Archive for the ‘Leadership Strategies’ Category

Where the Jobs Are! The Shifting Sands of Opportunities

September 13, 2011

If you don’t read anything else about the job market this year, you MUST read this. And I mean ALL of you, whether you are unemployed and seeking work, or gainfully employed and sitting back because you think your situation won’t change.

The job market sands are shifting metaphorically and geographically. You might be surprised at where the gains in jobs are happening right now – and I mean the industries where growth is actually happening. With all the loud, heated public vitriol about the employment picture in this country, constructive reports about growing industries are few and far between. But, I found one – and it’s a good-sized report that will hopefully give you a boost, or at least a “road map” to help you navigate the future.

It’s time to make the decision to keep your eyes on the shifting sands of opportunities. And by the word “sands,” I mean the metaphorical job market shifts; and literally, the geography of where jobs are headed inside the United States. Depending on your own personal circumstances, this information may surprise and delight you; or drop on you like a bomb. Nonetheless, it’s important for you to know.

If you’re currently employed, you probably exhibit the tendency to put your head in the – ahem! – sand – about shifting job market factors. Humans seem to have an aversion to smartly gathering up protective information about things when they don’t believe that something will happen to them. I know of many people, and perhaps you do as well, who, instead of dusting off their resumes because there are rumors of changes throughout their organizations, prefer to sit back and say, “I’ll wait to see what happens.” As a resume writer since 1990, I cannot tell you how many individuals I have worked with over the years who frantically called to come in for a resume composition at the very last possible moment of needing one.

If there is ONE word to describe what’s happening in this country and where the jobs are, it’s CHANGE. Yeah, I said it. Change. No doubt, if you’re like everyone else, this is the last thing you want. I encourage you, though, to look at the information I’ve compiled, and enthusiastically assess how it affects you, your career and your life. As difficult as change may be, it holds the potential to be the best thing that ever happens to you! Honest!

Where the jobs are – the top growing industries, and how their jobs are changing.

The June 2011 issue of Wired Magazine dedicated a large section of its pages to delivering the jobs-related facts and figures that have now emerged in the rubble of the financial catastrophe around us. There are jobs out there, and some of them are growing swiftly, but they may not be in the places we used to find them. The good news is, if you’ve got your game on, these industries, according to Wired, grew at a pretty good clip from 2006 to 2010. Amen to that! Here is a summary of the list, with some percentages attached to the growing industries:

I won’t beat around the bush on the good news. Wired asked Linked In to analyze the 7 million US members who had switched jobs since 2006 and present the industries to which they had gone. The results? The “renewables and environment” industry grew enormously since 2006, a whopping 56.8%; as well as jobs involving the Internet, which grew 29.8%. Jobs in the wireless industry grew 21.4% from 2006 to 2010 – no surprise there. Jobs in the computer industry and network security grew 21.8%.

Now for a few stats that might surprise you. Jobs in online publishing grew 29.1% since 2006. The professional training industry grew 13.9%. Railroad manufacture grew 9.4% and medical device manufacturing grew 12.5%. The E-learning industry grew 18.7% (we saw that coming), and graphic designers saw their field grow by 7.8%. Who knew?

If you’re in the business of computer games, oil and energy, information services or biotechnology, your field grew by 11.1%, 7.3%, 8%, and 12.8% respectively. But wait! Time magazine reports that Farming income – farming income – was up 27% last year and is still rising. Farming is expected to grow another 20% this year.

The most amazing thing, though, according to Wired, is how the jobs themselves have morphed since 2006. “Old-fashioned industries” are being transformed, with the lines between blue and white collar positions becoming blurred, and educational requirements evolving in ways that are more horizontal than vertical. The hopeful result in all of the shifting trends in job creation is that our country’s middle class will once again start to emerge strong and healthy. This is good news for all of us. Change is happening.

