Assumptions – How They Create Career Sinkholes

Assumptions and the sinkholes they create

AssumptionsAssumptions—we all make them when we manage our career!

Of course, this company needs someone with “xyz” skills.

My next job cannot be as bad as this current job.

Everyone lets people accrue vacation time from the time they start.

I will work for the local school district, and of course they have good health insurance.

I have either heard these from clients or I have made these mistakes myself.

Conscious Versus Unconscious Assumptions

Conscious assumptions are easy. It is the unconscious assumptions that will get you into big trouble.

Years ago, I taught a problem determination workshop for IBM. When you get stuck on a problem it is usually due to an unconscious assumption. Let me give you the example I told in that workshop.

Early in my career, I owned a 1976 Ford Pinto, a non-exploding one. It would not start and I diagnosed that it had a bad starter solenoid. Early one Saturday morning, I went to the local auto parts store and bought the necessary part. I installed the new solenoid, but it still would not start.

I spent the rest of the weekend diagnosing the problem. Finally, around 4 PM on Sunday I screamed in frustration, “It has be to the damn starter solenoid.” I bought another new starter solenoid, and this time, it worked!

My unconscious assumption was that the first new starter solenoid had to be good. It was NEW! It had to be GOOD! I wasted much of a weekend because of that unconscious assumption.

I will make a wager that most of you have experienced something like this in your life. I created a sinkhole that I fell right into.

Assumption Examples

Example #1

I had a client who had an offer in hand from a Fortune 500 employer. When we did some careful digging through the offer letter, we learned that:

  • The employer did not let new employees start accruing vacation until after their six month anniversary.
  • They were not offered company health insurance until after their six month anniversary.

What we discovered from a former HR employee at the company:

  • If my client asked, they would credit six months of vacation time into their account when they were hired.
  • If my client asked, they would pay my clients COBRA payment for six months until they were eligible for company health insurance.

Notice in both cases, the benefit was only offered if my client asked. Would you have asked? Probably not.

It would have been easy to assume that health insurance and vacation started at time of hire. It also would have been easy to assume that, once we learned of the reality, there was nothing my client could do about it.

Assumptions could have easily created a sinkhole for my client to fall into!

Example #2

In 2002, after a near fatal bicycle accident, I decided to pursue my Texas High School Math teaching certification. I was an engineer. I had taught adults for over 25 years in over 35 countries. There was a shortage of math teachers. I made the assumption that finding a teaching position would be easy.

It was not easy!

What no one told me was the public school system wants people who are highly compliant. Guys over 40 years of age and who come out of the corporate world tend not to be so compliant. Principals know that!

No one in my teacher certification class cohort who was male and over 40 years of age could get an interview. Nobody would talk to us! Only when school was about to start in August would principals begin giving us the time of day. Why? They had no choice.

My assumptions created a sinkhole that I fell right into. I did get a teaching position less than a week before school started, but it created a stressful situation that I would not want to repeat.

I can give you a lot more examples. Assumptions can be very dangerous!

What assumptions have you made that created a sinkhole? Did you fall in?
Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paper “Strategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Repurpose Your Career – 5 Steps to Your Next Career Pivot

Your Next Career Pivot

Repurpose your careerWhether you are a Baby Boomer, Gen Xer, or Millennial, retirement like your parents had is no longer a possibility for most. Just about everyone will have to go through career changes—career pivots—sometime in their life. It’s time to learn how to repurpose your career.

Let me lay out five steps for you to follow that will help you repurpose your career and make a successful career change.

Step 1 – Know thyself.

Take time to understand your core needs, like autonomy, creativity, and your own definition of a good team. Reflect back on your career when you were the happiest. Use my Career Reflection Worksheet to guide you through seven areas of job satisfaction.

Many of you have morphed into altered versions of yourselves in order to fit comfortably in corporate America. You may not really know yourself anymore. I use the Birkman Method® assessment to dissect your personality and find those areas where you are no longer in line with your authentic self. Most of us who have worked over 20 years have done this to ourselves!

