“Come, my friends, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.” – Tennyson
For those of us who are not employed, life can quickly become a very unhappy place because being unemployed is a soul crushing experience. The misery and the angst never seems to lift. Not on Saturday morning when we can sleep in a bit, not on Thursday at 3 a.m. when we are restless in our beds and not on Wednesday evening after dinner. When we see the wise old sayings on Facebook or the religious teachings promising that God has a plan for us start to fall short, how do we cope with the madness and the pain in our lives? How do we deal with the effects of a brutal technology that screens our resumes out, the phone calls left unreturned and the interviews that do not pan out? How do we survive when there is so little to show for the endless effort and time we’ve put into the search. Maybe the answer lies, as Shakespeare said, “not in our stars, but in ourselves.” Perhaps the answer lies in reinvention.
I believe that the second act is upon many of us and the 2.0 of our careers and of our lives is calling out. I can’t help believing that a large part of the cure to what ails us is contained in our ability to adapt and be flexible (think willow tree) as opposed to simply doing the same things and being strong (think oak tree.) I believe that our ability to change who we are and what we are is essential to our survival and our ability to lead meaningful and productive lives. Just how to do this is shrouded in mystery but I have some thoughts that just might help. Far from being a complete list, I present a few ideas for the transition as we move from being the people we are to the people we need to become:
Play To Your Strengths.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. Many people spend endless time trying to become strong in the areas in which they are weak. I see that as a bad idea and a waste of time. Take me for example; I am a writer and a speaker and a relationship person. I deal with ideas and concepts and words and trust. Conversely, I am not a math guy. I will never, ever be a math guy. I can try to shore-up that very real weakness until the cows come home but it will simply never happen. Even worse, it is a waste of my talents. Cope with your weakness and learn what you need to get things done as required but play to your strengths. As an example, I can be a biz dev person as opposed to a recruiter. I might be able to be a big-time writer or a public speaker as I have done that before. I will never become an accountant or an actuary and that is all right with me because no one is good at everything.
Move Three Things Forward.
Many of us in the hunt for new jobs and new lives wake up with endless things we want to do and not enough focus on making a difference in any one area. We try to do too much, too fast and in a manner that is too dispersed. According to the great Alan Weiss of Summit Consulting, we are far better off to move three things forward a mile in one day than 100 things forward one inch in a day. My suggestion for tomorrow’s plan is to pick three things that need to be done and write them down tonight. (Two things is fine as well. Four things is not fine.) When you wake up, focus on them all day. Check email when you wake up, at 1:00 and again at 5:00. Shut down your phone. (Believe me, if someone really needs you, they will find you.) Try this and you will feel the real results of being truly productive. For example, if you want to build your online presence, understand that this is a huge and daunting task. My suggestion is to pick one thing on which to work such as your LinkedIn profile and spend the entire day doing just that. The next day, work on something else. Can you see the logic?
Find A Partner Or Two. (Or Three)
I hear from Bill B—— every single day. If not by email then by phone and at least once a week in a face-to-face over lunch. Bill is my good friend and he and I have joined forces to provide leads, support, connections, ideas, and all other things positive to make the misery of the search a bit more palatable, and at times dare I say, a bit more fun. Having two or three partners is a very good thing because the collective effort of people working together is infinitely better than the individual efforts of a soloed existence. The isolating misery of the search does nothing to help our state of mind and there is no medal given out for going the battle alone. I can assure you that Bill ____ has been there for me in a host of ways, and at times, for the occasional 10:00 PM call to express my rage and frustration. Please consider trying this because I really believe it can help in a very big way. Remember, suffering is mandatory but misery is optional. Can you see the value in a partner?
Get A Coach.
I have had more coaches in my life than anyone I know. I have had them for my public speaking life, my writing life, my clarinet playing life, my trying to learn the piano life and at endless junctures in my career. I seldom venture out and do new things unless I get some ideas and counsel from others. Do I always listen? No. Do I always agree? No again, but I get perspective and insight from those individuals who I trust and it helps me to fight my natural inclination to believe that I have all of the answers and am the smartest guy in the world. This is painful at times but necessary if you are in the reinvention business, because regardless of what it is you are trying to accomplish, those who are already doing it can help you big time. For example, you are a CPA who wants to become an Actuary. Find an actuary and get the lay of the land. Tell them what you expect. Tell them your plan and explain where you want to be and how you intend to get there. Then listen really hard to the things with which they might disagree and find out why. You might just learn something and soon afterwards, become the smartest person in the world, just like me.
How sad that number five is the last bullet, but in reality it should be the first. Helping others to get what they need is as old as time. Helping others does not stand so tall in importance because it is a nice thing to do. It stands tall in importance because it is a necessary thing to do. It is a requirement of being human. It is, as Mohamed Ali once said, “The rent you pay for the place you inhabit on this earth.” As a rule, I try to help everyone possible with all that I can do to support them. Is this easy? No but I have gotten far more in return than I have given out and that seems to be a very good deal. Is there the occasional person who never reciprocates? Of course but they are far and few between and in reality, who cares? Zig Ziggler once said, “you can go as far in life as you want to go if you are just willing to help enough people get what they need in life.” This seems like a very good deal to me.
I can assure that the reinvention of you and quite frankly, of me, is not going to be fun or easy anytime soon. It is a day-in and day-out practice of working smart, imagining the possibilities and sharing the journey with others. I struggle to reinvent myself every single day by saying “yes” to the magic that can arise from hard work and hope. Honestly, it really is not too late, to seek a newer world.
Written by: Howard Adamsky
(About the author: A consultant, writer and public speaker, Howard Adamsky, works with organizations to support their efforts to build great companies and coaches others on how to do the same. He has over 20 years’ experience in identifying, developing, and implementing effective solutions for organizations struggling to recruit and retain top talent.
An internationally published author, he has written Hiring and Retaining Top IT Professionals/The Guide for Savvy Hiring Managers and Job Hunters Alike (Osborne McGraw-Hill) and Employment Rage (Norlights Press.) He is a regular contributor to ERE.net. )
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