One of my closest friends has been going through a series of job interviews lately. He’s gone above and beyond in practising for the interviews, and I’ve run him through a series of tips.
- Understand your unique value proposition – what you have that other candidates do not.
- Develop three key themes around your experiences and skills that you can weave throughout all questions.
- Provide fundamental perspective shifts, of how your thoughts and understanding has grown and changed from past learning experiences.
He did all the above and felt good about all his interviews. Unfortunately, he got rejected by 5 out of 7 firms. Given a second-round interview by one firm, and the firm he most wanted didn’t even reach back out.
The day he received his fifth rejection, he was down and frustrated. He said “fuck it,” and picked up the phone, calling the firm he wanted to the most, even though they hadn’t gotten back to him.
The recruiter answered the phone. Told him that he wasn’t originally on the final selection list, but the fact that he had the boldness to call, changes things. Later that day they too extended a second interview for him.
Sometimes you think you’ve given it all you got. You’ve practised and got professional advice. But it wasn’t enough.
Pick up the phone and call.
Show up at the office.
Do something BOLD.
The world is filled with followers who fit the norm. Stand out; you will be rewarded.
We floss and brush our teeth to keep them clean, and healthy. Many also visit the dentist at least once a year.
We eat good foods, exercise, diet, and visit the doctors for blood work to ensure we’re physically up to shape.
We shower daily to keep clean and refreshed.
But what can we say for mental showers? Or mental flossing? How about mental dieting or exercises?
Society has welcomed talk about mental health, and much of it focuses on mental illnesses or work-life balance. But mental health is just that, the health of your mind. It could not have any illnesses, but be out of shape, tired and malnourished.
When was the last time you checked in with your mind?
Here’s a list of daily questions that Marcus Aurelius would ask himself in the practice of mental flossing.
1) What am I lacking in attaining freedom from my desires?
2) What can I say for my search for tranquillity? Peace? One’s harmony with the world?
3) What am I? A rational being? An emotion being?
5) What then is demanded of me?
6) How did I steer away from serenity, peace, harmony?
7) What did I do that was unfriendly, unsocial, or uncaring?
8) What did I fail to do in all these things?
It’s important to remember that Marcus was writing for himself and never intended others to read it. But in reading between the lines of the more philosophical questions, we can find our own set of questions.
What question do you ask yourself every morning, that helps recalibrate yourself, anchor your thinking, and floss your mind?
Movies about time travel draw out a plot where the hero has to travel through time to save the world. Whether that’s by the hero fighting a villain. Or by them stopping something from happening before it’s too late.
Inevitably the hero accidentally changes one small thing in the past. Which sets the whole world and future off into a spiral, where the hero may no longer exist.
The philosophical ramifications of this all can be a little mind-boggling.
Nonetheless movie after movie, we obsess over this idea. That if we change one thing in the past as we time travel, that it will significantly change the course of our lives in the present.
Isn’t that an interesting idea?
Yet people have trouble believing that if we changed one small thing today, that it could change the future of humanity.
1. Identify your outcome.
Get very clear and specific on this goal, with explicit, measurable identifiers.
2. Deeply understand the reasons why you’re doing it.
Nobody else needs to understand your intentions, nor do you have to justify your reasons, but it must be crystal clear to yourself.
3. Take massive and consistent action.
It is critical to pay particular attention to the words ‘massive’ and ‘consistent.’ It’s about taking leaps of actions, sprinting, not inching. There is a time for inching, but first, it’s about massive movement. Then it’s about establishing consistency in that action.
4. Measure the results.
Know what you’re getting from your massive and consistent action. If you can’t measure the impact of the action you’re taking, then you’ll never know what is and what isn’t working. Sometimes a feeling can be a measure.
5. Change and adapt your approach.
As we learn from the results of our massive and consistent action, we adapt our actions, our tactics and our approaches.
When things are not working, you change your approach, not your goal.
