Here is an article in the Australian Financial Review on Luck in Careers. How to get luck on your side in your career. It is about luck in careers, luck readiness, and luck and career success.
Here is an article in the Australian Financial Review on Luck in Careers. How to get luck on your side in your career. It is about luck in careers, luck readiness, and luck and career success.
110 job hunting resume cv and interview tips from Jim Bright
Here are some tips for Job Hunting, Resumes, Interviews, and Testing for 2011.
As an author of job hunting books that have sold way in the 100,000s in the USA, UK, Australia, China, Vietnam, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Japan (you get the idea), with titles like Amazing Resumes, Brilliant CV, Resumes that get shortlisted, Should I stay or Should I go, StressSmart®, and Job Hunting for Dummies Australia & New Zealand, I thought I’d pass on some tips to assist in landing that job.
I’ve divided the tips into sections below.
39 Resume, Cover letter, Job Search tips
26 Interview Tips
45 Testing Tips
For traditional face to face testing
For online testing
For all testing
Transform your career by shifting: Shift 11 – From Trust As Control To Trust As Faith
There comes a point in all things that really matter in life when trying to exert control is not sufficient. The complexities of the world make it impossible to be any more planned or prepared, there will always be some loose ends, some possibilities that cannot be thought out in advance. When we reach these points, if we are to confront them effectively with imagination, creativity, optimism and hope, we need to shift our trust in the power of control and embrace trust in faith.
Trust as Control
Too often people misuse the word “trust” when what they really mean is control. When they say “I trust you” or even “I trust myself”, they are actually saying “I control you so tightly you can only do what I expect” or “I control myself so tightly, I can guarantee the outcome”. This can lead to some fairly predictable problems:
Trust as Faith
The Oxford English Dictionary definition of trust is “trust (noun): ‘confidence, strong belief in the goodness, strength, reliability of something or somebody’, ‘responsibility’
have trust in (verb): ‘believe in the honesty and reliability of someone of something’, ‘have confidence in’, ‘earnestly hope’ ”
Look at the key words there:
Trust in fact has nothing to do with control, but has everything to do with faith. It is about uncertainty not certainty – you do not need to be confident or hopeful about an outcome, if that outcome is assured. Trust is about ambiguity, complexity and mystery. It is about the limits of what we know and indeed what is knowable.
When trust as control is not enough, or not desirable, we can shift to a stronger position of trust as Faith.
Faith in Self
It is a commonly heard injunction “to believe in yourself”, “to back yourself” during times of duress. Having faith in yourself is an important cornerstone of career development. There is plenty of evidence for the importance of this idea from clinical psychology such as Albert Ellis’ work on unconditional self-acceptance.
A recent favorite of mine is Brené Brown and her work on shame. In her book the Gifts of Imperfection she talks about the importance of Courage, Connection and Compassion. The last of these, Compassion, relates to compassion for ourselves as well as others. It means accepting who we are, and appreciating that it is OK for us to be limited in our powers to control or change things. I have written more about Brené’s work here and here.
Strengths-based approaches to Career Development that aims to build on existing strengths rather than overcome perceived “weaknesses” is another positive way of working on faith in the self. See this post on David Winter’s excellent blog Careers in Theory for more on this.
Faith in self also means recognizing that we are strong enough to confront whatever life throws at us. When this belief is lacking, our exploration of our own potential and of the world is also lacking. However this does not happen in isolation and our faith in ourselves is bolstered and also determines our faith in others.
Faith in Others
If you think having faith in self in hard enough, just wait until you have to put faith in others! In fact we unwittingly put faith in others all the time. Whether it is faith the builders did a good enough job to prevent your roof falling on you while you sleep, or faith in other drivers not to do something crazy, or faith in farmers not to poison us, we are steeped in faith for others.
It is fairly obvious that our actions become very self-limiting without this faith in others. If we believe we cannot rely on others, we will fail to reach out to them, and try to fulfill our needs ourselves or not even try. The result is self-limitation and social isolation. A potent recipe for depression.
Again, complexity is to blame. When we are in the grip of “Control fever”, we demand certainty from others. It is an impossible demand because the world and people in it are too complex and too inter-connected to permit certainty of outcomes. Trust as control here really means “I do not trust you”. When we do not trust, we are cautious, slow to move, closed and self-limited.
