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It’s past Memorial Day, so in these parts it means that summer is officially in session. I know that many people have a reading list for the summer. I have not been one of those people. I don’t tend to read books as a “start here, finish book, start the next” type of reader. I tend to pick up about four or five books and read them spottily and sometime finish them, sometimes not.
My bookshelf has been crammed with books that I thought would be great to read, but I’ve never gotten to them. In the quest to be more intentional and to actually do things that I say I want to do, I’ve decided to publish my summer reading list and write a review of each book after I’m finished. I don’t tend to read fiction and as you’ll see most of them have something to do with spiritual, career, or productivity matters (or all three at once!) I wish I liked to read fiction, but as you see they are all non-fiction
Here are the books that I’ve decided I want to try to finish this summer:
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: This book has been suggested to me more times that I can imagine from so many people, and I understand this is about how we can be with our creative selves.
Transitions by William Bridges: Career development is all about changes, and this is the standard book in my field. I’ve never read it before, so this is sort of my “good medicine” that I really need to experience.
- Embracing Your Inner Critic by Hal Stone & Sidra Stone: I, like so many, have some internal issues to work though, and this book was recommended by my friend Elsa (a mental health counselor) as a good resource for looking at this issue.
- Planets in Work by Jamie Binder: Another recommendation from Elsa. I have been researching archetypes, and I’ve been looking at how those show up in astrological readings. This looks at how astrology could be used in career development decisions.
- A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle: This book was given to me by Casey Miller and he read this many times on his cross country bike trip. I’ve seen videos of Tolle speaking, but never read any of his works. It’s about time.
- Awakening in Time by Pamela Kristan: I was at a presentation Pam gave at the Theosophical Society of Boston, and Pam’s work has to do with the intersection of productivity and spirituality. As you can imagine, this is right up my alley. I had to see how I can incorporate her ideas into my work.
- Living & Loving Well by Joseph Stuczynski: Joe presented at Easton Mountain a few years ago, and his work focuses on getting clear with our values in order to make good decisions in our lives, especially about our personal relationships. This is more of a workbook to clarify your goals, so this should be a quick win in getting it done!
- Mastering Respectful Confrontation by Joe Weston: Joe is an amazing human being and presenter, and I have been to numerous workshops that he has done, and this book puts done in words what he preaches. Joe’s main concept is that the concept of power in our culture has gotten to be connected more with physical strength and power over others, and he bases his alternative vision on Easter philosophy as the power within and with other people, and how we can have conversations that empower everyone and don’t deny our own needs. This is great stuff!
- Making It All Work by David Allen: I have been a “Getting Things Done” (GTD) fan for a number of years, as David Allen’s philosophy about personal productivity is all about how to free yourself from the stress of life and having a “mind like water” so that you can easily accomplish things in your life without fretting about them. I was lucky enough to attend a seminar last year that David personally taught, and Making It All Work is the continuation of those theories.
- How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy! by Paul Chek: In 2008, I was part of an online weight loss challenge through RealJock.com (which I won!) and DIAKADI Body was the exercise consultants on this. Though continuing to follow their great advice, I found out about Paul Chek’s work, which integrates the concepts of health, exercise, and nutrition with a more holistic & spiritual sense that really attracted me. I don’t know it so well, but have liked what I’ve seen.
- Mindfulness by Ellen Langer: This book was given to me by my boss back in the early 1990′s, and while I’m obviously interested in it, I never finished this book that was one of the first on the subject. It’s time. Thanks Dave!
- Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert: Dan’s research into what makes us really happy (as opposed to what we say makes us happy) has been really enlightening to me, as I work with people to get at the core of their happiness.
- Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good by Manuel Villacorta: In the aforementioned weight loss challenge, Manuel’s crew at MV Nutrition in San Francisco was invaluable to giving me the knowledge to eat better and lose weight. This is a new book that just came out last month, and again, I need to read it to remind myself of all the knowledge that I’ve learned (and maybe forgotten!) I highly, highly recommend that you pick up this book!
I might not get them all finished by Labor Day but it’s an intention (not at goal!).
So, what are you reading? Do you have any comments or experiences with any of these books?
A lot has been going on here, and I know that I haven’t been posting much lately, but you’ll soon be seeing a whole bunch more postings here. I promise.
One of the activities that has been keeping me busy is that I completed a video for the Spirit at Work Creative Video Contest, and I need your help! Please watch the video below (or go to https://vimeo.com/groups/spiritatworkcreative/videos/39671085), and click on the “Like” button that’s shaped like a heart in the upper right hand corner of the video. There are 35 videos in the contest, and the 10 videos that get the most Likes before June 2, 2012 will be judged for a grand prize of CDN$7,500.00. There are many good videos in the context, but mine is the only one that is dealing with the issues of career and spiritual development. It might not be as flashy as some of the other videos, but I think that you’ll like the content.
Please share it with your friends and get them to “like” it to! Thanks for all your assistance!
Resumes can be a pain. People stress about writing them. Hiring managers are always trying to decypher them to figure out if the candidate has what they need. I say that most people seem to think that there is a secret formula to writing resumes that nobody will tell them about.
My simple answer is that you need to think about who is reading the resume and then write like your audience. It’s really that simple. Resumes are just the information the hiring manager might need to have in order to take the chance to bring you in and talk with you more about the position without wasting everyone’s time.
In order to do that, you have to give a clear picture (in words) of what you actually did. This might seem simple but so many people miss this. I read hundreds of resumes a month and I’ve found three words that are endemic on resumes that don’t do anything to bring that clarity. I cross them off almost every time I see them (granted, there are always exceptions).
Here they are.
- Assisted: This can mean anything from “I got coffee” to “I did my boss’ job and didn’t get credit for it”. When I see it, I assume coffee, not executive. If I read this, I’m making up stories in my head about what you actually did. They may not be what you wanted me to think.
- Helped: See above.
- Worked: Were you in the fields or the mines? This brings visions of either someone under a vicious task master or someone just hanging out waiting for something to happen. Either scenario doesn’t encourage me to think of you as a self starter.
So, what can you say instead? Well, what did you actually do? If I were watching you while you were there, what would I see? Researched 5 new clients and wrote a summary for your boss? Reorganized the inventory system? Produced and assembled 100 press kits? Tell me that!
Using vague words like helped, assisted, and worked will put more questions into the reader’s mind than will do you good. Be clear and detail what you have done to your best story telling ability. If you can’t be clear on your resume, do I think you will speak clearly to me and my customers?
So, what did you actually do on that job?
Sorry I haven’t been blogging as often as I normally do. Between clients, presentations, the redesign of my website, the video project and other life issues, my focus has been on areas other than writing blog posts. I’ve been working on not beating myself up on these issues and just letting them be. As I’ve stated before about my work, while important, it’s not life or death. I say to my clients that they need to be kind to themselves when they’re stressed, so I try to listen to my own advice.
One new thing in my life is that I am now on Week 6 of wearing Invisiligns. They are clear plastic aligners that I wear all the time to reset my teeth. I chipped both my front teeth within three months of each other and my dentist suggested I get them. As my teeth have been moving together since I had braces when I was 13, and there just isn’t room for them all. It’s a little awkward and makes me be really more conscious of my eating, but supposedly I’ll have a brand new smile in 34 more weeks. I think it will be worth the wait.
I get a new set of trays every two weeks and each one works to move my teeth just a little bit each time (sort of like tightening your braces if I were to have the old metal mouth again.) The change from week to week isn’t dramatic, but the cumulative effect over the entire span of time should be impressive.
As you know from my writings, I always like to pull parallels from normal life and shine that thought onto career development. This made me think of so many of my clients that what to move toward a big new career or start a creative endeavor. Too often, they are paralyzed by the amount of effort it will take to get there, and don’t do anything. Any people want it now, and any thought that something will take a little effort I’ve a long period of time is completely daunting to their psyche.
I’ve been reminded over and over again that it’s the constant attention to the daily actions we have that really make the difference in our lives. I know when I lost a lot of weight, it came down to the decision every moment to not eat something. If you want to progress in your career, you need to take the small steps of learning a new skill, attending a professional meeting, asking for a new project, etc. It’s about being intentional in your daily life with your eyes on a goal. You can’t do it all now, but you can build a foundation brick by brick. Start your practice now!
So, what small steps are you taking today?
I’m busy at work at putting together a video for the contest run by the Centre for Spirituality and the Workplace, which is part of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As those of you who have been reading this blog know, this has been a focus of mine for years, and I’m excited to have a push to put something on video. Granted, I’m not a videographer by profession (although I’ve worked with a lot of them) but I’m going to do my best with the skills that I have. I’m going to have to let my thoughts and message lead the way, and hope the meager editing skills don’t take away from that.
As I’m developing my video, I was hoping that I could get some help from you. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably thought about my particular view of how your passion and spirit intersect with your career. Since you really need to get the perspectives of others in any artistic project, I’d like to find out from you: What is the greatest learning and Aha! moments that you’ve gotten out of interaction with my message? I’ll need to incorporate them into presentation, and it will be all the better by your input.
Please leave your comments below, and I encourage you to comment on others comments! This will work best for me the more concrete things I hear from you.
Thanks for all your support and assistance!
On December 16, 2009, I started with my first post at the Spirit-Work Connection blog. I’ve now done 132 posts on all sorts of topics related to my life, career development, personal growth, spiritual seeking, and anything else that’s come to my mind. I’ve been saying that I’m writing my book a blog post at a time, and my thoughts on all these matters have been developing as I try to put them down in words for you. It’s been a great journey and I look forward to more interesting concepts arising.
To do that, I need some input, and I’d really like to know what value you’ve gotten from my writings. Please leave a comment stating the insights that you’ve gleaned and developed as a result of my writing. I will choose one lucky commenter from everyone who’s commented between now and 12/23/11 at noon for a free resume critique.
Thank you for your support of my work, and I look forward to lot of other interactions in the future!
So, what have you learned?
As I’m interested in all different aspects of the connection of spirit, passion and work, I’ve wanted to get some other voices in here to tell about their experiences of mixing these three aspects. The first one is Casey Adam Miller, who I met at the end of his cross country bike ride where he found that connection for himself.
Most of my life I have followed the rules.
I attended a private high school, graduated cum laude from a renowned college, and in 2006, obtained two Masters degrees from one of the world’s most prestigious universities in the world.
By the age of 31, just 5 years later, I had done what most people with my background thought we ought to: traveled the globe, built a company, and made some money. By most accounts, I was what I thought success should look like. Yet I was not any happier. And my life was certainly not any more meaningful. Like many people of my generation, I was stuck between the allure of capitalism and the painful realization that more does not mean better. I felt empty, even though my life was surrounded by wonderful places, experiences, and things.
In January 2011, after 5 years in Mexico City, I quit my job at the the energy company I had help to found. The existential pains I had felt most of my adult life made moving to San Francisco in the name of love an easy excuse, if not a mask for the deeper reasons for my move–I was fed up with the rat race and the sacrifices I had to make in order to live in this crazy world we have built for ourselves.
Then, just 4 months later, I was dumped on the Eiffel Tower.
Heartbroken, without a place to live, and unsure of the direction of my career, I fell into a deep depression. In retrospect, the perfect storm had brewed in my life, giving me occasion to reflect on what was important. Casually, I started asking people how they found meaning in their lives, considering the fact that at that point, I had absolutely none in my own.
My impromptu conversations soon turned into formal interviews. And before I knew it, I had declared to the world that I would ride my bicycle from coast to coast asking people how they found meaning in their lives (a particularly odd declaration, given the fact that I didn’t even own a bicycle nor ridden one since elementary school).
I quit playing by the rules entirely to find something I think all of us want, but many don’t know how to find: a life’s purpose.
On August 8th, I left San Francisco and nearly 3 months later, arrived in Cambridge, MA. Along the way, I interviewed over 400 people about how their find meaning in their lives and, not coincidentally, for the first time found meaning in my own life.
I am now in the process of writing a book that will inspire others to find meaning in their own. Over the coming weeks, I will be releasing chapters of my book that speak to the 6 1/2 characteristics that meaningful lives share in common.
I will be asking other writers from different perspectives to share their thoughts in the future. Let me know if you know anyone you’d like to see write about the Spirit-Work Connection.
So, How would you answer Casey’s Question? How have you found meaning in your life?
Everything has a shelf life: bread, yogurt, prescriptions, your body, and many relationships. As things change and morph in our world, the situations that brought things together are no longer there so strongly and we start to feel that this isn’t as comfortable or serving us like it used to. That’s when we start to get restless and start looking for something new.
While I think that this is a pretty natural process, many of my clients jump at the next thing instead of making a thoughtful transition. While you might feel in “Get me outta here!” mode, it’s best to first consider why you are feeling that way to make sure that you don’t go directly into another similar or worse situation (see my writing on The Foxhole Method of Career Development for more on this).
Usually you are frustrated in a position because there is some value that’s important to you that’s being squashed. Feel that your boss doesn’t listen to you? You probably value being respected and contributing.
I like to say this is when you’ve reached Kansas City Mode. Just like in the play Oklahoma!, it’s when you’ve gone about as far as you can go. If you’ve reached that point, it’s now time to really plan for how you’re going to make your next steps. You’re usually secure yet bored or frustrated. This is a great time to make a plan for the future instead of a knee jerk reaction. I’ve find that many people can handle any situation as long as they are making progress towards something better.
So, have you reach Kansas City Mode and what are you doing to move past that?
I see a lot of resumes. People are so paranoid about their resumes and getting the wording right. I truly believe that most people think that there is some secret formula to writing a resume, but no one ever tells them. Ax resume functions by speaking for you when you’re not there, so it should represent you well in your voice, and most importantly, in language that the intended audience. I’ve seen too many people write a resume in MBA speak when they want to be in a creative field. The creatives who will read this resume will think this person is a stuffed shirt and not appropriate.
Lesson: The way to write a resume is to consider your audience and write like them!
That being said, a lot of people want to have done sort of “formula” when talking about themselves in a resume. Remembering that you need to tell your story (thoughts on that here, here, and here), here is a structure that I’ve found works for most people. As usual, if this works for you, great. Adjust if you need to.
Any description of an experience you have should have four parts to be maximally effective:
- Active Verb: Your English teacher was right. Use a verb that is visual. Imagine that you’re giving instructions to an actor to act out this activity. If you “assisted”, “worked” or “helped”, I have no ideas if you brought coffee for the meetings or did your boss’ job but didn’t get credit. Use a verb a good actor can do something with!
- The Object of the Action: Okay, what did you “write”, “develop” or “create”? Can you name it? Can you quantify it? Which sounds better: “reports” or “10 20-page reports”? Give me some idea of what it was.
- For Whom or Who Benefited: Whatever you did, someone was better for it? Did the CEO get your report? Did 200 people attend the event you organized?
- To What Result: Hopefully, something got better because of what you did. Explain what it was. Did you make a $250,000 sale because of the relationships you built? Did you save the company $10,000 because of an error you found? Did you press releases generate three newspaper articles? If you can show the results of your actions, people might think you could do that again!
Remember, you are telling a story here that they need to hear. Make sure that you don’t make the reader work too much to figure out the details, but also give room for them to know there’s more to find out.
Note: this works in your spoken stories as well.
So, how well are you telling your stories?