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07/09/2017 — Leave a comment

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A matter of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Is one of the main reasons you’re in your current job because the money is good? And is one of the main reasons you are reluctant to leave your job because you can’t imagine taking a pay cut, or the profession you really want to pursue has limited earning prospects?

I ask people these questions in my Brand YOU workshop. And every time at least 50% of all participants raise their hand. This response isn’t surprising since choosing a career and a job for its monetary rewards is the oldest and most powerful motivation in the world of work.

However, overwhelming evidence has emerged over the past two decades that the pursuit of wealth is an unlikely path to achieving happiness and personal wellbeing. The lack of any clear positive relationship between rising salary and rising happiness has become one of the most powerful findings in the social sciences.

And that’s because we get caught on the hedonistic treadmill – as we get richer and accumulate more our expectations rise, so we work harder to earn more, and then our expectations rise again, and so we work harder to earn more, and so it goes. It’s never enough as we shift from one car to two, from a small house to a big house, from a holiday on The Gold Coast to a holiday in the south of France.

To live without regrets, we first you need to know what the most common ones are. Daniel Gulati at Harvard Business Review discusses his informal study of people’s biggest regrets about their career. He talked to professionals who ranged in age, and represented a variety of different industries. And the #1 career regret:

I wish I hadn’t taken the job for the money.

Every survey shows that when asked what gives them job satisfaction, people NEVER put money on top of the list. In the Mercer global engagement scale – developed with thousands of workers in the UK, US, Japan, India, Germany, France and China – ‘base pay’ comes in at number six out of a list of twelve key factors. What really matters is ‘RESPECT’, the number one factor that drives job satisfaction.

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Now ‘respect’ is a word that’s thrown around a lot, with a lot of lip service being given to it. To my mind ‘respect’ is like a basic human right. It means being appreciated for who you are, what you personally bring to the job, and being valued for your individual contribution. And it has has nothing to do with social status: I don’t respect someone just because she’s the CEO or because he earns millions of dollars.

Respect enables us to feel like a human being whose presence matters. So that may mean avoiding large bureaucratic organisations where individual efforts are barely acknowledged, and finding a workplace where you are treated as a unique and valuable human being.

Few people will ignore money when it comes to making career and job decisions, I get that: we all have bills to pay. The real issue is how much weight should you assign to money?

And if money is coming at a personal cost – that feeling of “I’m just another brick in someone else’s wall” – perhaps its time to evaluate your priorities and make some hard decisions. You’ll be happier in the long run.

brand YOU

10/08/2017

How to play in the realm of making a difference

Brand YOU is who you really are. And it’s by embracing this truth you start being a person who makes a difference in life and the world.

It’s not easy, and I reckon this is what it takes to be that person. First, you want to stop just being concerned about the stuff that until now you think is so “important” – like what people think of you, and what your position is, and how much money you got, and your posture in the community, and what you believe in, and all that other stuff that massages your ego and ultimately doesn’t make a difference to anyone or anything.

Then, if you want to play in the realm of difference making, you need to be willing to take a stand. And you won’t get any applause for it either. To the contrary, people will judge you and criticise you and say things behind your back. You will lose friends on Facebook and Instagram as your popularity takes a dive.

I’ve said it before, and I say it again – popularity is for mediocre people. If you want the monument of having made a contribution to the quality of life, then this is the domain – you have to take a stand for who you are, what drives you, and why you do what you do.

And yes, it does take a heck of a lot of courage. What if it turns out that you’re a fool? What if other people laugh at you? What will people think?

Well I can tell you what they’ll think. They will think terrible things about you. What the heck do you think they are going to think? They think terrible things about you anyway.

If you want to move them, inspire them, give them the opportunity to express their own magnificence, and be that person who does make a difference … the hell with what they think.

You got this!

brand YOU

31/07/2017

Never be afraid to bet on yourself

We live in a world full of experts. There’s always someone with more experience than you saying how things are supposed to be done – tweeters, bloggers article writers, senior managers, highly paid consultants.

But the reality is that there is no playbook. We’re all just figuring shit out as we go along. And when all’s said and done, what other bet can you make that’s going to be as sure a thing as betting on you? Answer – None. You are the best bet there is.

Every day you are called to make bets on yourself. There are the big bets such as taking a new job, moving to a new city, starting a business, or getting married. And then there are the small, seemingly insignificant bets, which shape your life just as much as the big ones. These are the everyday bets you take – opportunities, choices and decisions that you meet with either a “yes” or a “no”.

And if the idea of betting on yourself feels a little risky or crazy, just consider this: every time you don’t bet on yourself, you will always lose. No amount of betting against yourself is going to bring your dreams to life. In the end you’ll always be left wondering “What if…” as you look back on a lifetime of regrets and unanswered callings.

On the other hand, when you bet on yourself, you’re believing in what’s awesome about you. You’re believing in your potential. You’re believing in your dreams. When you bet on yourself you get to be in action, and give yourself the chance to win big. Will you always win? No way. Sometimes you’ll lose big time, because losing comes with winning. That’s life. And at the end of the day at least you can go to sleep knowing you gave it a go.

I’ve gone into so many situations where I literally have no idea what I’m doing or how I’m going to approach the project. But somewhere inside me, I know. I actually do have the answers. Maybe not all of them, but at least a sketchy outline, and that’s all I need to get started. I pick up the rest of the plan along the way, and somehow it all works out in the end. Most of the time anyway.

So will you bet on yourself? And the answer should be simple. Every. Single. Time.

You can do it. You’ve got this.

brand YOU

12/07/2017

The itch you can’t ignore

Life comes in two flavours – the fixed, and the variable.

Most of the people I meet prefer ‘fixed’ over ‘variable’. They want a world that’s safe and secure. They want certainty over doubt. They are dead set on building a world and a future they can count on. And they have a plan to get them there.

At the same time – and in spite of their preference for things ‘fixed’ – they have a constant, nagging itch for the taste of something ‘variable’. The itch to take a risk. The itch to test, to prod, to dare, to try.

And then, like all itches, it stops itching, and is forgotten. And so it sits in the background of their lives, like an annoying pebble-in-the-shoe that pops up every now and then.

Unless they scratch the itch. Flare it up, make it even more itchy. But no, that never happens. And that’s because they have all been taught not to scratch their itch. At school. At home. By their parents. By their friends. “Stop scratching that itch Richard, you’ll just make it worse.”

In this way they have been fed a diet of ‘fixed’ food, off a menu that offers predictability; staying focused; being in control; playing it safe; lying low; avoiding danger; being reasonable; always having a plan; making it safely to death.

The brainwashing is subtle. It doesn’t change their basic need for safety. Instead it just uses that need to convince them that the comfort zone is the place where they need to live their lives. After all, “That’s what sensible people like you do”.

And yet, there is still that part in them that itches to climb trees, to leap about, to shout out, to throw the dice, to take it to the limit. YOLO!

For some the itch will become so overwhelming that it will dominate their days, and ask them put your soul on the line. And if that’s you, it is entirely possible that there won’t be a massive standing ovation for you at the end of today.

That’s okay. There’s still tomorrow.

And at least you lived 🙂