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9 Core Behaviors Of People Who Change The World For The Better

Look around you and you’ll see three kinds of people – those who dislike their work, and complain bitterly, those who just tolerate their work and see it as a paycheck and aren’t looking for more (or feel they can’t have more), and finally, those who love their work, and relish it. The third category is a small subset of all professionals globally, but this group stands out because these are, most often, the people who change the world for the better.

My work as a career success coach and writer connects me with people who’ve made a true and measurable impact in the world – including well-known experts, authors, researchers, journalists, scientists, innovators, business geniuses, and entrepreneurs. But among this group of world influencers there are also everyday people who have found a special niche in which they’ve contributed at the highest level.

It’s critical to note that people who’ve made a real difference aren’t all privileged, advantaged or “special” by any stretch. Many come from disadvantaged families, crushing circumstances and initially limited capabilities, but have found ways to pick themselves up and rise above these circumstances (and their genes) to transform their own lives and those around them.

Researching these makers, shakers and disruptors, and working with my own clients who shape the world around them in powerful and constructive ways, I’ve observed 9 core behaviors that set them apart – habitual ways of behaving and approaching life and work that distinguish them from those who long to make a difference but can’t or won’t find the way.

The 9 core behaviors of people who positively impact the world:

They dedicate themselves to what gives their life meaning and purpose.

Thousands of people today don’t believe in meaning and purpose as something to discover or pursue in life. But those with positive influence feel otherwise. They have found that there is a purpose to their life, and that purpose usually involves some aspect of turning their “mess into a message,” or using what they’ve learned (often the hard way) as a means of being of service to others. People with a sense of purpose are driven, focused, committed, and lit up from the inside – unable to be deterred or distracted from what they believe is the reason they’re on this planet at this time. This sense of meaning and purpose gives them inexhaustible drive and offers guideposts to follow along the path – it informs them of what they wish to attend to in life, and what they need to walk away from because it doesn’t support their higher purpose.

They commit to continually bettering themselves.

People who impact the world for the better know that they are not perfect. They understand how their knowledge isn’t “complete” – there are always gaps, biases, limitations and prejudices, and new places to go with their expertise.

Yes, there are powerful narcissists aplenty, but their influence isn’t positive or helpful in the long run – it’s damaging and destructive. Innovators who positively shape the world come from a “beginner’s mind” and a loving, compassionate heart – with an openness to see, learn, and experience new things on the way to being a better servant of the world.

They engage with people in open, mutually-beneficial ways.

Those with huge positive influence understand the power of relationships, connection, and engaging with the world openly. They’re not afraid to get “out there” – connecting with others, sharing their knowledge and talents, offering their authentic and often contrarian viewpoints and opinions. They’ve pushed beyond any introversion, shyness or reluctance to be who they are, and have learned how to relate well with others and build mutually-supportive relationships that catapult both parties to a higher level. They know that positive, supportive and authentic relationships are the foundational building blocks to anything and everything they want to achieve.

They invest time and energy not in what is, but what can be.

The people I’ve interacted with and interviewed who’ve made a huge positive impact in the world don’t settle for conformity. When they see something that agitates and disturbs them, they strive to know more, get to the root of the challenge, research and understand the contributing factors, and arrive at new solutions. They observe gaps and mistakes in common thinking and behavior, and trust themselves in their belief that it’s time to push the boundaries of what’s accepted.   They want to affect change because they believe change will bring a better way to live.

They embrace critique.

The most powerful positive influencers don’t need or want to be “right” – they want to grow and be more effective. For that to occur, they walk right into critique, and they embrace challenge. They’re not afraid to put their work out there for others to poke holes in.   They are strong and confident in the face of opposition, yet know how to integrate constructive feedback to strengthen their work and ideas. They engage in open dialogue and welcome scrutiny.

They spread what they know.

