Strategy


Taking the First Step


Posted By on May 9, 2017

Being open to new things is an attractive quality. When we see “openness” in others, we admire it – we praise them for bravery, living in the present. . . being risk takers. For taking the first step. Inherent in that point of view is the tiny voice of Judgment – that we, in comparison, are not open. That we say we’re going to do new things but we never do. “It’s so easy for others, but what’s wrong with me that it’s so hard?” What that Judgment prevents is compassion – and it keeps us stuck, from even the first step of our leadership and career purpose. It prevents us from acknowledging how hard it is, for humans, to grow and do new things. How hard it is to flex, bend and shift in the name of getting into alignment, finding fulfillment and enjoyment in work – in life. We gloss over / ignore / forget that we are innately wired for safety – that our fight / flight instinct is difficult to override – that the discomfort of new a.k.a. weird a.k.a. dangerous is powerful. We talked a lot about this as a community in April while reading 10% Happier – How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story. After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, the book’s author Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. Harris eventually landed on meditation as a “new thing” to try, after sifting through his own beliefs, judgments and fear around it. Like, a LOT of judgment. But, hitting his own bottom increased the willingness to surrender to the new, to take the first step, toward something that would eventually do for him what underreported research says meditation has done for CEOs, scientists, and even marines – all of whom are using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness. What the Flank 5 Academy folks loved about his story was the authenticity, skepticism and desperation that spouted from the crippling voice in his head that was committed to him staying stuck, sick and the same. From taking step one. We all have that voice. The voice that keeps us from starting. And this month, we’re exploring the why, and the how, of all that is “the first step.” What does it look like to start the thing you’ve been wanting to do? How does it feel to let go of steps two through 1,000, in the name of knowing it begins with one? How do you get the accountability,...

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Staying Stuck or Moving Forward


Posted By on Jan 30, 2017

During this month, The Collective explored the topic of “moving forward” – we looked at how we are motivated, the pro’s and con’s of making a decision, and reflecting on our progress. Just as moving forward is important, we are also big fans of reflection. Taking stock of where your mind and your body is important. During our “tuning in”, what continues to pop up? Are there barriers in your life that make you feel…stuck? What does moving forward look like for you right now? Erika Anderson, the author of Growing Great Employees, Being Strategic, Leading So People Will Follow, provides insight on how great leaders have had success with moving people forward. According to her, they are key ways of keeping a company or team motivated which include: Don’t indulge in distractions Recognize your impact Remove obstacles Encourage enthusiasm Support conclusions Sometimes knowing where to start is difficult. In a TED Talk from Dr. Lani Nelson Zlupko we get to see an inspiring and relatable picture of staying stuck or moving forward. Being a founder of LNZ Consulting and Adjunct Associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania certainly gives her some experience in the art of problem solving. Are you ready? There is no better time than now to “Get on the arrow” as Dr. Nelson Zlupko would suggest. We’ve enjoyed exploring similar career-building elements this month within The Collective. Adding a powerful community to your process only increases your potential for success – and there isn’t any direction more rewarding and more freeing than, well,...

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It’s become a month of visioning within our community, from our current Collective small group to our large group experiences, folks are ready to stop “just plowing ahead” and want to find an intentional and guided path forward on their career journey. And we love it. If you’ve been around these parts long enough, you know that Flank 5 Academy is all about starting with self-awareness as a way to get to a vision, an ideal future, a way of working that is aligned with who you are – the stuff that yields that juicy long-term happiness (hint: you’ve got to have a higher purpose) versus the pleasure-inducing short-lived happiness (quick hits of success, accolades or experiences) But it’s not enough to be self-aware – and while journaling is a great place to start – the real clarity comes from sharing what you learn about your core ideology and your ideal future with others. Chade-Meng Tau, Google engineer, self-described Jolly Good Fellow and co-founder of Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute agrees: “Values and higher purpose are fairly abstract topics and the act of verbalizing them forces us to make them clearer and more tangible to ourselves.” Getting clear is critical. To get started on your own vision, we invite you to start with a method Tau offers in his (charming and incredibly accessible) book, Search Inside Yourself. Start with the question, “What do I stand for?” What are those core values that drive you – that motivate you – that are non-negotiable in your work? Make a list. Check it twice, and check it against your activities day to day. If you value justice, how are you exhibiting this value on an average Tuesday? And if you’re not, would you like to? How could you take it upon yourself to introduce it into your orbit? Stanford’s Graduate School of Business offers great worksheets to take this a step further too.   Once you’ve done some cataloguing, why not ask others – then – “What do I stand for?” See if there’s alignment – see if there’s something you might be missing, or if you’ve got too much on your list (a list of six is easier than a list of three). Share what you’ve come up with – and what ideas may spark as a result of sharing. Once you’ve done this, you’re on your way to your ideal future (disclaimer: one with a higher purpose, not one where you’re happy all the...

