How Many of These Five Career Qualities Do You Want?

Harvard Business Review (HBR) posted an article today about what people want in careers:

      • Security
      • Freedom
      • Advancement
      • Engagement
      • Balance
For me, all of the above! (You could add over-achiever to that list, I guess.) But seriously, I want to be challenged and busy, and be making solid contributions that leads to acknowledgement of my contributions and advancement.

I've had enough years in my career (30+) and I am now delightfully finished with day-to-day single parenting four children, so I find balance is actually quite achievable.

Security helps me relax, knowing I can breathe a bit and risk being myself, bringing my creativity and personality to the table. The more secure I am, the more confidence, which in turn leads to feeling I can be more me.

Freedom means being able to be creative. Being an engineer and also an artist, I go from linear to fluid and everywhere in between. I like a career where I am free to pick the best solution or combination of solutions in the moment, using my gut instinct.

Advancement is room to grow. I value connection and the connection between what I do and where it takes me in my career is important to me. I want to be in an organization that fosters growth of its employees by advancing them, when ready, to take on more responsibility and make bigger contributions.

Engagement may be the most important of these five qualities for me. The older I get the more important it is for me to feel engaged and have a stake in my career, and for me to interact with others who engage with me. I can't really do my job of EHS very effectively if either party is not fully engaged.

And finally balance. As I mentioned above, I have a much better sense of what balance looks like and I have a lot more time to achieve balance. I have the experience to know that I don't have to bust my rear end after hours to keep up. I can be effective by working the normal number of hours, and the longer I work, the more efficient I get so that I'm actually down to a 40 hour week. Being an artist helps me so much - getting into that right side of my brain is the most relaxing soothing way to balance out my logical side ever.

Bring me a job opportunity that has 3, 4 or hopefully all 5 of these important qualities and I will be a productive and happy employee!


Distracted by a Job

I started a full-time job about five weeks ago. That has left me quite depleted. I'm not depleted, energy-wise. I've actually been pretty hyped up and feeling groovy. But there is something about putting my head into engineering work that takes away my penchant for critical thinking about art, issues and the world at large. I wonder if it is what comes from being in a corporate environment all day long? Drinking the kool-aid, so to speak.  I've been out of an office environment for about two years, so it is interesting to go back in there.

Things that have been on my mind instead are: 
  • How nice it is to have income, which leads directly to my ability and willingness to do some things around the house that were in need of maintenance. Really small things like buying a much needed new shower curtain and having someone come and clean the windows; 
  • Planning a small vacation away for the weekend;
  • Going out to lunch once a week to treat myself and enjoy it guilt-free; and
  • A little bit of retail therapy, which involved allowing myself to walk through the mall and Macy's and look at clothes, cosmetics and shoes, even though I didn't end up buying anything.
I have been doing art and now that I am up on a disciplined level with art, having had the better part of the last year to do it anytime I wanted, it is something I do for relaxation.

  • I've put together some prototype wedding invitations
  • I made a flyer for the King's Mountain cookie bake committee, and 
  • I made a flyer for the art show and sale my friend Diana and I are having in June.
I will get back to thinking about more important issues soon enough. Until then, I'm going to ponder why my brain hasn't been able to do both the job and caring about important things at the same time.


Focus, Pinky, Focus

I was reading a great blog by Kathleen Shannon reflecting on changes she's noticing after having her first baby a few weeks ago. Kathleen and her sister Tara Street have a fantastic branding company for creatives called Braid. I used Braid for some branding work on my tarts idea.
A big change like having a child, or changing jobs, moving, or losing a loved one, can bring forward the opportunity to reflect. Somehow in these times, our brains slow down and as Kathleen said, it is a little like when you travel and are more aware as you make your way through a new city. With the new baby snuggling, Kathleen was reflecting on her ability (or inability) to focus.
But what I noticed as I was reading this magazine is that my attention span is completely shot. I found myself skipping paragraphs and jumping pages. The equivalent of hopping from open tab to open tab in my browser. I was challenged to hold my focus on a beautiful magazine in my peaceful and picture-perfect breakfast nook. I found myself with a compulsive itch for the kind of chaos that only social media can seem to scratch these days. Now look, I don’t think the internet is bad (I mean, here I am). But it might be a problem when I’m 5 pages into a really great read and at the same time am habitually reaching for my phone to refresh Instagram for the 10th time in 20 minutes. (And on that note, I’ve also noticed that even TV can’t seem to hold my attention – I seem to mindlessly grab for my phone when I’m watching my shows too!) 
So I think I’d like to tweak my morning routine for a while and instead of absent-mindedly scrolling through my RSS feed and Pinterest I’m going to drag out all the magazines I’ve collected and practice giving real pages that I can turn my undivided attention.
This reminded me of exactly what Daniel Goleman was referring to when I listened to an interview with him on NPR recently. We are becoming attached to our electronics in a new and interesting way. You can read a lot more about that in Goleman's book, Focus. (Funny note: I recently got the Kindle app, but I will read this one in hard cover with a cup of tea by my side.)

Goleman's suggestion for developing your focus muscle: meditate. 

Aaaahhh. Namaste.


How Do You Know if You Have The Right Coach?

I've been debating whether to write this blog post for more than a year. I'm trained as a personal life coach. I've had a coach for 12 of the past 15-16 years. Not the same coach that whole time, but only two in that time.

How much progress should a person make with the help of a coach in 15 years? How do you know if the coaching challenges and advice are good or not?

