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SWOT Yourself

swot analysis

There’s a popular business analysis tool known as S.W.O.T. It provides a method for looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

SWOT reviews are done for business issues of all kinds like competition, market position, product design, sales, and technology. As applied to a business, you can see the merit of doing this review periodically.

SWOT

However, it can be useful on a personal level as well. Managers and leaders should take time during annual reviews and goal setting to add this powerful view as well. Here’s how it can work.

Personal Review Using SWOT

A plan of action using a Personal SWOT Analysis can be developed for every aspect of development and execution because there are always three critical components in every chosen role you may serve. Whether you are husband, wife, father, mother, community leader, volunteer or other, you can SWOT your contribution to that effort.

Why? Because every role we serve has three key components.

Identity, Purpose, and Intention.

These three components form a process of right action. Without understanding who you are or what your business or organizational core competence is and what is the purpose you intend, you are always going to be guessing more than you have to.

In the following analysis, you are taken step by step through a proven process of creating clarity of the right action.

However, to do so we have to begin with a simple way of fleshing out the context within which you intend to work. It doesn’t matter what context or role you choose, each of them requires you to be clear.

In order to reach clarity we take some simple, yet critically important steps. The first steps begin with a SWOT Analysis.

You will focus on the following overriding questions:

  • Do you know your personal purpose?
  • What are your goals or objectives?
  • What are your values?
  • HOW Can YOU match your STRENGTHS to OPPORTUNITIES/Openings?
  • How can you reduce the impact of your WEAKNESSES and THREATS?
  • How do you differentiate yourself from your competition?

Strengths

Trying to analyze one’s own strengths can be tricky. Throughout all of my coaching, I seldom see anyone who gets this exactly right the first time. Some might be modest and undervalue great strength in areas like collaboration, employee empowerment, decision making, or planning.

Others can be more boastful, seeming to know without a doubt they are great leaders who people should feel honored to serve; “my way or the highway” approach to leadership.

Entrepreneurs can be especially blinded by the emotional connection to their idea. While the great new product or service has great potential, the business will fail because the founder doesn’t know what he/she doesn’t know.

Before isolating your own estimation of your strengths, seek some 360 feedback. Get input from others you value as trusted advisors. Do an informal ask session.

Then compile a list of the strengths that you can use to accomplish your goals and objectives.

Weaknesses

Just like your strengths, identifying “weaknesses” in your personal domain can be hard. Objectivity can be lacking. You may even be suffering blindspots where your weaknesses reside. Using 360 reviews and stakeholder feedback can help inform you of areas where there is an opportunity for improvement.

However, you may know exactly what areas or what issues give you the most trouble. Stating what these may be will help round out the SWOT analysis.

Opportunities

These are the things you can see as a new direction; changes that allow you to reach new goals. Taking a good look at the road in front of you can reveal opportunities for growth and change.

Listing them while doing this personal inventory helps bring motivation and inspiration to the plan.

Threats

Making a good assessment of personal threats is also tricky. I recommend starting with your mindset.

Do you hold any limiting thoughts about who you are and what you can do?

If you ever wondered about a limiting thought, they sound like this:

  • I’m too small
  • I’m too slow
  • I’m too ugly
  • I don’t have the right degree.
  • You failed at this the last time.

Any statement rumbling in your head that starts with or sounds like these needs to be eliminated first. Then you can deal with identifying true threats to your personal goals.

Performing a Periodic Personal Review

Just as every successful business invests time to perform SWOT analysis from time to time, you too should perform this review with your work life, home life, and career balance.

See what the data may tell you about the direction you are heading. Use the informed analysis to redirect your path, redefine goals, and set a new course.

Have a great and prosperous New Year!

If you want to know more about the ways I can help you or your business, click the button below.

Happy Easter 2022

Happy Easter

There was this man who claimed to be the Son of God. He taught a TOTALLY new way to live and introduced us to a concept called Heaven, a different afterlife than Judaism taught.

He taught us that God is our Father and resides in Heaven, preparing it for us. He said that God wants a relationship with us and wants us to join him in Heaven. He said that the only way for us to get there is to believe in him. He did lots of good works and performed miracles, proving his claims of divinity.

Per his predictions, he was tortured and killed by the religious leaders of the day for upsetting their value system and calling them out. He used words like hypocrite, blind guides, fools, and brood of vipers in describing their teachings and categorically discounted just about every piece of former doctrine including diet, the synagogue, cleanliness, the Sabbath, and so on.

