DOES PRACTICE MAKE PERFECT?

In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell popularized what he called the “10,000 hour rule”. He argued that mastery is not a matter of talent but of endless, devoted practice. In other words, you could master anything if you just dug in and kept at it. Taken to the extreme edge, this idea supposes that you could become Peyton Manning or Einstein or The Beatles. Obviously not so. But this became a very popular and widely accepted notion. It leaves people already unsure of their future career in even more doubt. Just pick something and keep at it sounds suspiciously like my dad telling me to stop fooling around, pick something practical, make a lot of money, pull myself up by my bootstraps and get moving. One problem with this philosophy is that pulling on ones bootstraps actually pulls you down. The other problem is that the 10,000 hour rule is nonsense.

Recently psychologist Brooke Macnamara of Princeton University reviewed the results of 157 experiments studying the connection between overall ability in music, sports, education and professions with time spent practicing. It turns out there was very little connection. In some areas, such as violin playing and chess, there was a connection. In most areas such as computer programming and academics, there was almost no connection. Macnamara thought perhaps natural talent, general intelligence and working memory played more of a role.

Since 1981 Rockport Institute has been studying factors that contribute to high-level ability. It is not a mystery: each of us is born with a complex profile of talents and personality factors that combine to give us a unique natural fit with the world or work. Imagine Einstein taking over for John Lennon. If you want both the success and fulfillment, design a career that fits you fully, naturally.

Then put in the hours. The combination of natural fit, practice and curiosity is what leads to mastery. At Rockport we have more than 60,000 hours of coaching and counseling experience under our collective belt. Every year we gain experience from working with many new clients. I think that whatever wisdom we gain is the result of always being eager to learn and not assuming we know everything.

USE YOUR LIFE TO FIND THE BEST CAREER DESIGN CLUES

Instead of trying to squeeze yourself into a career, design one that fits your unique self. Finding great clues is not difficult. Here’s an example:

When I was 11 years old, I wanted to make (actually spend) more than my allowance. I needed a job. As a Cub Scout, I subscribed to Boy’s Life Magazine. There I found what seemed like the easy answer. The Cheerful Card Company ad said they would front me (a drug deal term) lots of greeting cards, no money down. All I had to do was go around my neighborhood, knocking on doors. When the cards arrived, I opened them with trembling fingers only to find that they seemed very quaint and old-fashioned. But, I persevered, and began to knock on doors.That lasted one afternoon. I was a shy kid, hardly a natural marketeer. I sold one box to a neighbor who took pity on me. I never tried again. It took many weeks of allowance to pay the cheerful people their due. I felt humiliated. But what if I was a career design detective on the case looking for clues? Here’s what I could have discovered:

1) I’m not a sales guy.

2) I have to believe in and be proud of what I’m doing.

3) I’m not going to be happy unless my work comes easily and naturally to me.

If you examine your present and past, you will find some clues about your perfect career are right there in front of you, waiting to be discovered.

 

 

WORKING MOTHERS: 8 WAYS TO FIND A JOB YOU LOVE

How can you find a career that’s engaging and fulfilling and allows you to be the best mom you can be? Whether you are a new mom, frustrated with your current job, or a mother who has decided to go back to work, this guide is chock full of creative solutions for creating a unique career that is perfectly suited to you and allows you to balance work and time with your kids.

Working moms who are both successful and satisfied at work spend their days using their top strengths and talents in a career they enjoy and care about, doing work that supports their dual roles. Here’s how you can design and find work you love:

1) Don’t make unnecessary compromises. Many mothers have painted a mental picture that focuses on all the difficulties inherent to combining work and parenting. Usually work-life balance is front and center. Most moms start off assuming that major compromises are inevitable. Instead, start with a blank canvas and fill it in with what you most want. Then get creative in finding ways to make what you want actually happen. If work-life balance is the issue, think of this as a problem to solve, not an impossibility.

2) Make it a project. If you don’t need a new job right away, forget about job hunting until your target is clear and specific. Design your career first. Then search for the job when you know exactly what you are seeking.

3) Become a career detective. Look for clues about how you and the workplace best fit together so you don’t wind up squeezed into the wrong job. Since employers pay you to perform specific functions, the first place to look is what you do happily, naturally, perhaps even brilliantly: your innate talents.

4) Research jobs that seem to fit. Read, search online, and talk with several people who do exactly the job you are considering. Keep whittling down until you can decide on specific job descriptions. Specificity has power. Casting a wide net is usually a mistake. Start your job search with definite targets. Find organizations with a humanistic philosophy. Even though they are definitely in the minority in these dog-eat-dog times, they do exist.

5) Stand out with effective personal marketing. One mom wrote an extraordinary resume that vividly portrayed her project management and other wide-ranging skills. It was so engaging that she was quickly hired even though she openly admitted that some of her experience came from raising twins. A great resume is much more than a history of your past. It is an advertisement; and you are the product. Like all great ads, its message should be “If you buy this product, you will get these specific benefits.” Check out the world’s most used resume-writing guide “How to Write a Masterpiece of a Resume” at www.rockportinstitute.com.

6) Focus on communicating your strengths. There is a split in hiring strategies today. Some organizations look for the person with the perfect resume. Others know that, in an ever-more-competitive world, they need to find the best people. Sometimes that person does not have the ideal resume. They have something more important: desire, skill, talent, the right personality and a commitment to perform with excellence.

7) Conduct a smart job search. Few people find the perfect job through online job listings. Decision-makers prefer to hire people they know. The most effective strategy is to find creative ways to get to meet and speak with several decision-makers: people who could actually hire you to do the job you want. Then, when a job becomes available, you have something better than the perfect resume, you are known.

8) Persist. An effective job search takes time. You may be rejected several times, perhaps many times before you land the job you want. Since we all tend to resist discomfort, it is natural to avoid any activity that leads to what the mind interprets as failure. As a result, people often give less time each week to their job search. Defuse this by realizing that you will hear “no” many times before you hear “yes.” Whether you are working and want more time flexibility, or you’re job hunting, ask for what you need. If you don’t get the response you want, don’t give up. People who usually get what they want have a simple secret: they keep making requests. Often the sequence goes like this: no, no, no, no , no, no, YES.

YOU NEVER CHANGE THINGS BY FIGHTING THE EXISTING REALITY.

a bucky with change things quoteMany years ago, I lived in Rockport, Maine. Bucky Fuller spent his summers near-by on Bear Island. I was fortunate to have him as a mentor when I was designing my life and my future work. That’s how Rockport Institute was founded, and how we created the field of career coaching. I listened, and listened some more, and followed the wisdom of this quote:

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”