My next segment on The Daily Job Hunt is part two of this report on Where the Jobs Are! Although some of you will claim it’s the other shoe dropping, I think it’s fascinating information that could hold promise for millions of people. Perhaps for you it will put the wheels in motion to a new, promising life. Buckle up and get ready!

Diane Y. (Di) Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer of Power Connections Executive Outplacement and Leadership Coaching Service. Connect with Di at http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/DiChapman and follow her at http://www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi

Finding Balance at the Speed of Life

October 27, 2010

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Ghandi

Yes, I know I’ve used that quote in my writing many times, but if you’re in transition, losing sleep over the future, negotiating for a new job, or hopeful that an offer is going to be your light at the end of the tunnel, Ghandi’s wisdom bears repeating. I’m reminded of traveling from Paris to Lyon, France, on the TGV high-speed “bullet” train years ago. High above the ground, the train clocked speeds of 125 miles per hour and more. The countryside literally flew by.

Doesn’t it seem like life right now for most of us is a speeding bullet train, with the added uncertainty of the stability of the tracks? We’re speeding faster and faster into an uncertain future, teetering on the rails of life, like a roller coaster dipping and climbing … and we’re holding on tight.

I know all too well of which I speak. I used to be Superwoman! Since summer’s end, though, I’ve been behind in everything – I’m like a hamster on a wheel, squeakily spinning it with as much velocity as I can muster, but to no avail. Yes, I’m moving faster, but the complexity of all of the issues and events of life during this recession have slowed me down mentally and emotionally. I’m “still kicking,” but with less clarity, more confusion, and more of a sense of overwhelm-ment than ever before. Superwoman has flown off the planet, and I’ve been left holding a five-pound bag containing ten pounds of overdue everything: blogging, twittering, phoning, reading, writing … you name it. Stop the world!!! I want to get off!

Can you relate?

Trust me, I have always been one focused professional, never making excuses about my shortcomings, always returning calls promptly, meeting deadlines, and going the extra mile for my commitments. But, I’ll admit that right now, I’m wondering when I’ll get my balancing act back in swing. If you’re wondering the same thing about yourself, you are not alone. The uncertainty of what our economic future might be collectively, and even more unsettling, what it might be for each of us individually and our families, is enough to knock even the toughest players off their game.

Are you losing sleep over the loss of a job – whether it’s your own, or a loved one’s? Are you uncertain of what changes landing a new job will bring? I just went through that with my husband – eight months of executive unemployment.

My husband and I are thrilled about his new job, and I’ve never seen him happier. However, wait for it – wait for it – we are now in a “commuter marriage.” His new job is three time zones and about 2000 miles away! BUT, and it’s a BIG but (go ahead, laugh, it’s a fun pun!) – we are so thankful that during this time of unparalleled recession for us and our peers, we are blessed with work.

Are you watching the clock on your finances, tossing and turning as the plans you made for retirement have unraveled? I get it. Retirement? What retirement? The AARP Association reported in its most recent bulletin that 51% of American households won’t be able to maintain their standard of living once they retire. In fact, we must change the notion of seniors as “non-contributors” in our society, and allow them to be productive way beyond what we have traditionally considered “retirement age.” It’s an economic necessity to keep us from plunging the largest demographic in human history into poverty, all at once. Thank goodness, “50” is the new “30.” We Americans are going to need to extend our working years into our 70s.

For now, I’d like to suggest you look at some productive ways to keep going to meet the road ahead of you, wherever it leads. I want your “take-away” today to be a renewed energy and resolve, courage to keep going, an “aha!” moment, or just plain inspiration for staying the course. I’d like you to take some action right away:

  • Look at yourself as part of the solution to our tough times, even if you’re in transition right now, looking for a job yourself. Doesn’t that give you a perspective of potential, instead of fear or lack?
  • Get out and circulate in the community, and consider taking a volunteer position or a “day” job in a busy place that will keep you meeting new people and feeling like you’re contributing to life.
  • Be proactive about the upcoming mid-term election and get out and VOTE! The biggest issue of this 2010 election is JOBS, hands down. Be a part of the buzz. No matter what your political party or inclination, pull that lever in the polling booth. It’s powerful! And while you’re at it, why not volunteer to help build a great turnout?
  • Count your blessings and start each day anew, with expectation of great potential in everyone you meet and everything you do. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Look for a “break” and the good in everything you see!

