Thursday, August 12, 2010

Each Man has his own vocation...

Found this quote today.  Items in bold are my emphasis.
"Each man has his own vocation. The talent is the call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him. He has faculties silently inviting him thither to endless exertion. He is like a ship in a river; he runs against obstructions on every side but one; on that side all obstruction is taken away, and he sweeps serenely over a deepening channel into an infinite sea. This talent and this call depend on his organization, or the mode in which the general soul incarnates itself in him. He inclines to do something which is easy to him, and good when it is done, but which no other man can do. He has no rival. For the more truly he consults his own powers, the more difference will his work exhibit from the work of any other. His ambition is exactly proportioned to his powers. The height of the pinnacle is determined by the breadth of the base. Every man has this call of the power to do somewhat unique, and no man has any other call." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Spiritual Laws (from Essays: First Series, pub. 1841)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Is American Creativity Declining?

The authors of this recent Newsweek article argue that it is, as we focus on a standardized curriculum and rote memorization.  They also argue that we, as a society, aren't completely clear on just what it means to teach creativity.  That teaching creativity doesn't necessarily involve art classes but rather, "fact-finding and deep research".  

The article is here: http://bit.ly/d0NMHo

What do you think?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stating my "WHY"

I've been reading Simon Sinek's new book Start With Why which has been helping me clarify for myself (and my clients) why I do what I do. 

I help others recognize their strengths and talents, and encourage them to use those strengths and talents in pursuing their most audacious dreams. 

Why?  Because..

I believe that by using our particular strengths and God-given gifts, we can solve the pressing problems in this world.

I believe that if you can show people alternatives they can choose to pursue the path best suited for them.

I believe there are always alternatives.

I believe in mentoring.

I believe each generation has much to TEACH other generations, and much to LEARN from them.

I believe that a cultural “fit” with your employer and your employer’s mission ultimately trumps job skills.  Skills can be taught;  values are either aligned or not.

I believe business is ALWAYS personal because businesses are made up of people.

I believe some “rules” (e.g. “We’ve always done it this way”) are meant to be broken.

I believe schools today teach us how to be compliant and follow “rules” – which was perfect for 19th century factory labor but less so for the realities of the 21st century global marketplace.

I believe some of the most important skills we possess are: loving, learning, listening, and teaching.  We need those skills more than ever.

I believe listening is an act of Love.

I believe everything happens for a reason – and it’s not always a reason we can immediately discern or understand, or like.

I believe we are all connected, one in Spirit, as brothers and sisters under the skin.

What do YOU believe?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nursing Shortage? Where?

A relative of mine recently got her RN and has been unable to find a job as a nurse. When I heard that, I was surprised because it seems all you hear about in the media and from government stats is that there is a nursing shortage and it will be only getting worse. But is there actually a shortage?

So, in my Internet research, I found allnurses.com and a link to a Forbes.com article from Nov 2009 about “recession-proof jobs” and nursing leading the pack. After reading the article, I can only ask myself -- what counts for journalistic research these days? The bar must be set quite low. I quote from the article:
"Forbes looked to the online job site Vault.com for a clear snapshot of the current job market. Vault.com developed a list of recession-proof jobs by examining all the 1.2 million jobs it aggregates through its partner site simplyhired.com and then determining the ones that were available in the greatest number.   Just as health care is the industry leading in job gains according to the BLS, the specific job at the top of Vault.com's list is registered nurse. “

Having been unemployed myself, I tend to be skeptical of job boards, because there is a lot of junk out there. My field is IT, however, so I figured it might be different for nursing. I did a little research yesterday on Wichita Falls, TX (about 125 mi NW of Dallas) and Lawrence, KS using Vault.com’s partner site simplyhired.com. Here is what I found:


Wichita Falls, TX (pop: 101,200)
I did a search yesterday on registered nurse – came up with 93 openings. That pulled up anything with the word “registered” (such as registered therapist).Refined search to “registered nurse” – 66 openings

Of those 66 openings:
 5 duplicates (did not show in listing)
 6 positions either not for a registered nurse, or were ads, or job gone
37 positions were for Nurse Options USA – see below
18 positions appeared valid. Experience required was either 2+ years, or not specified.  The positions included FT, PT and contract.


