Unexpected Discoveries from Unrelated Experiences | Taking My Own Advice

Finding something of value you weren’t looking for can be thrilling, especially when it

By: T R L

includes self-discovery.

Recently, I wrote a post about how learning something unrelated to your job can actually boost your career.

I figured if that advice was good for you, it would do me good too. So I started taking  acoustic guitar lessons where I’m learning more than I ever imagined about myself and my career while making a little music.

Why bother?                                                       

It’s easy to get comfortable with our lives, even when we aren’t happy about the trajectory.

Deep down we know there are things we’d like to do, but the energy or the courage to make the effort isn’t there.

What we often forget is that new experiences add to our portfolio, broadening the skills and reference points we bring to our careers. Simply put, new experiences make us more interesting and more confident.

My interest in learning guitar was just a curiosity. I’d played piano as a kid but the guitar’s portability and intimacy seemed more suited to me now. I may have continued putting it off except in passing my friend, Pam, said she’d often thought about taking guitar. That’s all it took. We were both in.

And the beat begins.

Expect the unexpected. That’s how it goes when you try something new.

This process is pretty much the same no matter what you take on:

Get properly equipped–The first guitar I got was too small, so I exchanged it for a Martin that was perfect. Then I learned it had to live in a case where the right humidity was managed. After I got that straight, I needed a metronome, a tuner, and picks.  Done!

Learn skills and right attitudes–I signed up for lessons with Joey Mutis, a teaching, performing, and recorded musician/song writer, perfect. In two sessions, he got me comfortable with my guitar and  began helping me overcome my perfectionism anxieties while teaching me playing mechanics.

Build new perspectives–I needed to understand and accept that playing isn’t about getting all the notes right, but rather about making music. Ultimately, playing guitar is about playing with others, so it’s important is that everyone follows the beat and ends together, a few bad notes generally go unnoticed by listeners. Who knew?

Nurture your aptitudes–I learned that everything about guitar playing can be taught, but not rhythm. Luckily I have that. It was a relief that I brought something built-in to the experience.

Get connected–Now every time I see guitar players, I’m transfixed by their playing. I’ve discovered  friends and colleagues who play, so now I can talk about gigs, gear, and techniques, enriching our connection and building a broader bond.

While expecting a good time learning guitar, I found  a life-enriching experience.

The deeper vibe

Things we do for fun become fuel for professional growth. This guitar experience for me is no exception. As a coach and consultant, I will bring new perspectives to clients on:

Mistakes–Expecting or seeking perfection becomes useless and  punishing self-criticism that only hampers performance. In spite of some wrong notes, the music still reaches you. The same is true for your projects, presentations, and plans. So you need to just keep going, correcting for any serious mistakes in the next take.

Teamwork–Successful teams work through their problems, helping each other out, shaking off incidental mistakes, and reinforcing their collective purpose–to get the right work done in the best way possible. A good band does that because, to each player, the music matters.

Practice–Practice makes progress, not perfection. What matters is to stay committed, discover your ever-increasing capabilities, and enjoy the process while you wait for the next opportunity to showcase what you have mastered.

Learning is a process. The more we invest, the greater our return. It brings insights and revelations at every turn, through every experience, and by the sheer strength of your curiosity.

Today’s another day for you to revisit something that you’ve always wanted to explore. Then  go ahead and do it.  Your career will thank you.

Want an Edge for Your Job Interview? | Do the Work

The art of interviewing well—it’s a thing of beauty! The candidate walks out the door and the interviewer basks in the after-glow. Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between. 

Why is that? Because interviewing well isn’t easy. It’s a skill that needs to be perfected so that you make it look easy, the way golf and tennis pros make their sports look easy. 

Your “sport” is the interview. Have you worked hard to become a pro? Or are you willing to be one of many who fall flat? 

It is pathetic that so many candidates don’t take advantage of mock interviews when they have the chance. 

Okay, that sounds harsh, but I mean it. 

Job opportunities are so thin and the need so great, how can you not prepare yourself before you’re sitting across the desk from an interviewer? It’s either arrogance or ignorance. 

College career offices routinely offer mock sessions with either faculty or outside business people; some even video-tape you. Community career centers and local community colleges also provide interview training for folks who are out of work. 

The expectations of hiring managers are different today. They expect more. So to think you can just wing an interview without knowing how the game is played is self-defeating. 

Get over yourself! 

Here’s the issue: People don’t learn and practice interviewing skills because they feel embarrassed, self-conscious, uncertain, and awkward. 

They often aren’t confident in their credentials or their ability to explain their capabilities, the gaps in their resumes, and the skills that will be expected. 

If that’s the case with you, that’s precisely why you need to learn how to interview well and then practice, practice, practice! 

When you need a job, you have to suck up your insecurities, set your ego aside, and do what has to be done to be the winning candidate. 

 Here’s what you need to do: 

Assemble basic information for a strong interview: 

  • A resume focused on what you’ve accomplished. (That’s your marketing brochure.)
  • A list of 5 or 6 “stories” that illustrate the results you’ve achieved and how (That’s what you’ll drawn on to answer any question.)
  • An understanding of how a behavioral interview is conducted
  • Knowledge of the business and the position
  • Questions you will ask about the business and the job at the end (not about salary, benefits, time off, or promotional opportunities) 

Listen to the sound of your own voice. 

  • Google “behavioral interviewing” and go to sites that give you sample questions.
  • Select about 8 questions that address the desired characteristics listed in the posting.
  • Play act by yourself or with another person as the interviewer, by answering those questions. If alone, talk to yourself in the mirror.
  • Hear yourself answering those questions, get used to breathing, pausing, and taking time to gather your thoughts because that’s what will happen in the interview. 

Go on a practice interview…a real one!

If you have a chance to be interviewed for an opening that you think you don’t want or don’t think you’ll get, do it anyway. There’s nothing better than taking all your preparation live. 

Here’s the upside: If you aren’t all worked up about getting the job, you will likely be more relaxed and focused on putting your interview skills into practice. When you go to an interview thinking that “this is the job I’ve always wanted,” you will be more focused on winning than playing. That rarely ends well. 

If you want to succeed, you have to prepare. 

Job interviewing is a competitive activity. It’s a business fitness game that requires mental toughness, dedication, and willingness to put yourself out there. Only a fool goes into the fray without strategies, knowledge, and practiced skills. Don’t let that be you. 

What is it that most unnerves you about getting ready for the interview? If I can help, I will.