Finding inspiration in spaces  

Joseph Campbell, a keen observer of we humans, has some insight on how we carve out and spend our time.  As can be seen below, he is big proponent of ‘sacred’ spaces.    He’s not talking about churches, temples or cathedrals,  he’s talking about inviolate space, discrete time, or an uninterruptible compartment that is all yours.

[Sacred space] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”

Every day we hustle and bustle wondering why we are so busy yet don’t seem to feel done.  We have ongoing things to keep our minds occupied.  We might feel so full of activities, there is little room for ideas.   How to find a way to shift this to open up to our own inspiration?  How do we step away from your check lists? Where  can we find our calm, ourselves & our creativity?

Take a moment to find a free space (like the tree house you might have had as a kid) where you have quiet with no interruptions.  This may not need to be an actual space, it can be a state of mind where you pull the car over for a “space” of time or close your office door to create that sense of spaciousness.  Decide on a realistic amount of time per day – 10 minutes, 1/2 an hour or an hour  that will be possible for you to set aside.  Commit to taking that time every day.   Allow this time to just be, resist the desire to fill it with thoughts or tasks or guilt for not doing something.   Observe your reactions to this space – do you feel bored, irritated, anxious, calm, relaxed?  As you continue with this committed space, you’ll notice your resistance will shift to enjoyment.   You’ll also discover that your mind is freer, even when you are busy.   Soon you’ll notice that in addition to being less caught up, you will actually find some new ideas and surprising solutions to situations you are facing.   Watch.  Learn.  Enjoy.

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Do you hear what I hear?

No, no, this is not an early reminder of the caroling you’ll hear over the next few weeks. It’s a question about what you HEAR. The question could be said “do you hear what I said? or “do I hear what you said?”.   We often think the person in front of us who is nodding in agreement is really understanding exactly what we are saying.  Most likely, it is not the case.  The other person comes to the conversation with their experiences, perspectives, attitudes and points of reference as do we.   These elements become filters are used to “hear” what is being said.  We must be aware that “filtering” is a given when we interact with people.

When someone isn’t responding to what you are saying in an expected way – ask yourself if there are other ways to interpret what you have said.  Ask the other person what they heard.  Were they even listening?  With so many distractions today it is easy to have one’s attention wander.  Combine that with our natural tendency to filter, its VERY easy to misunderstand the message.  Make your conversations interactive by asking questions that engage the other person.  These questions & answers can even validate that the message is being delivered!  Try it you might be surprised at how helpful a little attention to this can provide clarity.  Keep the question ‘do you hear what I hear’ close at hand to remind yourself to check in on understanding.

WORK: Move from surviving to THRIVING…!

Work is a fluid notion.  Sometimes it is so in line with who we are we hardly think about it as work.  Other times it takes everything we have to get to it and get it done.  If you are lucky enough to fly through your day, keep it up, the world needs as many fully engaged people as possible!!  If you are just floating along or having a hard time doing what you are tasked to do you may find some ideas below.

For some work is ok but not great…  How do we move it up a few notches to get more zip & energy into our days?  We need to do a some personal homework on our own motivation, desires and an honest understanding of what our situation is.  Sometimes we get so accustomed to low grade dissatisfaction that we don’t realize how much control we have over it.   Carve out some time to look at your situation.

Your job
What motivates you about your job?  What are your responsibilities?  What pressures do you feel ?
Do you do much outside your official scope?  Is that by choice or by request?

What is your favorite part of your job?  Least favorite?  Neutral parts?
Where do the bulk of your responsibilities fall in the spectrum of like vs. not like?
If you can’t really decide your favorite, think about how you feel doing your various tasks – happy, light, heavy, resistant, disinterested?

Your co-workers
What is your interaction with them?  What is the tone of your conversations?
Who lightens your day?  Who brings you down?
Is collaboration an ingredient of your role?  Does that work easily with others?

Your company culture
Is there a sense of camaraderie?  Does the company encourage team building?
Does competition reign as a tool to motivate people?  What is your reaction to that?

Look at all these things carefully, is there room for shifting the way you do your job?  If you’ve begun to dig deeply you should be able to determine a pattern that would allow you to do some “job sculpting” as outlined by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton in their What Motivates Me book.
You’ll want to work with your boss to take on more of the things you enjoy and do well.  You can shift some collaborations to include those co-workers you work well with.  Ideally you’ll be able to explore areas of interest you’ve identified so you can build and learn new capabilities.  Understanding what drives you is as important as knowing what you do well (as nicely outlined in Gostick & Elton’s book).

