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Tag Archives: Kathy Caprino

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.)

Are You Toxic To Deal With? How To Tell, and How To Change

 

Last week, I posted a piece on LinkedIn about toxic behaviors that I see everyday in the work I do, and the response has been quite amazing.  Here’s the post:

6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away: How To Recognize Them In Yourself and Change Them

When I write an article, I truly never know how it will be perceived and received. I just write about what matters to me, and what emerges on the forefront of what I’m thinking about and focusing on that week.  In this case, I felt compelled to write about behaviors I see daily (and that I’ve engaged in as well), that wreak havoc in our lives and careers, bringing with them unhappiness, pain and suffering to those participating in them, and to everyone involved.

What’s shocked me about this post is that it went viral (1.8 million views to date), and that some of the direct responses I’ve received were evidence of the exact same toxic behaviors I’ve described.

I’ve heard from people who:

1) Attacked me for my views, and called the post dangerous

2) Accused me of thinking I was “better” than other people

3) Put me down for not seeing their “specialness”

4) Demanded I help them now

5) Criticized me for not having more time and ability to personally help everyone who needs it

6) Called me judgmental and haughty for pointing out toxic behaviors

The lesson I’m learning in my life and work right now (and it’s an important one for me) is that when something reaches millions of people, there will be just that many different types of responses (good, bad, and the ugly), and my boundaries need to be sufficient to withstand that.  And I need to focus on the positive and be grateful that the post had an impact, and made people think.

About toxic behaviors, my wish from this piece is that people can begin to identify these 6 toxic behaviors in themselves but from a loving, compassionate standpoint, not to beat themselves up about it.  I believe we’ve all engaged in some form of these behaviors throughout our lifetimes – they’re universal.  The key to increasing your happiness and having more satisfying human connection is gaining greater awareness of when you are hurting yourself and others. Greater awareness equal greater choice.

The six toxic behaviors to watch out for are:

1. Taking everything personally

2. Obsessing about negative thoughts

3. Treating yourself like a victim

4. Cruelty – lacking in empathy or putting yourself in others shoes

5. Excessive reactivity

6. Needing constant validation

Once you can recognize these behaviors in yourself, and accept that you have the capacity to be self-obsessed, negative, self-limiting, cruel, emotionally reactive, and overly needy, you can do something about it.  But if you continue to hold yourself above self-scrutiny, you can’t change or grow.

Thank you for looking at yourself in the mirror today, and being honest and open in identifying what you see, both the things you’d like to change, and the things in yourself you’re grateful for and appreciative of.  Writing this piece has deepened my commitment to identifying these toxic behaviors in myself — and also appreciating what is positive, loving, and helpful — and doing something about it.

Let me know what you think about these 6 toxic behaviors. Do you see yourself in any of these? What have you done to shift away from them?

 

5 Critical Ways To Unplug On Your Vacation

Photo by Elliot Lipner

As summer is that wonderful time for so many to take off for vacation and detach from their job stresses and strains, it’s time now to think about exactly how you’ll plan your exit.

Throughout my career, I’ve had every manner of work situation and crisis emerge while I was on vacation, and sometimes I handled it well, but other times not so well.  If you want to truly unplug, relax and get away with your family and friends, here are 5 critical ways to unplug and make it work:

1)  Make a firm commitment to yourself and your family about how much work you’ll do, and guard that commitment fiercely.

For example, decide up front how many times you’ll check your devices , and stick to it. If you check your phone and email every fifteen minutes, you won’t be able to unplug and detox from the stresses of your job and professional life. Your mind can’t disengage sufficiently to focus on your vacation, your family and friends, and your new surroundings.   If you have to check in, do it in a limited way, perhaps three times in a week, and make it after work hours if you can.

2) Communicate to your colleagues and supervisors about your vacation well beforehand, to inform everyone who needs to know.

Well in advance of your vacation, make it clear when you’ll be gone and that you will have limited access to email on vacation. Clarify that if they need something from you, they’ll need to ask for it and get it before you leave. Don’t set up the expectation that they can bother you day and night and that you’ll be responsive to those requests.

3) Build a clear boundary – set your vacation reply on your email.

This will inform everyone who contacts you that will have limited access to email and will respond as soon as you can after your return.

4)  Assign someone you trust as your key point person.

If you can, assign someone reliable and who knows you well as the key point person for you when you’re gone. This individual — be it your assistant or a colleague or manager in your department – can field questions and issues effectively, and will reach out to you only in true emergencies or situations that truly require your attention.

5)  Decide up front what issues you WILL deal with at work if they arise, and what you won’t.

Prioritize in your mind what constitutes a true emergency, or work issue that you wouldn’t want to miss out on, and what you DO want to leave behind. For example, once when I was on vacation in Cape Cod I received a request for an interview from the Wall Street Journal to comment about a hot news item about pregnant women’s rights in the workplace. You bet I took that call, and was happy to!