We’ve all met authors or “experts” who keep their knowledge secret, close to the vest. They’re afraid to let it out for fear someone will steal it or make money on their ideas. This is the opposite of the positive influencer’s mindset. Those who make a true positive difference can’t help but share and teach what they’ve learned. They don’t see their knowledge as just some commodity to sell, as a meal ticket or a money maker – they see it as information that has to be shared with the world for its betterment. They believe their ideas and innovations are of use and value to others, and can’t help but share those openly, and teach others what they’ve learned. They understand the universal principle at work – “the more you give, the more you get.”

They uplift others as they ascend.

You’ve experienced, as I have, scores of “leaders” and high-achievers who’ve gotten where they are by stepping on the heads and backs of those in the way. These are not true leaders or influencers because their power is a sham – it was obtained unethically and is shallow and weak, and can’t be sustained over the long haul.  I have encountered power-mongers who were crushing and cruel to their subordinates and I wondered when they would finally reap what they’ve sown. Over the long term, this day always comes.

On the other hand, people who positively impact the world not only obtain amazing results in their work, but their process of obtaining these results – how they operate in life — is also inspiring and uplifting. They are happy to help and support others, and have an overflow of positive energy that enriches the lives of everyone they work with and connect with. These positive influencers want others to grow. They walk away from “success-building” opportunities that will be hurtful and damaging to others. They know that those unethical, demeaning or destructive approaches go against the very meaning and purpose they’re committed to.

They view the journey as the goal.

Positive influencers don’t take short cuts or go for the quick buck or easy answer. They don’t view some arbitrary goal or outcome as a destination, because they believe there is no end – it’s all in the journey. It’s about what they’re learning, experiencing, and building that helps others, and for that, there is no defined end point. They embrace failure more readily than others as “information” that guides them. They are more fluid and flexible, and more open to the “how’s” because their ultimate goal is not about upholding their title, salary, reputation, stature or power, but about new ways to help and share what they know.

They use their power and influence well.

Sadly, it’s a common occurrence in business today to witness power and influence being wielded as a weapon. It hurts and destroys. Positive influencers use their power well and wisely. They understand the widespread influence they have, the power they have to build up and elevate, or tear down. Those who impact the world for the better are careful and judicious with their words, actions and behaviors. They care deeply about their leadership and communication process and style, and the influence they have. They take it seriously, as a special honor and responsibility not to be flaunted or misused. They understand their special role, and accept it with grace, compassion, and care.

Are you longing to make a positive impact in the world?  What can you do today to shift your behaviors to make more of a difference?

(To build a more rewarding and impactful career, check out The Amazing Career Project.)

Why Investing In Yourself Is Critical and Why So Many Women Don’t

As a women’s career coach and consultant, I deliver scores of training series, teleclasses and career coaching programs each year helping women build more success and reward in their careers. In the seven years I’ve offered these types of programs, I’ve been truly shocked at the number of women (hundreds upon hundreds) who indicate they want to join a program (whether it’s $10, $100, or $1,000), but never pull the trigger.  I can tell you categorically that this is different behavior from what I see in the men who come to me for help. And this reluctance relates to all forms of development –  classes, certification, joining industry associations, attending networking functions, asking for funding, getting help with business plans, and much more.

Typically, men hear me speak, or read my website and blog, talk to me, and then say “Yes” very quickly to working together. No hemming and hawing, no “Let me have a few days to think about this,” and certainly not “I have to check in with my spouse about the investment.” Ever.  Even when the woman is the primary breadwinner, she often doesn’t feel she has the power or authority to say yes to investing in herself without checking with her husband first. I believe that a part of this behavior is a lack of confidence women experience in investing in their own growth.

There’s been a great deal of research and writing about this confidence gap in women, and the root causes, and I have my own theories and beliefs about what contributes to it today (including cultural training, rigid gender roles, role modeling, etc.). But as a career coach who spent years as a therapist and a corporate director focused on advancing women, I’m less interested in the causes and much more interested in the solutions.  I’ve come to see that this is not a myth – women often do, in fact, let their doubts and insecurities about themselves stop them, whereas men tend to push forward despite their doubts. For example, in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, she references an internal report at Hewlett-Packard that revealed that women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100 percent of the criteria listed; men apply if they think they meet 60 percent of the requirements. I share this not to be unsupportive to women, but to help us all gain awareness of what’s holding us back to achieve what we long for.  After all, greater awareness equals greater choice.