With respect to the Nurse Options USA site, the job board there links to HealthJobsUSA.com.  I searched that site for any job with “nurse” in the title (incl. LPN, LVN) and specified the 9 zip codes pertaining to Wichita Falls, TX. No jobs came up. Bottom line, a mere 27% of the 66 "openings" could be real jobs.

The case was similar for Lawrence, KS (pop: 90,500)
“registered nurse” – 43 openings
 1 duplicate
 2 Lawrence Memorial Hosp from Yahoo Hot Jobs! – RN positions no longer available, according to hospital’s own website on 4/5/2010
33 Nurse Options USA (no jobs on HealthJobsUSA.com for Lawrence zip codes)
 7 positions appeared valid. (3 required 2+ yrs exp, 2 unspecified, 2 a mere high school education for home health aide)

Found the same situation for Nurse Options USA (HealthJobsUSA.com) for Lawrence, KS zip codes.  Bottom line, a mere 21% of the 43 “openings” appeared to be real jobs.  And none appears appropriate for a new RN grad.


Good placement offices, career counselors, etc. will tell any job-seeker in any field not to put too much stock in job boards. Why then do the reporters for big-name business publications trust that numbers on a job board (worse yet, a consolidated job board that purports to show all jobs!) will give a “clear snapshot of the current job market”? Perhaps the writer was under a tight deadline, but the checking that I did on the 2 towns only took a few hours.

It concerns me, in our sound-bite world, that a quick check of positions open on one aggregated job board allegedly counts as research! And that these “facts” are then picked up and reported on by other media outlets! Meanwhile, other such critical issues as understaffing with its attendant risks to patients goes under the radar. As the daughter of a recently-retired R.N., I can only be thankful for all you RN’s out there – and that I’m in good health. (And I’ll get to the Bureau of Labor Statistics projections on labor shortages in another post!)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pursue Your New Path: An Acronym

   Strive to Perform at your best
             Understand how you add value
             Relationships matter
 How can you Stand out?
What is your Unique Talent?
  Build your Expertise

  Believe in Yourself
What if you dO more than expected?
   What if yoU challenge the status quo?
 What if you Reframe Failure? Mistakes=Learning=Change

       Don’t Neglect your network
          Be Engaged with people
         The World of work is changing

  Bring your Passion and Enthusiasm to all you do
        Take Action each day to stay tuned into trends
    Use your Talents
     Working Hard doesn’t mean working all the time

I love acronyms; that was the first crack.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Review: Now What? The Young Person’s Guide to Choosing the Perfect Career

I am reviewing the book “Now What? The Young Person’s Guide to Choosing the Perfect Career” by Nicholas Lore. Even though the title mentions “young person”, I found it very helpful for myself (over 40) because it combines lots of different features: personality traits, career interests, subject interests, etc. that you can find in a variety of career books while bringing all the information together in one unit.

Part 1 is “How to Choose a Perfect Career”. I’m a little iffy on that because, first of all, I skipped it entirely (the first 14 chapters) in part because I was already in a career at the time and second, I’m not completely convinced there is a “perfect” career.

I used this book right after I got laid off and I went to right to Part 2 (“The Career Design Toolkit”) and to Part 3 (“The Career Finder”) . The most useful section, in my opinion, of the “Career Design Toolkit” was the section on Who You Are, which covers natural talents, personality traits, job functions, and natural roles.

The natural talents chapter appears to me to be somewhat similar to the Highlands Ability Battery Test which covers such areas as analytic problem-solving, diagnostic problem-solving, spatial/nonspatial orientation, visual dexterity, number memory, etc. These traits are all covered on a high level in this book, to give you clues and a rough idea of what might be your talents. (Presumably, if you worked directly with Mr. Lore and his career coaching services, you would get tested for more definitive, accurate answers in this area.)

Other chapters cover the Myers-Briggs personality traits, the concept of “Maestro” vs. “Tribal” – a Maestro digs deep into a subject; the Tribals work in the “human beehive”. Lore also discusses your roles in another chapter – natural ones, such as Parent or Child; public ones – such as Politician, Marketer; roles grouped by Myers-Briggs personality types – such as Visionary, Advocate, Counselor for NF personality types.