(More: Career Reflection – A Twice a Year Duty )

Step 2 – Build your tribe.

Who can you count on for help and support during this transition? Who is going to lift your spirits when you slip and fall?

Your next career move will almost always come through a relationship! Strategically build relationships within industries and at companies that can help you make your next career pivot.

Build a team around you…and keep in touch with them!

(More: Strategic Networking – Building Your Tribe )

Step 3 – Act on facts, not assumptions.

We often think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but when we get there, we find out it’s AstroTurf.

In 2003, I left the high tech industry to teach high school math. I made two flawed assumptions:

  • As an engineer who had taught adults all over the world for 20 years, I assumed that school districts would want me to teach math. They did not! They did not want any guy over 40 years of age (likely because we don’t do what we are told)!
  • I would be able to get reasonable health insurance for my wife, son, and myself from the school district. NOPE! My out-of-pocket expenses were double my COBRA payment. I stayed with COBRA until I could find another alternative.

You need to turn off assumptions and really research new opportunities.

(More: Assumptions – Be Careful when making a Career Pivot)

Step 4 – Learn how to network strategically.

By using social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you can target individuals who you need to meet and develop relationships.

Sometimes your best connections will come from people who do not know you from work. When I was looking for a teaching position, my best connector was my chiropractor. She knew a lot of people outside of my normal sphere of contacts.

If you have children, your children’s friends’ parents can be a goldmine of connections. When making a career pivot, you will want to be creative in finding new connections.

(More: Networking Strategically to Your Next Position)

Step 5 – Learn to ask for help.

Yes, I am a guy. I do not like asking for directions. But you’re heading into new territory and no one succeeds at a career pivot without others’ help. Set aside your claims to status and your pride in order to reach for something new where you may now be the rookie. This is hard at first, but it gets easier.

When I went off to teach high school math, I was a total novice. I needed to suck it up, admit that I did not know what I was doing, and ask for help. I found a teacher across the hall who would share her lesson plans with me. For an entire year, I stayed two days behind her teaching schedule.

If you follow these five steps, you will have a good chance of being successful when you repurpose your career.

(More: The Key to a Successful Career Shift: Asking for Help

Special Announcement

As part of the 100 Days on Jobs for Career Changers, FlexJobs.com and Career Pivot are excited to host a webinar on “5 Steps to Repurpose Your Career.” If you’re wondering how to transition your ideas for career change into action, this webinar will be a great resource! For more information and how to register Click Here!
Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

————————————————

This post originally was published on FlexJobs.com.

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for April 18

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

Most Popular

Multi-Generational Workplace

Career

Baby Boomer

Job Search

Career Pivot

Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

Join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

You can also download my latest white paper Strategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

3 Signs You Are a Closet Introvert and What to Do!

Closet Introvert

closet introvertI will admit that I am a closet introvert!

I am not alone. There are many of you out there who appear to be extroverts, but are really closet introverts.

Is there a 12 step program for this condition?

Why do naturally introverted people start behaving like extroverts?

They get paid to be extroverted! DUH! The awards and kudos all go to extroverts!

I was a pretty shy kid. I was 6’4″ and 145 pounds when I graduated from high school. I had a big head of read hair (this was the early 1970s). I was no chick magnet.

I went to engineering school at Northwestern. Lots of introverts there!

I took a job at IBM programming word processors. Lots of introverts there!

In the mid 1980s, I took a job running a help desk supporting mechanical engineers. I got to talk to people. I got better and better at it. I got to run quarterly meetings. I was good at it. WOW! As a result, I received kudos.

I went off into training. I got to speak more. I got promotions. I won awards. I learned to behave like an extrovert. There was only one issue.

Boy, did I get tired. It was exhausting! It manifested physically in lower back problems. Once or twice a year, my back would spasm. I had to learn to take better care of myself if I wanted to continue to behave like an extrovert.

I learned to behave like an extrovert, but it consumed lots of energy.

Does this sound familiar?

Here is a great video on why you have become a closet introvert.