Do a check-in and see if you’re suffering from this condition I call “intractable resistance to growth.” Here are what I’ve found to be top five reasons why women won’t invest in their own growth when they should, and why it hurts them. Do these sounds familiar?

They need to check with someone else.

When it comes to personal and professional development (or anything in life for that matter), you need to make yourself the highest authority of your life, not your spouse, your sister, your boss, your partner.  You need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what you need, want and what you deserve, and go out and get it.  It’s not up to your spouse or anyone else to tell you if you should make this investment – it’s up to you. (I know you’ll say that you and your husband need to agree on your budgeting, etc. To that, I say you need to know what’s necessary, and find a way to get it.)

They’re not sure this is the “right” time.

Here’s a harsh reality: we’re all over –the-top busy and over-committed, and it’s never going to feel like the “right time” to invest in yourself.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the best time.  You’ll always be able to make excuse after excuse as to why you don’t have time to do something critical that will help you. But people who create great success, happiness and reward in their lives carve out the necessary time and money.  They don’t get lost in all the reasons why later would be better.

They’re not clear about the return on investment.

Women worry, “Will I get enough out of this?” and “Will this be a mistake?” Ensuring that your investment offers a healthy return is a choice – it’s based on your actions and decisions, not some random act or chance occurrence. It requires thorough research and due diligence to know if an investment will pay off, but more than that, it requires confidence and commitment that you’ll make sure the money you spend on yourself will be well worth it in the long run.

CLICK HERE to read the complete article on the top 5 reasons women resist investing in themselves.

Do you resist investing in your own growth?  Do you chronically put yourself last?  What can you do to push forward and step up to say “YES!” to supporting your own development, and contributing to the world in bigger ways.  I’d love your thoughts.

How To Move From Self-Rejection To Self-Love In a Day (And How a Photo Shoot Can Help)

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In my work as a career success coach, I work with women of all ages, sizes, and styles, and one theme has become very apparent – women are incredibly tough on themselves, full of self-rejection, shame, humiliation and doubt, particularly about their looks, their weight, intelligence and their worthiness.

I can count on one hand the number of women I’ve spoken with who feel “just great” about themselves.  The vast majority of women I interact with are indeed brilliant, accomplished, talented and creative – in short, amazing — but feel somehow that they are not good or worthy enough.  I call these women “perfectionistic overfunctioners” – doing everything for everyone around them, and striving so hard to get an “A” in every single endeavor and aspect of their lives.  I should know – I’m a recovering one.

Since “getting an A” is not possible in every activity or area, women then fall short of their unrealistic expectations, and feel even worse, seeing their “failure” as validation that they have to work harder and be better.

Know that I’m not judging here.  I feel deep love and compassion in my heart for all these women, because I can empathize fully.  I’ve done a lot of internal work around this, and I’m proud to say that I now know how liberating it is to free oneself from needing to get an A, and how fabulous it feels to jump off of the never-ending hamster wheel of doing more than is healthy, more than is appropriate, more than is necessary.

I’ve seen first-hand that once you power up, build appropriate boundaries, and start speaking up and honoring what you want and who you are, you begin to operate very differently in the world, and grow happier and more accepting of yourself and everyone around you. You begin to embrace your “imperfect, just-right” functioning rather than striving for an impossible goal of perfection.  But I’m not always there – I fall down and forget to love and accept myself.