Finally, lighten up on yourself. Take a breath! My message here is “If I can do this … you can do this, too.” But it takes courage, acceptance, patience, and resolve, and the willingness to see that the struggles many of us are experiencing this year are the gateway to truly understanding what it means to be human, and to live a life of purpose, passion, and transformation. It can be a pathway to self-improvement and a new happiness in the simple things in life.

You can do this! Honest!

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc. executive outplacement, coaching and career management service. Her Linked In profile is at www.linkedin.com/in/DiChapman. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi.

The Energy Formula for Success

July 13, 2010

“Passion + Purpose = Potential2

Look closely at yourself in the mirror. Are you the kind of person employers are looking for?

I have the distinct privilege of being able to interview talented and oftentimes amazing people as a lifestyle reporter and guest host for the Internet radio show “Better Times After Fifty.” An underlying theme in my interviews reveals that every success story I hear on the air shares some very important characteristics with the others. Successful people know what they love to do; they know what they love to offer their customers, employers, and employees; and they know how important it is to fulfill their missions of helping people change their lives for the better. They’re crystal clear about this. Their passion and purpose exponentially created, and affects, their success. I don’t think it’s coincidental.

What is it that comes together in sync for the success stories of the world? I believe it’s passion and purpose that channels the energy of success, and the result can be an exponential burst of potential. As you seek a new job, it may be time to press your own reset button to resurrect a fire in your belly, to muster your enthusiasm and desire to radiate the knowledge, talent, and capability you can invest in a future employer. Perhaps a snippet from my own life can be an inspiration and help to yours.

When my inspirational quotation teddy bear business was featured in the Simple Truths’ book Customer Love, it was an amazing affirmation of my commitment to bringing my “best self” to every transaction. Throughout lean times and great times, I have always insisted on living with the energy of passion, purpose, and potential. Many of you, too, have given your all to careers where you performed at peak capacity 40, 50, and 60-plus hours a week, year after year. It wasn’t always easy to put on a game face and charge into work with all cylinders firing. But, you did it, and by doing your best to contribute to the success of your past employers, you sowed a portfolio of talents that you can offer another one going forward.

My inclusion in Customer Love motivated me to study the book and read all of the stories related within it. I’m glad I did. The “lessons” and principles portrayed in Customer Love will raise your energy for living every day, for every interaction you have as you look for work, and most certainly for every job interview. Customer Love could literally be a guidebook for anyone who wishes to “knock the socks off” of a potential employer. Even if you don’t think your job is one that actually serves “customers,” reinventing your own perspective to one of a “customer service” mentality will drive up your energy level, enthusiasm, and ultimate success at finding a job. These characteristics are what employers look for as they sift through a line of job applicants.

If you’re struggling with the “Why me?” question that often follows a job loss, another book that can hold pearls of wisdom for you is Betty Mahalik’s Living a Five Star Life. I found two helpful nuggets in Betty’s book. “We often make our experiences harder than they have to be by our resistance to change, growth or stress,” she says, “…use stress to take you a step closer to …what you want to become.” Later in the book, she quotes an unknown source who said, “Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through life without any obstacles, we would be crippled.” Perhaps loss of a job can be an unexpected transition to living a better life.

Your job hunt is all about improving YOU. Stay receptive to the possibilities of finding work in new arenas, or learn to look at the same old job in a new light and with new eyes. Make a promise to yourself that you will bring your best to every interview, every phone call, and every opportunity to connect with others.

Stay energetic, stay passionate, and stay confident.

Commend yourself for the achievements you have attained in life thus far, and define your goals and the value you will bring to your next job. Muster up the fire in your belly. As Emerson once said, “The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.” Even if the man is job-hunting!