He also mocked their claims to Abraham, THE central figure and cornerstone of their belief system. Probably fearing a rebellion against their beliefs or righteous indignation of being offended by his heretical teachings, they killed him.

Also as predicted, he came back to life three days after his death and spent the next 40 days showing himself to the general public, before departing for heaven himself.

Our choice today is simple. Believe that Jesus was who he said he was and follow his commands, teachings, and examples….

OR believe that Jesus was the greatest religious fraud of all time.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Christianity in less than 200 words. Love you guys.

Happy Easter

You Are NOT Your Job

If you lost your job today, what would that do to your sense of self-worth?

Would you be OK with it, or would you really suffer? Would you be worried about what your spouse, children, family, and friends think about you because you lost the job?

During the financial crisis of 2007-08 millions of American’s lost their jobs. Unemployment was at long-time highs. I know this time very well. You see, I too suffered loss because of the crisis. I had to close a company. A company my wife and I had labored to build.

We were almost to the five-year mark, then the crisis hit. Five years is significant because the Small Business Administration tells us that the odds of a small business surviving go off the chart if they make it through their first five years. We didn’t make that.

After losing my company, I started exploring what to do. I started joining large networking events that were happening all over Houston, my hometown. However, none of these events were being held near my house. I live on the outskirts of Houston. Driving to some of these meetings included a fifty-mile trip, one way. With gas at over $4.00 per gallon and me unemployed, this didn’t make sense.

The Main Event

So my entrepreneurial juices were activated. I started my own career transition organization called Jobs Ministry Southwest. We applied for and were given the 501c(3) non-profit status. We started organizing a weekly gathering known as “The Main Event”. Soon we had over 200 people attending our weekly workshops, hearing our speakers, and using our materials.

Career Transition Workshop

We had all of the usual things you would expect from a job assistance organization (resume writing, interviewing skills coaching, networking, social media, etc.). For me though, what I quickly figured out was the phenomenon of how people dealt with job loss.

First, there was a huge common split between men and women. Men looked at their jobs for their significance. When I asked a man to tell me something about himself, 99% of the time he went straight to talking about his job; title, role, reach, budget, team size, and so forth. I had not asked what he did for a living. I asked to know something about them.

Women, on the other hand, talked about a sense of security. The job gave them security. This usually translated into financial security, but often included the notion that at work they could be safe from whatever may be happening outside of work. Yes, this includes domestic violence, substance abuse, and other horrific things we see in the news.

Job Loss Can Be Devastating

Let’s see how this works. You can only imagine how losing the job caused devastation in either direction. Men would often express losing their actual identities over a job loss. “I am not an engineer anymore; I am going to have to become a fry cook.” (No disrespect to any type of position or work intended here). Women losing their jobs were emotionally wreaked for having lost their security; fear became the primary emotion.

While coaching hundreds of these folks individually, I found myself revisiting this common thread far too often. I spent a lot of time helping people re-center their core beliefs about who they were, what they were made of, and differentiating the job loss circumstance from their inner being. It was no small task.

When someone has interwoven these beliefs for decades, trying to untangle that mess was daunting. Sadly, not everyone made it through the mental shift. For those who did though, a whole new outlook drove them to seek new ideas, even new careers, to better align with what they discovered were their true values.

Separating the job from who you are is the key.

The Need

The need is to learn how to begin separating the job from the self. That’s pretty lousy grammar, but it gets to the point.

First, let’s talk about how we even get to this point in life. My wife and I are in the grandparents stage of our lives. Our kids are grown and married, having their own children. We have seven grandkids and counting.

As we celebrate the births and bring the new babies home, I have observed a few key thoughts. None of those babies left the hospital with a smartphone, a business card, a laptop, or an iPad. They weren’t waiting on the next call or rushing to the next appointment or shift change. Their only ‘job’ was to eat, sleep, and, well, you know what.

When did the identity thing start shifting away from what it was at birth to what it becomes for so many Americans? Where does this sense of work and vocation creep in and drive the definition of personal significance?

The Frog in the Pot

I like to refer to the story of the frog in the pot. The story says that you put a frog in cool water, in a pot on the stove. Then start turning up the heat slowly. Eventually, the water boils and the frog dies. If you boil the water first, then drop the frog in, he jumps right out.

So many situations in life are this way. We get into a scenario. Over time, the circumstances change, pressures build, attitudes shift, and eventually, we are at a whole new place.

Believe me, I know about competitive forces at work – the push to win the next promotion, get the right recognition, and get that next raise. All of it becomes a focus for anyone hoping to prosper in the workplace. As these things accumulate, our culture tends to honor the achievements.

