Tag Archives: self-awareness

“M” is for Mission Statement (Yours)

The week after Christmas last year, a friend and I went on a movie binge. In five days time we saw five movies and no double headers either). Two of the movies, Big Eyes and Wild shared the theme of finding one’s strength, though the main characters took very different routes to do so. The character in Wild started me thinking about personal missions.

wildIn this true story, Cheryl Strayed undertakes a 1200-mile walk along the Pacific Coast Trail. Her “mission” is far greater than to just get from Mexico to Canada; she is on a journey to get her life in order after falling into addiction with the death of her mother. Success for this woman was not finishing the trail; it was rediscovering who she was and transforming her life.

Most of us don’t undertake such monumental journeys for any reason; yet each of us can do better in life and in our careers if we have a framework to help guide our decisions and make us aware of why we do what we do. Companies have mission statements to guide them. Why don’t we?

A mission statement is a clear, concise declaration of what a company wants toth-5 be. If you were a company, what would your mission statement be? How do you intend to be in the world? What is your purpose? How do you want to be perceived?

Two interesting company mission statements I discovered were from Apple (of course) and surprisingly, Jamba Juice. In a montage of Steve Jobs video clips, he th-2said over and over again, “We strive to make the world’s best personal computers.” It’s brief, specific and in terms of guiding decisions I can imagine the C-suite at Apple asking, “But does it help us make the best personal computers?” as they discussed going one direction over another.

Jamba Juice included values in their statement: Jamba! Enriching the daily th-3experience of our customers, our community and ourselves through the life-nourishing qualities of fruits and vegetables.

What does “enriching the daily experience of our customers” mean? Jamba Juice, Inc. included what they call their FIBER Values: Fun, Integrity, Balance, Empowerment and Respect

What makes writing a personal mission statement daunting is that each word is critical and brevity is important. I had little luck in my online search for personal mission statement examples. What might be called a mission statement for a company is often called a personal vision statement when attributed to an individual. Vision statements are often guided by values.

In a 2013 article for Forbes.com, Patrick Hull offers four questions to ask when crafting a mission statement:

  • What do I do?
  • How do I do it?
  • For whom do I do it?
  • What value do I bring?


I suggest adding another question: Why do I do it? In some cases this may be theth-7 only question you need to ask for your personal statement. If your personal mission statement is to help guide your decisions and behaviors in the world, the why is crucial!

Simon Sinek, in his fabulous TED talk on leadership, speaks of “the why” and how leaders who start from “the why” instead of “the what” are more effective. People internalize the why over the what. http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

In my career, I have helped company executives as they struggle to compose their company’s mission statement. It is hard, painstaking, and thoughtful work. It will be no less for you.

th-1My advice is to simply brainstorm some ideas on paper. Ask trusted friends how they would describe you in the world, not in the physical sense but in terms of spirit/energy. Write it all down, and then let it sit. Revisit it in a few days. Revise and let it sit. You will know when you get the right words.

My mission, written some years ago after a Covey workshop, and revisited yearly is not exactly succinct, but it reflects how I want to be at work and in my personal life.th-6“I rejoice in the abundance, potential and opportunities given to me each day. I recognize my power to influence the world around me and will use my skills, talents and gifts to the best of my ability and for the overall good. I understand my behavior, both deliberate and unplanned, impacts others. I will live in a way that helps others recognize their own worth and potential.”

This statement has helped me make life choices and career decisions. Will a proposed project allow me to use my talents for the overall good or is it just good money? My statement lifts me up when things are not going the way I hoped and helps me understand that even when I don’t intend to, my behaviors have an impact on others. Best of all, it reminds me of the abundance in the world.





“J” is for Job Satisfaction

I can’t get no-oh satisfaction…”

–Mick Jagger

mickAll right, all right…we all know Mick was not singing about job satisfaction, but how many of us have said this under our breath as we leave our desks at the end of the day. What is job satisfaction and how can we get some (or some more)?

