decided to do some more learning about who I am and I liked what I discovered. 

I gave myself permission to be the person God created me to be, unapologetically. 

Are you unapologetically you?

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