Understanding Your Abilities – Part II

The more we understand about our natural abilities, the better we can make effective choices that lead us toward satisfying and rewarding careers and lives in general.  Since abilities can be measured, it only makes sense that once we know what those numbers look like, that we are able to apply them to our daily lives both on the job and in our personal time.   When natural abilities are measured using the Highlands Ability Battery, a series of 19 tasks yield results that measure 21 separate areas and address Personal Style, Driving Abilities, and Specialized Abilities.

Personal Style addresses your comfort in interacting with others.  It also involves the kind of environment that you find most satisfying, the way you replenish your energy level and the level of stress you may feel in certain environments.  It helps to identify the size of organization that you would feel most comfortable and productive.

Driving Abilities have a strong impact on all of us.  They can be measured and help us to understand how we solve problems and the number of problems we enjoy solving in our daily work lives.  They also help us to identify whether we should be considering career directions that are more abstract or hands-on in their orientation as well as our communication strengths and challenges.

Finally, the Specialized Abilities help us to better understand how we take in information. They also provide further information to validate career directions as well as enhance our performance through strategies for learning.

Want to learn more about Natural Abilities,  your specific Natural Abilities and your career path?  Do you need help with identifying and writing an effective Goal Plan?  Contact me at marla@marlabrady.com.

Understanding Your Abilities – Part I

Remember when you were in elementary school or even middle school and you had to do something you felt you were not good at performing?  You may have gotten that sinking feeling in your stomach and wished to disappear at that very moment.  Then there was the opposite when you were asked to do something and you could feel your chest swell with pride or excitement to get out there and do it because you knew you could nail it!  What we didn’t know was that by the time we were about 14 years of age, our Natural Abilities were being solidified within us.  Natural Abilities are those things we do easily and quickly.  They are not the things we have learned from our teachers or parents, but more the way in which we are hardwired.  Perhaps they are identifiable within our DNA.  While that is yet to be learned, there are some things we do know about our Natural Abilities.

Through a well documented process and years of research, it is possible to measure Natural Abilities like measuring intelligence.  However, unlike an IQ score that defines a level of intelligence, measures of Natural Abilities can assist in defining career paths that would lend themselves to an individual’s most satisfying outcome based on strengths and compatibilities of varied abilities.  Understanding your abilities can mean the difference between loving what you do in your chosen career path, and wondering why you ever chose that path.

When abilities are measured we can learn more about the environment that an individual would find most satisfying for work, the type of problem solver that person is and the occupations that lend themselves well in that capacity.  We also uncover the type of learning channels that would allow them to take in information most effectively and how to capitalize on that knowledge.  Finally, we learn the most effective communication style for them and the career paths that fit most comfortably.

While no single assessment should ever be used to definitively tell anyone what to do in their life’s endeavors, there are key indicators that can make the journey a lot more fun and satisfying.  Want to have your abilities measured?  Contact me.

Goals and New Year’s Resolutions

Do you remember what your New Year’s Resolution was for 2011?  Did you follow through to achievement or abandon it somewhere between February and June like 90+ percent of the population?

If you were successful with your Resolution, chances are you wrote it down and had a plan like we talked about last week with SMART goals.  If you were not successful, why not?  What derailed you in the process?

Resolutions are like Goals.  They are a personal commitment to self improvement.   But in order to be a successful Resolution, it must be relevant to you and it must have a well defined foundation.  That foundation creates a structural support system so that you can take action and successfully achieve your Resolution and celebrate your success!  What a great feeling to achieve something that you have identified as important for your self improvement.

Remember this; work SMARTer, not necessarily harder in the New Year!  If you need help writing a SMART goal or developing a plan to support that goal, contact me.  Good luck, Happy New Year, and may 2012 bring you great success!

Writing Goals is SMART

Writing goals is smart.  In fact, when we commit goals to written form we increase the odds of achievement by about 94 percent.  Why do you think all of those diet companies have you sign a contract with specific goals and time lines?  A written format works.

So here is the formula for effective goals:

S – Your goal must be specific.