We stand in awe of our corporate giants, people who have “climbed the ladder” as we say. It is easy to feel proud of those accomplishments. For each new rung on the ladder though, a bit of our true identity gets painted with a new brush. We start becoming the job.

Again though, the need here is to distance our definition of self from the job description we have.

Satisfaction of the Need

So how do we ever start making this happen? How can we separate our identity from the jobs we hold so dear?

What might be some of the hurdles to overcome? Well, here are the ones I have seen over the years in my business.

Poor self-esteem – This one might have been over done in years past. Yet it remains a key driver. Why?

When our individual understanding and belief about our sense of self has been damaged, we naturally look for a substitute. We look for something to latch on to that can fill that void deep inside us. It’s a kind of replacement thinking. The job is a huge part of our life, so why not let your new statement of what you are be about the job.

Well, the logic might not be bad, but the result is dangerous. Why? Because if the job opportunity evaporates as it did for so many in 2008, what do you have?

You get pushed right back into that sense of failure, inadequacy, and so forth.

This sounds too ethereal – “Everything you’re talking about Doug sounds bogus.” Really? All I can tell you is that I have firsthand experience with thousands of job seekers who needed to get this right before they could land their next gig.

When the economy is throwing lemons, a person needs a really centered belief system to avoid getting down on themselves about the situation. It can happen to anyone.

Bad tapes playing in your mind – Losing a job has a lot of unhealthy consequences. The biggest one is the risk that those old tapes in your brain start playing. You know what I am talking about.

The tape with the teacher telling you how bad you are. The one with the sibling riding you about something you did feel bad about but didn’t need to be reminded of.

And worst of all is the look in the mirror where you see a very poor image looking back. I know these bad tape topics can go on and on.

None of this kind of thinking is good for you. And frankly, I have yet to find a case study where the truth was anything close to being as bad as what the person claimed as their downside.

Visualization

By understanding this overall dynamic and the relationship between job and self, you can free yourself of the disappointment, guilt, fear, and uncertainty when your job is adversely impacted or lost.

When the job situation changes enough you no longer have to trigger all of those emotions.

By redefining your purpose and sense of self, you can more quickly focus your energy when the job situation changes.

The rollercoaster effect does not have to have such severe highs and lows. A job change is never easy, but by disconnecting your value system from the significance of the work, you reach a better, more realistic view of what the job should be and where it fits in the scheme of things.

Take Action

So how do you get there? Here are a few action items to consider.

Test yourself in advance. Ask the key question – will I be OK if I were to lose my job?

I mean really dive deep on that one. If the answer is “NO, I won’t be OK, emotionally I’ll be ruined”, then you might be dealing with this troubling idea that your self-worth is too closely bound to your job.

While I will grant you the obvious issues that arise from such a question, I am saying to set aside the financial impact.

Focus on the psychological and emotional things that are spun up when you entertain this question; things like fear, doubt, anger, hostility. Experts tell us these kinds of emotions are symptomatic of deeper root causes. I contend that having your job tied to your identity is a pretty big root.

Ask others – Ask your closest friends and confidants. Ask these folks what they think about your balance for work versus your sense of self.

Hint: a spouse is not always the best person to ask this question. This is true simply because they have too much vested and at stake.

Imagine going a whole new direction with work – If your opportunity to make money went a whole new way, would losing the former position or job impact your definition of yourself.

This can help determine how proud you are of the current situation. Pride is usually indicative of tying it to some sense of self-worth. If something is boosting some area of your mental image, you are often proud of it.

Try to define who and what you are without mentioning work – Try this one day. See if you like the statement you have. If not, take some time to work on that.

In closing, let me say this theme has been played out in many lives I know. It seems to be human nature to let our work become a definition of what we are.

I encourage you to do yourself a favor. If your identity and sense of self-worth is tied too closely to your job, start the process I’ve presented here. Work through the issues and create a new story for yourself.

I hope this has helped. If you want to learn more, follow my blog at DougThorpe.com.

As always, join in the community discussions by adding a comment on any of the posts or articles. I hope to hear from you soon.

BONUS SECTION – If you or someone you know is facing a career transition, I wrote a book about the program I created at Jobs Ministry Southwest. It is called “STRIVE.” The book includes the powerful and effective 6-step job search success program by the same name. Also in this book, I share an in-depth process to help you regain your sense of personal purpose.

Remember, you are NOT your job.

Through the Leadership Looking Glass

Or what lens are you seeing through?