It’s no surprise to HR professionals that when people answer surveys about what brings them satisfaction on the job, money is not the #1 satisfier. Money is not even #2. moneyWhat sits in these coveted positions year after year are meaningful work and a good relationship with the boss. (<everydaylife.globalpost.com/relationship-between-job-satisfaction-and-salary>, <humanresources.about.com/employeesatisfaction>, and <smallbusiness.chron.com/factorsaffectingjobsatisfaction>).

That said, these are just two of a number of factors that lead to job satisfaction. Because there are so many variables having an impact on job satisfaction it’s a challenge to measure. The following aspects of work were listed in all three of the articles cited above:

  • Work conditions
  • A sense of job security
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Wages
  • Workload
  • Recognition

Other factors, cited less often, include clarity in communication and chain of command, respect from co-workers, and ability to influence decisions.

A Gallup poll in 2011 said that 87.5% of Americans experience job satisfaction. satisfactionBeing able to use their strengths at work and having a trusting and open work environment were strong positive factors. The poll also showed satisfaction levels rose with age and with education. Salary level also had an effect. Employees making less than $36,000 were most dissatisfied (82%), while those making over $90,000 were satisfied (91.9%). Keep those satisfaction numbers in mind as you read on.

For their State of the American Workforce Report 2013, Gallup surveyed 150,000 full and part-time workers. A full 70% of them said they “hated” their job. This hatejobattitude toward their work, according to Gallup, results in estimated costs of between $450-$500 billion dollars a year in lost productivity, stolen office supplies (and you thought no one noticed that missing stapler) and absenteeism. What happened to the 87.5% who expressed satisfaction? Well, satisfaction with and engagement on the job are two different things. Engagement means feeling connected and committed. American workers overall do not feel that way. Perhaps Frederick Herzberg can help us determine why.

HerzbergFrederick Herzberg (remember that name from your college psych classes?) was an American psychologist who became one of the most influential names in business management. He is most famous for introducing the concept of job enrichment and the Motivator-Hygiene theory. This theory speaks of two dimensions to job satisfaction: hygiene factors and motivators. It is interesting to see, when compared to his theory, where most of our job satisfaction variables (and efforts to increase it) fall.hygiene

What are hygiene factors? Company policies, salary, supervision, interpersonal relations, and working conditions. Hygiene factors do not motivate people. When present, the best they do is minimize dissatisfaction. If they go missing, they cause dissatisfaction.

On the other hand, motivators create satisfaction by fulfilling individual recognitionneeds for meaning and personal growth. Motivators include the work itself, receiving recognition, and having responsibility and a chance for advancement. The disconnect between American worker job satisfaction and engagement is easier to see when you look at it through Herzberg’s lens.

Where do you fall? Are you satisfied but not totally engaged? Are you both satisfied and engaged? Neither? What can you do about your situation should you fall in the 70%? Or maybe you are reading this to get some insight into why your reports perform they way they do. What can be done to increase the presence of motivators?

Some suggestions:

  • Help employees believe what they do is important and meaningful. A manager once told me how he motivated his employees to do the unpleasant job of cleaning his store’s restrooms. He explained how dirty restrooms reflected on the store. If the restrooms were dirty, customers might generalize their disgust to the store’s food products and stop shopping there. In other words, cleaning the restrooms contributed to the bottom line just as fully stocked shelves did. Cleaning the restrooms was important work.
  • People usually don’t get up in the morning and think, “I’m going to do a recogbad job today.” Most employees want to do a good job. Doing a good job is more likely if the employee has ownership of the task and/or receives some sort of recognition for doing a good job. Ken Blanchard in his book The One Minute Manager encouraged readers to “catch employees doing something right” and say thank you for it. A sincere “thank you” costs nothing and can reap much in terms of commitment.
  • Have no way to advance employees up the ladder? Discussions about where they want to go next and helping them prepare through assignments to projects, task forces, allowing them to attend training and other activities can communicate to the employee that he/she is a valuable resource you want to develop,

If it is your job satisfaction that is one the wane, look at the above suggestions and determine how you might have them incorporated into your position. What would it take to increase your satisfaction? awarenessAs the first article in this alphabet series reminded us, awareness is a critical first step. What is it that you need to, as Mick says, “get satisfaction”?











