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Lead

How to Lead For Yourself in Uncertain Times

Surveys show that this generation is feeling uncertain and insecure. They are earning less and are more reluctant to job-hop compared with 40 years ago. Yet, they want their job to be meaningful and to feel empowered. Uncertainty is a given in the world of work from Brexit to the fear of job automation. The rapidly changing political, economic, and technological environments exacerbate things. Young professionals can face frustration during their early career to implement and ensure people hear their voice. Poor managers are still a reason why people leave, especially in strongly hierarchical organisations. How can you lead for yourself despite these conflicting pressures?

Control what you can

Don’t bash your head against a brick wall. New systems and processes will get introduced in your organisation that you may not agree with. Last week’s  plan will sometimes get changed the following week. So, identify where you have some control. The first place to look is within yourself. What is your current attitude to the issue in front of you? Challenge your default position and look at it from another viewpoint or step into someone else’s shoes. Is this a battle worth fighting or will it deplete your energy too much so you get distracted and your performance and wellbeing suffer? What and who are within your sphere of influence? For example, a conversation with a relevant decision-maker or sharing your concerns with a trusted mentor.

Engage more widely

Get out and talk to people beyond your immediate area if you don’t feel included or can’t see what’s happening. It’s easy to hide behind the concern of bothering busy people. However, test your assumptions. You will change perceptions of you through being curious and showing interest. Some people will ignore you and others will be more open. But then you will know the warm relationships to nurture. One way is to offer help and support to relieve other people’s stressful jobs.

Be assertive

Young people aspire to become leaders but it’s currently the luck of the draw whether they get the necessary chances to learn how. Anne Francke, Chief Executive, Chartered Management Institute

A lack of confidence from uncertainty and insecurity may inhibit you from taking the initiative. The dangers are showing your dissatisfaction implicitly (passive-aggressive) or overtly without skill (aggressive). Be assertive – where you state your needs clearly and calmly (and why) AND seek to satisfy the needs of the other person. Lead for yourself – where you do the right thing and make something happen that wouldn’t occur without your initiative.

One way to take control, engage and be assertive is through continuous personal and professional development. Check out my online school, Career Navigating for Young Professionals, today and lead for yourself.

New Graduate

New Graduate: How Confident and Competent Are You Feeling?

The hard work of completing your degree is coming to an end. You may be feeling a mix of pride and relief. The summer beckons and new adventures in your life are about to begin. At some point, you will make a decision about the next step. For some, it’s a holiday and basking in your new title: Graduate. For others, it’s getting on with finding a job and exploring career options more intensely than ever before. How confident and competent are you feeling about your employability as a new graduate? Where might your attention focus to develop your employability at this stage?

The words employment and employability are often used in the same breath without distinction. Yet, one is part of the other. To clarify, employment is about getting a specific job. Whereas employability is lifelong learning to stay employable. That means you have what it takes now AND what it takes to adapt to changing circumstances. It’s having the knowledge, skills, behaviours, attributes and mindsets or attitudes to be successful in employment and life.

What employers seek

There are a set of generic mindsets and soft skills that you can develop to ensure you are employable now and New Graduatethroughout your working life. We may not know what jobs will exist in 3, 5 or 10 years’ time. However, these capabilities are transferable and will help you succeed whatever the job landscape. They can be grouped into broad categories such as:

  • Self-awareness about what makes you tick – so you know your unique advantages and can put your value as a new graduate across to employers (and then deploy them in the job)
  • Managing yourself – so you put your best self across to employers (and be at your best more often at work)
  • Awareness of how other people tick – so you can adapt and tap into their unique advantages (in the job hunt and at work)
  • Ensuring effective relationships – so you find common ground, build mutual respect, and enhance your likeability (in the job hunt and at work)

Your Employability Dashboard

So, how do you know how well you’re doing against the capabilities employers seek?

Just like a car, a dashboard helps you to navigate. What speed are you doing? Do you need to slow down or speed up? Is it time for a check-up for smoother running? What do you do when a warning light flashes amber or red? Obviously, the dashboard won’t do the driving for you (although driverless cars are on their way, lol), but it will help you stay on track in pursuit of your goals.

I’ve created an employability dashboard for you to assess your confidence and competence as a new graduate against 12 common capabilities most employers want. Each has a set of mindsets, soft skills, and behaviours. You can draw upon three main sources of evidence for your capabilities as you graduate:

  1. Education experience – course activities, projects, extra-curricular activities like societies and clubs.
  2. Work experience – term-time and holiday jobs, placements, internships, volunteering etc.
  3. Personal experience – interests like sports, writing, gaming etc; achievements like running a marathon, music grades, winning an award or reaching a fundraising target; travel and exploring other cultures abroad.

