Staying motivated starts with what you believe you can bring to the table. If you don't believe that you can add value, please read the information contained here.
When you're considering new job and career options, if you're like most people, you tend to think about those you're comfortable with things you're fairly sure you can do. So long as there are attractive options closely linked to what you've done in the past, that's no problem.
But if you are at a stage where you want or need to consider doing something new and different, there is a possibility you could needlessly limit your options by not giving sufficient thought to the many abilities and strengths you "bring to the table" in any job situation.
The fact is, most of us don't give ourselves enough credit. We don't fully appreciate all that we're capable of doing to help improve things in the workplace. If someone asked you right now to name a dozen ways you could contribute, you'd probably be hard pressed to come up with half that many. If so, it's a signal that you tend to take yourself for granted.
Think about this. We all know people who seem to have no special talents, but who are very successful. They might not even have an especially good personality. And we may know other people, likable and talented, who never measure up to those talents. How is this explained? What is it that causes one to succeed and another to fail?
Often it can be traced to one factor. Successful people believe in themselves. Okay, you say, that's easy to understand. But just what does it mean to "believe in yourself"?
Good question. What it really means is this. Successful people have a number of specific things they believe about themselves, and about their chances for making things happen in the world.
They simply believe they can do a lot of things. This causes them to assume they will reach their goals - and lo and behold - they wind up reaching them!
What Do You Believe About Yourself?
If you want to do something new, something you haven't done before, you would be well advised to examine carefully just what it is you believe about yourself. While you're at it, you can also take a close look at what you believe you can achieve, as well as your beliefs about the kinds of opportunities that are out there waiting for you.
Why? Experience shows when people have negative, limiting beliefs that certain opportunities are not open to them, that they can't accomplish something, or that they don't have the abilities and personal traits required to do something even when they are not consciously aware of those beliefs something fails to happen.
Do you know what it is? Of course you do. They will fail to even attempt whatever it is they are thinking about ... ensuring their failure.
Those who have positive beliefs in those areas, on the other hand, do make the attempt and more often than not succeed even in the apparent absence of the required abilities!
You Can Support Any Belief You Choose With The Facts.
It is important for you to understand that you can be in control of your beliefs, and that you can indeed support any belief you choose with the facts. It just depends on which facts you choose to emphasize, and which you choose to ignore.
Most of us have had our share of failures or mediocre attempts. We've also had our share of times when we did quite well at something. It might have been something small, but we did well nevertheless.
If you analyze what happened when you did well, you will soon realize that at some level you believed and expected that you would. This should serve as an indication to you that, given the opportunity, you can do a great many more things, provided you approach them with the same positive beliefs and expectations.
Of course we're always free to set limits on ourselves by focusing on the negatives. On those instances where we didn't quite measure up. Or where others told us we didn't quite have it.
Where we choose to let such incidents influence us, we're letting someone else decide what out limits should be. We're passively handing over our brightest life horizons to them by adopting the beliefs they choose to have about us.
Fortunately, we're equally free to ignore those examples of where we didn't do so well, or where others said we didn't. We're free to focus instead on all those instances where we did well at something, or where someone observed that we excelled at a particular task or had a lot of potential.
The Power of "Selective Perception"
You may not realize it, but you are continually choosing to ignore some things and emphasize others. Every day, most of the day, you're using what's called "Selective Perception," and it's a good thing you are! Crossing a busy street you'd better choose to pay attention to the traffic, and not the beautiful facades of the nearby buildings.
But we do this even when we don't need to. You might enter a room and choose to notice the paintings on the walls and the people in the room, or you might prefer to notice the dust in the corner and the way the molding fits around the door.
You can look outside and see a beautiful day with trees swaying in the breeze, or choose to focus on ants crawling up those trees. We all use selective perception hundreds of times a day, usually without realizing it, often without consciously controlling it.
You Can Use Selective Perception to Support Beliefs That Will Help You
You can start right now to control the way you use selective perception. As a first step, realize that most of the things you assume about your abilities, or lack of them, aren't necessarily facts that are cast in bronze, never to be changed. Rather, it will help if you begin to understand they are simply your beliefs about what the facts are ... and beliefs can be changed.
How can beliefs be changed? By using selective perception. By choosing to focus on all of the events that support positive beliefs ... and ignoring those that don't. Here's an example, using a common ability applied at all levels in business, one that could affect how many options you believe you're qualified for. What's your answer to this question ...
Can I organize an operation efficiently, and introduce new methods, systems and procedures so that things run smoothly?
If your answer is a definite yes, then there are no limits here, and you can go on to other questions. If it's no or not sure, you need to look at it more closely. You were never asked to set up a new department or division, you say? You were never asked to organize a key project?
Some people said you're disorganized because your desk is sloppy? Someone once told you that the way you set things up was inefficient? Ignore all that!
Start by focusing away from work entirely. Go back to when you were a kid. Remember how the other kids loved it when you figured out a new way to play hide-and-seek, hopscotch, or handball? Or later in life, when you organized a softball team?
Do you remember how many people commented last year on the way you organized your garden? Or the praise you got for setting up a volunteer committee to clean up a local park? Or how you figured out a better way to organize the carpool? Or when you organized your toolshed so efficiently that your neighbor started borrowing tools more often?
Now that we've discovered you have often used your ability to organize and make things run smoothly, and your mind is in the groove to focus on similar events, let's return to the work setting.
Have you forgotten the time you were asked to fix the problem with customer requests for changes? You were asked to find a way to get them processed in three days instead of four, and wound up reducing them to two. Who says you never organized anything or set up efficient new systems?
And what about that business unit you ran for two years? In the course of building profits, didn't you change some of the ways things were being done? Reassign some people so that their strengths better matched the tasks they were expected to perform? Change a few reporting relationships? Arrange for better, faster feedback?
What you really did in those instances was to break down one organization structure and one set of operating systems, and replace them with another.
As an exercise, immediately after you've finished reading this, take half an hour to do nothing but think of events from any part of your life which support the belief ... that you can organize and set up new systems so things run smoothly ... or which support any other belief you choose to work with.
Note down any time someone commented positively about that, any time you figured out a new way to get something done, any time you got some people together to accomplish a project. Include all aspects of your life work, professional, family, social, church, civic, volunteer, recreation, leisure. Ignore anything that does not support this belief.
Now write that question you asked yourself in the form of a positive belief. In this example that would be, "I am an efficient organizer and know how to set things up so that they run smoothly."
Under that belief list every event and comment you have been able to think of in the exercise suggested above. Read it out loud, tack it on the wall, sing it if you like, write it out again five times, or yell it to the skies!
Whatever you choose to do, find one or more ways to strongly reinforce your newfound belief with all these facts. Repeat the process every day for a week or longer, until you've convinced yourself. Repetition establishes new pathways in the brain, and you want to be wired like a winner.
You've Now Created an Affirmation
Once you've completed this exercise, you have created an affirmation for yourself. It's one you can believe in fully, remember, based on the facts. Many books have been written about the power of affirmation and visualization to open people up to new goals, and help them achieve those goals.
There are especially striking examples in sports and medicine. Dr. Bernie Siegel has helped make famous a visualization method for helping people beat cancer, using drawings to visualize themselves and their life conditions, and even the condition of the cancer.
In a sports experiment, basketball players who visualized shooting but did not actually practice for three weeks, outperformed those who had practiced but not visualized. Dr. Wayne Dyer devoted an entire book to the subject, titled I'll See It When I Believe It.
Experience has shown that this works equally as effectively in job changing. It is well known that our expectations about the way people will treat us has a lot to do with what we actually experience. Expectations are beliefs about the future.
Psychological studies show, when we reinforce them with visualization and affirmation, we are sending out signals to others about what we expect to achieve and how we expect others to respond to us, and their reactions are affected accordingly.
You've no doubt seen this work many times. The person who is defensive, resentful, or has the proverbial "chip on his shoulder," will be reacted to cautiously by others, who often themselves become defensive in return, or wonder why this person resents them, leading to strained relations.
The person who projects warmth, good cheer, an amiable nature, and a positive, enthusiastic outlook, likewise tends to have those same qualities reflected to him or her when dealing with others.
So be sure to use the power of affirmation and visualization to reinforce the beliefs and expectations that will help you most in a job search those which affirm your potential value to many employers, and the existence of many suitable opportunities out there waiting for you to uncover them.
Work on the Specific Beliefs That Will Help You
It doesn't matter what your age, occupation, or level of experience is. You could be just starting out, or a seasoned executive who has managed large business units, or somewhere in between.
Whether we realize it or not, all of us approach the job market with a set of beliefs about what we have to offer and how receptive employers will be. It pays to know what yours are, and to make sure you've got all of them working in your favor.
Remember, these include beliefs about our achievements or lack of them, our personal strengths or lack of them, and the abundance or scarcity of desirable openings suited to our goals and background.
The beliefs that are most important for you will vary according to your individual situation. Here are some examples to stimulate your thinking. Even if none of them apply to you, they will help you identify the beliefs that do apply in your case.
Beliefs About Achievements / Experience
I can ... sell effectively ... create practical software programs ... manage information systems smoothly ... revitalize a service business ... set up a new production line ... implement new administrative procedures that increase efficiency ... turn around a losing division ... start up a new department ... open a branch office ... write impressive speeches and interesting, credible news releases ... improve customer satisfaction ... increase market share ... cut costs ... build new capabilities ... attract and motivate good people ... develop others.
Beliefs About Personal Strengths
I can ... get along well with people at every level ... speak effectively before large groups ... communicate effectively one-on-one ... analyze complex problems ... come up with better ways to get things done ... turn ideas into action ... write concisely and clearly ... win people's confidence easily ... anticipate situations and solve them before they become problems ... listen well ... get opposing sides to work toward a single goal ... introduce change rapidly but smoothly ... bring enthusiasm to a team effort ... turn around poor attitudes ... lead by example.
Beliefs About What's Out There
- There are thousands of appealing jobs created every week in this country.
- My industry hasn't participated in the boom times of the past decade, but there are still some good jobs to be had in it.
- My talents could be put to good use by employers in many industries.
- My programming and systems knowledge may already be outdated, but I can quickly learn the newer, advanced systems.
- Many small growing companies need seasoned talent and the maturity I have to offer.
- I can persuade an employer to create a job for me.
- With just a little training, I can develop skills and knowledge in hot demand in the job market.
- I can turn in much better results in a growing and prosperous company than I could with my previous employer, which was shrinking and losing money.
- If I'm enthusiastic and persistent enough, employers will hire me for my personal qualities and train me for a position they need filled.
Special Questions to Ask Yourself if You Think You Don't Have Much Experience or Many Achievements
Despite the unprecedented prosperity and low unemployment in recent years, there may be many people at various stages of their career who feel they are at a dead end in terms of finding a truly challenging and enjoyable job. They may lack confidence because they can't identify specific skills, traits, or achievements that they believe employers will relate to, and respond to favorably.
If you are in that situation, ask yourself the following questions and examine your beliefs carefully in these areas. If you do, chances are you will soon realize you have far more to offer than you think you have.
Do I learn quickly? Are there examples of times when I learned something quickly, or when someone commented on how quickly I picked up on new information, or a skill, or a way of dealing with situations effectively?
Can I set something up or organize it efficiently? Whether it was a game, a party, a department, or just a new way of getting something done, was I able to organize it so that it did in fact get done as expected?
Can I match people to their strengths? Have I ever advised anyone that they might be good at something, and it seemed to make sense to them? Have I ever assigned people to tasks that they felt were challenging and well suited to their abilities?
Have I ever trained, developed, or motivated anyone, at work, in school, in a club or social setting, on an athletic team, in volunteer work, or in my family?
Are there instances I can remember where I communicated clearly and accurately, so that people understood what I expected of them and what they could expect of me, and where this led to something getting done that needed doing?
Am I a logical person who has figured out practical, workable solutions to problems? Has anyone ever commented on that?
Have I ever gotten people to interact with one another in harmony, in any sort of work or play? In a family project, an amateur theater production, a work assignment, a sports team, a volunteer effort, or a recreational pursuit such as a boat trip, or building a small structure?
Am I creative in some way? Have I ever produced anything that required some creativity? Something I wrote perhaps, or drew or sculpted, or a song or poem, a new outlook, or a new way to approach something? Have I put two ideas together in a way they hadn't been connected before, to solve a problem or find a new way of doing things? Did I ever think of a new game, or a new way of playing an old game?
Can I recall instances where people acted in a way that showed they were happy to be working with me? Or where they told me directly that they liked to work with me? Or that they felt I brought a positive energy to the workplace?
Do I have any special knowledge, talents, experience or interests? Am I good with computers? Do I know a lot about a particular market, or process, or machine, or software? About cars or antiques? About arranging travel? About nutrition? Do I have a knack for sales? Do I have a talent for producing some-thing in a low-cost way? Am I a prolific producer of anything? Do I write better than the average person? Do I understand compensation systems? Am I a good negotiator? Am I good at confronting people who need to be confronted? Do I often tend to make people feel more confident, more peaceful, more invigorated?
Have I ever brought enthusiasm to some activity? From childhood? From teen years? From family experience? From volunteer efforts? From work projects? From social activity?
- Have I ever gotten past a big obstacle, turned around a difficult situation, learned from a mistake, made some changes that weren't easy, or achieved some-thing that others recognized as requiring persistence and determination? In my own mind, can I see how that might make me better able to relate to people, or give me credibility, or help me serve as a role model or set an example for someone?
Act on Your Positive Beliefs to Win the Job You Want
Now that you've got a set of positive beliefs that you know are supported by the facts, it's time to act on them. A common thread in the lives of achievers is action. They took action based on their beliefs, and their intense involvement in this activity left no room for doubt. It is a simple observable fact that when people get into action on anything, they no longer have time, or any room in their mind, to worry, doubt or fret about whether they will achieve their goal. They are too busy with the action. There is simply no place or time in their lives to devote to fear or negative thoughts.
It's automatic. They don't have to will it or force it. Action displaces fear and worry the way a boat displaces water. The boat and the water can't both be in the same place at the same time. Neither can the action and the doubts. Examples are everywhere. A university president breathing new life into a failing institution. A company president turning around a money-losing operation. An entrepreneur building a new company. A race driver setting a new speed record.
A football player dashing toward the goal line. A baseball player attempting to steal a base. A member of the clergy revitalizing a tough inner-city neighborhood. In the same manner, you can keep yourself in action, reassured by the positive beliefs and expectations you have developed. The effect is similar to a nuclear reaction. The actions reinforce and intensify the beliefs, which lead to more actions, which further reinforce the beliefs, which lead to more actions, and so on, until it all results in your reaching goal.
You can do this by making certain that each day you take some action based on your expectation that you will win the type of job you want. A big part of that, of course, will be implementing a well structured job search, using every action avenue open to you. Beyond that, however, you can "make simple acts of faith" that you will indeed bring into reality whatever you are envisioning and affirming.
If you want to switch to a new industry, start reading the magazines for that industry. If you want to relocate, research the area you are targeting. If you are attempting to make a major move up in responsibility, start reading the publications aimed at people already at that level.
If your move means you'll be earning a lot more money, start to investigate the ways you'll be using it, whether it's investments or purchases. Even small steps like these can help anchor your positive beliefs to the everyday world in which you'll experience your goals, and help reinforce that nuclear chain reaction mentioned earlier.
The Importance of Keeping At It
Think of any major medical discovery or scientific invention. Think of any great work by a sculptor or architect. Think of any outstanding achievement by an athlete, actor, or company leader. One thing is certain. Whatever was achieved, discovered or invented, was not done overnight.
It came about because the person involved had persisted, often over a period of years, until their vision became a reality.
No one expects you to persist for years, but your persistence over a period of weeks or months may very well be the key to your job changing success. Work on your beliefs every day. Like anything else, they will get out of shape if not exercised. Refresh them, reinforce them, and build your commitment to them through actions.
Each day, take some action based on those beliefs. As you progress, you will find that you attract to yourself people who share your beliefs, outlook and optimism, who respect your strong convictions about your capabilities and potential. In that way you will magnify the effectiveness of all your job changing efforts.
There follow three striking real-life examples of the power of beliefs, action and persistence in job seekers at different levels, each of whom thought the odds were stacked against them until they started to examine and change their beliefs.
The Awesome Power of Beliefs and Persistence
A CEO With Big Problems
Tom, in his mid-50s, had been a successful Chief Executive in the midwest, guiding a group of four manufacturing companies to new growth and profit levels before he was fired, supposedly for alcoholism, but at least partly because of the jealousy of the principal stockholder. He was bitter and discouraged, and it showed.
He was unemployed for two years before he even attempted to find another job. When he did, he was not treated kindly. He became clinically depressed. Finally, after two more years, he decided to turn his life around, joined Alcoholics Anonymous, and succeeded in staying away from alcohol.
He kept himself in excellent physical shape. But he was too discouraged and fearful to even attempt a job search.
Tom was besieged with negative beliefs. Many were in fact accurate and based on facts that even selective perception could not help. In the city where he lived, his problems were widely known among many leading members of the business community. Jobs at his level were never plentiful.
Recruiters are seldom interested in someone who hasn't worked in four years, and that would also raise a red flag for any employer seriously considering him. But his negative beliefs went further than that.
Because of the treatment he had received two years ago, he believed no one would want to meet with him or even be courteous. He also believed there was no way anyone could ever perceive his last four years as anything but a dismal waste of talent and a sign of serious character deficiency. And he believed no one would hire him for a meaningful, rewarding job.
Of course, as long as he held these beliefs, he would never attempt to find a job, so no one could prove him wrong. He was convinced it was an unforgiving world out there, and developed a confrontational style with a sharp edge to his personality whenever anyone attempted to point out he might be wrong. This drove away most of his friends.
Fortunately for Tom, when faced with the evidence he finally had to admit his achievements in business had been nothing short of outstanding, and that many companies would benefit substantially if he were running some part of their operations. So he changed his beliefs about the possibility of someone hiring him, if only for their own selfish reasons of making more profit.
Next it was pointed out to him that, as a result of the last four years, he would actually be a better manager than he had been previously. He related to people at a more basic level, had lost the egotism that had caused him to make some enemies, used the opportunity to take some courses that broadened his thinking, and had lost none of his numerous management abilities.
He was challenged to find a way to get across convincingly in less than three minutes, a strong message that the events of the past four years were actually one of the strongest reasons an employer should hire him. It took six weeks, but once he came to believe it himself, he developed a sincere and credible statement that did just that.
Armed with a good resume and a strong message that positioned the last four years as a positive, he was asked to get started on the one job avenue that held the most hope for him, personal networking. At first he refused, then relented and decided to meet with just three people, no more.
The agreement was, if they were as unkind to him as he expected, he'd be asked to do no more. In return, he agreed to remain open to the possibility that they would receive him kindly, to practice visualizing them welcoming him warmly and referring him to others, and to then continue the process if even one of them proved to be encouraging and provided referrals.
All three were encouraging, reacted positively to how he characterized the past four years, and provided referrals. All of Tom's basic beliefs had now changed from negative to positive, and it became easy for him to use selective perception mixed with action to start the "nuclear chain reaction." That's where persistence came in.
From his original three contacts, applying the principles of directing the thinking of those he spoke with, and networking for referrals rather than job offers, he met with 168 individuals over the next eleven months. The depression lifted, his spirits brightened, and his expectations soared.
The edge to his personality dissolved into a genuine warmth and appreciation for others as so many people told him they'd had similar problems or knew someone who did, and how much they admired his determination and ability to come back after so difficult a time.
Their feedback helped him persist despite the disappointment of coming close a few times and coming in as the #2 selection. Finally, after eleven months, he received an offer for what he considered an ideal job.
"A year ago, I never would have believed it," he said. He's right. A year ago he never would have believed it was possible, and he never would have been hired. Fortunately, he changed those beliefs.
A Purchasing Agent Fired for Poor Performance
Bob had been let go from his position as Purchasing Manager with a chemical company. In his 50s, he'd been told by management that he hadn't performed well. He was inclined to accept their judgments as fact, and had begun to believe no one would hire a mediocre manager in his 50s who had been let go due to poor performance.
Then he was asked to examine his work record closely and work on his beliefs. As he did so, he started to realize his performance had in fact been superior. He was able to identify time after time when he came into a bad situation, took corrective action, and achieved outstanding results. Many of these he had forgotten about, until he forced himself to focus on those positive experiences.
In the process, Bob also discovered he'd been a poor communicator. He'd always believed that purchasing managers should be blunt, cautious, and adversarial, and had acted on that belief not only with suppliers, but with people inside the company.
When it was pointed out to him that this belief was largely responsible for his negative reputation in the company, and probably contributed to his getting fired, he didn't need much persuasion to change it.
Quickly he began to believe he could be an effective communicator, and that he should be able to sell his talents to potential employers just as aggressively as he once wrangled the lowest prices from suppliers. Once he adopted that belief, he began to seek out imaginative ways he could get across his potential value to a company.
Recognizing how he had stimulated new methods of manufacturing and the use of new materials which led to greater profits, he wrote a paper titled "Purchasing as a Profit Center."
With his new beliefs in himself as a solid performer and a persuasive salesman, he initiated a flurry of activity and over a three-month period positively impressed six employers who agreed they could increase profits by bringing him on board. For a variety of reasons, however, only one made an offer. It was a good one and he accepted it.
Bob knows he would have had almost no chance of winning a good job if he had held on to his old beliefs. His new beliefs enabled him to develop the six possibilities required for the one good offer.
New Beliefs Overcome Lack of a Ph.D.
Despite good economic times and an advanced degree in Microbiology, Joan was frustrated. She had no work experience, but she was determined to win a responsible position using her technical knowledge in the pharmaceutical industry. The problem was, that kind of job normally required a Ph.D., which she didn't have.
After four months of searching and a dozen interviews, she had no offer. With so many rejections, her spirits sank. Friends suggested that she take any job just to get working. She was seriously considering applying for a job as an entry level computer operator, when she was asked to examine her beliefs.
When she did so, she realized that of course she believed there must be at least one suitable job for her in such good times, of course she had the skills and knowledge to deliver outstanding value to an employer, and of course several pharmaceutical companies had needs in those functions where she could help.
For the next week, she concentrated on positive beliefs in each of those areas, and used selective perception to back them up.
Her beliefs and attitude gradually grew more positive. Each day she reminded herself of all she could do for a company, and the very real needs of the employers which her technical talents could fill.
Two weeks later she was offered a job analyzing complex technical documents produced to gain legal and regulatory approval for pharmaceutical products on a global basis. It had all the authority and responsibility she wanted.
Three weeks after she was hired, in a conversation with her new boss, she learned that originally it was felt she could not handle the position because she did not have a Ph.D. However, she had projected such assurance about her ability to do the job, and had shown such strong conviction about the importance of this job to the company, that they reconsidered and decided she was the ideal candidate.
Had she not worked every day on her beliefs, Joan could not have projected such confidence, and had she not projected such confidence, she would not have won the job. The job offer in this case was a direct result of Joan's firm belief in herself and the need for her talents.
What Do You Believe?
In these early years of the 21st century, the US economy continues to be strong, and the same can be said for most of the industrialized nations. Even in boom times, however, some people may face difficulty finding the job they want, often because they want to switch careers or industries, or believe they don't have what it takes for the job.
If that is your situation, remember that even in the worst of times, some people have still been successful. In the bleakest of markets, some people have still sold. Under the most trying conditions, some people have produced more.
If they could build and maintain a set of beliefs that enabled them to reach their goals in those circumstances, surely you can work on your beliefs in the midst of so much prosperity. Like them, you can use selective perception to bolster positive beliefs. If you do, be assured you will finally reach a set of affirmations and visualizations that, backed up and reinforced by persistent action, will open up new options, and improve your chances of winning the right job.