Launching my 2022 campaign to help 10,000 managers and business owners become better bosses, I’ve already gotten some great responses. Over 1,400 have already acknowledged the need to improve and their pledge to do so. For more on my campaign, read below.

Yet the most common question so far is “where do I start?” To answer that, I turn to an old friend the Johari Window.

The Johari Window is that view that compares the known versus the unknown, the seen versus the unseen. It adds the dimension of you versus others. Here’s the diagram.

In this model, a leader can position themselves to evaluate exactly where they might stand.

Doing the Analysis

Looking at this diagram, ask yourself these questions.

What do I do well? These should be things not limited to what you think you do well (the Facade box), but things others acknowledge (the Arena box). Good bosses leverage the strengths and abilities they already possess while they work on the gaps they need to fill.

Do I have things in my “Unknown” box that should be worked on? An example here is the “Imposter Syndrome”. Many managers feel their situation is fake. They are so uncomfortable in the role, they are barely faking it to make it. Folks with this going on are afraid to open up about the uncertainty for fear of losing the job.

What are my blind spots? They’re called blind spots for a reason. You can’t see them by yourself. Who has ever seen the center of their own back? Not without a mirror. It takes an extra effort, device, or instrument to reveal the blind spots we have. Getting proper feedback from 360 reviews, special accountability partners, close confidants, or a coach is required to properly see a blind spot.

What are Blind Spots?

In her book, Fearless Leadership, Loretta Malandro, PhD., identified 10 behavioral blind spots that can derail leaders.

These 10 blind spots are:

  • Going it alone
  • Being insensitive to how your behavior impacts others
  • Having an “I know” attitude
  • Avoiding the difficult conversations
  • Blaming others or circumstances
  • Treating commitments casually
  • Conspiring against others
  • Withholding emotional commitment
  • Not taking a stand
  • Tolerating “good enough”

We each have these blind spots, with some being larger for us than others. Just like in a car, knowing your blind spots is important as you can make some extra effort to ensure that you see what you are doing. And just like in cars, if you don’t know your blind spots, you can get into big trouble.

The first step in avoiding these blind spots is to understand them and what they look like. It is easy to identify these in people we work with, but it is difficult to identify them ourselves (thus they are called blind spots). Here are some behaviors that describe each blind spot:

Going it alone: when you do things without asking others for their input. Examples of this behavior include:

  • not asking for help
  • not accepting help
  • not talking about the stress you are under
  • not including others in decisions
  • feeling like you need to get things done on your own

Going it alone is especially problematic for start-up entrepreneurs. When you begin a business, you think you know your idea the best. You’re not ready to let go and let others help build the dream. First-time business owners also may suffer from getting too deep into this syndrome. You’re just not ready or willing to open up to others.

Being insensitive to how your behavior impacts others: when you allow yourself to say or do most anything without sensitivity to the consequences or impact on others.

  • not noticing how body language impacts others
  • choosing words that can be mean or misunderstood provoking a negative response
  • not realizing how you’re devaluing others input or ideas

You rationalize these behaviors by thinking that people hurt by your words will “get over it.”

Having an “I know attitude“: when you think that you are always right and those who disagree with you are wrong.

  • not listening to others
  • always coming up with reasons others ideas won’t work
  • devaluing others ideas
  • arguing with anyone who disagrees with you
  • refusing to explore other options
  • making assumptions about others’ intent or their ideas

Avoiding difficult conversations: you avoid conflict and stressful situations – so you avoid those conversations where that happens.

  • not raising concerns or issues about other’s behavior
  • avoiding talking about negative information (bad sales, company layoffs, etc.)
  • softening tough messages and not talking about real concerns.

You only like to talk about surface issues.

Blaming others or circumstances: avoiding the need to take accountability or try to negate by shifting blame.

  • always having a reason
  • excuse or explanation for why something went wrong
  • “yeah, but…”
  • complaining about how it could have gone “if only”
  • leaving a project when you see it is not going to succeed.

I like to think of these as convenient excuses.

Treating commitments casually: when you make casual commitments that you don’t keep.

  • showing up late for meetings
  • not getting projects done on time
  • never making hard commitments in the first place
  • always having an escape hatch
  • using the “I’ll try” instead of “I will”

A leader’s ability to influence others is dependent on being able to make and keep commitments, regardless of how big or how small.

Conspiring against others: you engage in rumor mills and gossip or talk negatively behind people’s backs.

  • talking one-on-one with others about how you think a project won’t succeed
  • not talking in open project meetings
  • discrediting others ideas or accomplishments
  • displaying negative non-verbal cues such as rolling eyes or engaging in conspiracy theories

Withholding emotional commitments: you can agree intellectually, but withhold putting your heart and soul into a project.