This is a multi-pronged project, some of these modifications can be done with help of those around you, your boss, your co-workers, your customers, etc.  Other modifications may need to show up in your view of what lies in front of you.  Using a different lens.  Things are ever changing so we need to pay attention to what is happening around us.  When things are shifting we need to respond as if it is an opportunity.  Being proactive may actually help optimize your performance and bring that sense of thriving to life!

Job Seekers: Time to Rediscover the Library?

Another good sound piece of advice from Matt!

Career Horizons: The Blog!

I’ll confess, I’ve always had a soft spot for libraries. Whether it’s the quiet ambiance, the invaluable amounts of history they preserve, or the addictive chemicals I suspect might be present in book-binding glue, I’ve always enjoyed spending large chunks of quality time “among the stacks” throughout my life.

Honestly, though, I haven’t physically visited a library in years. Or even thought all that much about them, given that the rise of the web eliminated the need to rely heavily on such institutions for much of the research involved in the job-hunting process. Recently, however, I was prepping for a workshop and took a few moments to log into the King County Library System website (www.kcls.org) just to poke around — using my trusty library card — and I had a great time “rediscovering” some of the traditional resources that were available, as well as some new tools…

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Are you in the right job?

We all wonder from time to time whether frustrations at work are symptoms of bigger issues or simply a matter of getting our job done. How can we tell when its time to start seriously considering our next opportunity? We know that a job for life is not part of the employment equation in this era of job mobility, so what should we look for as indicators that it may be time to consider moving on?

Stress – Do you dread starting your work day? Does your stomach churn or body tense up as you head to the office? Do your boss or colleagues regularly make your life miserable?

Stuck – Do you feel boxed into a corner? Does your role lack growth potential? Is your company strategy shifting away from your skill set or knowledge base? Are there political realities that you can’t easily get around? Are your career discussions with your boss going anywhere?

Unchallenged – Do you feel underutilized? Is your work so comfortable that your are on auto-pilot? Have you stopped learning? Do you feel hungry for more ‘substance’ to your work?

Culture – Is the culture positive, negative or neutral? Do you feel in alignment with those around you (not that you agree necessarily, but that you have a similar value in your approach toward work)?

Wrong fit – Has your role shifted to things you can do but don’t enjoy doing? Do you miss working in your sweet spot? Are you a global big picture thinker in a detail oriented role? Are you an introvert in an extrovert capacity (or vice versa)?

Company crisis – Are finances squeezed so you don’t have access to the same tools to get your job done? Is your industry being impacted by competition or new technologies? Does it appear that down-sizing is inevitable?

Any one of these things show up in our day to day world so keep things in perspective. Don’t start to jump ship with the first recognition of dissatisfaction. Give it some time, see where the challenges can shift. Are there things in your control that you can change? Talk it through with a friend, family member or mentor. Engage a career coach if you think you’d like some help navigating this situation. Pay attention to what is happening around you and within you, that’s where you’ll begin to see what those next steps might be.

Paying it forward

How often does one think about ‘paying it forward’?  I know I thought it sounded good, but didn’t see how it fit into my life.  I’m considerate of others, give time and money to good causes, contribute positively to those around me which I thought was good enough.  Now I think differently and let me tell you why…

One busy Friday, I was making a quick stop at the grocery store (actually TJs) to pick up a few things for a home made pizza party I was going to.  I was in a rush but got everything into my cart, to the cashier, friendly banter back and forth, was ready to head on my way, only to discover there was no wallet in my purse.    Cashier was great, I could cancel or suspend the transaction.  I elected to suspend so was heading home for money to pay for the items when a woman with a card in her hand stepped up and said – ‘I’ll pay it.  You help someone else next time.’  Pay it forward.  Wow.

What a thoughtful deed – she saved me 45 minutes in an already rushed evening.   Startled me into gratitude.  Slowed me down.  Made me think.  STILL makes me think.  For me it was a huge kindness.  It made me think of how that might feel to someone in a more dire situation.  A small gesture of thoughtfulness, of humanity.  Are we so rushed & busy that we don’t entertain such acts?  Give it a try – I know I certainly will.