March 2009 Newsletter

Daisy Swan & Associates – March Madness (or, not…)

What’s Inside:

  • Welcome & Introduction, by Daisy Swan, MA, CPCC: The Los Angeles Career Counselor & Coach
  • Lessons I’ve learned that have been helpful to me (and to others)
  • Some Recommended Reads, Web Sites & Articles of Interest
  • Upcoming Daisy Swan & Associates Events

Welcome & Introduction, by Daisy Swan, MA, CPCC: The Los Angeles Career Counselor & Coach

Hello, Readers!

I want to thank those of you who have noticed that I haven’t sent out any messages of one sort or another, as of late. Indeed, my last Newsletter came out in August, when the winds of change were whipping up some strong waves. And here we are, in the midst of the storm, as the month of March begins.

March is known for its winds and basketball games. I always thought that it was the cruelest month – although others have said it’s April – because of the tease of spring with daffodils and crocuses, but also wet snow, rains and slush…mostly found in places other than So. California. As I write this, I’m sitting outside in the glorious Los Angeles weather – it’s sunny and hot and there’s a beautiful breeze. Sitting here, it’s easy to remember more of what I’m grateful for; I recognize the fact that this can be harder to do, when it’s grey and cold.

I am very privileged to hear – and grateful for – the stories that my clients relate to me. I hear about companies whose integrity (or lack thereof) has left them yearning for a different kind of work. I’ve met with clients whose confidence has sunk by too long of a job search, only to be buoyed by a final, successful connection with someone who helps them to land a job. I’ve witnessed transformations of resumes and self-esteem, from depression to confident movement.  I’ve seen creative and capable people question their abilities, only to investigate further and find that what they’ve needed was more human contact vs. the isolation of a keyboard in a home office. I’ve also had the privilege of hearing about the sadness and regret of those who are in management positions, who have to lay off those who may or may not have been doing a good enough job. The heart-wrenching activity of telling people that their job is lost has such deep repercussions for those who do the telling, and for those who hear it.

Honestly, I admit that all of the turbulence of the markets and my clients’ ups and downs has personally affected me – I take my work to heart which means that I carry with me the stories of those who are hurting. In order to be the professional I want to be I’ve needed time to digest and process what’s been happening out there, and within me. Those of you who know me well, know that I don’t do roller coasters – I get motion sickness. These days, many of us are feeling the affects of roller coaster rides of the mind and of the stock market, and I don’t think they’ve been much fun or the type of exhilaration that my son seeks when we visit Six Flags. I’m here to report, from a much more peaceful place, that I have learned some things from this wave of emotion and thoughts that has caused some motion sickness.

Lessons I’ve learned that have been helpful to me (and to others):

1) Stop believing all of the thoughts that occupy your brain. Often my thoughts are just made-up fears that create stress and anxiety. Isn’t it easy, to get so far out in front of ourselves? The thoughts that make me happy and grateful help me to be more present and loving, and from that state of mind I can be more effective in taking the next necessary actions. While it may seem trite, keeping a list of those people and things that you are grateful for really can bring you back to a more peaceful state of mind; and peace of mind is a great commodity these days.  Try this, and see how it changes you.

2) Connect with others more often. We have more connectivity than ever, yet most of us haven’t been getting out and seeing people. Every report on happiness and satisfaction tells us that happier people spend time with other people with whom they can connect. Speaking the truth with others leads to more truth and understanding. And that leads to more willingness to share. In the last two months, I’ve made it a point to get out and meet with people in person whom I’ve only recently met briefly, or whom I haven’t seen in months. I’ve learned about opportunities for my clients and opportunities for me and for the coaches who work with me, as well as more about the developments of the world – which is fascinating and inspiring.  And to aid others in this process, we are offering groups to support and nurture those in the job search and transition realms. Even if you only connect with one person out of a group, you will have made progress. If you aren’t local and can’t connect with us here, look for a place where you can, near you.

3) Take time off to do enriching activities. This is essential – not a luxury.  As a business owner who has become a bit of a workaholic, I now see that I have to step away from the keyboard and spend some time in nature, or time with my family at the Monopoly board. I need to attend lectures and luncheons where I can hear more about what’s happening in the world, and where I can meet others of like mind.  And, we all know this, exercise is a must – and what better time to get in shape? All of these activities enrich me. What does this for you? Playing a pick-up game of basketball? Going cross-country skiing? Boxing? Knitting? Planning a move to a new part of the country? Then do it. Soon.