The most underrated tool of communication is posing a well thought out question that provokes the listener to think critically.
When you’re posed with a problem that has room for ambiguity, ask a clarifying question.
Seek to understand before being understood.
As leaders when a member of our team does something a certain way, different from how we want it done, do we balk at the way they did it and tell them to fix it? Or do we ask a question in an attempt to understand why they did it that way? To shift perspectives, we must provoke our thoughts to question our assumptions and norms.
Instead of arguing your point into understanding, could you ask questions and help your team uncover the path that led to your conclusion? Perhaps not a set of leading, yes or no questions, but hard-hitting questions that necessitate a discussion.
Relationship problems are filled with misunderstandings that can be fixed by learning to ask better questions.
If you ask a thought-provoking question and are met with an answer such as, “I don’t know”, that’s a good thing. Let that answer simmer. Let them ponder. Difficult questions are not meant to be met with immediate answers.
Questions leave room to engage; isn’t engagement what we seek?
Here’s the catch to asking questions: it requires us to listen better. Be prepared to receive answers you don’t want.
My mentor Max Keeping would always say it’s one thing to hear someone, and it’s another to listen.
A question opens up an honest two-sided conversation, breaking down the barriers of influence and power, and instead engages. When we seek to understand, we allow others to participate. By asking better questions, we may be led to more truthful answers.
Try it. Start with asking more questions, and it’ll lead you to ask better questions.
When we communicate, we encode a message of emotions, facts, and arguments through a set of words sent to the receiver.
The receiver must then decode the emotions, facts, and arguments from the words chosen by the sender.
As such the process of communication consists of an on-going, encoding and decoding of hidden messages transmitted by words.
At times, the sender poorly chooses their words, which allows the receiver to decode an incorrect meaning – yet easily fixable.
More difficult is when the receiver is filtering the words, due to a specific lens, that they may be unaware of having. Here enter the many forms of biases that we have subconsciously.
Are you choosing to interpret a message in a negative light? Was the sender’s intent to invoke a negative reaction?
Perhaps a question of clarification can solve hundreds of problems before ever occurring.
Stay aware of the lenses with which you choose to see the world through.
How aware are you of who you are?
How aware are you of:
Who you are?
Your strengths and weaknesses?
Your triggers and habits?
Your unconscious decision-making processes?
Do you understand your emotions, and how you balance rational thoughts and feelings?
Do you understand why you react to certain situations?
What do you value you more, functionality or aesthetics?
Do you like planning? Or jump right into the situation?
Are you quick to make decisions? Do you hate dealing with conflict?
Are rules there for a reason? Or meant to be broken?
If you understood your tendencies – both positive and negative – would you be able to make decisions more consciously? Decisions that allow you to build on your strengths and cut down your mistakes?
I recall sitting in my office in the late winter of 2015. Frustrated, angry and ready to lose my mind, because my team didn’t get “it.” I had a vision, a fiery passion, and I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way of accomplishing as much as I could during my term as President of the Carleton University Students Association. Yet, I was caught up with infighting between my teammates.
I didn’t understand them. Also, they didn’t understand me.
Well, who could understand me? I did not understand all the reasons behind my behaviours or decision making. I knew what I knew, from past experiences, relevant knowledge and my gut instincts. But did I understand where I fell short? Or where my behaviours clashed with others?
Since then I’ve done personality, strength and behavioural tests to gain a better understanding. As a team leader, I now swear by them. Every leader and every team should take the time to gain deep insights about each other.
However, be warned; these insights aren’t to be used to box people into categories. Instead, they are to bring awareness to subconscious decision making to empower others. The insights gained from these tests can increase the effectiveness of any team.
Give a try for yourself; DISC is behaviour and personality test. Here’s a link to Tony Robbins Free DISC Profile assessment. Unfortunately, you’ll have to give your email. He’ll spam you, but you can unsubscribe afterwards.
