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Connecting the Dots

Posted by on Aug 30, 2011 in Career development, Inspiration, Transition | 0 comments

Connecting the Dots

Remember the ‘connect the dots’ books you may have received as a child? You would follow the dots numbered from one to whatever drawing a line from each one to the next. Once you connected all the dots the picture you were drawing was revealed. Growing up we learn that life doesn’t follow a nice and sequential pattern: it unfolds and reveals itself gradually and sometimes seemingly randomly and unpredictably. It is made up of different experiences and events and it is often hard to see any pattern or connection between them. Steve Jobs in his 2005 Stanford University Commencement Address used the metaphor of Connecting the Dots to tell graduates that, in life “you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards… Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference..” Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford University Commencement Address. Steve Jobs followed his heart in his course selection at college and took a calligraphy course. If he hadn’t done that it’s quite possible that an appreciation for fonts and how words look would not have been part of our personal computer experience for as long as it has. He certainly had no idea when he chose to take that course that he would apply the learning from that course when creating a personal computer! Trust that your dots will connect and follow your heart!...

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The Seven Benefits of Improvising Effectively

Posted by on Apr 27, 2012 in Career development, Ideas, Inspiration, portable career, Transition | 0 comments

The Seven Benefits of Improvising Effectively

Today’s world of constant change and transition requires different skills of us. Gone are the days of the big thick policy document that prescribed the desired procedure and behaviour for all expected situations at work. Life is also equally unpredictable. We are playing catch-up half of the time; trying to figure out what just happened and how to respond. What skills can help you in these kinds of times? The principles of improvisational theatre and the skills needed to keep the action going on the stage will also help you to keep the action going in your life. Improvisational theatre is a great tool for today’s world, and it makes life a lot more fun too. Improvisational skills will help you to: Create momentum in your life and career Connect you with others Teach you to take risks Help you overcome a fear of failure Learn how be in the present Let opportunity help shape your journey Exude a ‘YES, and!’ attitude Interestingly enough, in true improv the emphasis is not on the performance or trying to be funny, it is on letting the narrative unfold and keeping the energy flowing on stage. It’s about making the other guy look good. These are also desirable elements for your own life narrative. Here are two fun clips that can give you a sense of what improv can look like. These professionals are simply applying the techniques of improv to produce these results. Learning and practicing these techniques is what improvisational theatre groups do. See if there is one located near you and sign up! Mission Improvable (Vancouver, Canada) The technique in this clip is great for learning more about yourself in a team, listening, being in the moment and making the other guy look good. See how the ‘mistake’ adds to the enjoyment and fun. You can also see when they are not being in the moment as effectively and what happens then. Whose Line is It Anyway? (USA, with Robin Williams) This clip demonstrates how far you can go with these skills, although since it is for TV they often tend to use elements that will get a quick laugh. Here you will see making the other guy look good, being in the moment, advancing the offer and more. You will also see what happens when someone gets a little bit distracted and isn’t in the moment. Come to the Connecting Women meeting in the Hague on Monday, May 7, 2012.  I will be facilitating a session to introduce you to the principles of improv and let you experience them for yourself. You are guaranteed to laugh and go home feeling energized. I hope to see you there....

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Who Has More Stress: Working Expats or Accompanying Spouses?

Posted by on Aug 9, 2012 in expat, portable career, trailing spouse | 2 comments

Who Has More Stress: Working Expats or Accompanying Spouses?

