Articles

There are days we wish our lives could be better. We wake up, get dressed and most probably read through horoscope apps we have on our phones or flip straight to the horoscope section in the newspaper. In hopes of what? For a sign or a sneak peak of what may happen in the future, good or bad, to make us feel a tiny bit better, if at all. I honestly do that sometimes to see if it was a good day to make important calls to clients or ask someone out on a date. Sometimes these things influence us subconsciously or consciously in big ways. You pick up the phone to call someone and you hang up because someone somewhere in this world wrote that all Capricorns should lessen their interaction today. We often lose ourselves to all these petty things, not just horoscopes, but other things as well. We want to be a wanderlust, be slimmer, smarter or happier. We forget to shut the noises in our heads and breathe, to tell ourselves that it’s OK that we have made mistakes, it’s OK that the person you had a crush on said No to you. Its OK, it’s their loss; you were probably destined to meet someone better. It’s OK that you didn’t get through something today, try again tomorrow, the day after, the following month, keep trying. We must know how far we have come and how hard we have struggled to be here in this very moment, to still be alive to wake up every morning – even next to your cat, or the person you love. Every breath is so precious. Embrace the challenges, let the wounds remind you of the lessons that have sailed you this far and how they were the very essence that molded you to become an amazing being with so much strength within. My article today is not to tell you how to run your life, it’s just a small reminder, whoever you may be, that you are special. So don’t be too hard on yourself, dream big, love, live, laugh and please give yourself a pat on the back and tell yourself that it’s okay to be you because there’s no one else like you in this whole universe. Every journey is different but unique in its own ways. Marilyn Monroe said that “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” I think she’s right. 
For most of human history, the meaning of work and the meaning of life intersected at survival. Work was life.   When cheap energy and mechanization started us down the path of staggering increases in productivity, some philosophers and visionaries began speculating about how we would use the extra “leisure time” we would gain from all this productivity. The reality has proved much different than projected. How do we spend the “extra time?” We work.   Yet for many of us, work that we would call “meaningful” remains elusive. We can’t always pinpoint what’s missing or what would give our work lives meaning.   Finding Your Genius Ultimately, the meaning in your work isn’t whether the enterprise you work for is local or “transnational,” but how closely the work you perform within that organization is in alignment with what author Dick Richards labels “your genius.”   In his book Is Your Genius at Work? Richards uses the term to mean that unique intersection between what you are good at (your gift) and what you love to do (your passion). As he explains it, you have just one genius, it is a positive talent, and it can be described in a two-word phrase such as “Engaging the Heart,” or “Optimizing Results.” While his rules may be a little rigid, the point is well-taken: Your genius is a transitive verb, not an adjective. It’s about doing something, not being something.    Once you have identified your unique genius, the challenge becomes how to find that often-elusive intersection between your genius and that “unmet need” in the world, so that someone will pay you to work in a way that uses your genius. But by identifying and labeling your genius, Richards says, you gain in confidence and in the ability to articulate just how you can contribute in those situations. Your heart gets into alignment with your work, and suddenly work looks more like play.   The Alarm-Clock Test This, then, begs the question: What is the meaning of “meaningful?” To answer questions like that, you can apply the Alarm-Clock Test. If the alarm clock rings and you’re already out of bed getting ready for work because you are thrilled by what you’re doing and each new day on the job is certain to provide some worthy experience, then the chances are pretty good that you’re somewhere near that sweet spot—regardless of the size of the enterprise that employs you.   But if you’re failing the Alarm-Clock Test—not some of the time, but all the time—looking for a different kind of work makes sense. These days, more and more people in that situation are turning toward self-employment opportunities as the key to matching up purpose with genius. All the challenges of figuring out what to do and how best to do it come along with that change.   