* * * * * *

I know that many will read this and say, “No way, Kathy. This can’t work for me.  I’m too needed at work! They won’t leave me alone.”

To that, I say it’s up to you to build a strong and clear boundary around your private, personal time. If you fail to make it crystal clear what your requirements are for unplugging, then people can’t help but intrude on your private time, because you’ve communicated – either consciously or unconsciously – that it’s acceptable for them to do it.

Be bold, unplug, and enjoy your vacation!

What strategies have you used to successfully unplug, relax and restore on vacation? Please share!

(To build a happier, more rewarding career, visit kathycaprino.com and The Amazing Career Project.)

How to Identify Your Passion (and Use It To Fuel Your Work)

I hear from hundreds of women each month asking a fascinating variety of career and work-life questions, hoping for some guidance. But one question emerges more frequently than any other, from women of all walks, levels, and capabilities.

The one question I hear more than any other is, “How can I figure out what my passion is?”

I had a powerful personal experience this week that I think exemplifies the answer to this question and I’d like to share it with you.

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend two important conferences in New York City that opened my eyes to new insights and learnings. The first conference was on business innovation and “disruption,” sponsored by WOBI, and the other was Claudia Chan’s S.H.E. Summit, a global women’s leadership and lifestyle event.  WOBI on Innovation focused on the many, multifaceted disruptions that are impacting business today, and the tremendous upside opportunities they present for those flexible and aware enough to both spot and react to them quickly.

The next day I attended the 3rd annual S.H.E. Summit which convened more than 60 thought leaders and partners igniting change and offering a global conversation and celebration of female potential and possibility.

Both conferences featured renowned experts, and both focused on exciting topics at the forefront of culture and business.

After the first day on innovation, my mind was full with new ways to think about business and career problems, how to turn these problems upside down and perceive and analyze them differently. I was inspired and motivated, by Andy Cohen, on Overcoming Barriers to Disruptive Thinking, and by Stephen Ritz, on Transformational Innovation. Ritz’s story is deeply inspirational – it reveals the transformation that’s possible when we challenge assumptions, think very differently, and refuse to accept the unacceptable. Ritz is a Bronx County science teacher leading a double revolution – of education and urban renewal. His world is New York City’s South Bronx, a place traditionally associated with gang activity, poverty and crime. As the leader of the Green Bronx Machine, Ritz is driving a movement that is changing people’s perceptions and transforming lives, based on his belief that students shouldn’t have to leave their community to live, learn and earn in a better one. The best quote of the day for me was his, “I don’t want to accept what I cannot change. I want to change what I cannot accept.” (Now THAT is passion.)

The second day offered the same high level of educational and informational information and experiences – with fabulous speakers including Claudia Chan, Marlo Thomas, Sallie Krawcheck, Nigel Barker, Gary Barker, Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, and many more. I was engaged and upflited, and also had new flashes of insight and revelation about the current state of affairs for women around the world, and new solutions to improve that state.

But one thing grew very apparent to me throughout the two days’ experiences – my heart, spirit and mind were much more actively engaged by discussions, research and information that touched on global women’s growth and advancement.

Throughout the S.H.E. Summit, for example, I cried, I laughed, and felt deeply moved by the speakers’ experiences and often contrarian viewpoints on gender equality, violence against women, fostering diversity in corporate America, integrating men in the support of women, women’s economic independence, education, and more. At times, I wanted to jump up on stage and join the conversation myself, and (dare I say), add my different views and perspectives. I was “buzzing.”

The important lesson I was reminded of from this experience is that when you find yourself learning about an area in which you desperately want to help and simply can’t stop yourself — that’s your passion. And you are happiest in your work when you’re tapping into that passion – giving form to your life intentions in ways that help others (as Maria Nemeth explains in her great book The Energy of Money).

Based on my coaching and training work with hundreds of women around the globe who’ve found their passion, and are leveraging it in their work, here are the hallmarks of the experience when you’ve discovered your passion and are working in your sweet spot:

  • Despite all your concerns about how crashingly busy you are already in your life, you want to DO more to help this situation and are ready to act NOW
  • You’re enlivened by the people you meet who are involved in this cause or area, and they inspire you
  • You feel like a beginner – you realize you have many things to learn and can’t wait to learn them
  • This area of focus for you is deep, rich and inexhaustible – there is so much that needs to be done and explored
  • You feel more alive, valuable, and contributive when focused on these issues, and that makes you happier and more engaged personally and professionally
  • Being involved in this area helps you marry up everything you’ve ever cared about, and everything you are, and allows you to draw on your many talents, skills and capabilities in new, exciting ways
  • This area of focus gives your life meaning and purpose
  • You feel humbled at the enormity of the task ahead of you, but thrilled to be part of it
  • You feel more love and compassion in your heart, and more connected to the world around you

But many women say, “Kathy, I’m not sure what I’m passionate about. How do I discover that?”

