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Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Overcoming My Fear of Failure

Posted by Vivian Wong on January 20, 2010

Fear of failure has always been a part of my life. 2009 Q2 018

I was eleven years old when I first moved to Australia. By the time I finally allowed myself to speak English, I was almost twelve.

I remember mumbling “How do you do?” to our neighbor Harry one day and he was completely taken back. You see, Harry was teaching us English for over six months and had never heard me speak. (I used to mime so no one could hear how horrible my  pronunciations were.)

Growing up in a family of over-achievers, I set my own expectations so high that I was always truly petrified of failing. When I faced with a challenge, I can successfully talk myself out of it by asking: “What if I am not good enough?”

The worst case scenario is not to even give it your best shot. I have learned to set the right level of MY expectations while I was studying Computing Science: I excelled at subjects like “Project Management” and “Simulation and Modeling”; I was mediocre at Financial Accounting but I was at peace with myself. I realized that it is OK to be average on “some” things. I didn’t want to be an accountant anyway.

The key to overcoming fears for me is to give myself the PERMISSION to do it. (The fear may not go away, but I am not going to let it take control.)

In 2010, I am totally ditching the “What if I am not good enough?” question. After all, there ARE upsides to failures in life.

I am going to focus my energy on becoming a prolific blogger. The fear of writing a blog that suck may not go away, but I am going to stop playing safe and give myself permission to just write, even if some of them will be  bad ones. (Tip: if you get bored with my blogs, you can easily navigate to my favorite bloggers such as MegMark, Amy, Dan, Jason and many more listed on our blogroll.)

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. – Theodore Roosevelt

May you be blessed with the strength to succeed!

Posted in goals, learning, personal, risk, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 9 Comments »

A thought about role models

Posted by Meg Bear on September 24, 2009

3805440296_090547b368Lately I’ve been thinking about the fact I need more role models in my life.  Ironically, we don’t seem to talk about role models for adults, we think they are only useful for children.

I am guessing that this is a bit of a cultural bias, based upon the assumption that when we are adults we are fully formed into who are will be for the rest of our lives.  So first, we need to re-frame that world view a bit.

Like most people I see myself as evolving and growing.  Both in my job and in my life.

As I grow, I find that observing others who do what I want to do (and do it well) is a great way to pick up techniques and skills.  I do not need these people to be my mentor (in many cases I might not even need them to know I see them as a role model) I just need to be in situations where I can watch and observe.

When my oldest daughter was two and a half (and not yet in school or having a younger sister) she used to model others openly.  Once, when she was with the nanny at the grocery, she saw a little girl with her mom and said “hey, there’s a little girl, let’s follow her!”.

So if you happen to notice me following you at the grocery*, you just might be someone I am trying to use as a role model.  Just stay calm and feel confident, that you are probably someone I find inspiring and hope to become someday.  And if you happen to notice someone who is wildly successful and showing great polish in their personal presence send along their name so I can track down where they shop.

__________________________________________

*Editors note: the Meg in a grocery is pure fiction, I haven’t been regularly in a grocery for years.

Posted in Career Development, competency, learning, personal, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Smiling more

Posted by Meg Bear on July 2, 2009

2895535441_705de327da_mI am coming up on the one year anniversary of a personal goal to smile more.  This specific goal came from some coaching I received that suggested I should.

Well, to be more clear, I got this feedback years ago from my husband, but of course, I ignored it, as often happens, with personal feedback from family members. 

To be fair, his suggestion was don’t frown so much, which somehow sounded critical where the coach said, you have a great smile, you should smile more which somehow sounded enlightening.  Note to self — coaching works better with positive spin.

In general, I’m a pretty happy person, so it was a bit of a shock to hear that I do so much frowning.  The truth is, I’m in my head a lot and when I do that my facial expression is a bit dour.  The other bi-product of being in my head, is that I walk around a lot not noticing people around me.   

For the last year, I have focused on two primary things — looking people in the eye and smiling at them. 

Today, I noticed that people regularly smile at me unprompted.  It really was a great feeling to know that people naturally expected I would smile at them and occasionally beat me to it.  

I decided to congratulate myself on this publicly, to give others a chance to consider if they might be perceived better by trying to smile more.

One interesting benefit, is that when you make a conscious decision to smile, you often tip the scales from a normal day to a happy one, and since happiness is contagious there is a follow on effect that benefits everyone.  So you see I really wasn’t taking this goal on for me, I was doing it for you

Now how is that for positive spin?

Posted in Career Development, personal, Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

A dose of truth – what does your non-verbal language say about you?

Posted by Vivian Wong on June 10, 2009

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No... This is not the blog author

I took a personal development class last night as part of my ongoing effort to upgrade myself.

The instructor got us to do a fun exercise to get to know each other, and more importantly, ourselves.

The first part of the exercise was for each student to stand in front of the class and do a quick self-introduction. Piece of cake.

The second part of the exercise was way more fun. Each of us had to stand in front of the class again, and tell the class what first impressions we think we had left on others, and then we had to stand there and hear the brutal and honest truth from everyone in the class. (We were not allowed to justify ourselves or argue with the feedback – we just had to listen.)

Words that were used to describe individuals were: confident, attractive, engaging, arrogant, shy, fun, funny, sweet, friendly, aggressive, smart, nice, professional, comfortable, stylish, good looking, snobbish, present (live-in-the-moment), pretty, open, carefree, fashionable, self-conscious, nervous, well dressed, nerdy, honest and… bitchy.

Impressions were clearly formed by examining a speaker’s overall appearance and non-verbal language that includes style, expression, physical attributes in addition to hearing what the speaker had to say.

When it was my turn to stand up in front of 15 new faces, I was nervous and hoped that they’d use words like open and friendly.

I got way more than I had bargained for: friendly, confident, smiles a lot, smart, mature, interesting accent, stylish, accomplished, driven etc. (Boss, I think these guys need to be included in my next 360 review 😉 ).  My head started to swell until someone said: “You remind me of my aunt!” (I sure hope her aunt isn’t too mean or too old for what it’s worth.)

It turns out that the first impression I left on my fellow classmates was NOT based on my self-introduction in front of the class – it was mostly formed when others saw me walking into the lobby to talk with the receptionist (as it turns out, she was actually our instructor).

The first impression is often long lasting and you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. The first impression isn’t always formed when you stand in front of your audience, it happens much earlier than that.

So… what impressions do you THINK you leave on your interviewers, interviewees, employees, managers, colleagues, employers, customers, suppliers, friends and strangers?

What impressions do you WANT to leave on people?

Is there a difference? If so, can you or would you do something about it?

Posted in Career Development, communication, leadership, personal, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Authenticity is the new black

Posted by Meg Bear on May 14, 2009

2683142961_651dfd7926_mI tweeted this the other day, as one of those random things you think to yourself, and somehow end up writing down.  It’s possible this is just my own personal way of responding to the voices in my head.   Don’t judge.

At the time, I was thinking specifically about leadership.  How, as a leader, the more you try to hide from your team, the dumber you look, since they already know what’s wrong with you (probably better than you do). 

Your team doesn’t need you to be without flaws, but they do need you to be a good leader.  I believe that you cannot be a great leader without authenticity

This does not mean that you need to be without privacy.   Sharing  personal information is not authenticity, it’s a personality trait.  In fact, being authentic requires you to establish boundaries that are in line with your personality.

Without authenticity there is no trust and without trust you do not have a high functioning teamAuthentic leaders build trust because they can acknowledge when they have gotten off course.  That helps the team correct and sets the example for collaboration.

When you find yourself wanting to hide behind a facade, remember authenticity is the new black and those who lead with authenticity will ultimately be the most successful.

Posted in leadership, personal, teams, top talent | 5 Comments »

Are you tough enough? Am I?

Posted by Meg Bear on May 12, 2009

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I attended an excellent conference last week from the Professional BusinessWomen of California.  As with all good conferences, I found myself both challenged and inspired across personal and professional dimensions. 

My moment of introspection, was around the concept that it is often the simple things that hold us back

I found myself wondering if I am really as tough as I think I am.   Tough enough to succeed? 

Not just tough enough to hold up under a lot of stress, or tough enough to meet the demands of the role, against the odds.  Sure, against that yardstick, sometimes I win and sometimes I lose but, in general, I pick myself up and try again when that becomes necessary.   

At this conference, I was presented with two questions that I had to stop and think before I answered (never a good sign frankly).

  1. Am I tough enough to ask for what I want?  Am I brave enough to put what I need out there clearly and directly?  Of course, in asking, I have to be willing to be told no.  But without ever asking isn’t the answer also no?  Seems that we are often bad at math when it comes to this idea doesn’t it?
  2. Am I tough enough to receive a compliment?  Oh my, this one is even more complex.  Why is it we think it more polite to brush off a compliment than to acknowledge it?  “It was nothing” seems to come out before we even hear the compliment, or worse we attempt to change the subject.   Why do we miss the opportunity to say “Thank you, we worked very hard on that” when someone recognizes a job well done. 

I honestly am not sure I am tough enough for this.  Getting the courage to ask for what I want for myself and my team is tough.  Especially if it is something that challenges the way things are currently done.  But I do think, that the act of not asking and the act of not acknowledging compliments, get in the way of progress (both personally and professionally) so I realize I must learn.

Which leads me to my next big topic, and that is authenticity.  I’m still working out my thoughts on that one but I do believe that there is a correlation between authenticity and effectiveness that should not be underestimated. 

I am very interested in your thoughts on these topics.  Hit me in the comments and share your tricks to being more authentic and effective.  How have you learned to ask for what you want and what has been the result?

Posted in Career Development, communication, leadership, performance, personal, top talent, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Confessions of a paranoid, antisocial, perfectionist blogger

Posted by Ken Klaus on January 19, 2009

fear-turtle1

Perfectionist – one who has a propensity for being displeased with anything that is not perfect or does not meet an extremely high standard.

 

Paranoia – extreme, irrational distrust of others.

 

Antisocial – unwilling or unable to associate normally with other people.

 

I have yet to fully embrace the mainstream social networking revolution.  By mainstream I mean the average individual who blogs for work, to earn a living, or just for the simple pleasure of writing.  I do not mean the people who share every moment of their lives through word and picture.  Frankly, you people scare me.  Many of my colleagues have already jumped into the deep end of this pool where they gently and persistently call to me: ‘Come on in, the water’s fine’.  For a time I took comfort, and not a little snarky pleasure, with others who embraced the antisocial lifestyle, like Kathi.  But as I’ve watched our numbers diminish over the past year – even Kathi now has a Facebook page – I wondered why I was still so hesitant to dive-in and join the fun.

 

The truth is I very much want to be all in – a fully vested and contributing member of our virtual community; but I’m afraid and my natural response to fear is to move away from and not toward other people.  Now I don’t think my paranoia and antisocial tendencies are engrained personality flaws – though I have my fair share of these as well – rather I’ve come to see them as a by-product of the perfectionist rooted to the core of my being.  And believe me when I say this is way more than a mere tendency.  It’s part of my DNA.  This means that no matter how trivial the task I almost always create an unreasonably high set of standards and as a consequence end up feeling disappointed and ashamed when I fail to measure up.  So when I post a blog or a comment and later find a typo or misspelled word I feel every bit as bad about myself as when I make a mess of a relationship or fall short of my performance goals at work.  With perfectionism there is no sense of proportionality – every failure, real or perceived, leads to the same crushing sense of defeat.  That’s when the paranoia begins to seep into my consciousness – “they’re laughing at you” – which then leads to antisocial behaviors like lurking.

 

Rationally I understand that I am mostly successful at the things I do and that generally I am a competent employee, friend, and blogger.  But I also understand that I cannot simply get over being a perfectionist.  I have to learn to live with it and accept that I am going to make mistakes.  This won’t be easy, but I’m committed to doing better and commitment requires a plan – and a good plan needs a set of goals.  So to that end I’m setting the following goals for myself:

 

1.   I will not give in to fear or isolation.  Solitude is okay, monasticism is not. 

2.    I will participate, not just lurk, in our online community. 

3.    I will create a Facebook account.  Understanding that I may have to spend a few weeks chanting my first goal before I’m actually ready to do this.

4.    I will not feel bad, anguish, or obsess over the small mistakes that are simply a part of being human, like typos, spelling errors, grammatical gaffes, forgetting to buy half-and-half, misplacing my keys, or counting that box of Raisinets as part or all of my five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

 

It’s an exciting time to be working in talent management and the wonderful, quirky, sometimes scary, world of social networking holds almost endless possibilities.  So to all the other paranoid, antisocial, perfectionists lurking in the shadows, I too say, “Come on in and join the conversation, the water and the people are exceptionally fine.”

 

Peace

 

Posted in community, personal, social network | Tagged: , , | 12 Comments »

The silver lining, A RIF story

Posted by Meg Bear on December 15, 2008

silverlining Another addition of my apparent series entitled “tales of Meg’s wacky career in tech“.   This is the story of the first Reduction in Force (RIF) I got to see up close and personal.  The whole process of this RIF really changed me. 

For my first job I worked for a small start-up ERP software company that was growing rapidly on the initial client/server wave.  This company was all the good things about a start-up, friendly people, shared vision, enthusiastic workforce, an excellent place to start a career.   We were always having trouble hiring enough people to meet the demand of our sales, I had seen nothing but growth in the three years I had been there.  And then one day things changed.  We hit a technology wall that slowed sales.  As an entry level employee, I had no idea that trouble was coming. 

I found out about the RIF about a week before anyone else, as my [now] husband was responsible for helping to compile “the list”.  This was beyond awkward for me, since I knew some names but not all and most were my friends.  I also knew that the list was being made with very scarce information as to who knew what.  I was outraged.  I was horrified.  I was terrified.  I felt personally guilty wondering if I should just quit myself. 

On the big day, as I found out the extent of the list, I considered the whole thing terribly unjust.  Living in a relatively small town I knew this was going to have huge impacts as people would have to move away to find comparable work.