Trust as faith means to accept that ultimately we accept our own imperfections and in turn that allows us to be accepting of the imperfections of others. Thus we believe in ourselves and in others too. Indeed as Brené Brown points out, our love of others is limited by our love for ourselves. So too with faith.
Faith in the Universe
Wow! Why stop at faith in ourselves and others? What about the bigger picture? It strikes me that at some level, having faith in systems that our bigger than ourselves and our social circle is an empowering and transforming thing. Having faith that we belong and take our own place in Universe is not only reassuring, but gives us a sense of ownership and responsibility that transcends daily hassles and doubts, and provides:
We cannot predict and control everything in our lives, nor is it desirable to do so. We and the world we inhabit are complex, open and changing. Trust as control is a limited and potentially damaging response to those realities, it needs to be subsumed within trust as faith. It is perhaps the most important shift of all the Shiftwork principles.
Shiftwork is the work we have to do to manage, thrive and survive in a world where shift happens. I’ve identified 11 shifts that we have to make (see here), this was the final shift. The earlier ones you can read by following these links:
What other shifts do you think we need to make? What shifts do YOU need to make? Which of these shifts presents the biggest challenge to you? How are you going to SHIFT?
Inspiration – the first step into creativity
Inspiration is the starting point for creativity in the Beyond Personal Mastery® model.
The mind map below some ways in which people can boost their inspiration.
So the first step in boosting creativity is to get people actively engaged in the activities like the following.
The Psychology behind the idea – the lego metaphor and instance-based memory
In this step we are trying to lay down as many new memories as possible. Imagine your memory like a large lego bucket. Every new memory (experience you have) represents a new piece of lego to add to the bucket. It stands to reason that the more pieces you have, and the more varied they are, the more different things you can ultimately make when you come to combine the pieces of lego.
This idea is consistent with instance-based models of memory like Hintzman’s MINERVA II model that was central to my PhD on implicit learning.
Life Creativity – Applying Beyond Personal Mastery® to Life Changes
I want to share with you my model of Creativity that provides practical steps to enhance Life and Career changes. I will describe the model in this post, and in subsequent ones discuss each of the steps in greater detail.
Here is the Beyond Personal Mastery® model.
Beyond Personal Mastery® and its brother Beyond Corporate Mastery® are really two related models comprising Action and Mind steps. The Action steps, as the name implies, describe the actions that lead to creativity. The Mind steps are attitudes and dispositions that have been shown by research to support and promote the Action Steps and hence creativity.
The Action Steps model is based on the following ideas derived from the research into creativity:
The Action Steps explained in general terms. (click on the graphic to open in a new window where you can zoom in and enlarge image)
The Mind Steps model
The Mind Steps are likely to be more familiar to many people as the terms used here are commonly used and understood in counseling and coaching. I will briefly explain here why they are included. I will go into greater detail in future posts.
The great contribution of the Positive Psychology movement, and its champions like Martin Seligman is that we now know that optimism can be learned, developed and enhanced. Optimism is an important predictor of people’s willingness to change or an organization’s ability to change. People who believe that things can be better in the futrure are more likely to be motivated to try to explore possible futures. The are ways of boosting optimism that I’ll cover in future posts.
Creative people and organizations are open systems. That is they are curious about the world, and accept that there are always interesting things to learn, and different ways of doing things. This mindset increases their chances of having new inspirations and patterning them in novel ways. It also increases their chances of combining and adding in novel ways. Some of the ways you can increase openness will be covered in a later post.
Is defined by Bandura as the degree to which a person believes that they are capable of achieving in a particular domain. Self efficacy has been shown to be a strong predictor of success in a range of different areas such as completing training, preparing for a big event etc. Increasing self-efficacy can be a useful way of fostering change. Ways of increasing self-efficacy will be covered in a later post.
Vision refers to a collection of qualities such as Purpose, Spirituality, Connection, Limits, and Imperfection. It is about fostering a sense of a bigger picture, and encouraging people to ask questions such as Why am I doing this? To whom am I connected? Whom do I serve? How can I be useful? What place can I or do I occupy in society/family/friends? How can I serve others? Do I have a choice? What matters to me? Research shows that fostering this type of thinking can sustain people and reduce stress. It can help people persist, or even try in the first place.
