Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Closed Mind?

I work with a great group of people.  It's a big reason why I enjoy my job.  I can honestly say that if it weren't for them, I'd most likely be actively looking for a new position. 

One particular co-worker is so hard working and dedicated that I can't help but appreciate everything she does.  In return, I'd like to help her out with some of her goals.

So I asked her one day, "What is one thing that you've always wanted to accomplish, but haven't?"  Her response was, "I've always wanted to travel.  To get on an airplane and go somewhere." Later she told me that not only had she never been on an airplane, but she's never left the state of Minnesota.  When I asked what were the barriers for her to go somewhere she said money and nobody to go with.  Her husband loves his farm and prefers to stay close to home.  Two big barriers. 

Right away in my mind I was contemplating solutions to her obstacles.  "I bet her daughter would go with her, and I bet if she set aside just two dollars a day, at the end of the year she could pay for herself to go on a nice trip.  If she saved two bucks for two years, she could pay for herself and someone else".
A simple, fairly easy plan I thought.  I became excited for her that I had to share my ideas.   So I did.  And I think she liked my plan and became excited!  This was going to be a great experience! 

Unfortunately I've uncovered what I think is her biggest obstacle.  Her mind.  Later in the week, she was filled with hesitation and was coming up with different plans on how to better use her money.  "What if something needs to be fixed, our house needs some repairs.  I think the money would be better used for something else."

Right then, I knew she wasn't going to get on an airplane.  Ever.

I think for years she has told herself over and over again that she would always like to travel but she'll never be able to.  She has told herself this for so long that it has become her truth.

I've become frustrated with the situation.  The solution seems easy to me.  How do I convince her that she can accomplish a life long dream?  I get frustrated because I don't think I can change her mind.  Maybe I'm a frustrated too because I have areas in my life that I could accomplish, but choose to believe I can't. 

So I have questions for "Just Getting Warmed Up" readers:
What do I do now?
Should I do anything else for my co-worker or just drop it?

I leave you with some quotes that relate to accomplishment.
  • If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place − Nora Roberts
  • Where hope grows, miracles blossom − Elna Rae
  • Hope never abandons you, you abandon it − George Weinberg
  • Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance Bruce Barton
  • A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing − George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Five Years

Five years ago my son was just born, my wife worked a part-time position at the church, and I was a youth programs coordinator for Shakopee Community ed.  With a growing family and expenses, I focused my efforts on getting my community ed. director's license so that I could find a job that paid the bills and one I would enjoy.

The Shakopee Community ed. position gave me my first break.  Before landing the Shakopee job I had applied for many recreation and community ed. positions and was called to do a few interviews, only to be told, "We hired someone with more experience."

The phrase, "We hired someone with more experience." was something that I was hearing again now that I was applying for community ed. director positions.  Not only was I applying for director positions, I was looking for coordinator positions in other districts that paid substantially more than I was making.

I applied, and interviewed for at least two dozen positions five years ago and wasn't offered anything.  Each failed interview I learned something.  I learned likely interview questions, learned to make sure I knew where the interview was (I was 20 minute late for one), and to research on each agency I applied for.  The turning point came when I was asked to apply for a coordinator's job in a nearby district.  The position was identical to mine in Shakopee, only it paid $15,000 more.  Undoubtedly I felt I was the best candidate with the most experience.   I still didn't get the job.   I failed again.  I was crushed and bitter.  I knew I needed to raise the bar on how I presented myself during the interview.  So I vowed to research more on the jobs I was applying for and spend more time on my delivery.   If this didn't work, it would be a serious blow to my confidence and ego.

A few months after the failed interview, a community ed. director's position opened up that was very intriguing.  I applied and was asked to come in for an interview.   I had a week to prepare.  Here is what I did.

Day 1. Bought a brand new suit, shirt, tie and shoes.  I now looked sharp.
Day 2. Drove to the city the job was located in with my family, stopped at the Dairy Queen and asked the locals about community ed - and what they thought about the community ed. program.  Then I drove to the library to pick up the community ed. catalog to learn more about the community ed. department.
Day 3. Wrote potential interview questions and wrote my answers.
Day 4. Called the person who's job I was replacing and asked questions about the district, the position, potential obstacles and some positives about the community ed. department.
Day 5.  My wife conducted a mock interview with me.
Day 6.  Spent several hours rehearsing answers with my wife and tweaking answers to fit what I wanted to say.

So I walked into the interview, gave everyone a firm handshake and a smile.  And nailed the interview.  Fortunately, they asked questions I prepared for.  And because I had practiced extensively, I didn't fumble over my words and wasn't as nervous.  Practice had given me confidence.

Two days later they offered me the position.

Today I finally have my community ed. director position in a great school district.   I love this job, but I want to challenge myself and in the next five years hope to have new position closer to home or a position in a larger school district.

Five years from now, my son will be 10 and in fourth grade.  Five years from now... if history shows any consistency a lot will happen in your life.   The next five years may bring new jobs, new learning opportunities, and challenges.  Looking back at the last five years, and looking in the future and where I want to be five years from now, I hope I continue to grow in all aspects of my life, my faith, family, financially, and my career.  It goes by fast.  In the span of 10 years much can change dramatically. 

What would you say to the person you were five years ago?  What would you say to the person you'll be in five years?