Sign up for my FREE bite-size online course above and download your Employability Dashboard template. Completing it gives you a snapshot of where you are now as a new graduate transitioning to a young professional. You will have a baseline to chart your progress. Just by knowing your strengths and development priorities gives you focus and a starting point.

What soft skills, mindsets, and behaviours do you want to develop further? 

Finding career

Expert Interview Series: How to Find Careers After College

This week’s post is an interview with me by Vocate as part of their expert interview series. Click here to read the interview.

Vocate is a rather cool US-based company that describes itself as being “the technological evolution of the university career center.” And it’s entirely free.

Expert InterviewWe believe that the job highway works but the on-ramps are broken – students are unable to find the best opportunities for them and employers are often unable to connect meaningfully with students. We are using technology to fix this problem and scale it nationwide, so every student has access to great opportunities and every employer has access to great humans. Vocate website.

What’s the interview about?

The expert interview focuses on my responses to these 8 questions:

  • Tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you decide to start a career coaching and education service?
  • How is the path from college to employment changing when compared to previous generations?
  • What do you see is the biggest challenge for most young adults who are trying to transition from college to working life?Expert Interview
  • If a young adult says to you, “I’ve just graduated from college and I still don’t know what kind of work I want to do,” how might you respond?
  • Finish this sentence: “The most common (hidden?) hindrance that tends to keep college graduates from being employable is…”
  • In your opinion, what do new college graduates place too much emphasis on when trying to find that all-important first job?
  • What are some of the “hidden talents” that you frequently see in young adults that they often don’t know they have?
  • Once someone lands that first job after graduating, what are some steps that he or she can take to become a valued employee and colleague?

Vocate’s purpose is to unleash your potential. It fits perfectly with my approach to coaching. That’s helping you to help yourself so you can be at your best more of the time and the philosophy underpinning my online school, Career Navigating for Young Professionals. The bite-size, multi-media courses take a coaching and mentoring approach to give you control of when, where, and how you like to learn. Check out more information here to see if it’s for you.

What helps and hindrances do you face finding careers after college? 

perception

Uncertain Times: How To Create Your Own Certainties

In an article about his book, Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently, Beau Lotto gives an analogy about being uncertain that resonates with me. Why is it we can walk through a forest in the daytime, enjoying the beauty of our surroundings using our senses, being mindful and connecting to the environment? Yet, if we take the same walk in the middle of the night, we can imagine all sorts of terrors, experience anxieties, and fear the unknown because we can’t see what is out there. It’s still the same forest.

Uncertainty can feel like that and most of us hate it. No surprise then that being uncertain can feel more like exploring in the dark when searching for a job or career, hanging on to an unfulfilling one or changing direction. What helps to enlighten our experience?

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challeged to change ourselves. Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor

The shelf-life of what you know and what you can do today is getting shorter. The way things have been done in the past won’t be fit for the future. Consequently, the faster the changes that affect you, the faster you have to learn, unlearn or relearn. Living with uncertainty and ambiguity is becoming a core mind and skill set. You can choose to do nothing and the world changes around you. Alternatively, you can embrace what is within your control to forge the life you want to lead.

Skills for uncertain times

Here’s an insightful and uplifting video outlining 5 increasingly helpful skills that will light up your forest even in the dark:

The illusion of certainty

Beware the illusion of certainty. We tell ourselves all kind of career myth stories for self-protection. We fear the truth will hurt if the wall we build to protect ourselves comes crumbling down. Those walls can be personal myths about what you can and can’t do, what you are willing or unwilling to do. Many have faulty assumptions. Do any of these ring bells with you?

  • Other people are better than me. I am not good enough.
  • I’m too old and out of date or too young and inexperienced.
  • There are no jobs for people like me.
  • I can’t change or learn something new because…

What would be your own truths if you replaced them with what you really know to be true? How would you feel then? Make your own judgements and create your own truths to liberate yourself and create your own certainties.

Are you excited, daunted or both by the possibilities and challenges in uncertain times?