4) Face the truth of the situation in which we find ourselves. This is the toughest thing to do, and the most important. Looking at our spending and our necessities, and then making a plan that helps support us through this tough time, helps all of us to know where we stand in our lives. This knowing creates a sense of ease; if you need help getting through this enlist a friend to do it with you – hopefully someone who has the patience and mathematical acumen to go through a line-by-line list of expenses.

5) Be on top of your game. Be knowledgeable about a variety of topics of interest to others, so that you can talk with a wide cross-section of people. This way, you can strike up a conversation with a diverse group of people – you never know who will be standing with you in the [Trader Joe’s, Peet’s Coffee, Pinkberry, movie ticket] line,  where a chance conversation can begin. Smiling helps; smile often. We all need this.

6) Be prepared. Be as prepared as you can be with an updated resume that tells your story as effectively as possible. Being prepared to talk with others as clearly as you can – while staying positive and sincere – about what you are good at doing and how you are a benefit to employers, is a must. Be prepared with an updated wardrobe – you may have been in a casual environment for a long time, or perhaps a very formal one. Be prepared to dress appropriately for various functions and interviews. You want to make the best possible impression on those you are meeting. Which also speaks to being as comfortable in your own skin as you possibly can be…which takes us back to all of the above lessons.

7) Volunteer. Offering your skills and services to an organization that may be experiencing tough times due to a lack of resources, may be the perfect place for you to build upon – and use – your skills in a new environment. This gives you the opportunity to develop new ways of talking about yourself, increases your friend and contact list, and gets you away from that nasty mind-numbing computer or TV that may be giving you a back or headache. Go play with some kids or help organize a fund drive for an organization that needs you – and your invaluable skill set.

What we are currently experiencing in our world is wildly instructive for most of us. As a person who started meditating when I was 16, who studied and practiced Buddhism back in the 70’s (when it wasn’t hip), and who pays a great deal of attention to the intuition and information I get from my body, I see that this is a wonderful time for all of us to connect to a larger sense of the world. We have an opportunity to stretch ourselves by simply being present. Don’t let me lead you to believe that I’m a master of all of this: I’m clearly not. I do know that our fear and our unruly minds need to be calmed, and can be, by discipline and smart action. A very kind heart can protect us from ourselves and our personal and professional foibles.

Careers do not always move in an upward direction. Those days are gone and actually have been, for quite a while. A new model is emerging with our new world, and fighting it doesn’t help. Being flexible, to bend with the blowing breeze, and being present enough to stand upright in the winds of change, inherently fills you with integrity. And possibility.

Doing our best, no matter which direction we’re moving in, is what’s called for now. When I review resumes, I can see how historical events have affected career choices. If you think I’m talking about you, you’re right. And there are a lot of you. Many people have gone up, down and sideways as they’ve moved along in their careers. Often times, they had no idea a ‘sideways’ move was going to look like what it did. Who knew? Not engaging in the comparing and doubting mind that creates so much suffering for so many of us, will free you up so that you can see the options that exist, or to take action and drum up new opportunities. We are a nation of inventors; we can – and will – create something new to get the action going again.

Some Recommended Reads, Web Sites & Articles of Interest

The avid reader that I am, here are a few notable books that I’ve enjoyed, and think are particularly noteworthy in today’s life landscape. Also, check out my blog, which is updated regularly with articles I’ve found, as well as my own thoughts and advice:

“Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell
“Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself” by Daniel H. Pink
“The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids” by Madeline Levine, Ph.D.
“Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life” by Byron Katie

Other sources of information that I recommend:

“Speaking of Faith” with Krista Tippett, NPR Podcast
And check out the February 27th LA Weekly article featuring an interview with yours truly, Daisy Swan!

For more suggested reads, links to helpful sites, a Q&A with me, newsletter archives and more, check out the Resources page on my website.

Upcoming Daisy Swan & Associates Events

In the next few months, I am planning to host various discussion panels and networking events. If there is a topic you’d like to see us address through a panel or workshop, I hope you’ll take a moment to let us know. And if you know of someone you want to recommend as a speaker, please share that information, too. Details and dates for future events can be found on my website Events page. Included on this page, you will find further information about the afore-mentioned job search and networking support groups which we currently offer.

Until I get to see or hear from each of you again, keep your head up and your eyes open, and continually strive to be the best that you can be. Not that any of you would ever do any different!

Daisy Swan