Mind Rules

Every athletic arena has a book of ground rules.These rules arbitrate the quirky and unexpected and tell the officials how to interpret those events. Usually, the ground rules rules are the same from arena to arena. For fairness and consistency, many ground rules are universally applied. In baseball, for example, the yellow foul pole is always in fair territory.

Similarly, a Universal Law is something that is true everywhere and all the time. The Law of Gravitation as discovered by Isaac Newton is one such law. He expressed it in an equation that is beyond my ability to try to explain. What I know, however, is that the Law of Gravitation is observable, reliable and quantifiable. 

 
There is already a decent body of work about the various Universal Laws at work in human experience–observable, reliable, quantifiable laws that help us understand reasons that underlie success and failure. Napoleon Hill, for example, tried to explain those principles in his definitive text from the early twentieth century, Think and Grow Rich. Most people think the book is about becoming filthy rich. It’s really about mastering your thought life.

In Maximum Achievement, Brian Tracey distills seven Universal Laws that govern the outcome of your thought. Some version of these will be found in nearly every analysis of human failure or achievement.

These Universal Laws of Mental Mastery are not magic. Since they are true everywhere and all the time, they provide a reliable framework to evaluate and understand the twists and turns of what some call fate, or providence.

 Keep in mind that these Laws, or mental ground-rules, are inter-related. Even though this is a list, the Laws are not related in a linear way. There is ongoing interplay between these mental ground rules. They are component parts of a much larger system. 

1. Law of control: You feel positive about yourself to the degree you are in control of your own life. 

To be in control means you are acting rather than re-acting. You are being purposeful and goal oriented. You have made promises to yourself and you are determined to keep them. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology notes that this autonomy–the feeling that your actions and habits are self-chosen and self-endorsed–is the single biggest contributor to personal wellbeing.
 

2. Law of cause and effect: For every effect in your life there is a specific cause. 

The thrown pebble lands on the water’s surface and the ripples begin. The light goes on when you flip the switch. The bacon sizzles if you put it in a hot pan. Whatever has happened, something preceded it. You have significant control over cause through the law of control over your actions. On the other hand,while you can forecast or predict effect, you cannot control it. 
 
After the fact, the relationship between cause and effect seems so obvious, you might wonder how you ever could have thought there would be a different outcome.
 

3. Law of belief: Whatever you believe, with feeling, becomes your reality. 

A belief is simply a thought that you think a lot. Repetitious thought that is laden with strong feelings is more influential than other external factors. Pay attention to the feelings that ride along with your thoughts, for those feelings represent the thermostat that creates your external environment.
 
This Law can be a little tricky. Actively disbelieving something is a sign that you actually do believe it, or, at least, that you fear it. Otherwise, why would you bother giving it any mental energy? Fear is a strong emotion. 
 
Carl Jung noticed, “What you resist, persists.” If your desire and belief are not aligning with your reality, you may need to sort feelings and exert control over the direction of your mental energy. Create an emotional sifter and let the useless thoughts and feelings fall away from you. 
 
When you let your thoughts be directed by present circumstances you are believing that change is not possible, and so you start to repeat the thought processes and behaviors that got you there in the first place.

 

4. Law of expectation: Whatever you expect with confidence becomes your own self-fulfilling prophesy. 

Laura Day, in How to Rule the World from Your Couch, offers a helpful exercise. At this moment, she suggests, be the self you will be in twelve hours. Anxiety, says Day, is always future oriented. So take the future out of the equation. Be, at this moment, the person you will be in twelve hours after all of your day’s best choices have been made. Now, you know what to expect. It becomes your reality. 
 
 
5. Law of attraction: You attract into your life people and situations in harmony with your dominant thoughts. 
 
So I am clear, I want to say what the Law of Attraction is not. This is not magic. It’s not a secret power to be harnessed, nor a technique for placing your order with the universe. 
 
This Law exists in tension with the Law of Cause and Effect. Sometimes things happen that defy causal explanation.
 
Carl Jung, one of the most credible psychologists of the twentieth century developed the idea of, “synchronicity” to explain that certain events, apart from an identifiable cause, connect in meaningful harmony with each other. 
 
Notice the synchronicities, and be grateful.
 
 
6. Law of correspondence: Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. 
 
Sitting in my office, I look around. There is nothing here that was not first here in my thoughts. My desk. My phone. My computer. My lamp. All of these were in my inner freelancer brain before they became visible in my outer world as tools of my trade. 
 
I have had the most trouble with this Law. There is a temptation to use it as a club of judgment toward yourself or others. If the Law is true, then my, or their, inner world must be seriously messed up, you might think. This sort of thinking only perpetuates the inner mess! Instead, start defining what new things you need to be part of your life and begin taking action in that direction.
 
Ghandi gives voice to this law with the oft quoted insight, “be the change you want to see.” 