Subscribe to my free online bite-size course to get personal strategies for surviving and thriving in the changing world of work!

question mark

Culture Fit: How To Turn The Tables With This One Question

Finding the right job for you is a two-way interaction with an employer. It can sometimes feel like the dice are loaded in favour of the employer, leaving a job seeker on the backfoot desperately trying to say and do the right thing to land the job. However, with dissatisfaction in the workplace rife, job seekers are becoming more discerning. Research by the Association of Graduate Recruiters shows that one reason for unfilled posts is candidates reneging on offers. Ensuring the employer is a good culture fit is one way of making the right decision for you. What questions can you ask to help you decide?

A personal story

There will be moments in your life when what is important to you becomes crystal clear. For example, I once had two job offers at the same time. How did I decide which one to take? What clues to a good culture fit could I generate from my questions?

The first one was an internal audit role involving fixed hours, mainly office-based and travel only within the local region. The other job was a consultancy role involving varied hours and extensive time away from home. I had three children under 10 years old at the time. The first job was more stable, predictable and safe. The second job was more varied, exciting and riskier. Both paid the same salary.

Following an initial interview and assessment centre, I found myself at a second interview for the consultancy role.culture fit Right at the end, I asked the interview panel what was the best thing about working there and what was the worst. Someone replied, rather too honestly, “I love the stimulating and varied work, but I haven’t always been there to see my children grow up”.

I turned down the consultancy job and took the internal audit role to put my family before career. Or so I thought because the story has a twist in the tale. Within a couple of days in the audit job I knew I had made a mistake. It was not as sold to me and it was going to be dull. This was not a good culture fit. I took a risk and went back to the consultancy to see if they still wanted me. Fortunately, they did!

Use your head, heart, and guts

Both family and career are important to me. My head told me to take the audit job, whereas my heart wanted the consultancy job. My guts told me to change my mind and take the consultancy job. Then I used my head to make it work with my family and employer through compromise and negotiation, and I spent the next 11 years as a people and organisational development consultant. Testing my personal values helped to guide my decision-making and ensure a better cultural fit.

Culture fit and your values

Your personal values guide your behaviour, like a moral compass. They are what’s really important to you and thatculture fit you feel strongly about. They help you to decide whether to go in one direction or another, to make difficult choices and to manage competing interests. Values are part of your personal identity, along with your inclinations and temperament. They often feel instinctive. Also, personal values tend to be stable over time but can change priority at different stages of your life.

Job and career navigating

Knowing your core values helps predict how you will respond in certain situations, such as in a job interview or within a company or particular work culture. It helps you decide whether this is the kind of employer and work environment that matches what is genuinely important to you and enable you to be at your best.

Turn the tables

What response do my coaching clients and workshop participants get when they ask the questions on the best and worst things about working here? They say it throws interviewers off balance. Interviewers tend to expect factual questions seeking information or clarification. This can result in an off-guarded response giving you a more revealing picture. It also leaves a good impression, showing your initiative and assertiveness, as most interviewers have never been asked that before by candidates. Here are 50 more brilliant questions to choose from! And you can always search Glassdoor for insider views of the culture as part of your research. Here are their 7 questions about culture fit.

Try some and let me know what happens!

If you like what you read here, check out my new online school, Career Navigating for Young Professionals.

value

Value Blockers: Are You Failing to Shine with Employers?

We all know what it feels like immediately after a job interview. The nagging doubts start to creep in even when you think you’ve done well. Why did I say that? I forgot to talk about that! Maybe I misunderstood that question. Faced with the chance to score a goal, sometimes we miskick or shoot wide! What gets in the way of being our best and showing our true value to an employer?

Surveys say consistently that employers feel most young people are not work-ready. Job applicants often struggle to shine at job interviews because their mindset, skills and behaviours are lacking on the day. For example, fear of failure, poor communication, and irrelevant answers to questions. Maybe you are work-ready and the recruitment process doesn’t bring the best out of you. Maybe there is simply a mismatch of expectations – what you expect of yourself and what others expect of you. Or maybe you don’t know how to show your value.

5 value blockers

Here are some common barriers that can prevent you from showing your true worth to an employer at a job interview:

Self-awareness

I don’t recognise my value. I’m not clear about my talents, strengths and achievements to date. I don’t know what I am good at that would interest this employer.

Self-belief

I don’t value my experiences and what I’ve achieved to date. Why would an employer want to know about ‘X’? My experiences don’t seem very interesting. I am not worthy, don’t believe in myself, and struggle to talk with pride and confidence. Other people do not value me currently or have not valued me in the past.

Research and preparation

I don’t know what this employer values, what my worth is to the employer, and if I match up. I haven’t done enough research and feel ill-prepared.

Self-development

I haven’t enhanced my value by developing or improving myself recently. I don’t know what to do more of, less of, continue doing, do differently or better to increase my value.

Communicating and engaging

I’m ready and willing, but I can’t put it across verbally. I don’t know how to translate my capability and experience for the benefit of this employer. It’s hard to communicate the value I’ve created to date and the value I will bring to the employer now and in the future. I am lost in translation and don’t know how to show my relevance in an engaging way.

Do any of these barriers ring true for you? Do you want to overcome them for a better chance of success at the job interview? Here’s how.

Get my free guide to showing your true value to an employer at the job interview!

magic bullet

Finding a Job: The Myth of The Magic Bullet

The myth of the magic bullet to solve our problems endures. It’s no wonder given we live in an age of instant Google answers and where so many people call themselves an expert. However, the desire for a solution can grow more desperate the longer we spend looking. Finding a job is no exception because there are personal implications and consequences for our wellbeing as we move up and down the hierarchy of needs. Frankly, there is no magic bullet for finding a job. Here are 6 job and career myths and their realities:

The Qualifications Magic Bullet

The days of your academic qualifications being a passport to instant job hiring are coming to an end. In the UK, about half of all young people have a degree. Your character, personality, and attitude are significant differentiators in the job market. You have to put them across in as many different formats and opportunities as possible. And you can’t do that without being self-aware to identify your unique advantages and managing yourself well to show them off.

The Development Magic Bullet

Forget being spoonfed like at school. Ownership and responsibility for learnability lie with you. That takes time, effort and energy. It means creating a strategy and implementation plan for your personal and professional development. What job searching abilities do you need to develop? For example, networking and social media are essential tools and approaches.

The Career Magic Bullet

The same applies to your career direction. The decimation of careers advice and the technological revolution mean becoming more self-reliant. Support from coaching and mentoring can help you help yourself by asking the questions you haven’t asked yourself and inspiring your confidence to take action. Your initial goals are to get some clarity on your ‘why’, who you are and who you want to be, and what you already have going for you. Then you can create a relevant CV, show your value at a job interview, and be focused and selective in your networking and social media activities.

The First-Role Magic Bullet

Expectations can exceed the reality of many entry-level jobs. Time to change them if you always expect to go in at a higher level. It’s sometimes better to dive in at a junior level at your desired employer, roll your sleeves up and muck in for six months. You are then in a position to go for opportunities you really want that are only advertised internally. By that time, you know the culture, have shown your abilities and potential and can make a more informed decision if this is the right place for you.

The CV Magic Bullet

Your CV alone will not get you a job. Who would give someone a job without seeing them? The occasional footballer maybe. Your CV alone might get you an interview if it’s targeted, tailored, and not generic. Increasingly, it’s not enough without the collateral of online professional profiles. Some companies are doing away with CVs altogether. They want to see the real person in action before taking a chance on hiring them. Alternatives emerging include a video profile introducing yourself and day-long ‘auditions’.

The Job Interview Magic Bullet

A common mistake it to over-focus on yourself and what you want at the job interview. Sorry to disillusion you, but employers are more concerned with what they want and how you can help them. Therefore, your challenge is to find the sweet spot where your wants and an employer’s needs match. That means stepping into the employer’s shoes by doing your research well and knowing your own preferences and when you are at your best.

Ultimately, the reality of finding a desired job and career is one of smart, consistent and persistent effort. Much is down to chance (being in the right place at the right time), change (forced on you or self-initiated), and choice (seeing and seizing the opportunities). And it’s different for each of us.

What magic bullet are you looking for? What in this post gives you pause for thought?

learnability

Learnability: Can you HACK it?

In an interview about talent recruitment in India, Jonas Prising, the global CEO of HR consulting firm Manpower Group, predicts learnability will emerge as one of the most desirable traits among candidates for recruiters. He depicts labour markets dividing into those with the right skills and those without them.

The desire and ability to learn during your career may be the greatest predictor of your employability. Are you more likely to acquire new skills if you are working in my organisation? Then, regardless of gender, you may be a more interesting candidate.

His views find support from Doug Cole, Head of Global Employability at the Higher Education Academy, who is keen to rethink and reframe the language and approach of employability. He sees higher education supporting the development of well-rounded individuals in learning for success.

Employability, when you really break it down, is actually all about learning – but learning in different contexts, developing both knowledge and experience that extends beyong the subject or discipline being studied.

You would think at first glance that the ability to learn is a given for any self-respecting undergraduate. However, the paradigm for success is a continuous process of learning, unlearning, and relearning in the disruptive world of work. Lifelong and lifewide learning in a “permanent state of beta”, as LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, coins it. Google recruits for learnability.