Lets talk about three signs that you might be a closet introvert.

Group Dinner

You have traveled on business to meet with clients or coworkers. You have been with them all day! At 5 PM, someone says,

“Let’s go get drinks and dinner!”

If you feel like you want to go back to your room and vegetate, you are likely a closet introvert.

Being with people all day has drained you. You need time to go back to your room and recharge.

Public Speaking

You have worked hard to give a great presentation to an important audience. You are pumped up and go on stage with a burst of energy. The presentation goes great.

When you walk off, everyone gives you positive accolades. You feel great. You sit down, and the adrenalin starts to wear off (adrenalin is a GREAT DRUG!). Fifteen or twenty minutes later ,you slump in your chair, exhausted.

You are likely a closet introvert.

Evening with Your Spouse

You have been in meetings all day, but now it’s time to leave. When you get home, your spouse wants to have a discussion with you about an important issue. You just want to crawl into a corner or go to bed!

Come on, you know exactly what I am talking about. Unless you had time to decompress on the commute home, you need down time.

You are likely a closet introvert.

What to do about it?

You are paid to be an extrovert! Therefore, you are not likely to want to make any changes in how you behave.

Here are a few ideas on how to take better care of yourself as a closet introvert.

  • Block off times of the day to be alone – If you are in all day meetings, find a place where you can sit by yourself, and do something that gives your energy. This might be reading your favorite book, listening to music on your iPhone, or getting online to research your next vacation. Even if it is just for 10 minutes multiple times a day, you will be surprised what it will do for you.
  • Eat a snack before a presentation – I worked in an IBM Briefing Center for many years. I found that, if I ate an apple before my morning presentations, I felt so much better afterwards. I learned that my breakfast was not sufficient to get me to lunch when I had to present in the morning.
  • Block off time before and after an event – If I am going to present or attend a conference where I will be interacting with a lot of people, I block off several hours before and after to be alone. I do not allow that time to be compromised.

I have stood on stage many times and told the audience that I am a closet introvert. They all go—right!! The problem is that a good part of the audience are also closet introverts.

Do you see yourself in this post? Are you really a closet introvert?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

You can also download my personal branding white paper – Personal Branding for Baby Boomers – What It Is, How to Manage It, and Why It’s No Longer Optional!

Generation X at 50 – Career Crossroads

Career Crossroads

career crossroadsThe oldest of Generation X are turning 50 years of age, and many of them are at career crossroads!

I am encountering many older Gen Xers who are questioning their career path (just like baby boomers who started doing this 10 years ago).

In facing career crossroads, they are asking the same questions that baby boomers did, but for different reasons.

Generation X Characteristics

Those who I see encountering these career crossroads have the following characteristics:

  • Raised in single parent households – Almost half of generation X were raised in single parent households. Among those who are at career crossroads, there are almost as many who were raised by their fathers as by their mothers.
  • Education was seen as a gateway to success and happiness – Almost all thought that, when they completed their degrees, they would get great jobs and achieve happiness. Many achieved the first goal but not the second.
  • Single, unhappily married or divorced – Because they were career driven, many delayed marriage. This is almost equally true of men and women. Those that are married, reaching a career crossroads is hazardous to their marriages.

(More: Gen X and Y – Like Oil and Water?

Why are Career Crossroads Appearing Now?

Most baby boomers can relate to why now. Whether you call it a mid-life crisis or just reaching your 40s, it is about expectations of what could or should have been.

After working for 15 or 20 years, there was a certain expectation of success and happiness. Many who have been coming to me have the success, but not the happiness.

Others have had success, got married late, had children late, and now have obligations that put serious constraints on their career. Do they continue to climb the corporate ladder or jump off and experience life?

Career Crossroads Example

I had one female client who was an executive in her 40s—brilliant, successful and single. She stated that she needed a non-working husband to take care of life chores, just as her male counterparts had non-working wives. Her work demanded 60 plus hours every week. She was exhausted from the politics.