 

7. Law of mental equivalency: Thoughts objectify themselves. Thoughts become things. 

Jack Nicklaus, the twentieth century golf great said, “I never hit a shot, even in practice, without having a very sharp, in focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a color movie. First I ‘see’ the ball where I want to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes and I ‘see’ the ball going there: it’s path, trajectory, and shape, even it’s behavior on landing. Then there’s a sort of of fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous image into reality.”
 
What does all of this have to do with you hiring me to write your résumé? That will be the subject of some future blogs.
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Reducing Ageism During Your Job Search

If you’re over fifty, you will likely be a victim of ageism in the workplace. That is a bold statement, I know. I was just reading an employee relations website targeted to HR professionals. As the website points out, age forty and over is a protected class in the US, which means, age cannot be a factor in hiring and firing decisions. It’s considered to be discrimination. The 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies to companies with more than twenty employees.

But listen to some of the thought processes displayed by the HR professionals on the site:

“…older employees are considered a liability for several reasons – normally they have been in the workforce long enough to be paid well – and are screened out because the employer thinks the individual won’t come on board for what they want to offer, or if they do, will bolt a soon as something better comes along.”

Here’s another alarming comment:
“In my own experience I would say it is always better to hire freshbloods…, because I found it very difficult to change old people…. (they) lack flexibility and creativity…. Let’s be realistic, they know they are at the end of their career, therefore they don’t need to prove anything to anyone, they just work for pennies. Most of the time they don’t see things outside the box or in a bigger picture and once someone is over fifty, most of them won’t be that active. In short they don’t really work for the company, but they works (sic.) for the money.”

To their credit, other commenters jumped on these kinds of statements as illegal and invalid. However, and one of them said this, most hiring professionals are not even aware of their own biases.

Honestly, the thought occurs to me that I need to take an attorney with me on future job interviews. Of course, that is impractical. Yet, is there anything that an older worker can do that will reduce ageism during the interview process?

Here is one idea.

Pare down the resume. Your resume should highlight your accomplishments over the past ten to twelve years. If your current or former job lasted longer than that, you only need to include that one job. In ten years, there will have been plenty of accomplishments to illustrate the value you will bring to your prospective employer. And by showing only that amount of experience you will come off as younger, yet accomplished. You don’t want to be weeded out as old just because you have thirty years experience. You can save relevant accomplishments that go farther back than twelve years for the interview.

Don’t Be A Cover Letter Hater

The best way to get your resume read by a hiring manager is to have already met them. Read that sentence again.

Okay. Got it?

The second best way is to have someone inside the company hand-deliver your resume to the person making the hiring decision. You’re on LinkedIn, right?

While I’m on that subject, as long as you have the inside contact, why not work with them to arrange a personal introduction to the hiring manager? (Read the first sentence again.) And be willing to buy the coffee.

In either case, you’ll want to deliver your resume with a personalized introductory letter.

Most people I talk to dread wrting the cover letter. They wonder, “What should I say that’s not already in my resume?”

Here comes the key point.

The singular purpose of the cover letter is to sell the decision-maker on reading your resume. You have fifteen seconds. Go.

1. Address your cover letter to the decision-maker, by name. Duh.

2. Get to the point in the first paragraph. Tell them, this is how I can help you. Use a little finesse, please.

3. State one or two reasons you are qualified. Don’t overdo it. Your resume will do the heavy lifting.

4. If your delivery method is email, copy and paste the letter into the body of the email (attach it, too). They may not ever get around to clicking on the attachment, so grab their attention in the email itself.

5. Mission Critical. Make sure the attachments can be opened. The format should be either PDF or WORD. No exceptions. If they have trouble with your attachments, you can forget about getting an interview.

When You Practice What you Preach

I admit it. I’ve been ignoring my blog. That can happen when you put a new, professionally written resume in circulation. You see, I started getting inquiries and then an interview followed by a job offer that more than doubled my income. Not bragging. Just stating the fact. You could do this, too.

The key is having a resume that highlights your accomplishments, not your job duties.

If a prospective employer can see tangible examples of the value you would bring, you are far more likely to be invited to interview.

I promise not to be gone for so long again. But right now, I need to go to work!

The Way You Love Your Job

Every once in a while, I run across someone who is exceedingly happy doing his or her job. The test for that is whether the thought of winning the Big Lotto makes you tingle with anticipation over what you might say to your boss the next day. If that dialogue includes a happy rendition of “So Long, Farewell,” perhaps you are not loving your job as much as you had thought.

You might think that winning the lottery would be a stroke of luck. Okay, it would be. But let’s be real… the odds are not good that mother luck will smile on you with a winning lotto pick. Yet, you can be one of the lucky ones. You can be the right person, doing the right thing in the right place. You can enjoy your work. (I owe the right person, right thing, right place turn of phrase to Shoya Zichy, who used it in her helpful book, Career Match: Connecting Who You Are with What You’ll Love to Do.)

What is the secret? Focus on the way you like to do things, not on what you think you might like to do.