The Learnability Mindset

I see four core mindsets and attributes underpinning learnability, particularly at an early career stage:

  • Humility – You are going to get things wrong, through trial and error, inexperience, and plain old mistakes. How you respond is key. Inward acceptance, transparency, and persistence become strengths of learnability.
  • Adaptability – How you adapt to uncertainty, new challenges, unexpected obstacles, changing circumstances and new settings. For example, when you start a new job, everything is new and unfamiliar. Learnability involves continuing to be effective as things change.
  • Curiosity – Exploring the status quo by asking questions in a spirit of healthy contention. You notice the way things are done when you are new that your colleagues now take for granted. And you may see alternatives that improve things. Learnability involves not settling with what is and having an eye for what can be. That includes your own potential.
  • Know-how – Observation and analysis will take you so far. Ultimately, learning is about change. Learnability involves developing some level of applied capability that is productive for you and the organisation.

The learnability mindset encompasses a daily commitment to becoming more than you were, letting go of what no longer serves you, and staying up-to-date in a rapidly changing context. Can you HACK it?

maze

No Degree? Take a Look at These 10 Careers

With more people choosing to go to University than ever before, the number of graduate scheme applications has increased, reducing the probability of success for each individual. With this in mind, not having a degree can sometimes feel like a deal-breaker when applying for work. However, this is far from the truth. There are a variety of professions that you can enter with no degree and degree attainment on its own no longer guarantees success.

The average salary in the UK is £27,000. We have collated a list of jobs with no degree requirement and that pay more than the national average. No matter why you choose not to go to university, the fact is that it isn’t the right choice for everyone. So, we have featured below a few jobs for you to consider which may help you on your way to achieving career success without higher education.

Recruitment Consultant

With more and more jobs appearing on the market every day, it’s important that there are individuals who have the ability to organise and interpret these positions to people who would best suit them. It is estimated that the recruitment industry is worth £30 billion and this is only likely to increase.

Sales skills are a must for this role, along with a good attitude when dealing with customers. You may be required to work with a whole range of roles, from sourcing educational professionals from overseas to finding tradespeople for a certain project. If you have extensive knowledge about a specific career niche, then you can specialise in that area of recruitment. Expect to start at £38,000, with commission usually on top.

Fire Fighter

no degreeEvery local community has a fire fighting service. The team has many key roles in addition to their life-saving responsibility that they are most renowned for. Firefighters also work with the community to teach them about fire prevention, which is an incredibly valuable role. You should be fit for this role and have the ability to take control of a team when needed. Staying calm in critical and dangerous situations is essential. You could earn anything between £28,000 and £55,000 depending on how far up the ladder you manage to climb.

Air Traffic Controller

No degree is required to be an Air Traffic Controller. However, you will need other training. National Air Traffic Services provide courses, and you can expect up to five months of training, plus up to four years of on the job training before you are fully qualified. An understanding of maths, in addition to good reflexes, are essential qualities to have in the role. This is a job that is vital to keeping our transport networks running smoothly. The importance of the job is reflected in the average salary, which can start from around £80,000.

Digital Marketing

The internet age has brought with it an abundance of jobs, including Search Engine Optimisation roles and Pay Per Click work. You could also work in the field of email marketing, that targets people based on their preferences to encourage them to purchase from specific stores or visit those websites. Experience in this field is crucial to progress up the ladder, but you can expect to earn more than £30,000 if you have a sharp and agile mind.

Beautician

If you think that you can’t earn money from your hobby and passion for make-up, then think again. Careers in the beauty No degreeindustry are becoming more prevalent than ever, propelled by the availability of stronger advertising via a variety of social media channels. Build up a portfolio and undergo relevant training either at a college or on the job at your local salon. It enables you to use your drive and love of beauty to create a career that you will excel in. You could earn more than £30,000 by opening your own salon or setting up a freelance business.

Fashion Designer

The world of fashion is one where experience is definitely worth more than any qualifications, as your abilities can be seen in the work that you produce. Take the time to hone your talents and produce samples. It’s also a good idea to try and work alongside industry professionals if you get the chance. This will help you to learn about the market. It may take a while to find your break in the industry, but no degree is not a barrier to a huge earning potential.