Instead, she decided to find a job that was more fulfilling and less demanding. She found that climbing the corporate ladder did not bring happiness.

Sound familiar?

(More: Knowing When Your Career Tank is on Empty)

Generation X versus Baby Boomers Career Crossroads

These older Gen Xers entered the workforce in the late 1980s or early 1990s. This was when the idea of working for one employer was ending (I was at IBM in 1993 when they ended the no layoff policy). They had no illusion that their employer would take care of them. Therefore, many drove for career success in lieu of having a personal life. They delayed marriage and children. They thought that, if they worked hard, success and happiness would come. After they were successful and happy, they would get married and have kids.

I was like most baby boomers. I went to college, got a job with a large father-like company (IBM), got married, had children, and would work until I retired. Work was not supposed to bring happiness. What I earned was supposed to bring happiness. In other words, stuff was supposed to bring happiness!

(More: Baby Boomers Repack Your Bags of Life)

Approaching Career Crossroads

The great recession and the new economy has caused many in all generations to approach career crossroads.

    1. Do you blindly follow a career path to earn a living and hope happiness will follow?
    2. Do you pursue monetary success and think happiness will flow from that success?
    3. Do you follow your passion to attain happiness and the monetary success that will follow?

Baby boomers followed path #1.

Generation Xers followed path #2.

Generation Y, who happen to be baby boomers kids, are following path #3.

All three paths are flawed.

These are my observations? What do you see?
Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paper “Strategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for April 11

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

Most Popular

Personal Brand

Social Media

Career

Baby Boomer

Job Search

Career Pivot

Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

Join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

You can also download my whitepaper Don’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

7 Steps to a Successful Military Transition

Military Transition

MilitaryTransitioning from the military can be overwhelming but there are steps that you can take to make the process easier and more enjoyable.

The key is to begin the process earlier rather then later. I assisted many service members with their transitions over the years and when it was my turn, I was able to have a stress free transition with several job offers. I started my planning process two years before my retirement date retiring stress and debt free.   You can do the same thing.

Start by attending your local transition assistance program, and try to attend two years prior to your separation/retirement date. In doing so you will learn what is expected of you during the transition process and you will meet key players that can assist you. Then begin to do the following:

  •  Take an honest look at yourself – Before you start drafting your resume, spend time reflecting over your career, to include the time before you came in the military.   What did you enjoy most about your career? What are your strengths, weaknesses, and skills? Take time to review the skills, education and certifications you have acquired and earned. What kind of work do you want to do?
  • Research the careers you are considering – The Internet is the most powerful research tool available today. You can find information on the industry, position, companies, salary, etc. that interest you all at the push of a few computer keys. If you know someone who is currently or has been in the position, give him a call. People love to talk about what they know.
  • Assess Your Skills – In conducting the research did you identify any skills that you were missing? Your employment prospects may improve if you get some additional education and training. Are you willing to go back to school to acquire the certification or degree required? You may be able to do so before you leave the military. Many graduate schools have evening programs to accommodate working adults. Leading universities now offer online programs you can take anywhere. Join associations; do volunteer work in the area.
  • Make a Financial Plan – Make sure you write down your financial plan to include a budget and list of ALL of your current expenses. What will change when you leave the military? Estimate that your retirement pay will be and remember o include items such as medical, dental, and housing expenses you are not accustomed to paying. Most importantly start saving money and work to become debt free before you leave the service. Choosing to save will give you more control over your career path.
  • Network – Effective networking is still the number one way people find out about jobs and secure a position. See if you can join the local chapter of the business association you’re interested in, or at least visit some functions as an observer. Don’t underestimate using social media as a tool for networking. Many employers now advertise positions and look for candidates on social media platforms. Set up your LinkedIn profile and start making connections before you separate or retire.
  • Get a mentor – A mentor is someone who can serve a role model who has “been there and done that”. A mentor has a similar experience as the mentored and shows them the ropes. Ken Williams, author of Mentoring the Next Generation of Non-Profit Leaders, says, “Mentors can do a number of things for your career. They can help you build your resume, guide you on a project, and help you identify resources, including referring you to other mentors and important people in your field.”
  • Write a draft resume or hire someone to. Don’t wait until the day before the transition class or just before you separate/retire. Gather your prior evaluations and awards and look to see if there is information you can use in your resume. Focus on transferable skills that are applicable to any work setting, such as being organized or working as part of a team. Keep in mind this is a draft. When you begin your actual job search you will need to update your resume for every job you apply for using key words for the job description.