As you read each chapter, you “work the clues” (for the “perfect career”) by seeing which roles, natural talents, personality traits resonate most with you and how you perceive yourself.

Two other key chapters concern job functions and subject matters of interest. Job functions, as Lore says, “are at the center of all jobs”. Lore emphasizes how critical job functions are to your career on a day-to-day basis. “If you’ve got a few career paths in mind, zero in on the primary task and activities you are expected to do throughout the day. Remember, employers hire and pay you to do specific tasks.” So, it is key to look at tasks and clusters of related tasks to see if those activities would appeal to you day in and day out.

With respect to subject matters of interest, you can do a test right in the book wherein you rank 5 activities within groups of 8 example activities from 5 to 1 (5 = most appealing) to end up determining which main topics (e.g. social sciences, or arts & entertainment) is most appealing to you.

Once you’ve gone through all these chapters, you’ve got an idea of who you are and where your interests lie. Now you can go forward into Part 3 of the book which is a series of charts and career profiles that combines the different pieces of information so that you can determine careers that best “fit” your talents AND your personality traits AND your favorite roles AND your favorite subject matter, etc.

Bottom line, I found this book to be extremely helpful in crystallizing my own career choices moving forward. It’s not that I never knew some of this stuff but that I’ve never encountered in any other career book the synthesis of all the different information: the Myers-Briggs, the roles that appeal to you, etc. It’s all brought together in such a way as to point you to a path to go down. You can see how the different aspects (your roles, your natural talents, etc.) really do all fit together better than you might expect, AND that there is something in the World of Work which you can do, and offer. That’s what really appealed to me.

I would recommend this book to anyone, and don’t be put off by the reference to the “Young Person”, as it is equally useful to workers already out of college.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Book Review: SWITCH: How to Change Things when Change is Hard, by Chip & Dan Heath

In their latest book, the Heath brothers argue that not all change is difficult for us – think of those big changes like getting married or becoming parents and it’s clear we humans are capable of significantly changing.

But if that’s true, then why can some change – like losing weight and keeping it off – be so darned difficult? Research in sociology, psychology and other fields suggests that we are essentially of 2 minds – what the authors call the “Rider” (our analytical, rational side) and the “Elephant” (our emotional side), borrowing the terms from Jonathan Haidt’s analogy in The Happiness Hypothesis.

The Rider’s strength is in thinking long-term, analytically and rationally. Its weakness is “analysis paralysis”. The Elephant’s strength is motivation and drive, getting things done. Its weakness is wanting the quick payoff. Change fails when the Rider and the Elephant are at odds.

The Heath brothers outline the steps necessary to effect change by appealing to both the Rider and the Elephant, after first laying out what they call the 3 surprises about change.

1) “What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem” (p 3)
2) “What looks like laziness is often exhaustion” (p 12)
3) “What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity” (p 15)

So, to change your own behavior, that of your company, or to “change the world” one little bit at a time, the Heaths argue, you need to implement steps that tackle the situation problem, the exhaustion, and the lack of clarity.

“What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity” – So, Direct the Rider
“What looks like laziness is often exhaustion” – Motivate the Elephant
“What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem” – Shape the Path

In the rest of the book, the Heaths break down each of the 3 major steps into sub-steps, giving real-life examples of precisely how that action brought about change. (An example of “Directing the Rider” is to “Follow the Bright Spots” by figuring out what is already working in the particular situation, and to do more of that.
An example of Motivating the Elephant is to “Shrink the Change” into bite-size pieces that don’t overwhelm the Elephant. If you’ve been a couch potato, a 5 minute walk around the block may be just enough to get you moving – rather than the thought of 60 minutes on a treadmill.)

Any one of these actions can aid in bringing about change, but it’s even more effective when you’re taking steps in all the areas (Rider, Elephant, Path).

Best of all, the stories included are largely about people without a lot of formal power in their organization, without large budgets, and without a lot of time to effect change. Yet they were successful because they managed to give the Rider direction, to motivate the Elephant, and to shape the Path.