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"In the career counseling arena I have found your articles to be some of the very best."
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Winning Mindset = Success

From Career Tips, 2007 Volume 8, August 2007


From a career column in the local newspaper:

"I was just passed by for promotion. The person they chose seems to focus on what I think are superficial behaviors: smiling and shaking hands a lot; positioning himself near the boss at meetings and generally projecting a take-charge attitude. I'm more reserved, and actually think I get more done with better quality than he does. Am I missing something important in my career?"

Projecting yourself with confidence is critically important to creating influence and visibility critical to achieving your career goals. What may seem like superficial behaviors are often a projection of the confidence you feel (and project to others).

Success breeds confidence, and confidence breeds success. You need to step out confidently and present a winning mindset to give yourself the best chance of achieving your career goals. Dipping your toes tentatively and testing the waters may be good advice for swimming in an unfamiliar area, but it rarely leads to real career or business success. Unless you can show me that you are really passionate about your goal and have confidence in your own ability to achieve it, why should I believe in you?

Here are two real-life examples of what a winning mindset can mean: Three years after being laid off, "Jim" was deeply depressed, having secured only a year of contract work in all that time. He had lost confidence in his abilities after hearing so many people tell him he was out of work too long, his skills weren't up-to-date, his salary expectations were too high, etc.

After working with him to draw out his accomplishments and get him back in touch with the measurable results he had been able to achieve for past employers, Jim began to regain his confidence.

Within three months, he had landed exactly the sort of job he wanted. And Jim had the confidence to push back on the initial salary offer, getting it bumped up $10,000 to the level he deserved.

  • "Neal" had a chance to meet with the chair of his company via a 'Skip' meeting, where the senior officers would have one-on-one sessions with people a few levels down in the organization. When asked about his goal for that session, he replied, "To make sure the chair knows what my unit does." Once we reframed this as, "To make sure the chair knows exactly what value my unit and I add to the company," he was able to brainstorm on how to accomplish his goal, and walked into the meeting with a winning mindset.

    On the way out, the chair said, "Neal, keep me informed on your upcoming trip to Costa Rica. I might want to travel with you to pursue business opportunities."

    Think about how you present yourself:

  • Do you make clear, concise statements of the value you will bring to a prospective employer or client in the opening of your resume, cover letter, and other marketing materials, or do you fall back on generalizations and "years of experience"?

  • Does your 30 second pitch focus squarely on what problems you can solve for your target company/employer/client, or is it an exposition of what you do?

  • Do you position yourself near the front of the room in a presentation, where you might be noticed, or in the back? And do you ask questions, or wait for others to raise the points first?

  • Do you walk into networking meetings with your own agenda of what you want to accomplish, or what outcome you would like to see, or do you just hope you will get a good result?

  • Do you give yourself an assignment at the end of any critical meeting, an action step you take upon yourself to ensure that you are in charge of the results?

  • In an interview, do you interject questions throughout, or do you save them up for the point where the interviewer asks if you have any questions?

  • After an interview or critical meeting with a potential client, do you wait for them to call you back, or do you take action to follow up on a regular basis, each time explicitly setting a next follow-up date?

    It is possible to create a winning mindset, often just by committing to take action. The key is passion and confidence, and sometimes just forcing yourself to act more confidently than you feel and then letting the emotion follow.

    Before I started my current practice, I helped jobseekers as a hobby on the side of my successful systems consulting practice. I knew it was something I was good at, but my own comfort zone was to avoid jumping right in, and I instead thought about ways I could test the waters.

    One day I had lunch with another coach, and left with a real fire in my belly about starting my practice. I committed to myself to immediately put out my first marketing e-mail to a large business networking group. I wrote my first draft, then started to think, "What's the best message, the most compelling offer, the best way to send it out that's not too self-serving?"

    I quickly recognized the trap, decided there were no answers to these questions, and limited myself to one hour to refine my message and send out a confident offer. Within 48 hours, I had 100 requests for my free resume assessment offer!

    You may be thinking, "This Winning Mindset is all well and good, but I don't want to be pushy. I don't want to be telling everyone I'm the best thing since sliced bread!"

    That's the beauty of it-You don't have to! The Winning Mindset is internal.
    It's about getting really clear on what you bring to the table, and generating your own internal confidence in that. Yes, you do need to present well what you can do, but this doesn't need to be an in-your-face approach. If you have that clear confidence in yourself, and let people know in a simple, clear, confident way what value you are capable of adding, they will get it. You will exude that quiet confidence that gets you new opportunities!

    And if you're struggling with how to gain that Winning Mindset, maybe we should talk...just drop me an email to set up a convenient time at John@JHACareers.com

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    (C) 2009 John West Hadley, All Rights Reserved
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