Playfulness & Risk
Increasingly research is showing that play is a potent form of learning, and that many western educational systems have under-valued its central importance. Furthermore risk-taking is often misunderstood or characterized in pendulum attractor terms as
“risk-free or reckless”. Nearly all creartivity has arisen from play, risk taking or both. There are ways to develop appropriate playfulness and risk taking and I’ll show you how in a future post.
In a world that is rapidly changing, uncertain, complex and chaotic, the ability to be flexible is very important. Flexibility of mind is centrally important for playfulness, inventiveness, creativity, overcoming barriers, seeking inspiration, combining and adding, strategizing and doing.
The importance of keeping on going, in the face of adversity, loss of enthusiasm, boredom, obstacles, set-backs, criticism, despondency, ennui and the rest cannot be over-estimated. Others prefer to capture some of these ideas under the term “Resilience”. Much of what is done under this term would fit in the Persistence category. I prefer the term Persistence because the word more strongly implies movement, and movement in a self-determined direction. I’ll post more on how to develop resilience later.
And this is Life Creativity – Applying Beyond Personal Mastery® to Life Changes!
The Day my Dog became a Triangle
Dogs are not triangles. Any fool knows this. They don’t even bother assessing this knowledge when they issue you with a dog license. So it was very awkward indeed when my dog became a triangle. For a start her name is Chloe. This is less embarrassing to call out at our local dog park compared to “Pythagoras”, even if people called Chloe do get offended when I point out it is a dog’s name. Equilateral would be a very inappropriate name for a Welsh Springer Spaniel. Scalene sounds like a skin disease or a song by Dolly Parton. Isosceles, well now we are getting just a tad pretentious.
Now you might be wondering why my dog became a triangle. Did she decide one day that our social construction of welsh springer spaniels was way too limiting for this pooch? Had I been at the green chartreuse again? The answer is simpler and more complex at the same time. I decided it was time to have a look around me. And I mean really look. To look at things in a way I’d never looked at things before.
Looking at things newly is a lot harder than it sounds. Try telling someone to look at things differently and generally all they will do is look at you in a very familiar and unoriginal questioning manner. Or they will punch you in the face. Or both.
The trick is give yourself or another some parameters. Some limits. Presumably you are reading this blog on some form of screen. Look at the screen and everything around you in only one of the following ways:
How did you go? Could you manage it? Could you draw what you saw? For those who managed successfully, you have very probably been creative. Who knows some might even have been Creative (little c creative is what I term small personal wins, amusements or provocations. Little nudges that prompt our thinking. Big C creative is the type that Csikzentmihalyi (1996) sees as solving a problem in a new and useful way that is recognized by others.
We could try the same exercise using poetry. Stephen Fry in the Ode Less Travelled, points out that the limitation of Iambic Pentameter (having five feet to each line of verse followjng a “tee-tum, tee-tum, tee-tum, tee-tum, tee-tum” structure) actually fosters creativity as one has to fit meaning into this structure. For instance, he cites Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73
“That time of year; thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang”
As Fry points out, it is the limitations that we impose on our attempts at expression and the tension that these create that often lead to great creative expression “Painters paint within a canvas, composers within a structure. It is often the feeling of the human spirit trying to break free of constrictions that gives art its power and its correspondence to our lives, hedged in as ours are by laws and restrictions” (p24).
The idea of Creativity arising from constraints is commonly understood in creative circles and those that study creativity (e.g. Stokes, Creativity from Constraints, 2006). Related to this idea is US painter and jazz musician Larry Rivers, who used a musical metaphor in describing the material we use for the basis of our creativity as the “first chorus”.
I love the idea of the first chorus. In jazz, the first chorus is often played “straight” to give the audience the structure of the piece, and from there the musicians can improvise (though like Fry’s poetry the improvisation is limited by the chords and chord changes).
The idea of the first chorus is the point at which one has mastered some domain, become familiar or expert. Rivers says that creativity is the variation on history – on all the stored ideas in ones memory. The first chorus is merely a repetition and is not creative. This is why experts often get bored because they master the first chorus and then are engaged to endlessly repeat it. They are interested in adding and combining – improvising – and therefore being creative. This fits well with my model of creativity, creative people want to go beyond mastery, hence the title for my model.