There are other steps that you can include in your job search but these are key steps to get you started. Realize that change causes stress. Therefore to minimize the stress, identify what you can control and what you cannot, and take steps to minimize what you can.

Include your family in the process and don’t be afraid to ask for help and in turn help others who follow. For more precise guidance and support, you may want to hire a career coach. To help evaluate possible coaches, look for relevant experience, like work in human resources, and ask for references from people in situations comparable to your own. If not, spend some time looking over these suggestions and get started on your preparations.

The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be enjoying your new career.

Carolyns CowensCarolyn R. Owens, a retired Navy Commander, is a Career, Transition and Life Coach and the Chairwoman/CEO of Infinity Coaching, Inc. (www.infinitycoaching.net). Connect with Carolyn via email at cowens@infinitycoaching.net or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cowensinfinitycoaching/en

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

The Arts and Your Career

The Arts and Your Career

ArtsCreating a career in the arts or music is incredibly difficult.

I work with so many clients who are highly creative. They tend to have big interests in the arts and music. Many have stuffed those interests because they cannot make a living at what they love.

Let me tell you two stories about clients who have started to feed those interests.

Susan and Photography

I have written about Susan twice before:

Susan started her career as a photographer. She quickly found that she was unable to make photography into a viable moneymaking career. So, she just stopped.

Her top three Birkman interests were Literary, Social Service, and Artistic. She was highly creative and loved helping people. Her job in market research allowed her to fill the first two, but she had stuffed her interest in the arts. When I learned this, I told her to get out her phone and just start taking pictures. She needed to fill her interest in the arts!

She responded, “Take pictures of what?”

My response was,  “Anything you want!”

Susan has gone through ups and downs (as you will discover in the previous posts). She is currently working for herself taking project jobs.

Over the last few years, I periodically get texts from Susan with absolutely beautiful images. Each time, you could tell she was beaming.

The photograph above was taken a few months ago and was just accepted in a major black and white photography competition.

Susan texted me when she learned her photograph had been accepted.  Susan was ecstatic.

She does not get to fill this interest in her career…but it can be—and needs to be—filled in her personal life!

(More: Talents versus Skills – Do you know the difference?)

Steve and Music

Steve graduated from high school and pursued a music degree. After a couple of years in college, he realized that he would never be able to make a living as a musician.

Sound familiar?

Steve pursued multiple business degrees and was pretty successful. When the great recession caused his business to fail, he was at a crossroads. He was now almost 40 years disconnected from his musical past.

He found work and was doing okay financially, but he was not happy. Almost by accident, he reconnected with some band buddies from his past. He found that his passion had not gone away.

The arts and, more importantly, music fed his soul.

The business world of music has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Now, we are working together to see if he can marry his acumen in business with his love for music.

Common Themes

When I work with clients who have high interests in the arts and music, there are some common personality characteristics:

  • They tend to be more shy and introverted than normal. Some have learned to behave like extroverts, but they really are closet introverts.
  • They are far more likely to be emotional and kind, empathetic souls.
  • They do not like conforming to strict rules. They tend not to function well in rigid environments.
  • They like to add flair to their work products. This often comes out in beautiful Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. They take pride that their work products look good!

The Arts and Your Career Rarely Intersect

I remember being in Washington D.C. last year to visit our son and daughter-in-law. We were in the National Portrait Gallery and met young employee who was a recent college graduate with an art history degree.

I told her congratulations on finding a good job where she actually got to use her degree.

More importantly, I said I was sure her parents were even more ecstatic that she found a position using her art history degree!