Finally, take a tip from Susan Howington, CEO of Power Connections, Inc.  Susan assists executives who are “in transition” after being laid off. She sees job offers coming in to her clients who have polished their appearance, defined their value propositions, and practiced the steps of improving their energy level. “The jobs are out there for energetic applicants,” says Howington. “When clients approach potential companies with an enthusiastic ‘What can I do for you?’ attitude, good things happen. They’re absolutely getting jobs!”

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer of Power Connections Inc. www.dichapman.com

www.powerconnectionsinc.com

Resolve to be a “Contributer” to Life

June 8, 2010

Lessons Learned in the Presence of Greatness

“Someone out there needs you more than you need them!” – Lt. General Hal Moore

It’s February 15, 2010, President’s Day, and I’m shivering in a brutally cold whipping wind in Montevallo, Alabama. The skies are blue and the sunshine is beautiful, though, and there is an air of expectancy and anticipation that buoys my every step. “Thank goodness I’ve worked in outdoor conditions of all description,” I think to myself. “At least I’m thoroughly bundled up.” The reality is I’ve spent many a production day in sweltering 95 degree heat, with 50 to 60% humidity, trying to salvage a silk blouse and a hairdo. I’d take the cold any day!

I step inside to check on last minute details in my notes, and to make final phone calls; and stop to compliment two polite and lovely women who await the start of an eventful and unforgettable day. They are currently in a quiet hall, chatting softly, giving no hint as to the magnitude of the convocation that will start shortly, or to the growing crowd gathering at the end of the driveway, stepping into line as they exit their vehicles. I take it all in, literally savoring every second of the energy and expectation and excitement that whirls around me.

I can’t imagine being anywhere else at that moment in time, and am still in awe of how God and the universe say “yes” to heartfelt intentions, to a deeply rooted sense of purpose, and a determination to find a way to somehow contribute to the world, no matter how great or how little you are able to put forth. So, literally running from location to location on an outdoor campus with freezing wind at my back, I’m elated at the prospect of what is to come, and know that this will be a day I will never forget.

Like every unforgettable day in one’s life, there is a back story. And my particular story about that amazing day in Montevallo, Alabama is directly related to the gift of a book, and what the words within it meant to me. “In the Presence of Greatness ….” Mac Anderson writes in his forward to the Simple Truths book A Tender Warrior: 5 Leadership Letters To America, “I wasn’t prepared to be blown away by General Hal Moore’s kindness, humility, and his passion for life.”

You see, a year ago, in February 2009, I had the distinct privilege of meeting Mac Anderson in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a follow-up to the inclusion of my story in his 2008 book Customer Love, and when I had the chance to speak to him on a “poster-perfect” day in the gorgeous Arizona desert, I was open to any inspiration and possibilities that a conversation with such an accomplished man could render. I was there with complete “heart, soul and intellect” at attention, and when he put an advance copy of A Tender Warrior in my hands, electricity went through me and sparked what I can only call “a knowing:” I was drawn to the General, and with each touch of the pages, I knew I had to somehow, some way, be in his presence.

So my story today is not just about how I traveled from sunny Southern California to unseasonably cold Alabama to be a part of an event that would honor Lt. General Hal Moore, and it turns out, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr., as well. It’s a story about how deeply-rooted purpose gave me the courage to reach out again and again to someone I felt an enormous amount of respect, appreciation, and admiration for; and in so doing, found myself in the presence of greatness all around.

We ALL Have Something to Contribute to Life

I remember a day, many years ago, when I had the privilege to meet Alma Powell. “Young or old, you still have something to give to your country,” she said. Now that I’m squarely positioned in the “mature” segment of our population, I think a lot about the wisdom of this statement, and believe that it applies to life as well.