What Will Your Story Be? To get a better understanding of your relationship with meaningful work, Mark Guterman, co-founder of MeaningfulCareers.com, suggests imagining a future situation in which you will be telling others your story of how work and meaning finally came together for you. To prepare the story, he suggests reflecting on questions such as the following: How is your soul enriched and enlivened through your work? How does your work contribute to the future? How does your sense of God show up and inform your work? For whom do you work? How has your relationship with work changed over the course of your life? What role has serendipity, coincidence, luck, etc., played in your work life? How have fun, play, humor, etc., been a part of meaningful work? Do you have a philosophy, mission, vision, etc. that guides your work life? If so, what is it and how did you come to it? What poetry, quotes, sayings, prayers, music, spiritual writings, pictures, photographs, paintings, etc. represent and/or guide your work life? How do they inform your work?   Finding meaningful work is often a lifelong process, as we see from Po Bronson’s What Should I Do With My Life , which chronicles the lives of those who have found it, often later in life or after a life crisis or a very deliberate effort.   “Finding the ‘sweet spot’ is an iterative process,” Bronson explains. “You catalogue what you know to be your gifts and passions (i.e., your genius), research what is needed, and keep at it until you find an overlap. Then you see if the overlap is viable . If it is, you’re there. If not, you keep looking. This can be a lifetime process, but if we’re diligent, we can find the sweet spot.”       Author’s content used  under license, © 2008 Claire Communications    
Almost everyone pursues perfection — doing the best job you can, setting goals and working hard to reach them, maintaining high standards. But perfectionism isn’t about any of this. Perfectionism is a long, maddening drive down a never-ending road for flawlessness; it provides no rest stops for mistakes, personal limitations or the changing of minds. Perfectionism can cause feelings of anxiety, fear, and self-doubt; it can cripple self-esteem, stifle creativity, and put a stumbling block in the way of intimate friendships and love relationships. Ultimately, it can create or aggravate illnesses such as eating disorders, manic-depressive mood disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse. Everybody has some “built-in” perfectionism, especially in our achievement-oriented, competitive culture. Complete this questionnaire to discover how perfectionistic you are.   I never do anything halfway; it’s all or nothing for me. At all time. People who do things halfway make me angry or disgust me. I believe there’s a certain way to do things and they should always be done that way. I get angry or defensive when I make mistakes. I hate to make them. I often procrastinate on starting projects. I seldom meet deadlines. Or if I do, I kill myself meeting them. I feel humiliated when things aren’t perfect. I don’t like to admit not knowing how to do something or to being a beginner. If I can’t do something well, I won’t do it. People say I expect too much of myself. Or of them. In my family, you could never completely measure up to expectations. I’m hard on myself when I lose, even if it’s only a friendly game or contest. I often withdraw from others and from group activities. I don’t think work should be fun or pleasurable. Even when I accomplish something, I feel let down or empty. I criticize myself and others excessively. I like to be in control; if I can’t be in control then I won’t participate. No matter how much I have done, there’s always more I could do. I don’t delegate often and when I do, I always double-check to make sure the job is done right. It never is. I believe it is possible to do something perfectly and if I keep at it, I can do it perfectly. Forgetting and forgiving is not something I do easily or well. There is a difference between excellence and perfection. Striving to be really good is excellence; trying to be flawless is perfectionism. If you’re concerned about your perfectionist behavior, don’t hesitate to call.         Author’s content used  under license, © 2008 Claire Communications  
The Year of the Rooster 2017 The Lunar New Year is around the corner! Each year of the Chinese zodiac is related to an animal sign according to a 12-year cycle with this year ushering in the Rooster which will bid farewell to the year of the Monkey. Years of the Rooster include 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 and 2017. People born in the Year of the Rooster are hardworking, creative, assured, sporty and talented.  Also, their active and engaging ways make them popular with others. They enjoy the spotlight and being in good company. Although they were born with many skills, Roosters still have some shortcomings, such as vanity and a tendency to brag about their achievements. The numbers 5, 7 and 8 and the color yellow are considered lucky for people with this Chinese zodiac sign. According to Chinese astrology, predictions for 2017 suggest that for Roosters, hard work is the key to achieving success and can be beneficial to one’s career. Roosters must keep stress at bay and use their multi-talented abilities to maximize their potential particularly in relation to their profession. Good career choices for Roosters would be in areas where persuasion, their people skills and likeability are allowed to shine such as in sales, public relations, education and copywriting.