This blog was inspired by the Expat Web LinkedIn Group question posted by Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach (June 2012), and responses posted by group members. The Brookfield Relocation Trends Survey 2012 clearly identifies that failure of the spouse (and family) to adapt well is the top reason identified by respondents for failure of an international assignment. So the survey would say the answer to this question is the spouse. The Brookfield 2012 survey also points out that most spouses who were employed prior to the posting still want to work while on assignment. There is a major identity shift that takes place on the part of the spouse in an international assignment. How one defines ‘career’ or ‘meaningful activity’ makes a big difference to the options available as an expat. There is no one-size-fits-all response from the company itself that will work for everyone. Take responsibility of managing the process for yourself and your own situation. So what are possible solutions? A finding in the Career Choice and the Accompanying Partner Summary Report, July 2012 (www.AccompanyingPartner.com) noted that the personal characteristics of the accompanying partner play a role in determining their sense of fulfillment while on assignment. In many ways it really comes down to the person themselves and how they approach it all. Key qualities that have been identified for success as an expat include: Flexibility Curiosity Empathy Sense of humor Sense of adventure Collaborative and social approach Respect for differences Cultural (self) awareness Realistic expectations (based on pre-assignment preparation)   Regarding expectations, understanding that relocation is a process and not an event can help. Frequent relocation means repeating the first parts of the process over and over again, without necessarily getting through the process far enough to feel ‘really settled’ or ‘at home’ in ways that may be important to you. Some people find the first parts of the process exhilarating and the last parts of the process boring. Others long for the last parts of the process they seem to never quite achieve before moving again. The Career Choice and the Accompanying Partner Summary Report, July 2012, found that those who had been abroad the longest reported the highest levels of fulfillment. Those in the first year of an assignment rated themselves as the most unfulfilled. These results may speak to the fact that those who have been through the process more often and perhaps more completely have developed the skills needed to succeed on assignment. Those at the beginning have yet to learn and more fully develop the skills that experienced accompanying partners have. It is unrealistic to expect to have relocating and adjusting all sorted out within a few months or even a year. Set yourself the goal to actively learn these skills and stay at it. Expat skills are highly transferrable to many settings and crossover with what are also called employability skills. What type of person are you? Respond to the statements below by answering if they are more true or more false for you. Change excites me. I long for adventure. I don’t like routine. I’m curious. I enjoy people, all kinds. I like it ‘my way’. I’m open to learning. I’m experienced with transition. I adjust plans along the way. I can ask for help. Knowing this about yourself,...

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Renewal

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Career development, expat, portable career, trailing spouse, Transition | 0 comments

Renewal

The cycle of life and career is something that fascinates me. I love hearing people’s stories and seeing how careers weave themselves together from threads that seem sometimes too diverse at first glance. But later, looking back it is possible to see how it all wove itself together into the tapestry that is now your life. I can see that reflected in the tapestry of my own career and life. Moving to the Netherlands a few years ago it seemed like I was cutting off my tapestry and starting over again. However, that is not the case at all. By asking the question “how can I remain authentic to who I am and find my way in the Netherlands” I found support through Arnold Veenhof to weave the threads together again. In another recent transition to motherhood, I now also see how threads are picked up and used again in new ways. Ever more fascinating and interesting! This website has also just undergone a cycle of renewal and has some new threads woven in, one of which is this blog. I am looking forward to sharing ideas, aha moments, information and other good things that come across my path through this medium. I hope that it will be an interactive dialogue and look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for being here and being a part of this blog....

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I Believe!

Posted by on Oct 20, 2010 in Career development, Inspiration | 0 comments

I Believe!

I just recently finished reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I really enjoyed getting to know Elizabeth Gilbert through this book. Her writing style is very personal and yet self deprecating; witty and wise with some powerful metaphors. I believe that while she does exaggerate to emphasize a point it is true that she decided to go on this adventure for herself before she knew that she would be funded by her publisher to go as well as produce a book out of the experience. This is exactly the kind of attitude or gumption that I believe creates powerful possibilities in life. I was telling a colleague that I had just finished the book and her opinion is that the book is a fun read however too many people are now just following Elizabeth’s adventure instead of being authentic to finding their own adventure. I completely agree. Where I disagree with my colleague is that she doesn’t believe that Elizabeth had decided to go on the trip and then told her publisher and then found out that she would be funded. She thinks that she was given the offer to go and so she went. I do believe that Elizabeth had the gumption or inner drive to take this trip and that that gumption is what inspired the publisher to fund her. I have said this many times to people I coach and train: people cannot pay you enough money to create that kind of energy if you don’t already have it yourself. So if you follow your heart or passion or inner voice and let it out, you create the possibility for people to be inspired by your passion and support it in one way or other. These kinds of things do happen.  After talking to my colleague I proceeded to my next meeting where I was doing just that: putting my passion out there and giving it a chance. When I moved to the Netherlands 5 years ago I thought to myself, “maybe I’ll end up writing a book about the experience and then I can travel about speaking to groups on the topic”. So here I was talking to book publisher and author’s mentor Jo Parfitt about the fact that I wanted to write a book even though I had not yet chosen a specific topic. And lo and behold, the best imaginable possibility for me emerged during that meeting. Something I couldn’t have imagined myself that is a very complete realization of what I would love to do and yet much simpler. I rode the tram home vibrating with anticipation and excitement. Who knows what will come next on my very own career adventure? Stay tuned and believe in your own dream! P.S. If you would like to receive a motivational note that connects with these themes, then I recommend joining The Adventurer’s Club. You can receive a free “note from the universe” that will help inspire you to stay true to your dream before its manifestation....

