CREATIVE CAREER CHOICES DURING COVID-19

For many people Covid-19 has had a profound impact on their career and employment experiences, resulting in redundancy, layoff or furlough for many.   For others, it has meant the imposition of home or remote working on a fulltime basis, with little or no resources and planning to make that an optimal experience.  We’ve seen recruitment and promotion rounds frozen in mid-process or withdrawn completely.  Retail and service providers are seeing massive disruption to normal modes of operation and access for their customers and clients impacted in unforeseen ways.  And for others and perhaps especially those on the frontline, the expectations, demands and long hours are unprecedented.  The world of work as we know it is undergoing massive upheaval.

And yet, somewhere within us we have a knowing that every cloud has a silver lining.  Or as Napoleon Hill put it:

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries within it, the seed of equal or greater benefit.”

So we hold fast to that ancient wisdom, that no matter how hard the challenge, there has to be a seed of good, an opportunity to be found, that will make the ultimate outcome a positive one. 

And we remind ourselves that while a seed of potential really does exist in every adversity, we know from our life experience that not all potential is realised.  Seeds (of potential) that are neglected rarely thrive.  Every acorn has the potential to be an oak and every rose has the potential to be a beautiful flower but they have to be nurtured. 
So my intention today is to share with you some ideas for nurturing the seed of your own potential, particularly in the area of your career and professional development, so that you can come through this experience better placed than ever to excel, whatever that means for you.

4 Tips to Enhance Your Career During The Corona Pandemic:

1) Learn with Non-Fiction Books:
For those who have time on their hands, use this time at home to educate yourself with non-fiction books. There is so much to be gained – like self-confidence, negotiation skills, health (sleep, nutrition), how to have difficult conversations and much more.
What keeps you up at night? There’s probably a book about that! What do you wish you were better at? There’s probably a book about that too! 

Here are some book ideas to get you thinking:

  • Be more productive or creative with “The Now Habit” by Neil Fiore or “A Whack on the Side of the Head (How You Can Be More Creative)” by Roger Von Oech and “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink.
  • Think (or rethink?) how you live with books like “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan (also available in a young reader’s version), “Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures” by Carlo Petrini, “Doughnut Economics” by Kate Raworth.
  • Get personally inspired with “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts” and “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, or “The Choice” by Edith Eger.
  • Up-skill yourself with “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen.
  • Learn about the human mind with “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell or “The Whole Brain Child” by Daniel J. Siegel MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD.
  • Get healthier with “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker PhD.
  • Be more confident and discover your strengths with “How Women Rise” by Sally Helgesen or “Now, Discover Your Strengths (How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage)” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.
  • Finally, read memoir! Choose someone you admire, get inspired and learn how other people think – and live their lives.

Reading one book will expand your mind, reading several of these books is going to make you more interesting, help you learn new skills – and maybe even make you more employable too!  And remember, this is a great investment in yourself.  As Emerson said: “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” 

2) Gain a New Skill with Online Learning
There are so many opportunities online to gain a new skill and they’re growing by the day!

Grow your personal or creative skills or choose a new skill to learn and take back to work with online training providers like Coursera or discover the world of MOOCS (massive open online courses) MOOC.org

There are also lots of courses available from the Further Education and Training Hub in Ireland FET, many of which are currently free, free for job seekers or have grant support available in particular circumstances. 

There are many other providers, not least the various Irish Higher Education Institutions all of which are working hard to provide options online and remotely. 

So if there’s a skill you always wanted to learn, search for it. Be sure to read the course descriptions thoroughly, check reviews if there are any – and check money-back guarantees as you need to!

And with so many learning options ranging from FREE to tens of dollars to the low hundreds of dollars, there will be something out there just perfect for you.

3) Become a better Leader… with LIFT Ireland
Have you heard of LIFT Ireland yet?  If not, I’m excited to be the person to tell you about it!  Perhaps the most innovative approach to leadership development in a generation (in my opinion!), it’s the best value you’ll find for a 45-minute investment of your time every week for 8 weeks to support you in your development as a leader.  It’s free to participate and even free to train to be a LIFT Facilitator.  What’s not to love?

LIFT, which stands for ‘Leading Ireland’s Future Together’, was built on a desire to change Ireland for the better by changing the way people view leadership. Founded in 2017 by siblings Joanne and David Hession along with Sonya Lennon of Dress for Success Dublin, it aims to do this through its eight-part, group learning process: the LIFT Roundtable. 

Involving a trained facilitator, approximately 5 additional members and a fixed process for working through each of the 8 leadership themes over an eight week period, members of a LIFT Roundtable meet weekly for approximately 45 minutes.  Each week you explore a theme, personally assess your competence in that area and commit to taking an action that would be beneficial in the week ahead. The Facilitator guides the process but is also a full member of the group and participates and engages in the same way as all participants.  Most people are engaging with this process online these days.

You can read more in the 2020 LIFT impact survey, you can join an online leadership roundtable here and you can train to become a LIFT Facilitator here

If you were only to do one thing to improve your leadership skills during this time, join LIFT!

4) Get a Coach!
The vast majority of successful people, in Sports, Business and the Arts, have all had a coach, usually throughout their professional lives. 

Why does it make such a difference? 

We each of us have two parts: the part that wants to stay the same and the part that wants to grow and reach your full potential.  And almost everything in our make up is biased towards the part that wants to stay the same.  No matter how much we want things to be different, no matter how painful our current situation, we are hard-wired to resist change. 

So for 99% of people, it takes help for them to make progress.  And that’s the power of coaching and how people create new results in their lives. 

What do you most need help with at the moment?  And where can you access the coach who can best help you? 

Any search of the internet will throw up multiple options but I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to some of the great female providers and coaches in the Cork area who are all part of my professional network: Network Cork – whatever you need help with, there’s a powerful source of support for you: 

I know this is a scary time for many, especially if you are out of work or not sure if your organisation is going to make it through the pandemic.  But this is not a time to do nothing, it’s a time to reflect and plan, make decisions and harness everything you’ve got to create the next, best stage in your professional life.

The first month of the pandemic was the toughest for me since I started out on my own as a solopreneur almost 5 years ago.  And after some initial panic and fear, I knew I wanted to get ahead of the curve and still make it work.  Despite the very real drop in income, I invested in learning how to be more visible, how to engage better with those of you who were already in my tribe, and develop offers to support and resource clients and potential clients at this time. 

I’ve worked with Marian and Sheelah in that regard, I’ve attended webinars with some of the other women listed above, I’ve worked with my own coach (yes! Coaches have coaches too!).  I’ve been blogging more consistently, I’m currently running the second round of Standing Firm When Your World is Shaking for the month of June (a free online coaching programme to support you in being your best in any crisis, join here!), I’ve run webinars for Network Cork and, this week, for Student Affairs Ireland and guess what?  I’m back on track and your feedback is telling me I’m giving more of you the support you need and want!

So, which of the above ideas resonated with you?  Where do you most need to get help and where can you find that help – in a book?  Doing an Online Course? With LIFT Ireland?  Or with a Coach?   

Believe you have the power to enhance your career at this time and you will! Choose to make the best of a difficult situation, no matter what, and you’ll find a way.

I have a final source of support to offer to you today – if you are still not sure how to best move forward, come join me for a complimentary strategy session: an hour’s consultation to clarify your vision for your life and career and an opportunity to map out the route for getting there.  Book your session and complete your pre-session questionnaire here.

Photo: Thanks to Emma Matthews on Unsplash

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