Who’s to say that a person of a “certain age” contributes less to our world than someone of youth and physical prowess? I plan on living at least another 50 years on this planet (I have to – I have way too many plans to check out earlier!!), and not in one mental image of myself down the road do I see a woman who is not giving back to my community, country, friends, family and earth. I will leave this world kicking and screaming if I don’t make a difference. And, honestly, part of the drive within me to do something significant comes from a huge recognition of the trails blazed and conquered by those who have come before me. My achievements are meant to be an acknowledgement of the debt I owe to those who created the life I have, and who did so in uncertain, difficult, and often deadly circumstances. Giving back is part of who I am.

So, when I was offered the chance to come to Montevallo, Alabama to honor General Hal Moore as he was appointed Distinguished National Honorary Chair of The American Citizenship Trust and its American Village Campus; and to see him present the American Freedom Award to his longtime friend General George W. Casey, Jr., and posthumously to General George W. Casey, Sr., a fire in my belly said, “Go!”

I did, and I didn’t look back. In anticipation of what I knew was going to be an amazing experience, in the midst of the events of the celebration weekend, which included the 88th birthday celebration of General Moore, as well as a 10th Anniversary celebration of the American Citizenship Trust, I opened myself up to meeting amazing people like Tom Walker, Founder and CEO of the American Citizenship Trust, and his wonderful, accomplished staff at the American Village.

I met the man called “Driver,” the author of A Tender Warrior, and his lovely and spirited wife Char. I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Sobel, of Sobel Communications, a specialist in military history and events, who has interviewed and written about General Moore for publication numerous times.

But, I cannot tell a lie. The event truly came alive for me the minute the beloved Vietnam War hero himself, Lt. General Hal Moore, walked into view, a handsome soldier with a huge, beautiful smile. When he passed by me in the processional, I knew I was right where I was meant to be that day. And when he delivered his prepared speech with strength and conviction and energy, nearly 600 of us were electrified. We were truly “in the presence of greatness.”

Authenticity is Contagious and Powerful

There is one more observation I’d like to share with you about General Moore that I witnessed on President’s Day. I saw what I can only describe as the “magic” of this man. As he spoke about the importance of young people to our future, he was bold at the lectern. As he described his sadness about the blood of his soldiers on his hands, he showed the soft side of the warrior.

When he presented Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr., and Casey’s father, General George W. Casey, Sr., with the National Freedom Award, his smile lit up the room. His love for the Army Chief of Staff, who was like a son to him after the death of his father in Vietnam, was demonstrative, and returned with genuine admiration from the man who now leads our country’s Army. Photos snapped of the two men side by side throughout the day reveal a bond so heartfelt, it lifted all of us who had gathered at the convocation, and infused an easy atmosphere in the press room, where I was helping direct the media crews.

But, here’s what I will never, ever forget for as long as I live: When it was announced that “Liberty Hall,” the venue for the convocation that day, was officially going to be renamed “Lt. General Hal Moore Hall,” we saw the purest, most radiant reaction of honest-to-goodness joy and surprise on our hero’s face. I imagine that everyone there that day feels himself or herself to be a better person for witnessing that moment.

“Suit Up” to Make Your Dreams Come Alive

What else did I learn while in the presence of greatness? Believe every day that your dreams can come true. The event at the American Village Campus introduced me to heroes from all walks of life. I saw the manifestations of the dreams of so many people, like Tom Walker, his staff, and Driver. I saw the joy in a beloved hero’s face as he became the official honorary chair of the American Citizenship Trust at 88 years of age. And, yes, I was there to see it and help with it. I suited up. I lived my dream.

If there is anything I would like you to take away from reading about my amazing experience in Alabama, it’s this: if you decide to follow your dreams, no matter who you are, where you are, or how old you are, the incredible can happen. As Geothe said many, many years ago, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc. Executive Outplacement and Career Management Services. Her website is http://www.dichapman.com

Get “Outside” Yourself and Open Up the Possibilities!!