  • just complying with a decision meeting the bare minimum requirements
  • resisting change, withholding support, going through the motions

Leadership requires genuine commitment. People around you can sense the false pretense of making the motion but not being committed.

Not taking a stand: sometimes when you know you should do something but you don’t because of how it could impact you.

not speaking up in a meeting when you disagree with the majority
failing to speak up when senior executives are around
getting people to work around a problem instead of addressing it head-on

Tolerating “good enough”: when you settle for getting things done just ok, but don’t push you or your teams for excellence.

  • not holding others accountable for their work
  • accepting incremental improvements
  • not willing to explore radical options
  • staying inside one’s comfort zone
  • not looking at what the future will require

The Process


Understanding the concept of having blind spots is the first step. Identifying our own blind spot is the harder part. To really get to the bottom of your own blind spot, you have to ask a few trusted confidants to work closely with you. They can better point out where they see your blind spots.

This is a hard exercise but one that is very beneficial. A review process called a 360 is also a useful tool. Many larger companies are using 360s on a regular basis as part of their leadership development programs.

None of us like to hear about our faults. Others don’t like to point them out. If you are open to growing and learning, then by identifying your own weaknesses, you can start the process of improvement and become a better leader and even a better person.

Making a commitment to exploring blond spots is your first step toward becoming a better boss.

Join me for the 2022 Challenge to Be a Better Boss. Take the Pledge. Jump in the LinkedIn Group.

Positivity vs Negativity

As I sit down at my trusty old PC to write some thoughts on this, the week before Christmas, I was tempted to “mail it in” by digging into my archive and dusting off an oldie but goodie.

Yet as I pondered what to do, I started thinking about the early Christmas we just finished celebrating in my family. The wife and I like to alternate Christmas day each year to allow our married kids to swap with the in-laws. Spreading the wealth if you will. Not hogging ‘the day’, but rather willing to be flexible in alternating years.

So this was the year for early Christmas. The whole clan gathered for the day to meet, eat, swap gifts, and let the grandkids get the maximum benefit from our brand of family Christmas. It was simply great.

Thorpe family Christmas

The jolly crew is pictured above. BTW we do ‘themed’ celebrations. This year was a Camo-Christmas.

Anyway, one of the gifts the grandkids got (the boys, that is) was a set of building pieces based on a little STEM learning. The kits were to teach the basics of electronics. The parts would snap together to complete a circuit. There were buzzers, bells, motors, and gadgets to plug in-line to feed off a battery pack. The successful accomplishment was realized by a whole range of noises, beeps, buzzes, and whirrs.

I coached my 8-year-old on the principles. In no time, he was building pretty amazing layouts. The first, most basic concept he mastered was to follow the flow of the circuit, starting with the positive side of the batteries, winding thru the model, and ending on the negative side. Positive and negative.

There it is – the Muse for this Message

Thinking about the positive and negative made me start thinking about the world around my little family unit. Today, there is so much negativity. Seldom do we focus on the positives.

Speak with any colleague or friend and it won’t be long before something negative comes up. Maybe I’m writing an indictment on my circle of friends. However, I really don’t think so. Too many good people are getting beaten down by the negative rhetoric and the cynicism in the daily news.

I decided to take a quick poll, just within my own head. Here are the scientific results I just made up.

There is good in the world

My neighborhood goes all out decorating for Christmas. Yards are strung with all manner of “exterior illumination” man can buy (thank you Clark Griswald). Then beginning right after Thanksgiving, hayrides begin cruising the streets taking large groups on tours. It’s a fun, enjoyable human experience.

Last year my street started hosting what we call Candy Cane Lane. Our cul de sac turns into a unified theme park adorned with large 6′ lit candy canes. Every night, Santa appears in person along with several elf helpers to hand out candy canes to the hayrides. OK – yes, it’s taking things up a big notch, but the neighbors on our street love doing it.

Yes, that’s me and Susan, my wife

Being on the front line, looking at humanity from behind a fake Santa’s beard can be very cathartic. You should try it sometime. The little kids stare in amazement. Even the adults melt into memories of childhoods long ago. Times when things were not so complex or demanding. It’s easy to see.

It offers a brief break from the otherwise crazed world we live in. And people LOVE it.

By doing something positive, our little group is restoring joy and harmony.

Volunteerism is alive

I have the joy of working with several non-profits. The spirit of giving and serving is alive.

It’s not easy, nor are the finances bountiful, but dedicated souls to can identify with causes they love are still coming out in droves to help, serve, and give.