Career Strategies: A is for Awareness

With a nod to mystery novelist Sue Grafton  this post  begins a series of career enhancement articles using the alphabet. Like any series, each article will build on the one that came before it. There is no mystery here however…the goal is fostering career success whatever your field of endeavor.

“Before you can lead others, before you can help others, you must discover yourself.”

-From Working with Emotional Intelligence

If there is a single foundation to a successful career, it is awareness. Self-awareness, awareness of the company’s political landscape, awareness of trends in the marketplace, awareness of strengths and weaknesses…the list goes on and on. The best place to start an “awareness campaign” for your career success is to explore where you have the most control/influence: selfawrebecoming aware of yourself.

When I coach professionals and executives in presentation skills, the first thing we do is a baseline recording of what the person “typically” does when he/she presents in front of an audience. Individuals are shocked to see themselves clench and unclench their fists, fiddle with their clothing, do a “dance” as they speak, or look at the ceiling or the floor when searching for a thought. There are no rights or wrongs in this baseline, only what is, for truth be told, without training most of us have little awareness of what we do when speaking in front of a group.

For many of us, the same can be said for our reactions when a meeting goes south, when edits are asked for that we don’t expect, when we are presented with an ambiguous situation, or in many day-to-day situations on the job. The higher we go in an organization or the more successful we become, the less candid feedback we receive. Performance blind-spots can have devastating effects.

EQIn the mid-1990’s the concept of emotional intelligence (EI) burst into the business lexicon. Author, psychologist, and science journalist, Daniel Goleman suggested that EI was a set of skills that outstripped IQ and technical expertise when it came to career success. Best of all, these skills could be learned! At the heart of EI? Emotional awareness. Goleman called emotional awareness our “inner rudder”. Recognizing our emotions and their effects on what we think, do, and say is critical.

Goleman said our emotions run in a constant, parallel course with our thoughts. How we feel about something influences our thoughts, which then dictate our actions. While we are aware of our thoughts (at least most the time), we are not as aware of our emotions. And if we are not aware of these feelings, we cannot hope to connect how they shape what we perceive, think and ultimately do. Our emotions provide critical information when it comes to decision-making. Ever had the experience of seeing something that looks really good on paper, but there is just something…off? That sense of “off” can be stored emotional experience waving a red flag. It should not be ignored! Attunement to and awareness of these feelings is key.

The capacity to be aware of messages from our store of emotional memory lies at the very heart of emotional awareness. According to Goleman, knowing how our emotions are affecting what we are doing is the fundamental emotional competence.

modelManaging unruly feelings, staying attuned to those around us, building relationships and staying motivated are essential for career success no matter what the industry or field. Study after study reveals that awareness of one’s own emotions is core to success on the job or off the clock.

Fortunately, self-awareness can be learned. In today’s always-must-be-stimulated world, it is shocking to suggest that one do nothing, but that is how the voice is initially heard. Do nothing. No TV, no ipod. Nothing. In this quiet, you can begin to hear the voice of feeling. Practice this until you begin to be aware of the voice even through the din of our world. Making note of thought and feelings during the day can help you become aware of patterns in your behavior. meditateOnce the less helpful patterns are identified, you can work to abolish them and replace them with behaviors that are more effective.

Awareness of thoughts, feelings, and reactions can be a mechanism for keeping career decisions on track with our values. When surveyed, again and again people say “having meaningful work” is their #1 priority. Meaningful work is the blending of work and values. Meaningful work means there are moments of passion in what you do. How can you achieve this if you don’t know or pay attention to the times at work when you feel passionate about what you are doing, or when your work and your values click.

Getting candid feedback is another way to heighten our awareness. Getting in-the-moment feedback can be tough, but it is essential to increasing our awareness of not only our own strengths and weaknesses, but also the impact our behaviors have on others. If we want to feedbackgrow our awareness, we must intentionally seek out feedback from others. It is easier to give feedback, especially constructive feedback, when someone has asked for it. Be that someone. Ask others: What could I do differently next time? or How might I have handled that more effectively?

Attention and awareness are priceless resources. It is from here that we can grow in the direction that is right for us.