How you do anything, is how you do everything.
Remember that as you put off understanding yourself more 😉
It’s a dark, stormy, windy, cold, rainy, ugly night and you’re driving past a bus stop. At the bus stop, you see three people: an old friend who once saved your life, an old lady who’s dying, and your dream partner.
You only have room for one other person in your Smart Car. If you pick up your friend, you will repay him for saving your life. If you bring the old lady to the hospital, she might live. If you leave your dream partner, you know you’ll never find them again.
What do you do, and why? Think about this question and think of what your answer would be.
This question was asked as part of an interview process for a competitive job spot. The following is the answer of the applicant who finally got the job.
“I would give the car keys to my friend to drive the old lady to the hospital and get himself out of the rain. Then I would wait for the bus with my dream partner.”
You see, most of us accept the options given.
Ask yourself? Did you accept the trade-off that the riddle set up for you?
The author of the riddle anchors your thinking into a WIN/LOSE situation; where it positions every answer as a tradeoff.
How many times do we anchor our thinking into WIN/LOSE situations? Where we blind ourselves from the possibilities of creative WIN/WIN outcomes?
Do you believe that everything is a trade-off?
Or, can synergistic solutions create benefit for all parties?
Next time you’re facing a difficult decision with a WIN/LOSE or LOSE/LOSE tradeoff, ask yourself;
“What options can I create that aren’t already in front of me?”
According to Jack Canfield – the famous author of Chicken Soup for Soul books – there are five types of people who do goal setting.
- Those who have never thought about goals
- Those who occasionally think about goals and have some ideas
- Those who have written out their goals
- Those who have written out their goals have a strategy on how to get there and routinely check-in on their goals, by re-reading and reviewing.
- Those who have written goals, strategies, routinely review and have an accountability partner to keep them in check.
Group number five only consists of 1% of all goal setters, and on average make nine times more than the average person in a lifetime.
Many of us grew up hearing the old age saying of, “life’s not fair.” We understood that to mean that you can’t get what you want. I’m not here to tell you that if you believe, you can achieve.
I’m saying; you don’t get what you want because of two reasons.
- You don’t ask for it.
- You don’t know what you want.
It makes people uncomfortable when I ask a server for a different table than the one they chose for me, perhaps because I wanted a booth instead.
Instead many continue living life with things they don’t want because they never asked for an alternative.
Start off by making an “I want list”
Using sticky notes, write out 100 things you’d like to do or have in life.
Anything goes, don’t hold back. Post the stickies on a big empty wall. Take 15 minutes where you do nothing but write on sticky notes non-stop. Don’t edit, rewrite or think twice, just write.
This is the first step in creating the life you want.
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” – Martin Luther King Jr
Far too often I got caught up in wanting my next promotion, or next big gig. How could I move up in status and money? “I’m too smart and too valuable to be working on this small operational stuff,” I’d tell myself.
Additionally, when we used to interview candidates for the Carleton University Students’ Association; potential earnest candidates would say, “…I want this role so that I can help make a difference, and provide value to the student body…”
But how are you making a difference and providing value today?
We don’t need a position or a status to permit us to create value, help others and be the best at our craft.
Once we focus on being the best at what we do, then we’ll see growth come our way.
It wasn’t until I started to focus on becoming a better speaker that I saw a difference. With more refined content, impactful delivery and a clear sense of purposeful action; I start getting more bookings, and referrals.
Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500, an entry-level employee, or volunteer at a not-for-profit organization, be the best street sweeper so that others can’t help but notice how talented and hardworking you are and reward you for it.
Focus on being the best at what you’re currently doing, and the next will follow.
I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. But I’ve naturally tended toward storytelling. And in fact, I always feared to put my writing out to share. I always found myself to be a better oral communicator than a written one. But every day as I write these short blogs, I think of how I can make each one the best.
I was hoping you could help me to continue improving, by sending me your top favourite blog post at the end of each week!