We all can make a difference

You’ve likely heard the story of the boy and the starfish. A small boy was walking on the beach. The high tide had washed hundreds of starfish onto the sand. An old man saw the boy bending over, picking up a starfish, and then throwing it into the sea.

As the man came up to the boy, he said “Young boy, what are you doing?”

The lad said, “I am saving the starfish.”

The old man said, “You’ll never make much difference.”

The young boy looked down at the starfish in his hand and said “I’ll make a difference for this one.”

We can spread positivity one person at a time.

Just show up

I thank a fellow coach, Mike Van Hoozer, for helping me learn the concept of focus in the moment. Every human endeavor is not really about the long journey, but rather the way we show up in the moment. Our legacies and reputations are built on moments not big projects or programs.

As an example, professional baseball players build careers after a long run of moments. Moments when they come to bat. Bottom of the 9th, ballgame tied, two outs, and two strikes. One pitch, one swing can make the moment. Strikeout, you might be forgotten. Hit a home run and you will forever be remembered.

The same is true for good managers and great leaders. You build the reputation as a good boss by the moment by moment steps that happen every day.

Good people show up in the moment. When your moment happens, you can choose to be positive or negative. Choose positive.

Please join me

For 2022, please join me in choosing to be positive. Let’s drown out negativity. Sure there can be differing opinions. But when it comes down to it, why not decide to be positive?

Lift people up, don’t tear them down. Even your so-called enemies. How hard will it be to at least hear them out?

Right now I am thinking of a few people I know who have sunk so low into the muck that it will be hard for them to read this. Heck, they’ve probably already scrolled past. That’s ok. But if I can get hold of them, I’m going to do all I can to be positive, encouraging, and helpful toward them.

There is a better way. Please join me in spreading a little positivity. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Joyous New Year. Leave a comment or share with your tribe.

Ways to Explore the Power of Your Mind’s Attention and Your Heart’s Affection

Nothing can be more powerful than the exact moment you harness the power of your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection.

Projects, life changes, new directions, and many other parts of our life can become monumental successes when these two dynamics come into perfect alignment.

affection

“Have you realized that today is the tomorrow you talked about yesterday? It is your responsibility to change your life for the better.”
Jaachynma N.E. Agu, The Prince and the Pauper

Let’s break it down.

Read more

Feeling Flat? Here’s How to Rekindle Your Spark for Life

upset couple in bad mood holding cups of coffee and sitting at home on christmas eve

The holidays have a way of triggering certain joyous celebrations. But for many, the holidays bring on serious downside exposure too. Here are some ways to reignite your zest for life.

Everyone feels down and lost at certain points in their life. Sometimes, this has a more obvious cause, like a break-up or failing an exam. Sometimes nothing bad has happened at all, and you’re just having a bad day. However, when those feelings start to affect your relationships, decision-making skills, and career over a prolonged period of time, it might be time to start doing something about it.

It can be quite overwhelming to know just where to start when it comes to turning your mindset around and banishing self-doubt. However, one common solution is to seek professional help in the form of a life coach. They will help uncover the root of why you’re feeling the way you are, and come up with strategies to change your day-to-day mood and more importantly your life.

Here are three ways you can find the missing piece to help overcome negative thoughts, and how a life coach could assist you along the way.

man in chair with head in hand

Get out of your comfort zone

Whether that’s signing up to a dating app and talking to new people, or confronting a phobia you’ve always had, moving out of your comfort zone can have endless benefits.

If you’ve always played it safe in terms of meeting new people, traveling to different locations, and looking for work opportunities, then you are restricting both your personal and professional development.

Instead, you need to open yourself up to new experiences that are going to allow you to make new connections and gain perspectives you otherwise wouldn’t have had. This might seem scary, but can be incredibly rewarding.

There may be a good reason why you haven’t got out of your comfort zone, such as a lack of confidence due to a past experience. Whatever the reason, life coaches will work through everything at your own pace.

They will challenge you in an empowering way so that you embrace new opportunities rather than running for the hills.

All of which is going to help you rekindle that spark for life and help you to feel more satisfied in your career and personal life as a result.

man looking over a cliff after climbing to the top

Set goals for yourself

Coasting along with no real direction is a sure-fire way to end up feeling bored in your life. After all, if you’re not working towards anything, then what do you have to look forward to? Every day will just roll into the next, which is about as fun as it sounds.

Setting personal goals can seem a daunting task. However, no goal is too small or too big. Starting off with small, easily achievable goals can help you build up greater confidence and self-belief, which can help when it comes to reaching your longer-term goals.