My first coach was a woman I contacted when I learned about the field of personal coaching. Still a friend, many years later, I stopped coaching with SK when she started up a professional coaching practice and wanted to hire me into that model. What I got from SK during our coaching was a straight-forward and objective assessment of various personal and professional situations I found myself in. At the time, I was newly divorced, recovering from breast cancer and raising four rambunctious children on my own, while running my own engineering consulting practice.

I took a break after SK and I stopped coaching. I got through coach training and was coaching people myself and practicing self-management and a certain level of self-coaching.

After a couple of years flying solo, I heeded the recommendation that if you were going to be a coach, you should have a coach. I also had a deep-seated desire to branch out from engineering into art and become more of a professional artist, rather than a dabbler, so I sought a coach who could help me achieve those right-brained goals.

I worked with BZ for 10 years. In that time, I did achieve my goal of becoming a professional artist. I had shows, got a residency, and became firmly entrenched in my art community. All big personal wins. I also got fed up with corporate America and quit my well-paying job at the height of the economic wipeout in 2008-9.

Any coach will tell you - if not in a written agreement, at least informally - that your decisions are your own, as are your successes, or your failures. There's usually deemphasis on failures. Of course, you want your coach to help you win. Your coach wants you to win. Failure is discussed in terms of learning moments and you keep moving, after processing your disappointment, grief, anger, resentment.

I really hadn't thought much about the challenges my coach casually threw my way: quit my job, try being an artist, what if you did this or that? until another person coached by BZ - let's call him JT - shared his experiences with me.

JT's been searching for his path in life since finishing school a few years ago. He's a musician. Highly creative. Good degree. Wants to live in Seattle where there's a music scene, where he has friends, and where he went to college. But Seattle is economically challenging for him.  I see him making choices that are sporadic. Try this, then try that. Are these things he's coming up with, or his coach's suggestions? I'm not sure, but given my experience with BZ, I think many come from his coach.  And that's where I have a bit of an issue.

As a coaching client, you are paying your coach to, well, coach you. They are rooting for you and you are in love with everything they say. Every suggestion, coming from their subtle authority position, sounds like it could just be the thing to propel you to success, balance, whatever it is you are seeking. So you get a little sucked in to thinking that trying these things is going to be easy. Why not?

But then, after a few weeks or months of something not working very well, instead of spending time thinking about what could have been done better, you and your coaching are talking about the next big thing. Yay! You go! Sky's the limit! I'm being a little bit facetious here, like this vid of two gal coaches. But you get my drift.

A coach is a good thing. And being open to change is a good thing, especially if you are wanting things to change. But - or and as any good coach would say - steady progress toward a goal is important. A coach who is willy-nilly all over the board is not helping you. By choosing a goal and taking small, but consistent steps aligned with that goal, with the help of a coach, you will succeed and you will do it more quickly.  Why take 15 years when you could have taken only 5?


What Really Works to Help Women Get Ahead

Women can only get ahead in work if they stay in the workplace. Sometimes, that is not an easy thing to do. Organizations have institutional barriers to success, especially for women with children. If you are raising a family, whether a woman or a man, the work demands can sometimes make it tough, with demands on your time and attention at times when your children need it most.

CEO Sabrina Parsons of Palo Alto Software, suggests some specific and practical ways that parents who work can be present at work, and also take care of their parenting in a responsible and calm way.

I have long been saying we need organizations to remove institutional barriers. Now Sabrina Parsons gives us ideas, and these are things she herself has tried. Thank you Sabrina. Read the whole article in Business Insider here.


2014 Mandalas

January - Mandala #1 - Better

February - Mandala #2: Focus
March - Mandala #3: End Chaos Now
April - Mandala #4: Blossom

May - Mandala #5: Pure Joy

June - Mandala #6: And move on.
July - Mandala #7: Hawaii

August - Mandala #8: Electric
September - Mandala #9 - Radiant 
October - Mandala #10 - Picnic
November - Mandala #11: Community Plan
December - Mandala #12: Portal


Journey Leads to A Small Child

Tonight, I continuing my practicing of shamanic journeying with a like-minded friend who also has skills in this area. We agreed to practice journeying on behalf of each other.  The journey I had revealed a baby in Yvette's future - a baby I didn't know will be born in just a few short months. Read on for the full story, and thank you Yvette for agreeing I could share this for learning purposes.

Yvette's question was about what job she would do that would provide her with the work-life balance she seeks to allow time for her creative side.

In the journey, I saw Yvette transforming from a hectic situation (current) where she is scrambling all the time in work, and which leaves little time and energy for her creativity. She transformed and her situation evolved to one where she was in a relationship with a man who supported them, allowing her to work at what she loves part time. I also saw a female child - age 3-5, cradled in Yvette's lap. In the vision, the child was her youngest daughter's child.  I vacillated between thinking the child was her daughter and that this was a past view of Yvette's life, but the vision kept telling me it was her daughter's child. I do know Yvette's daughter in real life, but haven't had any updates on what she's been up to for several months.

When I returned from the vision and told Yvette all that I saw, including plenty of information for her about transformation, patience and a graceful relationship that would allow the work-life balance she seeks, I joked that whatever was to happen about this relationship she was in would resolve in 3-5 years, as that was the age of the child in the vision. I was a bit panicked at the thought of all that would have to happen for the vision to come to pass. So much of it is not even close to being in place at this time.

After I told Yvette the journey, she told me her daughter is due to have a baby in just three months! While this was not the focus of the journey, which was to get information for Yvette, it was stunning to me to hear of the baby on the way. Any information I've had about Yvette's daughter would lead me to believe children were far off in her future.  It is true that Yvette will be a grandmother soon, and in just a couple of years, I believe she will be in a relationship that is graceful and peaceful and she will find the work-life balance and time to be creative she seeks.