May 5, 2010

Springtime is here, and even if your spirits are in a funk because you’re searching for work, there is something to be said for getting outside. I refer often to the importance of exercise, and to the critical act of getting out “on foot” to make sure you know everyone and everything in your neighborhood. We Americans can be very good at moving about our daily routines at the speed of light, missing the who, what, why and how of the goings-on in our own neck of the woods. There is value in getting to know the neighbors, the businesses around you, and the conditions and concerns that affect your town. But this message is about much more than that.

It’s important, yes, to always be broadening your personal sphere of knowledge and influence. And you know what? It doesn’t stop there. Julie LaCroix, MA, CMP and I put our heads together recently, and agreed that there are definite ways that an executive in transition can make a powerful statement to the community, and even the world, by taking on a cause, or participating in an inspirational event. Seriously, the adage about how 90% of success is “just showing up” doesn’t just relate to job sites. It also relates to your personal involvement with your community.

Your willingness to be present at the activities of others, particularly others who are striving to do great things with the little they have, or under less than advantageous circumstances,  makes an enormous statement about who you are inside. Likewise, your willingness to give of yourself and your resources, no matter how small a contribution you can make, says volumes about your character. They’re demonstrations of “the stuff you’re made of” and will not go unnoticed.

If you’re stumped about where and how you might contribute to your community while you get outside yourself, literally and figuratively, I’d like to give you some brief examples of things that have appeared on my own personal radar in the last few weeks:

Unless you live in a cave, you have probably heard of The Boston Marathon. It’s never been something that has had great meaning to me, other than my obvious respect for anyone who is able to participate in such an event. (How DO they do that?) But, interestingly enough, it has touched my life in a couple of unexpected ways. First, my sister-in-law was the first woman to enter the Boston Marathon. (I know!! Can you believe there was a time in 20th century history when it was thought that women and girls were incapable of such physical feats?) Then, just a few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine, a world-class athlete who was paralyzed while training in 2001, completed the event – coming in 2nd place among the 24 female hand-cyclists who qualified. Beth Sanden literally bypassed her paralyzed legs, and with an emotional and mental strength that can move mountains, and a heart with the fortitude of a giant, used her arms to propel herself to the finish line.

Beth has always been a hero and a role model in her community, with a thriving personal training business in San Clemente, and a global player as an athlete. But, when she was thrown from a bicycle while taking a curve on a training run in 2001, her spine was shattered. All of us who know her well, remember her months in the hospital, the beginning of her journey back to “life” and her intention to be present in the lives of her two teenage daughters at the time. She had lost her ability to run her business, to use her legs, and to attend to the daily tasks of motherhood, at least for a period of time. Talk about losing one’s sense of self – Beth knew she had to reinvent herself if she was going to be the mother, wife, girlfriend and contributor to the community she always believed she would be.

Slowly, methodically, and painfully, Beth dove back into life. She went from a wheelchair to a tripod cane, then to a regular cane. She began to swim laps daily, using buoys on her legs. She became an active member of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), a group of individuals who have been paralyzed or suffered loss of limbs, but just keep on going, reinventing themselves as champions, all the while raising money for other victims of accidents who need wheelchairs or financial assistance. In 2006, Beth completed her first triathlon in five years atop a new CAF handcycle. She kept going, and going and going …. and then, she made history, at 55 years of age, in the 114th Boston Marathon. It gives me goosebumps. And if you ask her how she did it, she will tell you she has tremendous faith, and she wants to give back. In every photo you see of Beth, she is with her fellow athletes at CAF, and her smile ignites the scene.

The second thing that got me thinking about how our lives can make an impact on others, and get us “outside ourselves” was when Judy McCoy, a woman who shares one of my evening fitness classes, approached me about helping her promote her nonprofit group’s fundraiser that was held on May 1st. Judy knew that I guest host a radio show (www.bettertimesafterfifty.com) and wondered if I could arrange an on-air mention about the event. Judy’s group is called Ordinary Women, Inc., and they support orphans in Kenya. They are dedicated to placing orphans in local Kenyan families, and providing food, education, and medical care to each child. It was one more reminder to me that there is a whole world of magnanimous activity that goes on in our communities, creating heros among us. We just have to step outside of ourselves and look around to find it.