Now is the time to decide what you want out of life and to figure out how you’re going to get it. A life coach is the perfect professional for the job, since helping people create goals and making sure they achieve them is a big part of what they do.

typewriter setting out goals

Hold yourself accountable

It’s always the easier option in life to apportion the blame to someone or something else when things go wrong. However, taking ownership of both your mistakes and your achievements will help you to feel more in control of your own life.

Holding you personally accountable is a big part of life coaching. Coaches will turn the emphasis on you, including what has prevented you from achieving your aims in the past.

One of the most challenging yet rewarding aspects is owning up to yourself about things you could or should have done differently. While there’s no way of winding back the clock, you must recognize your own failures so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes going forward.

Accountability also extends into how you live your daily life. For example, this can include noticing when your timekeeping isn’t good enough, or that you are procrastinating. From simple bad habits to the more damaging ones, from now on if you want to rekindle your spark for life, you’re going to have to leave such unproductive traits behind.

Lessons in Leadership: Soaring with the Winds of Life

windsock

 

In learning how to fly an airplane, one of the first lessons has to do with understanding winds. Winds come in basically three types;

  • Head winds – those hit you right in the face
  • Tail winds – those from behind
  • Cross winds – those at angles from the side

I believe the challenges we face in life and in business model these three types of wind as well. If we consider all the forms of challenge we face, we can boil it down into these three categories. However, it might be interesting to compare the pilot’s concern with each of these winds as we think about our daily responses to life’s winds…..

Head Wind

First, the head winds. Too often we might be prone to think of these negatively. As wind hits us in the face, it slows us down, forces us to press harder against the wind. Bob Seger wrote a great ballad titled “Against the Wind…stronger now still just running…against the wind”.

When a pilot encounters head wind during flight it can be a challenge. Fuel consumption is increased as air speed decreases. The time it takes to reach a destination increases. Stress and fatigue can set in. But did you know it is preferable to take off and land “against the wind”? Why? Because the increased force of that head wind causes “lift” on the wings which is the force that makes planes fly.

A good steady head wind actually makes take-offs and landings easier, more comfortable and effective. So the next time you sense a head wind in life, ask yourself whether it has been provided to allow more lift for a better take off to a new place in life or whether it is there to afford a safer, smoother landing from where you have just come.

Tail Wind

Next let’s talk about tail wind. This is just the opposite from a head wind. We tend to think of tail wind as favorable. During flight that might be true. It can serve to push us forward, reduce effort and speed the time towards the destination.

But did you know it is the most difficult force with which to reckon during take off and landing? At those times, it actually impairs control, reduces efficiency and creates danger.

Maybe in life we need to be cautious of the perceived tail winds. Rather than gliding along with them, we need to watching for hindrances to gaining new achievement or resolving old challenges.

Cross Wind

The final force is cross wind. All things considered, crosswind is the most challenging of all flying situations. That is true in life and business too.

Crosswind means what it implies… a force crossing you at an angle to the direction you intend to fly. During flight, a cross wind will blow you “off course”. A constant watch must be given to direction and compass heading while flying in crosswinds. There is no cruising during crosswind conditions. It is a constant battle.

doug flying
Me piloting a cross country to Shreveport LA

Take off and landing is even more severe. Very special techniques are required to manage a crosswind situation. This is why you see planes doing a crab landing, angling sideways right before touchdown. In some situations the crosswind can be so severe that its force exceeds the designed strength of the air frame on the airplane, which makes the good pilot seek an alternative landing site, one where the winds are more favorable.

Life has crosswind too. It is the skill and grace with which we handle life’s crosswinds that determines our ultimate success. Failure to recognize and manage a crosswind can cause certain disaster. Either we ignore the presence of that crosswind or we acknowledge it but underestimate the consequences. Forging ahead means grave results.

So next time you feel a certain extraordinary force influencing your life, consider the pilot. Is the wind you feel one of these? If so, which one and how will you choose to handle it?

If you need help discerning the winds in your path right now or want to find better ways to navigate those winds, schedule a time for a free consultation.

Burn the Boats – The Toughest Leadership Command

burn the ships

We all like Plan “B” options that afford us an escape when things don’t work out. In 1519, Captain Hernán Cortés landed in Veracruz to begin his great conquest. Upon arriving, he gave the order to his men to burn the ships. How’s that for bold leadership?

What Cortés did was force himself and his men to either succeed or die. A retreat was not an option.

In order to achieve the highest level of success we each desire, there are times when we need to “burn the boats.”

