Here is your weekly dose of clarity in the confusing world of career and professional growth.
Update: Thanks Dan Wu for pointing out the WSJ paywall in one of last week’s newsletter links and sharing a LifeHacker summary of the article.
1 RECENT ARTICLE
How to Use Your Personal Values as a Career GPS
A few years ago, a close friend sent me a values exercise that his Google team director had sent him. Its insights were shocking and changed my life for the better.
That’s why I want to share with you now the simple, powerful values-based tools I learned, replete with personal anecdotes. These tools can help you use your values as a GPS for navigating your career and life — in under 1 hour.
2 INSIGHTS FROM MY OBSERVATIONS
I. We’re often in a rush to get somewhere in the future, but we aren’t fully aware of what we’re capable of in the present.
I’ve noticed that in recent coaching sessions, several clients have spoken with clarity about their target role and company, but stumble when talking about own strengths.
While knowledge around the target role is valuable for today’s job search, a deeper understanding of our personal strengths is applicable to every job search for the rest of our lives.
Given how many job searches each of us are bound for in our lifetimes, our strengths are some of the most highest-leveraged assets in our careers.
When we realize our true strengths, magic happens. Our direction gets demystified, our positioning snaps into place, and our tactics suddenly materialize. Therein lies their power.
II. We fear the process of self-discovery because we’re not practiced in the skillset — despite feeling like we ought to be.
As adults, I sense that many of us feel pressure to present ourselves like we know what we’re doing. We take a career track that feels “good enough” in the moment, and then find ourselves getting stuck further down the line. We don’t want to move forward, but also fear “starting over.”
Career discovery is not taught (well) in traditional schools. Even my Ivy League career office offered little more than speaker events and personality tests. Yet we feel like we should have learned this skillset already, so we keep plodding on as usual.
My candid take: We’re only going to experience this uncertainty more and more frequently in our careers — as change in our world accelerates. Getting practiced in self-discovery can’t wait any longer.
I’ll end with a ray of hope. Kids are my heroes of self-discovery. They play, experiment, and adapt to change better than the startup CEOs I know. When I’m afraid of making a pivot and nothing else works, I try to channel my best beginner’s mindset. That usually gets me pretty far.
3 RESOURCES WORTH VISITING
I. Why You Should Tell Your Co-Workers How Much Money You Make (NY Times)
“What many workers don’t realize is that it is unlawful for private sector employers to prohibit employees from discussing wages and compensation.
A handful of states, including California, Connecticut and Massachusetts, have banned employers from asking job candidates for a salary history, which shifts some leveraging power back to candidates.” <- Great information that a lot of workers aren’t aware of regarding salary privacy.
II. Common Denominator of Success
It’s hard to imagine how a 1940’s article written for life insurance sales professionals could be relevant for modern careers, but this piece by Albert Gray surprisingly hits home.
The common denominator of success “lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” It’s about developing positive habits, not the habits that people who fail in the professional adopt. People form habits. Habits form futures.
He also talks about the necessity of doing things you don’t like and how the reason why successful people can stick to their habits better is due to purpose. A practical, emotional (non-visionary) purpose.
III. Implanting Memories in Birds Reveals How Learning Happens (Scientific American)
This story has no career takeaway; it’s about a real-life Inception. Scientists recently discovered how to activate specific brain cells in zebra finches to teach them songs they’d ordinarily need to hear first to learn.
For the first time, researchers pinpointed the part of the brain used for encoding social memories that are connected to learning, specifically for mimicking sounds. They successfully implanted false memories of songs so that the birds would produce them in the right social situations. Astonishing.
Neuroscience discoveries like this fill me with awe and fascination. They remind me of how little yet we know about the brain.
As always, thanks for reading.
Have a good weekend,
Career Coach and Writer
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