Getting back to Julie LaCroix, a Career Management Consultant at Power Connections Inc. Julie assists executives in transition every day.  “Sometimes you  gotta do what you gotta do,” she says.  And at the top of the list is taking part-time, temporary, or volunteer work to stay in top form.  “Show your skills, but most importantly, show YOU,” Julie advises.

Start with your attitude and build from there.  First, show these organizations who you are and what you are like to work with.  Then show them your skills.  “You have nothing to lose, so go out on a limb!” Julie exclaims, “Surround yourself with interesting people who can get to know you through working with you. And while you’re at it, do something great for the world!”

Perhaps your efforts won’t lead you directly to an interview or a job, but look at it this way: the relationships you build will most likely bring referrals, and your pro bono work counts as consulting. With the right attitude, you will succeed at communicating your brand, keep your skills sharp, build new relationships, look like a consultant, and generate valuable references and referrals.  Do what you “gotta do”!

Besides, there are people out there who need you, your energy and your talents. I’ve named just a couple of them above. There are so many more. What are you waiting for? Get going!

Di Chapman, President, Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service (www.dichapman.com) and Chief Communications Officer, Power Connections Inc. Career Management and Executive Outplacement Service (www.powerconnectionsinc.com)

Attitudes That Transcend Platitudes

April 16, 2010

The Enormous Potential of an Uncertain Future

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” – Margaret Drabble

Oh, my goodness. You’ve just made it through tax time… and to top it off, perhaps you’re “in transition” looking for work, or in a job situation that needs to change. Maybe it’s time to pay school tuition, or pick a college. You might be dealing with a health or family issue that is draining your “reserves” of energy, time, and resources. Given one, two, or ALL of the above, it’s perfectly normal to feel stressed, possibly depressed, or absolutely overwhelmed. And, honestly? Platitudes are probably the LAST thing you want to hear.

I understand. But, one thing life has taught me with absolute certainty is that every day holds the potential to create the life you wish to have. Again and again, timeless wisdom tells us that the potential of an uncertain day, an uncertain future, an uncertain circumstance, is unlocked by an attitude of expectation. Every day offers new moments, new hours, and new opportunities that can be full of expectation for a new you – and it starts with attitude.

But don’t take my word for it. History is full of wisdom from those who have gone before us, giving us quotations like the one above. When you need a “shot in the arm” to keep looking for work, or inspiration to “keep your eyes on the ball,” or the mental fortitude to “get up and get going” another day, try to consider the proposition that there is often truth in the platitudes that swirl around us. I’ll take that a step further, and tell you that there is also fruit to bear that goes beyond the direct advice they give…. The platitudes about attitudes are just the beginning. You know, The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And there is always more than one road to your future, or as Lt. General Hal Moore says, “There is always one more thing you can do to influence the situation in your favor.”

As an entrepreneur for most of my adult life, I am a firm believer in the power of expectation. I meet each day with the anticipation that it will bear fruit – whether my time is booked with clients – or not. I expect to make a living each day, and I take it a day at a time. Funny how a “freelance writing and media production” business that started out by taking it one day at a time, hitting the pavement, shaking hands, introducing myself wherever I was, and whenever I could, blazed a trail to … now, over 20 years later. Did I travel in a straight line from “zero to making a living?” Did I create everything I dreamed I would have in the form of stuff? Hardly. So far, my life has dealt me a very trying hand, losing two brothers and both parents at a very young age, having a tumor removed, watching my husband lose his job in this recession, investing in a business that failed, and dealing with a malicious identity theft, just to give you a few examples of some of my own challenges along the way.