The obvious question becomes “what are my ships or boats”? For starters, your ship may be anything that you are afraid to let go of.

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Finding a North Star in 2021

It seems the world is spinning out of control. But I choose not to believe that.

Rather, I believe we have temporarily lost our way. As someone who coaches, teaches, and writes about leadership, it is time to talk about one very vital aspect of what it means to be a leader.

While I spend a great deal of my time with clients and colleagues talking about casting a vision for their work, there is still one critical ingredient for determining the right vision. Just like in baking that delicious secret recipe your grandmother passed down, you cannot ignore critical ingredients. Otherwise, the cake will be a miserable failure.

The vitally important ingredient for leaders is their sense of True North, the “North Star.”

In the cosmos, the northern start stays almost constant while the rest of the night sky swirls around it. Ancient travelers in the northern hemisphere used this beacon to direct their travel.

north star
Time lapsed picture of stars swirling around North Star

Your Core Purpose Sets Your North Star

For leaders today, your sense of purpose becomes your North Star. If you don’t know why you are doing something or for what purpose your efforts are dedicated, you’ll live a groundhog’s day existence. Life will be about getting up and walk the same steps, doing the same things, day after day.

You can write great business plans and maybe even accomplish a few good things, but you will feel empty. You’ll have this nagging sense that there is more.

We have all been brought here for a purpose. You are no accident.

Your life is no accident, but the way you live it may be random.

Doug Thorpe

Finding and having a true sense of purpose becomes your North Star.

Lost Identity

In my book “STRIVE”, I share the experience of founding and running a career transition organization, coaching over 4,500 people through job search after the great recession of 2008.

In the early going, I discovered a deep need for people to reconnect with their sense of purpose. Losing a job for the first time in a career path of 10, 15 or 20 years, left people feeling lost.

When I really dug into that fact, I discovered the way out was to help people reconnect with their sense of purpose. Purpose has nothing to do with a job title or station at work. I began teaching people about ways to redefine who they were and what they were about.

THEN, they could think about targeting a new job. They were finding their North Star.

The same thing is being repeated today. People impacted by the COVID pandemic have lost their identities because the work they were doing has either shifted or been lost. The work should never be your True North. But your sense of purpose for the work you are doing is.

Managing a Team

Anyone in a position of responsibility, whether managing a team or owning a business, deals with not having a North Star. When you lose your purpose as a team, everything else in the circle of trust breaks down. (See more on that HERE)

Leaders need to have their own sense of True North and they should help their teams find and understand theirs.

Time and time again, I hear clients struggling with not knowing True North. They say things like “if only I knew true north…”

True North keeps us stabilized and centered. It helps us avoid wasted effort and meaningless pursuits.

Having the right sense of True North lets you go to bed a night with a feeling of accomplishing something because your day was focused on following that True North.

How Do You Know It’s Gone

How do you know for sure you’ve lost your North Star? Here are several key things to consider.

First, you feel very empty. You’re tired from all the effort, but there is no real sense of accomplishment. Trying to do more and be more just keeps you feeling that emptiness.

Next, people on your team may express their sense of being lost. They question everything. They challenge your authority. They’re not pointing the stick at you, but the chatter is about having no clarity. They no longer know what a ‘win’ looks like.

Finally, you feel like you’re in a fog. It’s hard to see things ahead of you. This actually happens literally out on the ocean. Ships trying to navigate by the stars lose all bearing when the sky is overcast of foggy. You lose the North Star so all other navigational effort is compromised.

Reconnect with Your North Star

If any of this sound familiar, it’s time to do the work to reconnect with your sense of purpose, your North Star. Strip away all of the distractions and re-center on who and what you think you are.

If you need help with this effort, I provide the whole second half of “STRIVE” to walk your through a personal purpose process. It’s a classic look at the areas of life that mean the most to you. It helps you chart personal values and aspirations into a clear, purposeful definition.

By having your personal purpose, you will be ready to cut through the clutter, the sense of being lost, and create more meaningful visions for your business, your family and your community.

We need leaders today who have this proper sense of purpose to guide and direct. I hope you’ll join me in becoming one of those kinds of leaders.

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PS – In some of my seminars, I ask the audience to stand up, close their eyes, and point to North. Then I tell them to hold their point and open their eyes.

Everyone is pointing in different directions. There’s a chuckle.

As they sit down I tell them that finding True North is a bit like this for the individual. While magnetic north and the North Star are fixed, your personal sense of purpose is going to be unique.

Cover photo courtesy of Credit Union Times.