M – Your goal must be measurable.

A – Your goal must be attainable.  Notice I didn’t say easy, but it must be within reason.

R – Your goal must be relevant.  It must be important to you.

T – Your goal must be timely.  It has to be measurable within a given time frame.

That’s it.  SMART goals are that easy.  Write them down according to the formula.

What goals are you serious about for the coming year?   Serious enough to be SMART and commit them to paper?

Change and the Fear Factor

I always laugh when people reference the old saying, “There are only two sure things in life, death and taxes.”  I laugh because I believe there is a third given, and that is Change.  The funny thing about Change is it can make people as uncomfortable as talking about death or taxes.  The “Fear Factor” of Change is remarkable.

Change occurs naturally.  Whether it occurs because of transitions in life like high school to college or college to the work force or because you get married, have children move to a bigger house, change happens.  Change happens when you get a new boss or maybe because you become the boss.  Whatever the reason, Change happens and when it does it can create Fear.  You see, it’s not because we don’t have the skills or abilities to enter into that new position or state of being, it is because it is the Unknown and as creatures of habit we get comfortable.  When we are pushed outside of our comfort zone and into the unknown realm of Change, we get nervous or even scared.

So how do you combat the fear factor of Change?  Set goals.  Write them down.  Create a plan.  Take action to achieve.  You see, committing a goal to paper creates a sense of accountability and empowerment.  It takes the fear of Change and refocuses on a purpose.

What action will you take to confront the fear factor of Change?  Need help?  Contact me.

Creating Your Own Trend

Making good decisions begins with asking the right questions and gathering meaningful information.  That’s why I encourage people to pay attention to trends in jobs, careers and demographics.  That’s why it is important to start early and allow time for exploring possibilities.  It is also why I recommend that people who are looking at college educations, changing jobs, or re-entering the workforce evaluate their interests, values, passions and abilities.  All of these are measurable and can provide meaningful information in making decisions about career paths.  Paths that can create great satisfaction and reward.

In his book, GOOD TO GREAT, Jim Collins wrote, “Indeed the real question is not, “Why greatness?” but “What work makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?”  If you have to ask the question, “Why should we try to make it great?  Isn’t success enough?” then you’re probably engaged in the wrong line of work.”

I believe that when the national statistics indicate that greater than 60% of the population dislikes their work, we have a national disaster on our hands.  How can we be great as a nation if we don’t individually feel compelled to create greatness in our own work?

On October 5, 2011 we lost an American Great.  Steve Jobs will forever be known for his impact on the world of personal computing.  He was passionate about his work, and I believe, “compelled to try to create greatness.”

What will you do today that compels you to create greatness?  How can you establish your own trend that creates a meaningful career path?  Need help?  Contact me.

Keep It Current

There is nothing worse than sitting down after four years and trying to reconstruct the work you’ve done, courses you’ve taken and awards received in order to write or bring your resume’ up to date.  So the 3 most important words are Keep It Current.  Consider your resume or profile as a “work in progress” and keep it updated regularly.  Have you added:

  • Courses or Special Classes for Training
  • Conferences (as an Attendee or Presenter)
  • Athletic Showcases or Camps
  • Publications
  • Scores on National Exams or GPA

Students, employees, employers and stay-at-home parents who may one day re-enter the workforce all need to pay attention to their profile or resume’ and keep it current.   In addition to keeping it current, be sure that the presentation of material highlights the most current or relevant information for the position you are targeting.  If you were hiring you, what would catch your attention?

Professional Development has been the topic for the month.  Before leaving the topic, make it a point to update your information this week.  Make sure your own efforts to invest in yourself are well reflected in your presentation materials to others.

Take Ownership of Your Potential

For the last two weeks I have addressed Professional Development as it applies to high school and college students.  But to the career professional or the “stay-at-home parent” getting ready to re-enter the work force, this broad term also applies.  Generally speaking, there are sectors of the work world that refer to continuing your education or training for licensing as Professional Development or Continuing Education Units (CEU).

  • Physicians and Nurses
  • Attorneys
  • Massage Therapists
  • Teachers and Administrators
  • Realtors and CPA’s

This list is certainly not complete, but you get the idea.  Some professions require within a determined number of years, that you participate in classes or conferences in an effort to keep current in your field.  Some industries pay for their employees to attend these conferences or courses while others leave it up to the individual.  The important point here is WHY would you leave it up to someone else?

In a low economic market it makes it more challenging for individuals to pay for such training, but it pays dividends if you do.  Firms, companies and organizations have scaled back their resources to cover the costs associated with on-going training for employees, but the value of investing in you is enormous!  It not only increases your own intellectual value, but it elevates the employer’s perception of you as an individual and your willingness to increase your own potential.

Want to know how to increase your value to an organization?  Contact me.

Professional Development and College Students

I had lunch recently with a dear friend to catch up on life, kids and work.  As we finished and opened our fortune cookies, she read hers, smiled and handed it to me saying I could use it.   The fortune read, “Doing what you like is freedom.  Liking what you do is happiness.”  She so hit the target for this week’s message to college students and the message I try to convey to everyone I work with from middle school to retirement.  Life is way too short to not enjoy what you do as your life’s work.

Just as I said last week that professional development applies to high school students, it also applies to college students.  We as adults have just been trained to believe it only applies after you get into a profession.  However, all of the arrows for job acquisition today point to preparation and positioning.  That includes anything you can do to professionally prepare or develop yourself.  You cannot afford to wait and let someone else do it or provide it for you.  What have you done to take responsibility for your own development aside from getting admitted to college and declaring a major area of study?

What does your Internship opportunity look like?  Is it part of your degree program?   Are you required to adhere to the planned Internship or can you create your own and get it approved through your advising committee?  Remember, you don’t have to wait for the Internship as provided through a program.   You can take action!

Take action by investigating businesses or firms in your area that could offer opportunities for you to learn more about an industry of interest to you.  Contact the Human Resources department and inquire about job shadowing.  Get your foot in the door!  If you like the experience, establish a relationship with your contact and work toward developing an internship experience that is unpaid if a part time position is not available.  The point is to gain experience and learn the kinds of work and environments that you find satisfying, stimulating and enjoyable.  Life is way too short not to be happy doing what you enjoy!

Internships also have the capacity to create interest in you by the company and especially if you developed the experience!   You will appear eager, engaged and willing to put in the effort to learn and further your own development as well as that of the company.  The greatest percentage of students hired as they graduated from colleges recently were hired through Internship experiences.  Knowing that, doesn’t it make sense to be proactive and start investing in your own Professional Development?

Professional Development for High School Students

In the adult world of work we frequently talk about professional development and the associated costs, benefits or requirements for some professions.  However, I don’t think I have ever heard anyone reference high school students who prepare for college as undergoing professional development.  But that is exactly what it is!  There are costs associated and benefits to be had through professional preparation for college.

On the academic side, PSAT/SAT/ACT prep courses are all a form of professional development.  Parents invest significant dollars in order for their son or daughter to increase their score potential.  The investment is not a guarantee, but it enhances the probability.  So it is important to plan wisely and get the biggest bang for your buck.

Create a calendar that targets test dates and work backward.  Identify the necessary enrollment date and get registered on time to avoid late fees or missed application dates for colleges.  Using these dates, work backward again and identify the necessary time frame to participate in a prep course or private tutoring so that you have time to take practice tests and target areas needing improvement. That’s how to get the biggest bang for the buck!

High school athletes also invest in professional development when they employ specialized coaches for sport-specific technique or great recruiting advisement through companies like The College Sports Track or Educated Recruit.

The world of work has changed radically over the last 5 years and it is more important than ever that everyone look at ways in which they can enhance their own marketability.  In order to do that, adults, college students and high school students need to look at professional development with a new perspective.  How can you invest in yourself, your loved ones or your employees to enhance marketability or job performance?  Need help? Click here to contact me for more information regarding professional development.