Here are some examples of the kinds of preferences you might have.

  • Are you more productive working alone, or as a member of a team?
  • Do you seek to know the feelings of others before deciding something or do you prefer a “just the facts” approach to decision-making?
  • Do you have to gather every conceivable point of data to make a choice or are you someone who trusts your gut?
  • Are you okay standing alone against the prevailing opinion on an issue or do you need to find allies before you make a stand?
  • Do you think, then do, or is your preference to do, then think?
  • Do you know yourself because you have kept a journal for twenty years, or because your friends define you to yourself?

Each question serves to illustrate that you exercise functional preferences all day, everyday. Your preferences are innate. They are also outside your consciousness until you begin to explore them.

So what does this mean for you in your job selection process? Simply this: When you are interviewing for a position, be sure to explore the latitude you will be given to align the job duties with your own style––your way of getting things done.

Adding this dimension to your job selection process just might help you find a job you wouldn’t quit if you won the lottery. And one that you will love if you never win the lottery.

One last thing. Does your resumé convey your style preferences? If it does, you’re giving the hiring manager another reason to call you for an interview.

Seven Reasons You May Need a New Resumé

Let’s be honest. Career complacency is a curse that can keep you unemployed, under-employed and, almost certainly, underpaid. If you give it some thought, you can probably come up with seven reason why you should have a new resume on hand. Here are some ideas to jog your thinking.

Underpaid

Despite the Great Recession, the market value of your talent keeps going up. The fact that you have accomplished some amazing feats at work during the difficult economy may not be fully valued by your current employer, but other companies are looking for you. And they are willing to pay for the skills you bring. If you do not have a current resume in circulation, opportunities are passing you by.

Under-appreciated 

An effective boss thanks you for your contribution to the team. An effective boss recognizes you publicly for your strengths. And I’m not referring to “attaboy” or “attagirl” remarks. You want to hear well reasoned, appreciative statements of the specific ways in which you are enriching your department or company. The problem is, you may not be articulating the specific ways you are making a difference during your daily interactions with your boss. So your boss has no grist for the mill. And your hard work is going unnoticed. By keeping a current resume of your most recent accomplishments, you will have fodder for those random conversational opportunities. How often should you update? At least quarterly.

Joyless

If you hate your job, for whatever reason, you are harming yourself. Joyless drudgery produces heartburn and ulcers, at best. I’m not a doctor, but try to find one who doesn’t agree that stress can cause far more serious health problems. You won’t find one. Most hospitals run some sort of wellness program designed to treat root causes of disease before the disease has a chance to occur. Having a job you like is a huge part of achieving balance and wellness. Joylessness is a flashing read light showing you why you need to be proactive in making a change before you find yourself in the hospital, where the change will be forced upon you. Sounds overly dramatic, I know. But the story has been lived out by so many people that it is difficult to refute.

Unemployed

This should go without saying. Yet, an unemployed person is at risk for looking for a job with a resume that was updated by adding one job to the chronology. That is a poor strategy. Laid off or fired? You are not likely to have an objective view of your accomplishments and potential for contribution. If you have been without a job more than a month, your resume needs to be refreshed. A new resume should keep your accomplishments current and increase your marketability.

Promotion

Do you think you deserve a promotion? You must put an updated resume in your HR file. When your company is looking to fill a spot, your competition from outside will be presenting freshly written resumes. Your competition from inside probably will not do that. Put yourself ahead of both groups by being sure everyone knows what you have done for the company, lately. Position yourself as the only logical choice.

Stagnation

If a coworker says, “what’s new?” and all you can think of is “same shit, different day,” you may need a new resume. If your raises the past couple of years have been minimal, you may be being perceived of as having stagnated in your job. While your boss is willing to keep you on, there is a concern that you may not be delivering full value. It is your responsibly to be sure you provide all of the ammunition to justify more than a minimal raise. Your responsibility.

Review

The dreaded self-appraisal is part of the annual review. Many companies will provide a form for you fill out. Use it. Toot your horn, and loudly. And when you turn it in, attach your newly written resume. If it is written well, when your boss sees it, your perceived market value will rise. When you ask for the raise, it will be completely justified with plenty of proof that you are a talent they need to keep around, and pay for.

The economy has shown improvement over the last couple of quarters. Are you positioning yourself to improve your situation? A professionally written resume is a small investment with potentially big dividends.

On Doing What You Love

No one can succeed in any endeavor that they don’t like. If you don’t love what you’re doing, then don’t do it. Your chances of success are directly proportional to the degree of pleasure you derive from what you do. Do something that you have a deep personal interest in. Do something you’d enjoy spending twelve to fifteen hours a day working at, and the rest of the time thinking about. Don’t set compensation as your goal. Find work you like and the compensation will follow. Work is not your punishment. It’s your reward, your strength and your pleasure. Real success is achieved when you like what you do. When your vocation becomes your vacation, you never work another day in your life.
-Author Unknown