I experienced a wake-up call on this several weeks ago, when I spent a day at a photo shoot in Connecticut, for my new website.  The day’s experiences took me from self-rejecting, shameful and worried (once again) about my looks, my weight, etc., to loving it all – embracing myself, my foibles and flaws, my talents, and who I am at my core.  I saw how the right kind of experience (with the right kind of people who align closely with your values, your heart, and your worldview), can help you move from self-rejection to self-acceptance in a few short hours (or in an instant).

I realized there are 5 key stages of transformation from self-rejection to self-love, and if we gain awareness of these stages, and have the courage to move through them, we can accelerate our own growth.

The 5 stages of transformation from self-hate to self-acceptance are:

Stage 1: “I don’t rate – I’m just not good enough.”

I started the day of my photo shoot afraid – afraid to share my wardrobe choices, reluctant to express what I really liked in terms of style, color, makeup, hair, jewelry, inhibited in my movements and physical presence.  I compared myself in my mind to the thousands of other women my wonderful photographer Jacklyn Greenberg had shot before – young and old men and women who I thought were beautiful and charismatic (so it seemed to me).  Along with headshots, weddings, and national events, Jacklyn does “risqué” photography as well, all of it stunning.  Some clients are naked or are only partially dressed and from Jacklyn’s website, all of them seemed gorgeous, vibrant, and unabashedly free.

I thought, “Oh, no – this is going to be a very long day.”

Stage 2: “Wait, maybe I’m not so bad.”

As the first hour progressed, with the help of the fabulous Jacklyn and wonderful make-up artist D.D. Nickel, things changed and I changed. I moved from fearing everything about me was wrong and inferior, to remembering that what I am – inside and out – is not terrible — far from it. I started to see how my fears– about my looks, weight, age, clothes, wrinkles, skin, tummy, etc. – are universal and the only thing keeping me stuck in my insecurity was me. Interestingly, it wasn’t the make-up that made me feel better – it was the understanding that — unadorned — I was just fine.

Stage 3: “Hmmm…I guess I do have some unique, valuable qualities.”

Then, midway through, something interesting happened.  I saw through their eyes that — as I let out who I really am — sharing my authentic personality, what I care about, my quirks, how I’m different –  the shoot went much better, and the day became raucously fun. I forgot I was being photographed.  We talked, shared, probed, guffawed, and as I connected more deeply with Jacklyn and D.D., I saw how my qualities could be seen as unique and valuable – to the experience at hand, but also in relationship with these great new folks I was partnering with, and even in helping spread the word about their work and the stunning property (Winvian) we were lucky enough to be shooting on.

Stage 4: “It’s ridiculous (and a sheer waste of time) to hide – I’m going let it all out.”

Towards the end, the idea of hiding was long gone.  I wasn’t afraid, shy, or reluctant – I was excited, energized, and inspired to be even more of myself.  I saw clearly how stepping up and powering up to share myself in the most authentic, vulnerable way possible was the ONLY way this whole thing would work (in a photo shoot and in life ).

Stage 5: “Ok, I can honestly say – I love and accept myself.”

Finally, at the end of the day as I was driving home, tired but exhilarated, I felt a flush of self-acceptance (dare I say self-love).  I had done something that was scary and challenging for me.  I had stepped up to a very high vision for where I want to go – in my life, in my career, in my professional pursuits — I held out high hopes for I wanted for and the outcomes I’d dreamed of, and I pushed myself to be real enough, and courageous enough, to make this happen.  Not just because I went to a cool photo shoot, but because I believed in myself and the idea that I’m worthy of putting myself out there in the world in a bigger way.

At the end of the day, I was able to utter to myself exactly what my spiritual therapist years ago implored me to state as an affirmation every day – “I thoroughly love and accept myself.”   In the past, I coughed up a hair ball every time I said that.  Now, with each day, it’s much easier.

*  *  * *  *  *

Some women might read this and think, “Wow, what a narcissist Kathy is!” because we’re culturally trained to think that if we love ourselves (and dare to whisper that we love ourselves), we’ll be self-involved, selfish, and self-absorbed.  I challenge that idea.  Self-love is desperately, vitally important and needed in the world today. You simply can’t have a wonderful, rewarding and happy life and career – and you can’t be of service to others fully — if you don’t love and accept yourself – flaws, gaps, foibles and all.