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Career Traveller or Tourist?

Posted by on Nov 25, 2010 in Career development, expat, Information, Inspiration, Networking, People, portable career, Slider, trailing spouse, Transition | 0 comments

Career Traveller or Tourist?

When you think about your career it can be useful to use a metaphor to see how you are approaching your life’s work. I really love the traveller and tourist metaphor. In this metaphor, a tourist uses a plan, schedules everything and knows exactly what will happen and where they will be at what time. In contrast, a traveller is there to experience and connect with their journey. Not so much is preplanned and scheduled, leaving room for serendipity and adventures. Travellers are the ones sitting in the marketplace having conversations with the locals and learning about the place firsthand, instead of through a guidebook. I aspire to be a traveller in my career and life journey. When I learned about www.travbuddy.com and that you could make your own personalized travel map for free and see how much of the world you had already experienced, I couldn’t resist. I’m still focussed on the journey and I’m not wanting to just go somewhere and get the t-shirt, but it is fun to quantify what has happened so far! How have you approached your journey? Are you engaged in letting it unfold and experiencing all the adventure that life holds? Or are you looking for some security and a sense of predictability? This will make all the difference in how you are experiencing the events your life has brought....

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Getting ‘Un-stuck’

Posted by on Apr 14, 2011 in Career development, expat, portable career, trailing spouse, Transition | 0 comments

Getting ‘Un-stuck’

Sometimes you can feel ‘stuck’ in your life and career. It could seem like you’re just going through the daily routine without an idea of what for. You ask yourself why you are doing this and when will it end? Sometimes you need to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel when you can’t see it yourself. What is good to know is that you can create that light yourself! A ‘career crisis’, as this could be termed, is often a lack of imagination or the ability to see a different future than the one currently in front of you. It could also be the inability to connect current activities with what’s really important to you in life. The career development process is one that assists people to gain the insights needed to get unstuck; to set goals, dream new dreams, learn more about themselves and find and create new opportunities.  Spring is just the time to get started on growing new things. The days are longer and often this is accompanied with new energy to plant seeds and nuture dreams. As a way to nurture the desire for something new, go for a walk outside and pay attention to all the spring changes you see. New shoots poking out of the ground. Buds on the trees with just a hint of green starting to poke out. Birds sitting in their nests keeping their eggs warm. Let go of your own worries and desire for changes and appreciate all the changes you see happening right in front of you.  After having had this experience you may find that you have created a little mental space for yourself to start dreaming something new or rediscovering an idea that was planted long ago. You may have a different way to create this space for yourself, but whatever you do do not get hung up on exactly how you are going to make it happen. The momentum you create by opening yourself up and dreaming your dream again will help you discover the next step. You will also no longer feel like you are stuck anymore. If you would like assistance getting ‘unstuck’, please contact me for a free information session. As a client recently said, it makes things so much clearer just to be able to talk about them....

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Career Gaps and LinkedIn

Posted by on Mar 22, 2012 in Career development, trailing spouse, Transition | 0 comments

Career Gaps and LinkedIn

Do I say that I took a break to raise my kids? There is no clear answer to the question, although if you look at it from the big picture of what a career is, there are insights to be gained. There are a number of perspectives from which to view your life-work (career) and that impacts how you communicate it to others. If you are a trailing spouse, you have found yourself in a unique situation which will impact your sense of self and identity. I look at career from a holistic perspective that includes all elements of your life (work, learning, leisure, life roles). This allows you the freedom to express your own unique self and find your own personally meaningful way in the world, including that of paid employment if required or if you choose. It also allows you to incorporate expat experiences, paid or unpaid. When you define career this way, then including your role as a mother becomes an essential part of your career story and something to include in your profile. Perhaps though you want to include some elements of your career story on your Facebook timeline and keep LinkedIn just for what you would consider professional roles. I understand the urge to provide the complete story and fill in the professional ‘gaps’ that people worry will undermine their chances. Just as with a resume, if the elements of the story you do provide are compelling and convincing, then people will be interested in knowing more. Take the time to understand your story to date; be convinced yourself that you have valuable skills and experience and trust that those you include in your LinkedIn profile will be enough to open the conversations that will lead you to the fulfilling opportunities you seek. If you do not get the responses you are hoping for then, just like with a resume, continue to revise your profile until you do. Again, just as in a resume, prepare your LinkedIn profile with a focus and purpose. For example, if you work with youth, perhaps having children yourself is an experience that adds credibility to your professional training and experience and thus it makes more sense for you to include it than for people in other lines of work. The book Career Management via LinkedIn suggests a simple title like ‘time out to raise children’. In the case of the youth worker example, using a more specific sentence which profiles the personal experience and makes it professionally relevant may be appropriate. As an alternative, this information could be included in a carefully worded LinkedIn profile summary. For example a more personally specific version of, ‘Over 10 years of professional and personal experience with youth issues’ could be used. A final tip is to join the LinkedIn groups relevant to your profession and career path and take a look at other member’s profiles. Learn from what others are doing and what you think communicates most concisely and effectively for you. You can update your LinkedIn profile every few weeks so don’t feel you have to get it 100% right the first time. The key is to make a start and be visible on LinkedIn. By contributing actively to LinkedIn groups you will be able to demonstrate your competence in...