The importance of limitation to creativity is a valuable reminder that when working with individuals looking to change their lives, or looking to change our own, an important first step is to acknowledge the limitations. Then we we have something tangible to work with, something that allows us to be creative as we look for ways to improvise in our lives, to find solutions by combining the pieces we have or we can obtain, to get a new hand by shuffling the deck of cards we already have or could obtain.
It seems as though everything I am saying here about limitation goes against counseling injunctions to focus on strengths, or to be optimistic but that misses the point. A true understanding of strengths only comes in the context of knowledge of the limitations, optimism is most powerful when directed at the attainable. Nor does this mean we should overly encourage people to limit themselves, we should not. Too often people who are looking for solutions in their life are “stuck” (Amundson, 2007). However in unsticking other people or ourselves, getting people to improvise and strategize using the materials they have and those readily to hand around them is likely to result in more inventive, creative and positive solutions to their own problems than simply asking them to be more creative. Our limitations are our strengths.
As I’ve said before, each of us is like a beautiful song. We are limited by the melody and chord structures. However those limitations are the very things that give us our uniqueness, our identity. It is those limitations that allows us to strain against them by being creative in rearranging and improvising so our song can be played in an infinite number of ways. We cannot be anything we want to be, but there are an infinite number of ways of being us.
Often in counseling or coaching for change we encourage others to take a different perspective on a situation. Changing metaphors, re-writing the story, re-framing, reality checking, skills audits, values lists, interests are all examples of encouraging people to take a new look.
However what I am talking about is fundamentally deeper and that is to see something familiar, something mastered not from a different perspective, but through new eyes. To hold multiple stories at the same time, to have multiple metaphors simultaneously, to find new solutions using the materials of your history and what is readily available to you in terms of supports, resources, and ideas. Good career development gives you a new perspective. Great career development has you seeing differently.
Sadly for me and my thinking it didn’t stop with the triangular dog. The cat become a crescent, my kids become trapezoids, trees become oblongs. And this sentence became a full stop.
Amundson, N. (2007). Active Engagement 3rd Edition.BC. Canada Ergon Communications.
Csikzentmihalyi M. (1996). Creativity. Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper Perennial.
Fry, S. (2005). The Ode Less Travelled. London. Hutchinson.
Stokes. P. (2006). Creativity from Constraints. New York, NY. Springer.
I want to share a resource I’ve been working on over the last week called the Edge of Chaos Posters. I’ve designed a couple of posters that try to illustrate the idea of the relationship between certainty and uncertainty.
I decided to select words that in some way illustrate the ideas of certainty and uncertainty, order and disorder. I decided I wanted a complete A-Z of words which was something of a challenge. I determined to put words redolent of certainty on the left hand side and words indicating uncertainty on the right hand side. I found it easier to think of or find words for certainty. It was more challenging to find words for uncertainty. In fact often, just like the word “uncertain” – the uncertain has to make do with a modification of a word about certainty. This I find intriguing.
The poster above is the black version. Click the poster to download an 8Mb PDF version. Note you may have to right-click to save these posters to your computer, or look in your downloads folders, or even look in Acrobat as different browsers do different things.
All the words on these posters will be familiar to you. On the left there are words like Plans, Goal, Control, Prepared, Stuck. Similarly on the right there are words like Exploring, Change, Serendipity, Vulnerable and Magical.
The purpose of these posters is to help people appreciate that a full life needs all of these words. However when we are feeling confused, sad, unsure or vulnerable we tend to retreat into what we often see, or are encouraged by others to see as reassuring, and somehow more legitimate, more proper left side words. However, this can only provide short-term succor. Sometimes we believe that all we need are the right-hand side words, but these alone wont do either.
A full life requires all these words – order and disorder, chaos and certainty, strength and vulnerability.
There are lots of uses for this poster. You can circle the words you identify with – are you more left or right sided? You can use words on the left to help you strive toward words on the right. You can use words on the right to help you arrive at words on the left. You could even measure new ideas, initiatives and policies against these words – is a balance of left and right achieved? The possibilities are endless.
You might be interested in this related post on Why people don’t get uncertainty
You can download low-res posters in yellow or black and white by clicking on their images above – they are 2381 x 1684 pixels, but they are still large files (6Mb and 8Mb). If you want high-res versions, you’ll need to email me as these are very big high quality files suitable for making large posters. I am happy for you to use them with acknowledgement. I’d love to know what you make of them.