To identify what you’re passionate about, dig deep and answer these questions:

  1. Look carefully at what you’re drawn to in life. What do you read, watch, listen to, follow?
  2. What agitates and upsets you in the world and compels you to DO something?
  3. Where are the people who inspire and uplift you? What are they focused on?
  4. If you could take one college level course or program for free on anything at all, what would it be?
  5. In what areas are you drawn to helping others?
  6. What “mess” in your life can be turned into a “message” for others?
  7. What skill or talent do you wish you had, that would be exciting to pursue?
  8. What area do you secretly fantasize about being involved in but feel foolish to say it out loud?
  9. If you knew you couldn’t fail and it would all work out beautifully (financially and otherwise), what would you try?
  10. What did you adore doing as a child that you’ve let slip through your fingertips?
  11. What (or who) holds you back most from pursuing what excites you most?

Before my current career, I lived through 18 years of a corporate life that was devoid of passion and purpose, and that led to depression, illness, and misery. I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that being lit up by your work is a far happier and more productive way to go.

Are you ready to identify your passion and get moving doing important work that fuels that passion?

(To build a happier, more rewarding career, visit the Amazing Career Project. And check out my latest Forbes post on how to pursue your passion without going broke.) 

 

Starting Out – Should You Pursue What You Love Even If It’s Much Harder To Get?

I received a question on my Forbes blog Career Bliss today that struck a real chord with me, and I wanted to share it with you.  The question was in response to my post 5 Ways To Tell If You Need Career A Change.

Kiran asks:

Hi Kathy. Thank you so much for the article. What about people who are starting their career? I had decided to make my career in mechanical design and R&D. The opportunities however are far fewer in this field. Where as opportunities are more in, say, the field of supply chain, production, maintenance, marketing. I twice got selected for technical marketing but decided not to join. What should an individual do when starting off? What to do when lot of opportunities knock on door but not from the field one is looking for. Should a fresher accept these opportunities and think about career change afterward OR should he wait no matter how much time is required?

Here was my response:

Hi Kiran – Thanks for your great question. I can’t advise you directly without knowing more about your situation (for that we’d need a coaching session), but I’d offer this. To me, your question is a bit like when a child comes to his mother and asks, “Mom, I really adore soccer and that’s what I want to play next year, but there are only a few spots on the team. Should I do what I can to get on the soccer team, or just go out for basketball which is easy to get on?”

What I’m getting at here is this – I’ve found that people are a thousand times happier, more fulfilled and successful when they’re doing work they love, generating outcomes they care deeply about, using their natural talents and gifts, and not sacrificing their spirits and souls for “security.”

Here are some questions to ponder:
1) Are there steps you can take now that plant the seeds for growing more desirable and in demand in the highly competitive field you love?
2) If you take another path, and years later wake up to the fact that the industry has changed and there ARE positions in the field you originally wanted, will you have regrets about going down this other path?
3) Can you gain employment now that pays the bills but ALSO prepares you well for the work you really want to do?
4) Finally, are you sure that mechanical design and R&D ARE what you want? How do you know, exactly? Did you “try on” this direction thoroughly to know that this is professional identity you want?

In the end, career change can be much harder than starting off doing what you want and planting the seeds for that all along the way. As I career changer myself, I know this to be true. I’d recommend figuring out what you want NOW (this survey will help you do that) and going for it with all you’ve got.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

I’m working on my second book right now, and in it, I’m discussing the critical steps we need to take if we want to build happy, rewarding and successful careers that buoy us through the hard times in life.

An important thing to realize is that you will probably dedicate more hours to working than to anything else in your entire life.  Knowing that, do you want to settle, right out of the gate? Do you want to sacrifice your spirit, your natural talents and gifts and feeling enlivened every day, for what you think will bring you “security?”

The sad reality that I’ve seen in my own life and with thousands of other midlife career professionals is that they have gone the route of sacrificing joy, fulfillment and excitement in their work, only to wake up years later to find that the unsatisfying work they settled work was stripped away from them due to the recession.  I’ve seen that they only thing that is secure in your life is YOU – your spirit, heart, your talents, and gifts, and passions, your unique perspective. Pushing past your comfort zone and going for what you care about deeply is what keeps you stretching, growing and thriving. (Here’s more about how moving out of your comfort zone is critical to your success and happiness.)

My advice is to go with what you care most about, even if it’s much harder.  Pursuing work that makes you feel alive, valuable and of use is a life-changing experience that generates many rewards.  That said, you must take the right steps to remain employable and marketable, and to be highly valued in the workforce. It’s not enough to pursue your passion without doing what’s required to be great at your work, and to contribute in meaningful ways in your field.

But once you do that, you’ll have married up two of the most important ingredients of a life well-lived – joyfully giving of yourself and your amazing talents every day in the world, and nurturing and supporting yourself and your loved ones in ways that make you proud and happy.

Are you facing an important decision between pursuing work you love and doing what you think is the “secure” thing? What will you do?

(To build a happier, more rewarding career, visit kathycaprino.com and The Amazing Career Project.)

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