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Your Own Why

Posted by on Apr 12, 2012 in Career development, expat, Good books, Ideas, Inspiration, Slider | 0 comments

Your Own Why

Knowing your own why can make all the difference in your career and life. I came across this film clip today and wanted to share it with you. It is a 17 minute talk by Simon Sinek called ‘start with why’. His ‘golden circle’ elegantly explains this concept. He also explains how this circle expresses the brain’s natural functioning and gives insight into your own decision making. Knowing your own ‘why’ is a critical piece for doing what you do meaningfully and authentically. Being able to communicate your why is also something that convinces hiring managers that you are the person they cannot do without, in addition to your skills and competenties. Your why will keep you going in times when the going is difficult. It can give you focus and purpose. It will also help you say no when you need to. My own why is empowering people to make personally meaningful career choices. In other words, I want to help others connect with their why and find ways to live that out in their life and career. Let me know how I can help you....

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Create a career you can take with you wherever you are in the world!

Posted by on Jan 20, 2013 in Career development, expat, portable career, Slider, trailing spouse | 0 comments

Create a career you can take with you wherever you are in the world!

I believe that you are able to create the career you want, to craft it into the shape and form that brings you the most joy, wherever you happen to be in the world. My definition of the word career includes all aspects of your life – work, home, leisure, and learning –   and not just what you do for a paycheck. I first heard the term ‘career crafting’ used by Grey Poehnell around 2001. He described his hobby of weaving and choosing different colours and textures to create his own fabric. The metaphor of crafting emphasizes the idea of actively giving shape and form to your career through the choices you make throughout your life. When you also think of your career as being multi-faceted, of having many different elements woven together to make a whole, you can see how all your life choices combine to create your unique career. Your choices lie in: how you combine your different life-roles: parent, partner, daughter/son, sibling, friend, sports enthusiast,  community member, mentor, learner, occupation, etc. what elements you choose to give the most priority to and find most satisfying what skills and qualities you choose to invest in the different aspects of your life how you weave in economic and labour market factors All of these together determine how the fabric of your career will look. The way all these elements are incorporated make your career unique and yours alone. For a career to become portable or mobile it is essential that you start with this mindset of crafting your career. To start with appreciating what you have already woven into your career, of looking at the currently available threads and choosing those that will continue to take your career fabric in a personally desirable direction. It is also a time to step back and explore how your fabric could be looked at from a new angle and thus creating openings for unplanned threads to be woven in. There will always be more than one way of working a thread into your career fabric, and there will always be more than one thread available when you widen your perspective. A flexible and creative mindset is needed to widen your perspective. This is a mindset that recognizes that you have control over your responses to life events and that security comes from knowing your skills and finding ways to apply them. A mindset that is willing to see the choices available and recognize the options that seem to be most promising. A mindset that is flexible, creative and willing to take an informed risk. That sees a career as something you are continually adjusting and crafting as your life and life-roles develop and change, as the world develops and changes, and as you move from one location to another. A creative and crafting mind-set also provides the needed foundation to find ways around, over and through the hurdles and obstacles that appear along the way. Whether the hurdle is a language barrier, a work permit barrier, limited Internet access or a credential issue, creatively thinking from a transferrable skill perspective will generate options. This creativity is fed by the inspiring context of connections with the other people in your life, past and present. It is often the case that the perspective you need is sparked...

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