We’re imperfect as humans – that’s undeniable.  But can’t we love our imperfections, embrace our uniqueness and our authentic selves, instead of exhausting ourselves spending so much time, money, and energy hiding our true selves from the world?

Do you have the courage to walk through the five stages of self-hate to self-love today?  Are you ready?

Let Go of What You Hate To Make Room For What You Love

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Welcome to Episode 11 of Work You Love!

Today, I’d like to share about the idea that, in order to build a successful, rewarding career we love, we have to proactively move away from doing work that drains and demoralizes us.

How do we let go of what we hate, and what kind of outcomes are possible when we do?

Check out the video below for answers to that, and for a recent true story from my own life of how letting go of work I didn’t like created the space, opportunity, and energy for work I love:

 

The key takeaways from today’s video are:

1. Determine what you want to let go of, specifically.

2. Identify what you want to do more of – what you love.

3. Commit yourself to creating new opportunities to do what you love.

4. Be open – don’t overly-attach to what it has to look like.

For more information on letting go, check out my Forbes post Why Letting Go Of What You Hate Is Essential To Building a Career You Love.

Here’s a tweetable for you:

If your plate is overly full with work you hate, you’ll never do work you love.  Be brave; let go. @kathycaprino

Click to tweet:  http://ctt.ec/bpRHj

See you next time!

What work are you ready to move away from?

 

Successful People: The 8 Behaviors They Avoid

In my work, I’ve been fortunate to learn from amazingly successful, impactful professionals and entrepreneurs.  I’m defining “success” here as achieving what matters most to you, individually and authentically – not as some objective measure of outer wealth, accomplishment or achievement.  Observing people in action who are living fully on their terms and absolutely loving it, I’ve seen how they think, react, interrelate, problem solve, and lead.  I’ve applied these lessons to my own life, and to those I coach.

I’ve noted that people who love what they do for a living and have created tremendous success and reward, not only engage continuously in life-supporting behaviors, but also avoid certain negative actions and mindsets that other, less successful people habitually get lost in.

The 8 self-limiting, negative behaviors successful people avoid are:

Engaging in “below the line” thinking

“Below the line” thinking refers to a particular mindset that shapes how you view the world in a limiting way.  It leads to your believing that what’s happening to you is outside your control and everyone else’s fault – the economy, your industry, your boss, your spouse, etc.  Below the line thinking says, “It’s not fair what’s happening, and I don’t have what it takes to overcome these challenges. I didn’t expect this and I can’t handle it.”  Above the line thinking, on the other hand, says, “I clearly see the obstacles ahead, and I’m addressing them with open eyes.  I’m accountable for my life and my career, and I have what it takes to navigate through this successfully.  If I fail, I’ll still wake up tomorrow exactly who I am, and will have learned something critical.”

Mistaking fantastical wishful thinking for action

Successful professionals pursue outcomes that flow organically from their current actions. Unsuccessful individuals attach to fantasies that may relieve them momentarily of their situational pain but have no basis in reality.  For instance, I’ve heard from corporate professionals who share, “Kathy, I really hate my job and desperately want to leave.  I’ve been wanting to write a book and become a motivational speaker for several years now.  What’s your advice?”  I’ll respond, “OK, great.  Are you writing and speaking?” and more often than not, the answer will be, “Uh…no.”  You can’t write a book if you’re not writing anything, and you can’t speak in public if you haven’t developed any material to speak about.   It’s critical to take bold action toward your visions, in order to create success.  Successful people develop huge goals too, but they crush them down into smaller, digestible (but courageous) action steps that they then build on, which leads naturally to the end goal they’re pursuing.

Remaining powerless and speechless

Successful people are in touch with their power, and are not afraid to use it and express it.  They advocate and negotiate strongly for themselves and for others, and for what they care about, and don’t shy away from articulating just how they stand apart from the competition.  They know how they contribute uniquely and the value they bring to the table.   In addition, they don’t wait to bring up concerns – they tackle challenges head on, speaking about them openly, with calm, poise and grace.  They don’t hide from their problems.  And they don’t perceive themselves as hapless victims.

Putting off investing in themselves

I see this behavior over and over in those who feel thwarted and unsuccessful – they are incredibly reluctant to invest time, money and energy in themselves and their own growth.  They are comfortable only when putting other people’s needs ahead of their own.  They’ll make any excuse for why now is NOT the time to invest in themselves or commit to change.  They feel guilt, shame and anxiety over claiming “I’m worth this.”  Successful people don’t wait – they spend money, time and effort on their own growth because they know without doubt it will pay off – for themselves and everyone around them.

Resisting change

Successful people don’t break themselves against what is or drown in the changing tides.  They go with the flow.  They follow the trends, and embrace them.  They are flexible, fluid and nimble.  They react to what’s in front of them, and improvise deftly.   Those who are unsuccessful bemoan what is appearing before them, and stay stuck in the past or in what they “expected,” complaining about how life is not what it should be and why what is feels so wrong.

Honoring other people’s priorities over their own

Successful people know what matters most to them – their priorities, values, concerns, and their mission and purpose.  They don’t float aimlessly on a sea of possibility – they are masters of their own ship and know where they want to head, and make bold moves in the direction of their dreams.  To do this, they are very clear about their top priorities in life and work, and won’t be waylaid by the priorities and values of others.  In short, they have very well-defined boundaries, and know where they end and others begin.  They say “no” to endeavors and behaviors (and thinking) that will push them off track.  They know what they want to create and the legacy they want to leave behind in this lifetime, and honor that each day. (To get clearer on your priorities, values, and desires for the next chapter of your life and work, take my free Career Path Self-Assessment.)

Doubting themselves and their instincts

Those who doubt themselves, lack trust in their own gut or instincts, or second-guess themselves continually find themselves far from where they want to be.  Successful professionals believe in themselves without fail.  Sure, they acknowledge they have “power gaps” or blind spots, and areas that need deep development.  But they forgive themselves for what they don’t know and the mistakes they’ve made, and accept themselves.  They keep going with hope and optimism, knowing that the lessons from these missteps will serve them well in the future.

Searching for handouts and easy answers

I can often tell from the first contact I have with someone if they’ll be likely to succeed in their new entrepreneurial venture and career, or not.  How? By the nature of their expectations, and how they set out to fulfill them.  Here’s an example – if a complete stranger reaches out to me expecting free help without considering what she may offer in return, it’s a bad sign.  Let’s say she asks something like this: “I’m launching my new business and wondered if you can give me some advice. I can’t pay you because I’m a startup, but I hope you can help me anyway.”

From this one email, I know she’s not ready to make it happen in her own business.  Why? Because successful professionals (and those destined to be) wouldn’t consider asking for help in this way.  Instead, they: 1) understand that they have something important and valuable to offer in any situation, 2) are willing and happy to share or barter that in return for what they want, and 3) they treat others exactly as they would like to be treated.

Successful professionals are respectful, resourceful, curious, competent, tenacious, and they figure out how to get the help they need without asking for handouts.  That doesn’t mean they don’t seek assistance when and where they need it , or make use of the many free resources available to them (like Score.org, etc.).  It means that they don’t expect something for nothing.  They treat others equitably and fairly and know they deserve the same.  Successful professionals realize that if they’re not willing to pay for products and services they want, then others won’t be willing to pay them (yes, it works like karma).

They also know that their success is directly proportionate to the effort they put inMost of all, they understand there are no short cuts or easy answers on the road to success.

(For more about achieving greater success in your career, visit Ellia Communications, my free teleclass Breakthrough to Your BOLD Plan for More Happiness, Success and Reward, and my book Breakdown, Breakthrough.)

 

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