Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Life Is Like A Cup of Coffee - Part 2

I was amazed during the last month as I worked with people on their journey to discover their passion in life to see just how far they have drifted from that unique design for their lives. 

People intuitively know what they like. It amazes me to see how many people end up a thousand miles away from that intuitive knowledge. They start jobs just to get started in a career and then get stuck in that job or occupation field due to many reasons. Some include things like,
  1. Reliance on the salary they earn due to financial commitments they got themselves into
  2. Fear of stepping out into the “unknown”
  3. Not believing they can do anything other than what they currently do
This causes people to “drink bitter coffee” on a daily basis. As mentioned in my previous post, bitter coffee refers to the product of too much coffee and too little water. Life can be like bitter coffee when the mixture of the things that makes up our experience are wrong. People that drink bitter coffee  have approximately 10 to 50% job satisfaction and that causes them to be unhappy individuals. The real problem comes in when they go home after a day’s work. What the people at home get is not the happiest and friendliest individual but one that causes stress on the family. Everything can spiral out of control in the home and one’s personal life all because of the wrong occupation. Bob Dickie, President of Crown Financial Ministries, addresses this very issue in his latest blog and I recommend this read to all.

As I have assisted well over 1,200 teenagers, students and adults in the last few years in this discovery process through an amazing tool called Career Direct®, I have come to the following conclusions:

People make occupational decisions based on:
·      Parent’s expectations and unfulfilled dreams
·      Where the most money is
·      Peer pressure
·      Availability of work
·      Their interest at the time

This could very easily be the recipe for disaster in a lot of people’s lives in terms of career and ultimately their sense of purpose. I would like to take this opportunity to take you through the things I have learned the last few years as I have consulted with individuals and families through the use of Career Direct® as an assessment tool. 

Filtering Coffee to get to the perfect cup! 

When using the filtering process as demonstrated in the picture below to get to the PASSION of one’s life, I like to use the four levels that Career Direct® uses: Personality, Interests, Skills, and Values.

Level 1: Personality   

As detailed  in my previous blog post, personality plays the biggest role in understanding one’s passion.    
Making the right career choice starts with understanding one’s personality. When we understand our unique personality and actually celebrate it, we are in the best possible place to make good decisions about our future. Remember that our personality could change but 1%! It is character that is the variable. Character can go a long way to help with our general mood and demeanor when we are misplaced in a career field, but ultimately it is our personality that will allow us to experience joy or defeat.

Level 2: Interests 

People’s interests are triggered or developed through exposure. There are a lot of things people are interested in and it is very important when using the filtering process to understand what is significant regarding career choice and what is not.

The best resource in understanding what interest is pointing too in a specific career field, is personality. As we learned, personality will hardly change over a lifespan of 80 years, so I guess it makes sense to consult  the one thing that will be consistent in our lives.

I literally take each one of the interests that are significant in one’s profile and filter it through the personality. Individuals might be very interested in a specific activity but the question is whether that activity can make one happy for 60% of waking time that you will spend at your job? Personality will very quickly show you whether that interest is something that will make you happy for most of your waking time on a consistent basis or not. Sometimes personality will point out that the interest is just a hobby or maybe a once a week activity instead of an everyday activity.

Interests can be divided into three areas: activity, occupation and subject. It is important to find the correlation between the different interest areas and then filter that through the personality. Once you have done that successfully, you can have that alignment between personality and interest. In other words, the two speak to each other and are actually having a wonderful conversation. There is harmony between the two and that is what we are after. That settles levels one and two.

Level 3: Skills   

Level three has got to do with understanding and identifying your skills. This is probably the easiest level to identify as your grades would reflect your skill and competency levels. Your friends’ and family’s input would also attest to what you are good at. One thing to take into account is the difference between natural skill and acquired skill. The difference is not as obvious as one might think however.

Let me explain a scenario to illustrate the difference and how this can have an effect in your fulfillment as a person. Let us assume that I am not the most skilled artist. I want to improve and so I go for 3 lessons a week for three years. After three years I have learned almost everything there is to learn and has actually become quite good. I then enter a drawing competition that allows two hours to complete a pencil drawing and after two hours of giving my best, I get a grade of 93%. Also in this drawing competition is a young lady that has not taken the lessons I have and after two hours she also gets a grade of 93%. In fact, she only used one of the two allotted hours to complete her drawing. We both received a very good grade for the work we put in. The difference between us was not the output (results) but the input (our energy levels). You see, it took me the full two hours to achieve the 93% grade while it only took her one hour. I would probably be exhausted after this exercise as I worked from my acquired skill whereas the young lady would probably be energized by working from her natural skill. She might even ask if that was the warm up exercise, while I would pray that it wasn't.

The take away is to understand what your natural skill is and to make sure that it correlates with your interest and that both fit under the umbrella of personality.

Level 4: Values     

Most people would not think of values when making a decision on what to study or when applying for a certain job. Values are actually the last filter in the coffee filtering process and to me, probably the most critical one. People tend to do what they think (or want) in the moment, and that could be the undoing that causes a lot of pain in life.

Let me explain by using an example:
Let’s assume a young man of 18 years is generally a very quiet and reserved individual that also likes to be very precise and organized. He also does not like change and is not very adventurous. Everything I just mentioned is personality traits that will not change significantly over a lifetime of 80 years.

He befriends some guys his age that are very sporty and adventurous and before long he gets dragged to all their activities and explorations. He even starts to enjoy being around them and then actually assimilates to the way they view life. The way he sees and perceives the world has just changed. The problem however is that he didn't change in the way he does things. Let’s say that he graduates and are lured to become a Ski instructor in the Swiss Alps with his friends. How long do you think he will last in the Alps? I think that it would not be very long, because as a precise and organized person, he might not like to share a room with 5 others that might not be as precise as he is. The schedule might change on them a lot due to the weather and he needs to talk to strangers a lot. That might not be the best environment for him. The way that he viewed the world through his friends’ eyes, in other words the values he made decisions on, just caused him a great deal of discomfort and displeasure.

Coffee that Produces Passion 

In order to drink the good coffee that comes through this filtering process, all of the four areas need to be aligned and correlated. I call this correlation the golden thread that runs through your life. That is what produces good coffee and the unique thing that happens when you take a sip of that coffee is that it produces passion in your life. This passion flows every day without you having to borrow it, work it up or talk yourself into it. I wish this on every person walking the face of the earth today. May each of you enjoy a great cup of coffee!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Life Is Like A Cup of Coffee...

Life Is Like A Cup of Coffee...
Ever wondered why most people say that they are not happy in their current job? According to a Mercer survey of 30,000 workers worldwide, between 28% and 56% of employees in 17 spots around the globe wanted to leave their jobs. According to a Right Management survey between April 16 and May 15, 44% of the participants indicated that they were totally unsatisfied with their jobs while 21% said that they were somewhat unsatisfied with their jobs. That is a staggering 65% of unhappy employees. This should ring alarm bells to employers, as a demotivated workforce means lower productivity and poorer service. Something is wrong with this picture!

These surveys only mention the current workforce and do not reflect the unemployed, job seekers, college students and graduates that must still enter the workforce. With the current economic stress around the globe forcing employers to rather look for part time employment rather than full time employment, this does not look bright for the world of employment opportunities in the near future.
With this in mind, the question that immediately comes to mind is whether there are any solutions to this very concerning trend.

The answer in my own mind is that there are certain things we can do as individuals to better educate and equip ourselves in order to penetrate the world of work with confidence and surety. Bob Dickie, President of Crown Financial Ministries, wrote a very insightful ARTICLE in Fox news recently explaining the new norm in terms of the world of work and how to prepare oneself to find success in an uncertain world.
Over the next few blog posts, I would like to address a way to better understand and position one for entering the world of work with hope.

How does your coffee taste?
I am a coffee drinker. I love filtered coffee and through the years I have tried to get to the right combination of ground coffee and water in order to produce the perfect cup of coffee. I failed many times to produce the perfect cup however. I either added too much coffee and to little water, or too much water and to little coffee. This always ended in two different tastes, namely extremely bitter or terribly weak!
As I tried to perfect the process of coffee making, it dawned on me that life could be compared to a cup of coffee. Life could be bitter, weak or what we always seek…the perfect cup! It must smell and taste just right. Unfortunately that is not the norm. People keep trying and testing to find that balance where their coffee tastes just right! I realized that it is all in the combination of coffee and water. Whatever goes into the filter is what will come out in the cup.
Life as we experience it is a result of the input that has come into our mixing filters. The result is what we experience on a daily basis in terms of how we see and experience the world around us.
I realized that this has to do with the way my character has been formed from birth to the present. I am experiencing either bitter, weak or fantastic coffee on a daily basis! The age old Nature versus Nurture debate comes to mind and frankly, I do not want to enter that debate at all. What I will say about it is that both nature and nurture play a significant role in my development as a person and “yes” in the taste of my cup of coffee.
At birth I have a genetic inheritance in my personally that Geneticists tell me has approximately 30% influence in my personality. This can be traced 4 generations back. I am also told that personality changes at most 1% over a period of 80 years. As I pondered on these observations and facts, I started asking the question, “If I have approximately 30% inherited personality traits and I am not going to change in my personality over my lifetime, then where does the other 70% come from?” Most people will say that it will be formed through influence in my life as I grow up, but the problem I have with that statement is that personality doesn’t change and at what point does my personality decide that it has grown enough? You see, I realized that the influence from outside myself builds and develop my character, but my personality still remains and has done so from birth. I am not going to attempt to answer the 70% question, other than to suggest that according to me it could only come from the giver of life.

As I started thinking about Character (from the outside in) and Personality (from the inside out) I realized its importance in my work life. We so often head into a direction that feels right, or looks exciting. We end up studying in that direction and enter the work market in those fields, only to realize a year or two later that we are miserable. How did this happen? Well, I come back to my coffee filter example. Just because you made coffee, doesn't mean that it going to taste perfect. We so often mix the wrong quantities together expecting to experience a great fulfilling taste.

Just as a person has a personality, so too does a certain job. What happens to people is that they enter the world of work in a specific job and soon the person’s and job’s personalities will either gel together, or will they will clash. As I learn about the fact that personalities don’t change more than 1%, I realized that the person or job will not change in their personalities either. What normally happens is that the person will have to work very hard in their character to motivate themselves every day to endure. Every day they pray for strength, feed off the encouraging word of family and colleagues or read and repeat positive references. This only helps till 11 am.  The rest of the day becomes a drag till finally you are saved from the torture, only to go through the same routine the following day.

The real sad part is that we spend plus minus 60% of our waking time at work. If we enter the other 40% waking time with only 10 to 50% work fulfillment, it will have a negative effect on the way we spend that remaining 40% waking time. This is where most people struggle. They overdo it totally by hanging out in certain places that might not be the healthiest alternatives, or they become couch potatoes feeling sorry for themselves. This will not just affect your own life, but also those that do life with you. Your work fulfillment has a direct influence on your relationships with those closes to you as well as with those around you.

I would like to show you in next week’s blog how to get the perfect mix regarding filtering your life to taste like a perfect cup of coffee.