Pass the Compassion…Please!

I don’t know about you but of late I’ve been struck by just how little compassion there seems to be out of there. This lack of compassion comes in all shapes and sizes, knows no economic boundaries and sounds quite a bit like the following:

  1. Just move on, would you!;
  2. Whew, I’m of the hook!;
  3. That’s Not My Problem!;
  4. Heh, That’s the Past, Get Over it!;
  5. I’m just at a different place in my life. (I think the last one is perhaps the worst of all as it feigns sincerity and kindness.)

The etymology of the word compassion comes from the Latin stem meaning to “suffer with, feel pity”.  Webster’s dictionary  defines compassion as:”a feeling of being sorry for others”.

I find these definitions so inadequate.   To me, compassion is so much more powerful than that. It is life affirming. It has the power to change another’s life completely. Rather than born of pity or sorrow, I believe it is built out of divine respect and love. It connects us all. And amazingly,  it’s absolutely free. It costs nothing to give it.
 Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of the need for tough love from time to time. But too often it seems that folks these days choose tough love as their initial reaction rather than compassion. And too often it seems that tough love is really just judgment … in disguise. Can’t we as human beings do better than that? I think so.
The Dalai Lama recognized the life affirming power of compassion  when he said: ” If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”.
So perhaps the next time you are tempted to respond with tough love/judgment, you can lead the way toward making the world just a little better place and make yourself happier at the same time by  passing the  compassion. Please.
And always remember, You’re Never Stuck.
All the best,

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What employers really want…

Having been in the search business for many years, I’m often asked what employers really want. While the demand for certain skills often change, there are a number of key personal attributes which never go out of demand. Today we focus on five:

1. Good Common Sense:  Yes, you read that correctly: good common sense. I can’t tell you the number of times a client has specified that a job candidate “have a good head on his/her shoulders”. Sounds like something your parents or grandparents would say, doesn’t it? Well, they were spot on. I haven’t met an employer yet who wasn’t looking for it and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

2. Ability to play well with others:   Organizations are doing lots more with way less. This is where the ability to play well with others comes in.   Employers tell us that they simply don’t have the time nor inclination to iron out conflicts, turf wars or just deal with plain old immaturity. So even if you can’t stand that co-worker of yours one more minute, do your best to ignore it, rise above it and demonstrate your ability to work well with individuals at all levels in the organization.

3. Strong social skills:  This may seem strange at first but given we are in a service economy, the ability to build relationships and market is a key skill.  Lawyers, doctors, bankers…they are all expected to market to and develop prospective clients. Employers are even  evaluating new grads on social skills.   So while once upon time it was all about grades and class rank,  employers today  view proven social skills as a prerequisite to long term success.

4. The ability to “Manage Up”: Roseanne Badoski, former executive assistant to Jack Welch,  coined this phrase in her book aptly named Managing Up.   It’s a brilliant concept.  In essence, she believes that to truly succeed , you need to go above and beyond the tasks assigned to you so that you can enhance your manager’s work. In other words, it is your job to anticipate your manager’s needs and make him/her shine, not the other way around.  It’ s  your job to present possible solutions and not just problems to your boss.  By Managing Up, you not only make your employer look good  but also become indispensible. Not bad, eh?

5. Dependability:  In this economy, I am always shocked to hear that employers struggle with this issue. Webster’s dictionary defines “to depend “as placing reliance or trust in another. Employers often describe it a little more bluntly:  “Doing what you say you will do”. In other words, if you accepted a job, your employer is depending on you to show up on time. If your employer assigned a project to you, that means you will get it done in a timely fashion. If your employer….well, you get the idea.

So, let’s say you have some or even each and every one of these traits.  How do you convey them to a prospective employer without sounding obnoxious? One very effective way is to have your references convey this on your behalf. Typically references struggle with what to say anyway; so a little coaching on the above goes a long way. Another way is to convey them in a behavioral interview setting or bring them up yourself as some of the  strengths you possess. Last but not least, you can work them into your cover letter instead of  typical boiler plate language.

Remember…You’re Never Stuck ,

Patricia A. Comeford

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Filed under Attorneys, Author, career, Career Coach, Career/Job Related Blogs, Change, Cover Letter, Employment, Headhunter, Interviewing, Job Change, Recruiter, relationships, Success

What’s friendship got to do with it?

Greetings dear friends and my apologies for the long hiatus. Life has been a whirlwind of travel and fun (more on that at a future date)  but I am officially back.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about friendship these days; specifically what makes it tick and what makes it last. Three things come to mind.