Journalist

In a world of non-stop media, there are more opportunities for journalists than ever before – not only in newspapers but also on the television and radio. You will need an NCTJ approved qualification. However, if you have good reporting skills, along with a key knowledge of the area you’d like to write about, then you’re already halfway there. Add to that a drive to succeed, a proactive nature and a hunger for a story, and you may well be on your way to becoming a top journalist. Expect to earn at least £38,000.

Police Officer

Being a Police Officer means that you will be one of the most valued and respected people in your local community. With the role comes a huge responsibility to help people and keep the peace. If you enjoy listening to people, are good at judging situations and acting upon instinct quickly and calmly, then a career in the police force might be perfect for you. Working up the ranks could allow you to earn more than £41,000.

Public Relations

Working in the industry of Public Relations demands that you use your initiative and authority to find opportunities which will aid your campaigns and benefit your clients. Being a team player is a must. Also, the knowledge of the various methods to leverage your projects so that they gain success. The salary that you can expect will depend on your ability, skills, and experience. You may be able to find roles that will pay more than £100,000 for your efforts.

Hairdresser

Hairdressers are in high demand. They attain the ability to make others look and feel good. There is an opportunity to develop skills in the industry to make you an even more desirable candidate. A senior stylist could earn more than £30,000. If you choose to open your own salon or find work in the media industry, such as on TV and film sets, your earning potential is higher. You may need to build up your earnings slowly, but the potential is definitely there.

Can’t make your mind up?

Don’t worry if you’re still not sure about the career that you would like to pursue. There is something to suit everybody, even if you may not have found it in the list above. Instead, consider the following tips, which will help you in your search:

  • What interests you? What skills do you have? No matter what hobbies you enjoy, you will always be developing skills that are transferrable to the workplace.
  • When you have identified your key skills, do your research. See the kinds of jobs that people with your skills and no degree are able to do. Also, see how much you might be able to earn, and the training that you would need to undertake, to actually get the job.
  • Remember, that no matter which path you go down, it’s never too late to change your mind and take an entirely different path. No decision is final. It may take time to finally find the job that is perfect for you as an individual.

Get an idea of what’s available for people with your interests and skills.  A careers test could be a good option.

The National Careers Service is a great website to start your research. Here, you can get CV and interview advice and look at lots of different career profiles with no degree requirement.

No degree does not limit your career options. There are over 500,000 job roles in the world of work (only 400 in 1700)! Once you’ve found the right career, it could change your life – so don’t rush your decision. Take your time to consider your options. You will find that the outcome of your deliberations will bring you great rewards in the future.

Thanks to our friend Holly Barry for this post @HJBarry.

How to Turn a Limitation into a Strength

An enduring weakness differs from a temporary limitation. For example, you might always struggle with standing up and presenting to an audience and have some disasters along the way, especially through inexperience. But you can learn how to get by with practice. And sometimes avoiding the things that don’t come naturally can result in missed opportunities in your job and career. You won’t know if the limitation you perceive is temporary or something more enduring until you test things out. Here are some examples of breakthroughs in sport and music.

Reframe your limitation

limitationMany tennis players have one arm bigger than the other including Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal. He is famous for his left-hand stroke play even though he writes with his right hand.

My left arm is much more developed than my right arm. This is because I play lefty and that’s sort of my gym, the tennis court. Rafael Nadal

Australian serial Grand Slam winner in the 1960s and 1970s, Margaret Court, is a natural left-hander who was persuaded to change to a right-hand grip. She practiced with her preferred hand tied behind her back to strengthen her right-hand strokes.

Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, was a left-handed guitarist. He was so poor in his earlylimitation days that he couldn’t afford a left-hand guitar. So he would practice with a right-hand guitar upside down. He found a way to overcome his challenge. Like Nadal and Williams, his passion fueled his learning and he put in the hard work of endless practice.

The law of the vital few

If a current limitation you perceive is holding you back, try deconstructing your biggest one to speed up your self-awareness. Invoke the 80/20 rule (the Pareto Principle named after a 20th-century Italian economist) or the ‘law of the vital few’. Which 20% of your skills, knowledge, attitudes or behaviours cause 80% of your challenges or blockages in becoming more employable? Deconstruct the one thing in that 20% that holds you back the most. Then use that understanding to find what works for you.

The worlds of sport and music show us that perceived weaknesses may only be temporary limitations. We can change them through determination, persistence, and hard work. Focusing on your strengths is the tune of the day in preparing for job interviews and career assessment. Yet, sometimes reconfiguring the notes can provide breakthrough thinking into what works for you.

What do you perceive as your current limitations? What if you gave them a chance to flourish and become strengths? Then what job and career dreams would you pursue?