I am actually grateful to have had this RIF early in my career, as I learned so much as a result.  It took away my innocence, but it also caused me to wake up and realize how things work.  At the end of the day, I was employed to serve a function for the business, as long as the service I provided was seen as a value, I would continue to have a job.  If business conditions were to change such that they had to re-evaluate my value, they would not think twice to do that.   No one, no matter how great, is going to be worth sacrificing the company to keep.

I learned that it was my responsibility to understand the business.  It is never enough to focus only on my own tasks, I needed to make sure that I was seen as someone adding value overall.    I had to take seriously where I fit in the organization and how my company was impacted by the larger economic factors at play.  Never again did I trust my entire career blindly on the business judgement of a senior leader.  I learned to chose my participation (and length of service) in companies, based upon the results of the business.

In the end, I also found out something I would have never guessed at the time.  Every person who was let go landed on their feet.  They moved on, they got different jobs, the RIF became a story in their professional career but it did not define them

Over the course of the next year, my professional network grew from a single company to hundreds of companies as all my former colleagues found new jobs.  I am not suggesting that a RIF doesn’t suck, it does.  But good things can result from them as well, especially if you use the experience as an opportunity for your own growth.

Posted in Career Development, goals, management, personal | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Motivation

Posted by Namita Panigrahi on December 3, 2008

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Recently over a weekend, my laptop got virus infected. Frustrated me, filed a bug. Someone closed the bug asking me to file a different kind of ticket instead. It was very frustrating already. Since it was urgent, I decided to just go to the IT group directly to try my luck.

Then there, I found this gentleman buried within a bunch of laptops, hard drives, cables etc., busy doing his work. He immediately agreed to look at my laptop and asked me to come back later.

Thank God!! By noon next day, I got my laptop and things were all fine. I thanked him and came back. Later I realized, some of my data and my saved emails in local copy were gone. I surely needed those. Upon reaching him for help, he again started working on fixing the issues and spent hours to get it resolved. He went out of his way and helped me get everything restored and configured properly.

It’s always a pleasure to see such committed and considerate people around.

I am thinking what keeps him so motivated and committed for his job? It could be that he is passionate about the type of his work that he does everyday or his work culture or his personality or the perks he gets or the encouragements from his manager or the feeling that he has helped someone !

I don’t know what it is, but I surely sent a note to him and his manager expressing my gratitude for all his help. He surely deserves that !

Posted in personal | 3 Comments »

Tales of an acquired employee

Posted by Meg Bear on November 26, 2008

rws It occurred to me yesterday, that in the months to come, many people who do not find themselves rightsized will find themselves acquired into a new company.  Having had the privilege of experiencing this myself, I thought I would give the benefit of hindsight view.

When we were first acquired into Oracle, there was more drama than a high school prom.  From DHL verifying if you had a job (or not) to senior executives crying on the phone telling you how they had failed.  Even those of us who believed we had skills to contribute were left to wonder how exactly it was going to work out.  What was going to happen to our products? our teams? our roles? 

Acquisition is an interesting situation where you find yourself part of a volume discount purchase.  When you apply for a job, you get a sense that they want you.  When you are acquired, you find yourself happy that they had your home address. 

You also are experiencing this change with a large group, resulting in mass speculation and lots of rumors.  My general advice is to give it time and don’t believe every scary rumor you hear.  Anything you worry about at the beginning is probably the wrong thing anyway.  Do your best to not sweat the small stuff and to be flexible to new ideas

Most importantly I would recommend you remember that you have a new job, it is not a continuation of your old job with new a new logo on the paycheck.  Just as you did when you started working for your current company, you need to attempt to introduce yourself often, listen a lot and learn the language of the group.  Like any new job, you need to give yourself (and others) some time to get oriented.  If you take the attitude that your job is new, your expectations are better set.  You find yourself pleasantly surprised when something works as you are used to (vs. annoyed to find it different).  You find yourself happy to have your vacation accrual continue from your initial start date (vs. annoyed to find the vacation policy different) and so on.  With a new job you expect that you are the one who will have to change

Sure, you didn’t ask for this new job, but at the same time you managed to get it without having to actually interview, so you have that going for you (which is nice).  Acquisition is scary for us because we have so little control.  Having confidence in your abilities and taking the time to find out how you can best contribute to the new objectives of the combined company, will help you focus on things you can impact and hopefully help you to quit stressing about the things you cannot.

Change is good for you.  It is good for your skills, it is good for your network, it is good for your soul.  Use the change to your best advantage and give it time for your plan to yield fruit.  If you can manage to stay focused on going forward and not spend your time looking back, you will find the transition will be a lot easier.

Looking back at my own experience, I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to join Oracle.  I have crafted my ideal job, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I have met amazing new people and I’ve learned a lot of new skills.  As a personal kicker I have also managed to shorten my commute. 

I am hopeful that the changes others experience in their own employment is full of similar opportunities.  A lot is about mindset.  Be open for change and patient that it will take time and you will be fine.

Posted in personal | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »