Supporters and Mentors

Hi, how are you?

Did you spend some time researching what you would like to do in life?

Remember, it’s researching that will save you money and time. You don’t want to invest heavily in something and then after for six years of schooling and apprenticeship find out that you really don’t like to do the job that you just learned. Believe it or not, this happens to many people.

Part of your research should be finding people who are willing to talk with you and give you some encouragement towards your goals. Trying to improve, can feel like trying to move mountains.  Having people who are willing to help mentor you is a great benefit to your work and your morale.  Find your supporters and invite them to be on your team as mentors, collaborators, partners or friends.

Most people are proud of what they do, and it is easy to get people who will talk with you for 20 minutes. It is easier if they can feel you are not going to put them on the spot, ask for a job, or take too much time from them. Below we have some do’s and dont’s and some ideas on finding and setting up mentors.

Ask those who you admire and look up to in your profession if it would be all right for you to call them some time with a question.  People who rise up in their business are frequently proud of what they do.  Professionals like to talk with others about what they do and how it helps others.  Most of them usually make time (20 minutes or so) to talk to someone or answer a few questions. 

As the person seeking the advice of a professional or mentor, it is important you not waste their time.  When you talk with them, have questions ready to go.  Pay attention to them.  Ask follow-up questions; however, do not argue with them.  Whatever you do, do not ask a professional who is giving you a little of their time for a job.  Asking for a job would put them in an uncomfortable position and cause the interview to end prematurely.  If they ask you, then you can give them a copy of your resume.

An Exercise in Collaboration

Call ten supportive friends and ten people whom you respect and who work in the same profession you want to work in.  Tell the friends what you are doing and ask if they could be part of your support group. Ask if you could speak to them, on occasion, about what you are doing. 

Ask the professionals if you could ask them a question now and then, and count them as a mentor.  Keep track of who says yes.  This looks hard, and you will be surprised how easy this exercise ends up being.

What does a new person to an industry want to know what they want to become?  Each of us will have different questions.  Some of these issues may be:

  1. What does the professional I want to become actually do?
  2. What are the pros and cons of the profession I am going into?
  3. What does the job I want to go to pay?
  4. What are the milestones in the business that I should look for to tell me I am doing well?
  5. Who are the industry leaders in my profession and what sets them apart?
  6. How much do the industry leaders make?
  7. What is an industry leader’s lifestyle in my desired profession like?

Many people will give you 20 minutes to ask a few questions about what they do and how their business actually works.  If you ask to talk to anyone, they will probably say yes.  When you meet with them, you want to ask real and specific questions and honor the time limit agreed to unless they wish to spend more time with you

Here are some Dos and Don’ts.

Do

  1. Have questions ready.
    1. It is hard to think of the right questions on the spot.
  2. Be polite, the person you are talking to is freely giving their time.
  3. If you have questions based on what the professional says go ahead and ask them.
  4. Be on time.
  5. Dress professionally.

Do Not

  1. Ask questions that you can find out from their (or their companies) Website.
    1. Do your research.
  2. Ask them for a job.
    1. Asking for a job often puts them on the spot and ends the interview.
  3. Waste their time.
  4. Dress or act unprofessional.

Next time, we will evaluate the desired positions in relation to new technology that is taking over many positions. 

Have a wonderful day.

 

And Yet I Wondered

As I drove to work today, I passed the high school. I noticed an old man, sitting on the corner by the high school, looking tired and dejected. Next to him was an old baby carriage which held all his earthly possessions piled high, covered over with blankets and tarps, all in a heap just about as tall as he was. It made me wonder.

I went on to work. After a while got up to stretch my legs. I walked out to the corner of the block. A crew of construction workers was digging up the street to replace the storm drains. The storm drains had not been replaced in over 100 years and were well in need of the updating. I watched the crew as they tore the road apart. They had the sidewalks close in two directions, denying people from my corner the chance to cross the street. And, they were dismantling the traffic light base. It made me wonder.

On the way back to my office, I said hello to a lady who was walking by. She stopped and talked with me for a few moments. We talked about the way the town used to look.

We talked about the pride of keeping up with infrastructure. We discussed the copper thefts of the decade ago when thieves stole cable to many of the streetlights. We talked about how copper was so valuable to someone that sprinkler systems and copper statues were stolen. Even air conditioner condensers were stolen from the backs of buildings because of the copper tubing inside. We agreed that we had a great new counsel who would help us to bring the city back to its greatness.

And yet, I wondered.

I wonder how we can build a better  infrastructure.  How we can balance the care of material things and the care of people. I wonder why people end up on the street pushing an old basket of worldly possessions, because I seem to see them more and more.

I also wonder why people would be so destitute, they would be willing to steal electrified copper wire, providing electricity to street lights which are a safety concern of all of us. I wonder why as we build our infrastructure renewing it and keeping the city current and beautiful, we still have those whose life is so difficult and are so far out of touch.

It is said the poor will be with us always. This is true. And yet, we must understand that society is caught in lockstep. The height of society can only go as high as the lowest member of society can allow. For society to climb a ladder and go higher, the least of society must be able to move up the ladder an equal distance. If this does not happen, growth stops, everyone stagnates, and entropy enters the mix as the society starts to crumble.

Today, I still wonder. What can we do as a society to elevate the poorest and lowest among us so that we may pave the way and climb higher? I also wonder if we do not take on the challenge to raise the least of society how will we ever climb higher. I also wonder as we start to crumble, what will the entropy look like.

Please add your ideas and thoughts to this blog.  Thank you for reading.

 

How Many Shades is your world

When I was young, I knew that I knew it all. I had been schooled in the church. I read the Boy Scout manual cover to cover. I passed high school. What more was there? I knew what I knew, and nothing else seemed to matter.

Many people, not knowing they are only looking at one surface of the multidimensional universe grow up this way. They believe their ways, and the ways they were taught, are the correct ways. And, anyone who thinks differently is obviously wrong, or misguided. It happens when someone believes there is only one right way to do things, and you were taught that one and only correct way. Why would someone teach you differently?

As I grew, I started to see things from different points of view. This made me begin to doubt if everything I knew was correct. As I went through the military, I learned, I saw, and I experienced. This caused me to consider other points of view.

I received my associate’s degree late in my military career. I had always focused on my work over myself and was slow to complete the degree. Yet as I finished the degree, it did make me think.

When I went back to college for a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, I learned even more. Learning more made me think more, and made me wonder if I had now learned everything, or if there was more. I made a decision to go back to school for one more degree which I had always wanted. I took a Masters in Education and Training, focusing on adult education, corporate training, course development and long distance education.

As I finished my Masters, I had recognized there is a whole universe of items out there which I know either nothing or very little about. Knowing I do not know everything is a victory. Now I know, that I am a continuous learner.

The question is not if we know everything or we don’t know everything. The question is what are we going to do about it. We start off in a very comfortable, very easy, black and white two-dimensional world. As we grow, we find out that the world is not black-and-white, rather a three-dimensional world with infinite shades of gray (sorry, not only 50.) And, then we have a choice.

Some people except the three-dimensional world and move  forward to explore it. Some people reject the three-dimensional world and move backward towards the black-and-white of right and wrong. One way offers the simplicity and ease of comfort found in a small structured community. Others find great enjoyment and challenge by learning and growing in the larger environment.

I am not one to say that one is correct over another. The question is for each individual. Do they wish to live in a two-dimensional world with the rigidness of only right and wrong answers? Or, do they wish to acknowledge that all thoughts may have multiple outcomes, each of which which is correct depending on the situation at any given moment?

Please let us know what you think.

 

 

Never Stop Learning

Today more than ever it is vital to be a continuous learner and stay up with the times. Some people believe that they did all their learning in school. Other people continue to take classes after college, and believe these courses supplement and suffice for their learning. And, others never stop asking questions and seeking answers.

Today I want to give you a few tricks to being a continuous learner and give you some suggestions that I hope will help.

The first and most important thing we have to do as continuous learners is to admit that we don’t know everything. If we don’t do step one, we will never do any of the rest because we will believe we know it all.

The second thing we do is to ask why. In Six Sigma, we are trained to ask why until we can go no further down the path of gathering information. Normally this step is called the ‘Five Whys.’ You ask a question. Find out an answer. Ask why. Find out another answer. Ask why, and continue until there is nothing to ask why about any longer.  Finding the answer will initiate research. Research is where you learn.

Part of being a continuous learner is keeping up with what you already knew, and the new changes in those fields. Another part of continuous learning is staying up with new knowledge and new technology. Everything is changing faster and faster these days.

There is an excellent book on the change that is called ‘Who Moved My Cheese.’ I highly recommend that if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet that you do so. It is a fast read, yet it is very interesting and a guide on accepting change.

So why would I say that it is very important to keep up with new ideas and new discoveries? The reason is, we keep up with new technologies or, we are left with the technologies that we know. Whether its books from the library, magazines, snail mail, or other technologies. What happens is, as you give up on technology and new ways of doing things, your level of current knowledge starts to fall by the wayside. If most items are written for a blog, or a website, or an e-book, and you’re not reading those, how do you keep up?

I love to read books. Real, hardcover books. When somebody hands me a handwritten note or sends me a thank you card which they wrote out themselves, it tells me that they took enough time and cared enough to make it personal. I still have a landline phone in my house. Yet I also have a blog on the web. I have two websites one is not up at the moment, a training site for my courses. A delivery system which delivers my blogs weekly and E-newspaper that goes up monthly and other wonderful things. I’m only 63 it’s way too young for me to give up and start ignoring technology.

You Will Realize It When…

We own our fate. All the good and all the bad. Even when we feel not in control, we are responsible for ourselves.  We have family, friends, bosses, co-workers and support staff.  They truly help. No one is an Island. And everyone counts on others in their lives to help them win the day.

Yet in the hand, each of us needs to stand and deliver. The fighter in the ring, the lecturer, the course designer, the salesman, the Bartender, the cook, the secretary, the flight attendant, the doctor, the Explorer, the entrepreneur, and thousands of others, all have support staff either up or down the chain. And, they all have their moments where they put everything on the line.

Should we fear this and try to change it? Do we need to go to two-person integrity? Should we give up and hide? We know all the answers to these are no, of course not.

As much as we enjoy the comradery and support of those around us, those we love, and those we hold dear, what we do when we stand alone actually is a large part of making us who we are.

Be generous and share your wins with all those around you. Even if you’re a pilot that just flew the perfect mission, remember that you would have never gotten the plane off the ground if it wasn’t for some airman ensuring the air in the Planes tires was correct.

How alone are we in the world? Imagine the realization of the fighter pilot who, while walking out to his aircraft, is thrown a set of keys from an airman who says, “Well sir, if you bring her back I’ll fix her up again.”

Yet when standing there alone, you may find that the spirit of everyone who has gone before you, the essence of your coworkers and the love of your family surrounds you in knowledge, comfort, and love.