Cultivating Calmness in the Workplace and Beyond The key to calmness is accepting what you cannot change, changing what you can, and possessing the knowledge to know the difference. This ideology is a good model that covers a lot of ground, but how do you tell the difference between what you can and cannot change? Here are some things you do have control over. Your actions . No one can “make” you do anything. If you’re unhappy with your behavior at work, change it and chart a new course for yourself. Your words . Spoken or written, the words you choose impact your life and the lives of others. Choose your words carefully with workmates, colleagues, bosses, and clients, and quickly acknowledge any harm your words cause. Your beliefs . If you believe that others or your organization should take care of your needs, then you will be frustrated when they don’t. If you believe things must be a certain way, you’ll surely face disappointment.  Your values . What’s important to you is your choice. No one else can tell you what to value. Spend some time identifying your values and then aligning your work and life with them. Your work . No one else can contribute to the world in the same way as you. Keep learning, keep improving and do whatever it takes to be the very best at whatever profession you choose in your life. Your friends . Those you associate with say a lot about what you think about yourself. Always choose friends who support you instead of those who bring you down. Your time . Though it may not always feel this way, you do choose every day how to use its 24 hours. Fill those hours with more of what you truly want, and feel your happiness increase. Your health . While you can’t control your genetics, you can choose to exercise, sleep enough, eat the right foods, and get routine medical check-ups.   Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications
Thinking Like an Entrepreneur within the Corporate Walls The words entrepreneur and corporation don’t usually show up in the same sentence. One implies a taste for creative and risk-taking, while the other usually suggests “we’ve always done it this way” risk aversion. But “out-of-the-box” thinking is more necessary than ever in today’s marketplace, as corporations respond to changes in the world economy. Professionals working within corporations are being increasingly rewarded for using entrepreneurial skills to meet challenges in innovative ways. Janet, for example, pioneered an integrated system at the corporation she works for that gathers and compiles data from around the company for executives to use in their decision-making. It has evolved into a necessary part of data management for the corporation worldwide. Shahril suggested and took on the challenge of merging three products from three previously separate divisions within the multinational corporation where he works. By bringing these products under one umbrella, the organization realized a cost savings of nearly five million ringgit a year. Intrinsic in these real-life corporate examples are characteristics normally attributed to “intrapreneurs,” a term defined as, “A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation.” Professionals with an entrepreneurial bent—intrapreneurs—feel a degree of ownership, take risks, make decisions and take responsibility willingly. Intrapreneurs are visionary and independent. They thrive on change, but they also know how the changes they want align with their company’s objectives. They have good communications skills, and a high sense of curiosity and self-worth. Their mindset is more of creating a business than running a business. Intrapreneurs definitely don’t buy into the “It’s not my job” way of thinking, and they are more concerned with achieving results than gaining influence. Successful corporate intrapreneurs understand that it’s not enough to have a good idea. They also have to know how to get their ideas sold in the organization. Sometimes, those with innovative ideas have a hard time articulating and selling their ideas because of self-imposed boundaries or limitations. This is usually where mentoring comes in and can be of great benefit to these individuals. Intrapreneurs benefit from their “find-a-way-to-get-it-done” attitude in the form of praise, promotions and increased job satisfaction. They see how they can make a contribution and bring value—playing in the game, rather than sitting on the sidelines. For the organization, when individual barriers to performance are removed, retention, productivity and profits go up. Commitment and company loyalty surface; so does innovation and creative problem-solving. An infectious intrapreneurialism begins to take hold, which attracts even more intrapreneurially minded management. In one example, the CEO of a local tech company realized that 95% of his corporate assets left the building every night in the form of his employees. Protecting his assets became a priority. He created an environment that appealed to the needs of his employees: games room, social work, day care center, cafeteria and a gym. The result? Turnover was a mere 3% instead of the 20% most corporations traditionally experience. People had fewer days off. These two aspects alone saved his company millions. He saw company profits increase even during slower economic times. Most corporate cultures do not foster an environment of trust or safety for presenting new ideas. Add to that the stress of deadlines, cutbacks, and communication difficulties, and it’s easy to send the wrong message. The coaching and mentoring process provides a safe haven to explore and position new ideas. Having the opportunity to evaluate a new idea, understand its impact to the organization and role-play how to best present it for buy-in, is crucial for creating solutions that benefit the corporation and its employees. Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications
Top 10 Ways to Cool Your Anger at Work Left unchecked, anger can damage office relationships and even careers. Here are 10 simple ways to cool your anger before it gets out of control in the workplace: Take several deep breaths. Breathe in calmness and then release anger as you breathe out. Do something physical. Take a walk, go outside the office or walk some stairs. Not only is exercise healthy for your body, it does wonders for your mood. Take a break. Before you blow up, walk away from the situation and gather your thoughts. Listen to some soothing music on your headphones. Rewiring your thought patterns toward something peaceful and relaxing can help defuse anger. Be grateful. Practice mindfulness by understanding the lesson in every situation (even difficult ones) and be thankful for these opportunities to improve yourself as a professional. Write it out. Recording your thoughts on paper or in your work diary helps you vent in a safe and positive way. Count to 10. This might sound simplistic, but it's an easy and quick way to take the edge off anger. Refocus the negative energy of anger into something more positive. Reframe the difficult circumstance and look for humor in the situation. Learn to be assertive. Learn what your needs are and how to make them clear to others in a way that is respectful of yourself and others, without being pushy or demanding. Seek help from your supervisor. If you find you’re angry a lot, recognize where the anger is actually coming from. Clearly articulate the problem in a constructive way to your supervisor and be proactive in providing a solution to him or her. This will allow your supervisor to help in the best way possible.     Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications
Top 5 Ways to Have the Best Holidays Ever The year end holiday season is upon us. And with it comes the hope that this one will be truly the best one yet.  However, many of us quickly get caught up in busyness, stress and old patterns. Here are 5 ways to turn that dynamic around and create a great holiday. Make conscious decisions. Get clear about what you really want to do over your holidays before compromising with others. If you don’t have a clear plan and clear intentions, you might find yourself getting swept into things you don’t want to do. Even if you compromise later, get clear with what you want to do first. Shorten your to-do list. What do the holidays mean to you? For many, it’s about family and friends. If an item on your checklist doesn’t add to your holiday or what you want to achieve, scratch it off your to-do list. Say no when you want to. It’s very liberating to say “no”. Try it and see. It sounds simple, but often, your obligations override what you want to do for yourself. When faced with options, choose the one that would allow you to have a happier holiday in line with your vacation plans. Limit unavoidable activities. Spend your holidays on your own terms. If you can’t avoid being at certain events during your holidays, limit the time you’re there. Take good care of yourself. Always keep stress at bay, even when on holiday: eat healthily, exercise and drink lots of water. Being on holiday isn’t just about relaxation and fun, maintain your health regime – at all times.   Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications
Dealing with Difficult Coworkers There’s one in every workplace. She’s the colleague who is always late to work, leaves early and never meets a deadline. She’s always ready with an excuse and promises this is really the last time she’ll ask for a favor. You’ve been the nice person, even covering up for her, but now you’re sick of it. Or it might be the coworker who takes credit for work you did, steals your ideas. A master of double-talk and double-dealing, she’ll deny everything and try to convince you—and others—that you’re the lazy one.  Until recently, focus has been on how to manage the difficult boss or managing employees. The issue of problem coworkers has received less attention, yet in one study, 80% of people reported that a single coworker contributed significant stress to their workday. This stress isn’t just dangerous to employees; it has a negative impact on the entire company or workplace. It can lead to poor work performance, absenteeism and health problems. Sometimes outstanding employees who see no solution to a toxic coworker look for a new job. In today’s competitive work environment where finding and retaining talented people is increasingly difficult, this is a loss few companies can afford. Complaining to management about a problem coworker is often ineffective and can backfire, making you look like the problem. But, there are some effective steps you can take to deal with this common workplace challenge. Remember, if you believe you have some control, you do. Look to Yourself First Are you the problem? Do you listen without interrupting? Do you take everything personally? Are you willing to change? Taking responsibility for your part will make it much clearer how to proceed with a problem peer. Make Sure This Isn’t About Personality or Office Politics Gender, race, culture and religion affect behavior in the workplace. In her book Problem People at Work , management consultant Marilyn Wheeler outlines some common ways men and women are different at work, and says that neither approach is better than the other. For example, numerous studies on work and gender show that men tend to focus on one thing at a time and value results over process, while women focus on many things at one time and often value the process as much as the results. What may be offensive to you may be normal to someone of another culture.  Understanding critical gender, racial and cultural issues can put the problem in perspective.  Classify the Problem Objectively Measuring the problem helps make it less threatening. Not every problem colleague is the same. One approach is to identify if this situation falls into one of three categories: difficult, challenging or toxic. Knowing this will help you take the right steps.   Difficult This is a situation that can usually be solved by a single action. For example, your coworker loves to interrupt your workflow or proposes out of scope actions for your project. A one-on-one conversation in which you explain the problem may help. Offering to schedule time to talk will help avoid turning a pest into an enemy. Challenging This is a situation that requires more work on an ongoing basis. Take the coworker who turns every situation into a competition and can’t seem to grasp the concept of teamwork. In her book Working with Difficult People , communications consultant Muriel Solomon strongly suggests taking control immediately when a coworker is deceitful, manipulative or exploitive. Stay calm, be firm and up-front. Refuse to be drawn in, but state how you see the problem as clearly and courteously as possible. Understand that this behavior has insecurity and fear at the root, therefore puncture this person’s influence, not her pride. Like medicine for a patient, you may have to repeat this several times as needed. Toxic Like some chemicals in the workplace, some coworkers may be truly harmful to your health.  In fact, these people are like “a hidden cancer” in the workplace, according to psychologists Alan A. Cavaiola and Neil J. Lavender. In their book Toxic Coworkers: How to Deal with Dysfunctional People on the Job, they list a range of personality disorders that, when taken to extreme, can tear a workplace apart. Examples are the coworker at the center—and usually the cause—of every office blow-up. Histrionic and explosive, this person can’t get control of her emotions, and the workplace is in constant turmoil. Or it might be more hidden, like the colleague who loves to exploit every one of her coworkers. She thinks she’s the boss’ pet and is actually the office poison. Because people with true personality disorders actually view their symptoms as strengths, it’s hard to confront them. In some cases, the best solution is to avoid this person as much as possible, keeping all interactions matter-of-fact and brief. If the situation is truly harmful, some consultants advise that you document examples. This may be a situation where talking to a manager is your best recourse. Our jobs and careers are an integral part of who we are. Dealing effectively with problem coworkers can help keep our work lives successful and satisfying.   Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications  
Top 10 Ways to Get the Job In his book Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters , Jay Conrad Levinson suggests that getting the job you want is not a matter of luck, connections or the best resume. “At the core of every job search lies one individual who will determine your success: You .”  Here are some tips for creating your own job-hunting success. 1. Tune up your attitude. Keep your focus on how you can add value to the organization. Self-assess to get clear on what you want and what you have to offer. 2. Research. This is critical! Research the industry and companies. Know the needs and goals. 3. Target your networking. Don’t wait for others to refer your name; make the introduction yourself after speaking to current and past employees or industry colleagues. 4. Prepare for your interview. Anticipate questions, prepare your responses. Keep the focus on how your skills and experience will solve problems. 5. Listen more than talk. Ask thoughtful, powerful questions that show you know the industry/company/department and its needs. 6. Return to the value proposition. Keep conversations coming back to the company’s goals and how you can contribute to them. 7. Look to your body language. Have an “open” posture. Lean forward, make eye contact and smile naturally. This language speaks volumes. 8. Ask to do a demonstration. Come in for a day, or work briefly as an independent contractor or consultant. Sometimes it’s better to show than just tell. 9. Cultivate a can-do attitude. Show past work examples of being a problem-solver and a smart worker. 10. Send a thank-you note. Make sure it’s personal and interesting. Handwritten is a bonus.     Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications