5 Questions to Assess Your Fear of Failure

Can questions to yourself help you overcome your fears of failure? YES…

..and the reason why is that asking your self the right questions can lead to a healthier and more productive way of thinking. A common theme you will find in people managing their careers, is that they manage the downside versus the upside of their decisions which we will discuss more fully on my next blog post.  Terri Cole – CEO, Live Fearless and Free; transformation coach and licensed therapist, shared an interesting write upon the topic of  Reframing Your Fear of Failure.

She raised a very powerful revelation:  Fear of failure has one thing in common with all of our other fears.  It is a feeling and not a fact.  Isn’t this empowering? It is saying that our biggest fears comes from what we feel will possibly happen to us in the future. We don’t fear what we experience today, because we are experiencing it. Reality always takes over from fear. Because we are there and dealing with it.

We find problems we fear are always less than what we actually experience should that fear materialize.

Terri raised 5 questions to help us better rationalize our fears, modify our thinking about a problem and actually deal with a more realistic assessment of risks.

1.  How is your fear of failure holding you back?
2. What would life be like if you did not have this fear?
3. Who are you afraid of disappointing if you fail?
4. How strong is your desire to release this fear?
5. If there were one step you could take to overcome this fear, what would it be?

Action of the Day
Go through these 5 questions. Be really honest with yourself.  Your ability to pursue your ultimate career objectives are most likely dependent on your ability to address any fears of failure you have.  I found these questions exhilarating and reinforcing my desire to manage the upside of opportunities versus the downside of risk taking.

Quote of the Day
” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”      Eleanor Roosevelt….famous first lady to President Franklin D. Roosevelt

It would be great if you could share your thoughts:  What ways to deal with fear has worked for you? 

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Managing Creativity with Harriet Tubman

I just read the most cool article in Mental_Floss magazine.  Check out the magazine sometime…interesting facts that are stimulating and out of the ordinary. The article was about Harriet Tubman, the famous lady who led slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad during the US Civil War.  She redefined leveraging creativity to achieve her goals.  It is fascinating and written by Erik Sass.


There was a bounty on Harriet for the equivalent of $1 million as she led 19 journeys freeing more than 300 slaves. This wasn’t easy as you can imagine.  The obstacles to achieve our goals for the most part pale in comparison.  She followed several approaches that are reflective of successful people today.

*  Know your terrain and where you are heading
Slave owners often kept their slaves close so they wouldn’t know their surroundings and wouldn’t know how to escape. Tubman would manage the navigation and at times on the fly leveraging dense forests, and swamps. Sometimes she would need to split the group up and provide to the group simple easy to follow advise for a meeting point.

* Know your clients and manage them effectively
The slaves were often brought to freedom as a family unit. Kids could give away their presence by crying so to address this, she always carried paragoric, an opium varient.

* Make sure everyone knew who’s in charge
Runaway slaves faced draconian punishments if they were caught so sometimes, they would change their minds and wish to return to servitude. But going back would have exposed her Underground Railroad network. So she gave them a choice facing the barrel of a gun. Die a slave or be free!!!

* Work the News Cycle, control your messaging.
Slave owners would alert bounty hunters with substantial rewards to capture runaway slaves. So Harriet would initiate her rescues on a Saturday giving her a 48 hour head start before the ads circulate in the Monday paper.

Since Harriet was engaged in activities with life/death implications, clearly some of her actions would be viewed as over the top in what most of us face in our day to day lives. But, she addressed problems through solution approaches you can use.

Action of the Day
Imagine you were rescuing your career and running yourself through the Underground Railroad. How would you prepare for this herculean task?  Pretend Harriet is right beside you ready to coach you. What would she tell you?  Are you ready to take the lead?

Quote of the Day
“Everything depends upon execution; having just a vision is no solution.”  Stephen Sondheim:  Award-winning American composer & lyricist

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Happiness – No Arms or Legs Required

As you can tell from reviewing my posts on this website, Upgrading Your Career is less about any technical abilities and more about your attitude, getting along with people and possessing a never quit philosophy.

You will just love this video on Nick Vujicic. A man born without arms and legs. But…..he has made a life for himself based not on self pity but self exploration, living life to its fullest and sharing his passion with others. Take a look.

I have experienced, like many of you, periods in my life where I felt nothing went right.   There were times when I felt very alone and lacked confidence in myself.  My career has had bumps in the road. I sometimes just did not want to look at myself in the mirror.  As Zig Ziglar would say,  I would throw myself a pity party. Have you gone through periods like this?  Nick leads by example and overcomes his struggles through sheer brute force of a positive attitude and desire to make a difference for people.  For almost all of us, our career and life could not be more challenging than what Nick has experienced. Yet Nick finds happiness. Nick finds hope. You know what….if I were an employer, I would bend over backwards to see how I can bring Nick into my company. There is a lesson there for all of us. Be inspired. Allow others to be an example for you. We all have room to grow and become a better person.

Action of the Day
Before you go to sleep tonight, sit at the edge of your bed and think about what you appreciate. Think about how Nick might handle the problems you are facing right now. How can you shift your thinking from problems waiting to happen to opportunities waiting to come forward? This is an exciting time of your life, right now. Embrace it.

Quote of the Day
“It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going.”   Brian Tracy

Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8ZuKF3dxCY  Nick’s Website: http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/

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Solving Business Problems Methodically

In our careers, we are always faced with uncertainty.

Uncertainty comes from things we cannot control. This includes the economy, how other people act/perform, and just pure fate. Successful people don’t stress out because there are uncontrollable factors in their lives. By definition, they are uncontrollable.

What we focus on are the things we can control.  Marty Zwilling from Startup Professionals, Inc. wrote a terrific blog on the 6 Tips to Max Your Business Problem Solving Skills.  You can train yourself to be a problem solver. Here are the 6 tenants:

1. Practice Active Listening  – Resist the urge to vocally jump into the fray, and listen attentively without interruption.
2. Promise Action but Manage Expectations – You know the drill….Undercommit, Overdeliver!!
3. Investigate thoroughly – Don’t assume anything…GATHER THE FACTS!!!
4. Provide Regular Updates to All – Communication is the most underrated element of problem solving but probably the most important step.
5. Make a Timely Decision – Assemble the facts, talk to all the stakeholders of a problem, then make the solution decision. Don’t delay….that’s status quo.
6. Follow up – Reconfirm your decision within hours or latest days by all who is impacted. Explain why.

Action of the Day : Review the last decision you have made (or led others in making) that impacted more than yourself. Did you follow each of the above 6 steps. If not, which one did you fail to adequately address? What happened as a result? Write down these 6 steps onto a small index card. Carry it with you for a week. Refer to it daily. You are working to modify your behavior. This typically takes a period of constant repetition until it is habit. You will find over several weeks that you have trained yourself to follow these steps intuitively whenever confronted with a significant business problem/decision you need to make.

Quote of the Day :  “Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.  ~Author Unknown

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Can Lying impact your Career?

Yahoo CEO, Scott Thompson, found himself in some hot water recently for being exposed on blemishes to his academic record.  It seems that he let stand uncorrected in corporate biographies and other official public documents that his background included college degrees in both accounting and computer science. But he reportedly only has a degree in accounting. Some of you might be thinking:

                                                                                                                                                      What’s the Big Deal? 

Why, he even publicly apologized for the controversy to the Yahoo employees per this article from the web news-zine The Inquirer titled…Yahoo CEO apologizes to staff for lying.  No harm, no foul, right?

This is a perfect example to leverage as a lesson for all of us.  In our career, we are often judged on several factors. These include results, how well we get along with people and working hard. However, all of these attributes are nothing without being viewed as a person with integrity.  Think about it.  Consider all of your friends and people you know. Put them in buckets. Those who make things happen, charismatic and a person who you know tells the truth and will not compromise their values to move ahead in life.   Very likely, you will not have someone in your top-tier category of people you most admire and respect if they lie and demonstrate weak integrity. You simply don’t trust them and you don’t let them into your inner circle.

At the time of this writing, Scott Thomas is still CEO but there are calls for his ouster. Most blemishes of truth are done with very little risk of getting caught.  I suggest to take the high road. Be honest.  If you haven’t achieved something, don’t claim it. If you have earned revenues, report it.  Life becomes much simpler. You will become that person of integrity who will be trusted to take on growing roles of responsibilities during their career by decision makers you don’t even know are out there.

The long-term benefit of having the reputation of honesty and taking the high ground will be much more valuable than any short-term benefit from claiming a result that didn’t happen.  Only you can decide which direction to go when you reach this proverbial fork in the road.

Update as of 5/12 : Scott Thomas lost his job as CEO for Yahoo due to not being truthful on his resume.

Action of the Day:  Are there any blemishes of truth you are aware you have made in the past week in order to accomplish a goal and manipulate the perception others have of you?  Write them down.  Create a list of the benefits and negatives that comes from continuing this behavior.  Is it really worth it? If you agree it is not worth it, start evaluating how you can move forward being more honest to yourself and others.

Quote of the Day:   Every time I’ve done something that doesn’t feel right, it’s ended up not being right.  ~Mario Cuomo (former governor of New York).

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Am I an Entrepreneur? It doesn’t Matter

Entrepreneurs are critical to the success of our economy by bearing the financial risks to drive innovation and value to their customers.  We salute them.


Are there shades of grey in being an Entrepreneur or is it black and white?  Can you be employed by others but still bring significant value to your company?   If your employer fails, you typically simply move on taking on the risk of lost income, not loss net worth.  However, what if you started to think like an entrepreneur where you are currently employed. Deborah Bailey wrote an interesting article to reflect this concept titled Become a Star Employee by Thinking Like an Entrepreneur.  There are several key take aways:

Your Attitude
Entrepreneurs start out with a vision of what they want to create, whether it is a product or a service. As an employee, your vision is just as important. The good news is that you have 100% control of this

Be Creative
Another trait of entrepreneurs is the ability to find creative ways to get things done. You also  have 100% control of this. Entrepreneurs must think creatively even in their sleep.  If you only do so during your waking hours, you are ahead of a majority of others.  If your employer goes out of its way to keep your creativity at bay, pick your battles.  If possible, find a new manager more responsive to new ideas. Believe it or not, they are there waiting for you!!!

Keep an Open Mind
A most important trait of entrepreneurs is the ability to learn new information and to continue to adapt.  Guess what, you have 100% control of this as well.  Many people find themselves doing the same type of responsibilities for years and get comfortable. Are you in this situation? If so, find a new set where you are more on the edge. It will reawaken your thought processes and clear your mind for new approaches and opportunities.

Thinking like an entrepreneur will ensure you will increase your value to your employer. With this brings increased opportunities, greater income potential and a life filled more with excitement.

ACTION FOR THE DAY
Imagine receiving an unexpected letter in the mail. You open it up and it declares that you are the new owner of the company you currently work for.  You have been given authority to make changes in the way your company earns revenue or manages its costs. Take a look at your roles and responsibilities in your current position.   Identify 3 ideas to accomplish your responsibilities in a faster and/or more efficient way.  How would you run your newly found company with a positive attitude, creative approach and keeping an open mind?  Who would you want to talk to in your company to implement these ideas?

Quote of the Day
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!! – Goethe


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Upgrade Your Career with Luck

Do you believe we fall into luck or create our own luck?

Let me give a scenario and you can prove to yourself the answer.

A talented lady, named Susan, desperately wants to break into acting. She goes to 100 auditions over two years for commercials, TV shows, and movie extra opportunities. No success yet. But she deep down knows this is her destiny. She works during the day on different odds/ends jobs scraping by an existence. One day, while working as a cashier at Target, in comes a man buying a DVD and white socks. Susan always treats each customer with a smile. Susan packages his purchases with style and wishes him a great day. He walks five steps, turns around, and shares that he is directing a new action television series. She has the look he has been looking for. He hires her and asks if she can start next Monday.

Is this luck or did she create her own luck? If you are a person with a glass half empty view of life, you might view this as pure luck. Clearly this director came out of the blue. How could you predict this would happen? If you are a person who views life with the glass half full, you would view this as Susan creating her own luck.

As you can imagine, I believe Susan created her own luck. She put herself out there for several years. Through her challenges, she refined her skill, and transformed herself mentally as an actress. She believed in herself. This faith in herself came across in everyone she met. It was only a matter of time that she would be “discovered”. Before this discovery, she just wasn’t ready yet. The auditions were a critical part of her development. She didn’t realize this till after going through those challenges.

Actions of the Day
What career or educational goals have you been pursuing that have seemingly alluded you? Have you been putting yourself out there giving it your all? If so, consider the possibility that the issue is not “if” but “when” you will succeed. There is a famous comment from Thomas Edison, the master American Inventor, where in discovering the light bulb, he never failed. He just found 10,000 ways that won’t work before succeeding. Never give up. Create your own luck!!

Quote of the Day
“Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison, American Inventor

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Do you need a Jolt of Inspiration?

Have you ever felt like you are hitting your head against the proverbial wall?  I have many times. There were my early days in Middle School where I ackwardly tried to fit into the social scene(it wasn’t pretty).

I hit my head on those first jobs where I was still discovering what career path I want to pursue. There were the latter years where my passion at times exceeded levels some people are comfortable with.  As I pursued more and more exciting things, my head hit the wall all too frequently. You know what, it is a good thing. It means I am pushing myself beyond the comfort zone of the status quo. I bet you have experienced the same thing.

I recently searched for a short video that can very simply serve as a catalyst to inspire positive thoughts. Why? Because to Upgrade your Career and your life, you need to be continuously inspired. You get to ultimately learn to inspire yourself. This is a pretty cool objective.