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Rebecca is an alumna of The Collective and the founder and principal of Rebecca Lakin Consulting. She helps help companies navigate their business and risk landscape through in-depth research, translating the data into actionable plans and solutions, and managing the resulting plans from start to finish. You can find more of her wisdom and aspirations on LinkedIn. I’m more motivated to do something when that something impacts others. When it came to making a career change, it initially seemed like something that only impacted me – it’s my life, it’s my career. My motivation stayed pretty low in this mindset, even though the desire to change was high. I knew I needed to do something different and thought about it all the time, but I struggled to motivate myself to act. That’s where the Collective came into play. It turns out my career doesn’t just impact me – it impacts how I interact with friends, families and even the people I accidentally bump into on the sidewalk. I was consumed with my own thoughts about my job.  But it’s not all about me; I wasn’t alone in needing to make a change and needed others to help me get and stay motivated. To make a career change, you have to get out of your own head and act. With the support and encouragement of my fellow “Collectivists,” I did just that. After only one meeting with The Collective, I started making the change – in small steps. I didn’t quit my job right away.  I did begin to change my mindset, first, and set aside time to discover what it is I wanted to be doing and in what environment I wanted to be doing that work in. The small steps I took included: Set a time for working on career “discovery.” Every work day from 5 – 6 a.m., I worked on defining my career; what I wanted to get from it and what I want others to get from my work. . . like crazy. This started with coffee meetings with old connections and lunches with those in my current network. I then moved to meetings with connections of connections and cold emails to people with jobs that could be a good for me. Read and listen to inspiring things. To get you started, here are two of my favorites: The Accidental Creative podcast or Adam Grant’s Give or Take. Write down everything. By writing or tracking it, you can start to discover the trends that might point to a direction you could take your career. To get the things to write down, I took a tip...

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The Confusion of Calling


Posted By on Jul 6, 2016

What makes work meaningful for us? What does it mean to “have a calling?” This was the central question at this year’s National Career Development Association conference held in Chicago last week. Of course, the topic had our ears perk up: we’re obsessed with helping clients to find, and put action toward, meaning, fulfillment and purpose on their career journeys – not just the next job. According to the latest research out of Purdue University, University of Florida and University of Bern, there’s a big difference between having a calling and living out your calling. If we pay attention to our own day-to-day experience, we can sometimes notice that we feel “called” to something – we can get connected to “what lights us up” – but to live it out is something entirely different. Professor Andreas Hirschi noted that those of us who are privileged enough (and it’s important to note the privilege part!) to live out our calling are more likely to work in resource-rich environments, that include a fair dose of autonomy, significance and support. It’s hard to say which comes first: working within our calling or getting warmer toward it? Or the environment in which we work being an incubator and encourager of our calling? One thing that appears certain: if you have a calling and you don’t take action on it, it’s not necessarily benign. In fact, your satisfaction in life is directly correlated. This reminds us of Dr. Brené Brown’s assertion that unused creativity is not benign either. Another thing, according to researcher Kelsey Autin at University of Florida? Helping others as a source of meaning in work is most common, regardless of the type of work you’re doing. And finally, a great quote from Professor Blake Allan at Purdue University: We invite you, always, to consider micro ways to get on a path toward your calling – and discovering it in...

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This is the first in a series of posts that will highlight the stories and experiences of members of The Collective; what they learned, what worked and what didn’t, on their own career journey and as part of the Flank 5 Academy community. Collective Wisdom: The Power of Doing Dave O’Connor is an alumnus of The Collective and recently joined RIVS Digital Interviews as a Business Development Representative. You can follow him for more wisdom on Twitter at @DaveOC312.   I recently landed a new job in a new role in a new industry. As obvious and simple as it sounds, what helped me the most was, simply, doing. I’m contemplative by nature so thankfully the self-reflection part of career development comes naturally for me. I also learned there’s a shadow side to self-reflection. For example, I’ve used it to procrastinate, staying in discovery and analysis and not moving into action. During this particular transition, I once heard my inner monologue say “you’re really close to nailing down your vision; once that’s settled, you can start reaching out for jobs.” It was then that I knew it was time for doing. This time, “doing” meant: +Gathering data to inform my vision so I could feel confident about my story and my job outreach plan. +Getting outside my comfort zone of self-reflection. The road to landing my new job lasted just over a year, and I must admit I can’t recall a single moment of self-reflection that yielded significant wisdom. I do, however, remember and carry with me the wisdom gained from participating in online coding classes; making targeted and direct asks of people in my network; and interviewing for roles outside my area of expertise and comfort zone. Perhaps self-reflection is daily exercise or practice, and doing is the main event. At one point, I scheduled eight networking conversations and formal job interviews into four business days. I entered the fifth day with lots of tangible information about several companies and specific roles. I also benefited from the opportunity to do a comparative evaluation of all the information I gained. Gathering this data was really important – but moving into action externally and putting the data to use is what really proved invaluable to shaping my vision and confidence internally. I am now a believer that we need to take action – within our networks, family, education, or physically – to gain more wisdom and confidence to move the needle on our career journeys. About The Collective A career and leadership journey is not meant to be a solo endeavor. The most fulfilling careers are built in community, with...

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