I’m acutely aware of how immobilized the events of a lifetime can make you feel, no matter what your age or circumstances. I’ve experienced it myself, and I’ve seen it hundreds of times in others. So, for just a few moments, I’m asking you to suspend your doubts and disbeliefs about the possibilities for good that await you today. I’d like you to withhold your skepticism as you read this, and muster your courage to imagine that your future can hold even a fragment of the dreams you have. Just for now, hear me out. Read on to see some of the ways that I “reset my attitude” on a regular basis. For me, it’s about delivering quality service and products in my business, creating daily happiness, and plain old survival. For you, it could be about something else. Just for now, in this moment, consider a few tips and actions that can make a difference in your life:

  • Set out to give a slice of joy to someone today. Notice I said a “slice.” You don’t have to bite off more than you can chew. Perhaps for you it means a “whisper,” a compliment, a “thank you,” a phone call, an E-mail, or a wildflower. Acknowledge and accept the perspectives of others. We’re all doing the best we can right now, in the “shoes” of our circumstances. If need be, set your ego aside for just one moment and reach out to others; “put yourself in their shoes.” There is something you can offer someone you know or love that won’t cost you a thing. And you know what? It can give you and them the possibility of a new outlook, or infuse your lives with a little optimism. This simple act alone can take your attitudes beyond platitudes.
  • Get out on foot. Take a walk, and say “hello” to everyone you meet along the way. Notice everything, and marvel in the characteristics of your neck of the woods. Is there something you can do to help your neighborhood? Do you know the neighbors around you? Do you know their habits and routines? Admire their canine companions and their efforts to exercise. We Americans have become way too sedentary, and that lack of motion in our lives affects us in more ways than one, physically and mentally. There is a whole world out there, right in your own neighborhood, your own town, and your own city. You won’t see it or experience it any other way but on foot. Taking a walk will clear your head, make you healthy, and introduce you to new friends and new ideas for charting a course to a more healthy and vibrant life.
  • Do your routine tasks in a different way. We are the habits we do every day. Deliberately changing one thing daily can change everything. You’ve heard the platitude “You are what you eat.” Take this to heart literally AND figuratively. Your daily routine keeps you in the place you are NOW. Take a look around you and catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror. Your daily routine has created the images you see. When you learn something new, your brain physiologically changes. When you alter your diet and exercise habits, you reshape your waistline. When you make an effort to listen to someone else’s story, you expand your beliefs and your tolerances. When you take a new route to the market, or venture into a new one altogether, you see things you’ve never seen before. When you visit a coffee shop that’s off your beaten path, you meet new people. When you make new choices, you create a new future.
  • YOU are the architect of your life. There is a famous quotation that is often mistakenly said, “Circumstances make the man.” The actual quotation by James Allen is “Circumstances don’t make the man, they reveal him.” Who you are is attributable in large part to how you have responded to your circumstances. I grew up in a home where my parents loudly opined about all of the politics of our country. As a young adult, I mimicked their words and attitudes boisterously as well. Then one day, with the emergence of a new issue that I felt strongly about, I realized that I could change my opinions if I wanted to. A light bulb literally went off in my head. “Wow. I don’t agree with my parents on this issue. In fact, I don’t agree with their politics at all anymore.” I gave myself permission to change my beliefs in mid-stream, and I’ve never looked back. At my core, I ceased to be the person I was at a young age, and I have taken responsibility for that ever since. My actions reflect who I am.
  • Let yourself EVOLVE with the transformation of a new decision. Make the decision to trust that your life will bring forth a new bounty. You CAN be different than you are now. As human beings it is hard-wired within us to fear the unknown, and to be terrified of change. But, as much as our fears give us comfort because they are what we know, they also bind us tightly, and can imprison us with self-doubt and inaction.

Simple changes in your attitude and routine can affect literally everything about you and bring on a new job, a new relationship, a new outlook, new horizons, new friends, and a new body, just to name a few of the potential benefits. If you take it one day at a time, you can move beyond the platitude “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” and create today, tomorrow, and ultimately your future, what it stands for, and your legacy. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s something worth thinking about.

Di Chapman is founder of Words To Your Advantage, a speaking and writing service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc., an executive career management and outplacement company. Her website is www.dichapman.com.