Those of you who have high interests in the arts and music are probably not getting those needs filled within your career. If you have stuffed those interests in order to pursue a career that pays the bills, puts food on the table, pays the mortgage, and puts your kids through college, you may want to resurrect those interests.

Have you taken your interest in the arts or music and stuffed it?

Maybe it is time to repack your bags!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my whitepaper “Don’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for April 4

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

Most Popular

Social Media

Career

Baby Boomer

Job Search

Career Pivot

Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

Join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

You can also download my personal branding white paper – Personal Branding for Baby Boomers – What It Is, How to Manage It, and Why It’s No Longer Optional!

3 Signs You Are Institutionalized Like Brooks at Shawshank

3 Signs You Are Institutionalized

institutionalizedAre you institutionalized like Brooks in The Shawshank Redemption?

Brooks was a convict who was being paroled after having been in prison for 50 years. The thought of leaving was so overwhelming, that he attacks a fellow prisoner so he can remain in prison.

“Red” (played by Morgan Freeman) explains:

Red: Would you knock it off? Brooks ain’t no bug. He’s just…just institutionalized.
Heywood: Institutionalized, my ass.
Red: The man’s been in here fifty years, Heywood. Fifty years! This is all he knows. In here, he’s an important man. He’s an educated man. Outside, he’s nothin’! Just a used up con with arthritis in both hands. couldn’t even get a library card if he applied. You see what I’m saying?
Floyd: Red, I do believe you’re talking out of your ass.
Red: Believe what you want. These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them.

That’s institutionalized. Sound familiar??

Watch the video of the scene:

Do you work for a major corporation or government entity? Are you scared to leave?

Are you institutionalized?

I can think of three major groups that tend to be institutionalized.

  • Large corporations, like IBM
  • Military
  • K-12 education

There are others, I am sure. Please comment below and give me your suggestions!

Your Network

Do most of the people you know work for the same institution?

Are most of your LinkedIn connections working for your current employer? Do you lack LinkedIn connections because you did not see the need?

When I worked for IBM during their near bankruptcy in 1993, most of my colleagues lived in IBM ghettos. These were neighborhoods that were inhabited almost exclusively by IBMers.

When I taught high school math between 2004 and 2006, it was an all consuming work environment. I lived and breathed what was going on in the school, and I rarely came up for air. Most of the teachers had little experience and contact with the outside work world.

If you can count the number of people you know outside of your institution on your two hands, you are probably institutionalized.

(More: Strategic Networking uh err .. Strategic Relationships

Your Vocabulary

Do you speak “work speak?” Is the vocabulary particular to your institution? When I worked at IBM as a programer, we talked about APARs, VM, MVS, and JES.

When I taught high school, we would discuss TEKS and TAKS.

When I worked in a briefing center for IBM, we would bring in military customers and they could throw out so many acronyms that our heads were spinning when we left the room.

Can you speak jargon-free English for a whole day?

If not, you are probably institutionalized!

(More: Finding Keywords to Manage Your Career [Video]

Your Skills

Do your skills have value outside of your current institution? If not, you are probably institutionalized.

I remember when, in 1993, my boss was offered an early retirement package. She was 49 years old with 30 years at IBM. She was one of my best bosses ever.

She thought she had no value outside of IBM. She was institutionalized.

Of course, her skills were highly valued outside of IBM, but she did not know it!

(More: Talents versus Skills – Do you know the difference?

Next Steps

Start by networking with people who have left your current institution. Where have they gone?

Contact them and ask for AIR – Advice, Insights, and Recommendations.

I had a client who was a West Point graduate. I asked him if any of his classmates left the military and went on to successful careers in the private sector.

His response was YES!

I asked him do you think they would be willing to help him?

His response was YES!

Get help in translating your skills outside of your current institution. I think you will find that, if you use the right vocabulary, you will be able to sell your skills.

Practice using this new vocabulary on anyone and everyone who is willing to listen.

Are you like Brooks?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

————————————————

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group