I discovered a “results” expert, author and consultant named John Von Achen. I have no ties to John, haven’t met him or interacted with him as of this writing. There is a short/sweet slideware YouTube he made available(approx. 3 minutes) that you will enjoy and can turn to for a quick dose of inspiration anytime. I sure will.

The beauty of this is that it isn’t rocket science. Your thoughts are a muscle. Work them, feed them and manage your thoughts through positive repetition. Please feel free to visit John’s website.

Actions of the Day: Count how many times over the next 12 waking hours you find yourself facing negative thoughts that create doubt in yourself. Of those negative thought experiences, how long did they last in average? If you find yourself spending a significant amount of time focused on doubts, fears and feelings of temporary helplessness, then make a commitment to invest time to build your control of thoughts. This could be one of the most constructive decisions you make. Many people find career development to not be meaningful if plagued by negative thinking. One way to do this is have available short inspirational reading/video material whenever negative thoughts set in.

Quote of the Day: “If you don’t see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner.”
— Zig Ziglar: Motivational author and speaker

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People Networking – How to Get Started

At all times of your career, your most valued assets will be your Network.   Networking is a commonly referenced to mean developing and maintaining contacts and personal connections with a variety of people who might be helpful to you and your career. This topic will be an exciting venture of focus.

We will be focusing on this very important career skill and I will share some valuable fundamentals and helpful tools to take you to the next level from where you are. According to a very good blog posted by blog.Jobfully.com on “How to Create a Network”, there is one place to turn to for fundamentally creating your network.

Start Close to Home
You do not need to initiate your efforts by cold calling people who don’t know you or start raking through LinkedIn to find new people to link up with to get to know…That can be both time consuming, inefficient and to say the least, downright intimidating.

I remember a time during my 20s when I was sure that I wanted to focus on the “aging industry” aka supporting those 65+.   I wanted to meet people familiar with the topic.   So I picked the name of the best selling author of a book on Aging during the 1980s and wrote him a letter asking for a chance to meet him and discuss the topic.   If you are familiar with the phrase “Six Degrees of Separation”, I was more like trying to go from ten degrees to one in a single dramatic step. And I was not offering to help him, but rather to get his help(I have learned better since).  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for dramatic steps, but there was high probability of failing on my first attempt. And fail i did….I should have started more methodically to build my network on the “aging” topic  and “started close to home”.

A more effective route to pursue is the following order of priority to find people to meet:

*       Family members
*       Friends
*       Co workers
*       Organizations you belong to (Religious, Interest Groups, Political affiliations)
*       LinkedIn and Facebook Connections

Either you know people linked to the topic you wish to learn more about or they know someone. You have so much to offer others that you might be overlooking….A different perspective…a fresh face who wants to learn something new…you are a potential helper/mentor to others on the topics you know well and understand…..Never sell yourself short….You have so much to give…and it is through this giving that you will ultimately develop a very valuable People Network to help you on your life’s journey.

Action of the Day:   If you haven’t already, establish a personal journal to capture your journey of improvement. It is so valuable to track your progress and issues on a daily basis to learn from your experiences.   Write down the top 5 people you consider to be part of your network.   Jot down what is important to them in their lives and career and what you do on a regular basis to help them make progress towards their goals. If you do not know what is important to them, schedule time and find out. Try to figure out how you can help and start taking steps to do so.  Always start from the point of view of giving….you will feel better as a person and find that mysteriously, you will receive  back 10X more than what you give…Networking is not about taking…it is about giving…

Quote of the Day:  “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.     Zig Ziglar, famous leadership and personal motivation expert.

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Make A Dream Come True – No College Degree Required

My first year of blogging will touch on various skills to manage not only your career but your life. The fundamental skill to address first is controlling your thoughts and letting your passion/energy outweight the naysayer inside of you. You need to be your biggest FAN.  If you do, nothing can stop you.

Here is an awesome story of two Canadian teenage boys who made the declaration of putting a man into space…ok..a LEGO man…but they did it…and they didn’t accept perceived limitations…lack of education..lack of money….See the article from the Toronto Star.

What can we learn from this?

* It doesn’t matter where you have been, you can make things happen no matter what people tell you

* Lack of education, lack of connections, lack of money are not show stoppers…you can do it!!

* Believe it or not, there are things you are doing today, that are inspiring others..You just don’t know it.

* Building your own self-confidence comes from taking risks and living your passion..one day at a time

* Let yourself feel inspired by others…if they can do it…you can do it.

Action: Pretend you are a teenager, if you are not so today.  Everything is possible and you ignore people who tell you otherwise. What two things would you do that would be inspiring and lift your spirits? Can you find a way to make it happen? If you can, you will feel higher than the Lego Man in Space!!!

Quote of the Day:   “Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you will die today”….James Dean

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