1. Reciprocity: Yes, much like a marriage, friendships are a two way street.  We can’t expect to ask for something and not give it in return. This came to mind of late after a request from a dear friend to stay more in touch. When she asked for that, not only did I feel awful for being so absent but I resolved to do better.  So I embarked on a plan of staying more in touch even if it was just by text.  But guess what,  calls/texts/emails were sent and not  much more than a peep back. No two way street there. Ouch, Ouch, OUCH!  This not only has served as a vivid reminder of why I hadn’t been more in touch, is also a reminder that I too can do better at behaving in a reciprocal fashion.

2. Not a transaction: Many people mistake friendship for a transaction. I guess that underlying thought is  “What can I get from this person”. This “transaction” can take many forms: money, status, gifts, time and even one’s heart strings. If you have ever been on the receiving end of one of these friendships, you know how rewarding it is. (Not!) .  Friendships like that may tick for a while but they don’t last.

3. It’s Fragile:Oh the things I wish I could take back when said out of fear . (Forget anger; anger is merely a “cover” emotion for fear). Now when I am tempted to lash out in anger, I  take 3 breaths and ask myself what I am so afraid of . Try it, it’s life changing.

So what’s all this got to do with getting unstuck?  Well, C.S. Lewis once said: “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival.” And it’s often our friends who help get us unstuck. And that makes the effort to be the best friend you can be, totally worth it.

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Don’t Be Victim To The Blame Game

Perhaps it’s the recent tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona of Gabrielle Giffords and our current political climate, but I have been thinking lots about the practice of blame these days.  It seems to be everywhere and getting worse. In order to change, we don’t need to debate how we got there, we can just look at its effects, how it showed up, and if we want to allow it to affect our own lives.

So in the spirit of “doing better,” the next time you catch yourself wanting to blame someone or something for your problems, consider this:

Blaming keeps you:

1. Stuck

2. Powerless

3. In shame

4. In denial

5. In permanent grief

The better, more empowering choice is to own up to responsibility. With responsibility, you receive:

1. The opportunity to genuinely learn from your mistakes.

2. Heal any appropriate guilt.

3. Open a new dialogue.

4. Move forward with your life.

5. Freedom.

So I ask you, which will you choose?

With Love,

Patricia A. Comeford

Author, Lessons from a Headhunter with …Heart!

CEO, YOU’RE NEVER STUCK, INC., WWW.YOURENEVERSTUCK.COM

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Dream a little (No, BIG) Dream

Happy Monday and Happy Thanksgiving.
 
 
Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving is already here or that New Year is right around the corner, but folks have been asking me lots about how to help them find their “dream job” and all that.  Mainly it sounds like this: “Given the current status of our economy, how can I ever hope to get my dream job?”
 
I know it’s easy to get discouraged right now.  Negative news is everywhere but here are some quick keys to get you through it all and how not to give up on your dream:
 
1.  Turn off all negative stuff:  I did this myself this past summer and the results were immediate and amazing.  My overall attitude and feelings of well being improve immensely.  Trust me, I still watched the news but if a story was negative, I changed the channel.  And, if you feel you need to stay connected with the news watch the news when you get home but do not watch the news just prior to going to bed.  None of us need all that rolling around in our brain at night!
 
2.  Check your dream:  What I mean here is to check that your dream is realistic. Now don’t you go and decide that for yourself (it is too easy to talk yourself out of your dream, get discouraged or not go for it all). Check your dream with someone who would know and has your best intentions at heart.  Someone in that field. Or a career coach. Or a school counselor.  Or a mentor.  Or a peer.  In other words, get independent advice of someone without a hidden agenda.
 
3.  Research, Research, Research:  There’s an old saying that 99 percent of success is in the preparation.  So do your research. We live in the land of the internet and social networking like LinkedIn and Twitter. You can reach unprecedented numbers of people in many different ways.  It’s vital to educate yourself so you can create a realistic new life/career plan.
 
4.  Breathe: Yup, the best de-stressor I know.  This is new for me and it works. Everytime.
 
5.  Create your own little mini board of directors:  When I started my first company, I did this.  Mind you, we didn’t regularly meet (would have been better if we had, I never got around to that) but, I had my “go to people.”  I went to them when I got stuck on any variety of issues such as employee issues, financial issues, life-balance and marketing issues. If you are stuck on how to create one for yourself, email me at pcomeford@youreneverstuck.com and we’ll brainstorm.
 
6.  Practice Gratitude: I think gratitude is one of the most powerful forces in the Universe.  We can’t just practice this one week out of the year, it’s best as a daily practice.  For me, that practice has helped me through the good and the bad in all aspects of my life. I love the website www.thankfulfor.com.  The website features a gratitude journal where I write 3 or 4 things down.  I don’t do this every day but each and every time I do it, my whole attitude—my whole being enters a different space.  It’s magical for me.  Give gratitude a go, however you choose to do so, and observe how life changing and attitude changing it can be.
 
7.  Remember that your current success & “failures”  brought you to today:  What I mean by that is that you’re here today because of past successes.  Many successful lawyers and business professionals that I coach worry year to year that their business will dry up.  Yes, that can happen if you aren’t keeping informed in your industry and marketing yourself, but my experience overall is that we all torture ourselves with that and it’s often just anxiety . So my best advice is to gently let it go.
 
The main point of all this is.  Take your power back and take ownership of your dreams.  Maybe after doing your research, your dream needs to change, alter or get tweaked a bit.  But don’t just toss your dreams out with the leftover Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing because the economy is bad!  Dream, dream big, dream really big!  In that regard, one of the best quotes I have come across that has always kept me going is by Joan Baez… “Action is the antidote to despair.”  Now, how powerful is that? 

In Love & Gratitude,

Patricia A. Comeford

Author, Lessons from a Headhunter with …Heart!

CEO, YOU’RE NEVER STUCK, INC., WWW.YOURENEVERSTUCK.COM



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The Busy Myth

I am struck by just how busy we have all become.  How we actually embrace “being busy” as if it’s a good friend that we like to hang out with.  There are even people who buy vanity plates (especially in Scottsdale……geezzzzzzz) for their cars so they can let everyone know just how truly busy they are. I am even more struck by WHY people (including me at times) keep themselves so busy.  In other words, the reasons people choose to stay busy.  Yes, it is a choice– a big choice. I learned that through the work of Byron Katie, Martha Beck, Louise Hay, Debbie Ford and Karen Casey.

I’ve also learned this being busy thing is a “story” we tell ourselves.  I call it “The Busy Myth.”  Now this “choice and story stuff” was pretty hard for me to swallow when I first heard it.  I resisted and so do many of my clients–at first. But stick with me here, and read the quick examples of how we made a different choice and turned this around for ourselves.

Busy Myth 1: It won’t be like this when … (Fill in the blank with your “story”:  I finish school/college, the house is clean, I’m out of debt and bills are paid, the kids are grown, hit xxx in revenues, the board meeting is over). 

You’re Never Stuck Choice: Yes, it will. You and I created this busy-mess all by ourselves.  If you create something once, chances are you will create it again. Unless… you consciously choose differently.  Choosing differently requires that we recognize the “Story” we are telling ourselves (the above fill in the blanks are just some of the stories).  Choose your Life. Your life is now.  Don’t miss it.  You may be proud on some level of how much you’ve accomplished so far, but you may also regret big time what you’ve missed out on life’s relationships with family or friends.  Sounds trite but wouldn’t you rather look at your life in terms of  much love, kindness, laughter and time you share?  And if you define love by how much you accomplish?  SOMETHING IS WRONG, needs to change and yes, you can do it.  I beg you not to wait. Your health depends on it.

Busy Myth 2: I can’t change this.

You’re Never Stuck Choice: Yes you can. You always have choice.  It took me a ridiculously long time to learn that. One of the ways I got there was to self talk/affirm that I always had a choice. It took a long time for this to sink in my noggin’ but it did eventually.

Busy Myth 3: I don’t have any control over how busy I am.

You’re Never Stuck Choice: Again, yes you do.  If you are talking about work or your boss, read the book Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship With Those Above You by Rosanne Badowski. If you manage up, you will have more time, be even more successful and enjoy your work hard.  I know, because I had my own employees do this and they LOVED IT.  And by the way, this works on spouses too. Hee-hee.

Busy Myth 4: I don’t have enough time.

You’re Never Stuck Choice: Yes, you do. Really. There are a variety of tools that can help you make this choice.  For example. Louise Hay reminds us that  is just a thought, and a thought can be changed. (She uses affirmations to change it.) Byron Katie reminds us that this too is just a “story” and helps us change that thought by taking us through inquiry of 5 questions. Karen Casey in her fabulous book, Let Go Now, uses the Al-Anon principles of detachment and reminds us that often times the first step is just “being willing” to experience life differently.

Busy Myth 5: You don’t understand… (Fill in the blank…because you don’t have kids, you don’t have a sick parent like I do, you aren’t broke and need to make a house payment.)

You’re Never Stuck Choice: Yes I understand. I used to run myself ragged. I still do at times.  I have to self check all the time and pull myself back from The Busy Myth.  But I and my clients have learned is that there is always a solution to this busy stuff. Maybe getting some paid help. Or asking a true friend (who won’t charge you), a family member or  a neighbor for help.  I talk of this in my book, Lessons From  A Headhunter…With Heart!  Trust me on this: at their core, people like helping other people.  So don’t make my mistake and be afraid to ask.

Okay, that’s enough “being busy” for the day.  I think I must practice a bit of self-care and take a nap now.  Practice what you preach and all…

With Love,

Patricia A. Comeford

Author, Lessons from a Headhunter with …Heart!

CEO, YOU’RE NEVER STUCK, INC., WWW.YOURENEVERSTUCK.COM



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Gently Down the Revenue Stream

 

Last week’s blog talked a bit about supporting yourself and your family via revenue streams versus “the traditional job model” that many of us have become so accustomed to.  Many of you are eager to learn more about multiple revenue streams and today I’ll give examples and explain how you can make that happen for yourself.

As I’ve stated before, I truly believe our careers and personal lives are intertwined.  It is really not possible to separate the two.  Here are 4 real life examples of people “thinking out of the box” and changing not only their unemployment status or loss of income status, but changing their lives as those around them as well.  Please note:  some of the names in the following examples have been changed to protect the innocent:)

1.  Annie the accountant:  Annie was laid off last January.  She searched and searched for an accountant job but, found nothing was out there.  So she approached a high end temporary consulting firm.  She now consults with two different clients at the firm; one of the clients 2 days a week, and another client 2 days a week.  On Friday’s she works directly for her former clients, friends and family.  Guess what?  Annie now is making more money than her former “JOB” paid and she has lots of flexibility.  Many multiple streams!

2. Sam the salesman:  Sam sold financial leasing programs to CFO’s and CEO’s for the last 20 years. Then, the finance market collapsed.  His industry collapsed.  His company collapsed. Like everyone, he had lots of financial obligations and suddenly no job and no income.  He proactively cut back on expenses but after a year plus of looking for a job–nothing.  So, he had to “think out of the box” and did!  Being a numbers guy who could sell to top level executives, he attained his securities and insurance licenses.  He kept forward movement with lots of studying and hard work. As I’ve stated before, “no pity party here.” Sam is not peddling stocks across the table.  He thought bigger.  He is going into corporations (ie: using his C-level sales skills) and selling them various insurance programs and 401k products.  He is also marketing financial leasing programs to those folks. He now has multiple reasons to talk to them and multiple sources of revenue. Good work Sam!

3. Molly the realtor:  Molly, as I’ve written about before, is a successful realtor, but with the prices of homes and buyers continuing drop she proactively began to shift her focus and look for new ways to earn additional income.  Molly now helps me with marketing and computer work, she walks a neighbor dog each day-and gets paid for walking – imagine that!  She also makes business calls for her fiancé to help him grow his business too, paying it forward, in addition to maintaining her real estate business.  These multiple revenue streams allow her to maintain the flexibility needed in real estate yet earn her additional income as well.

4. Larry the Lawyer: Larry has been a successful litigator for years. In his mind that is all he thought he could do. Wrong-oh!  He didn’t quit but instead approached his firm to cut a deal. He kept his clients there and others in the law firm are servicing them. He receives a cut of the work given they remain as his clients. Now, Larry has lots of experience litigating and truly enjoys settling cases.  He is now a successful mediator as well, because clients and judges trust him.  He has morphed and designed his own career and is extremely successful because he has found his passion!  He is earning more than he did as a partner, working less and loving what he is doing.  This is a great example of moving gently down the multiple revenue streams.  For, Larry did not upset the apple cart, he gently started designing his own new career path.

So I ask you…what streams can you create?  Think big. This can be a time in your life when you look back a few years from now, and if you do it right, you could see this as a monumental turning point for you, for your family.  Think about your hobbies, your passions, your skills.  How many streams can you create for yourself?  The options are endless.

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