Archive for January, 2010

What happened to my mid-life crisis?

For several years now I have been expecting something to happen. I’ve been looking out for an unexpected attraction to leather trousers and a hitherto unexpressed fascination with Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

As each birthday passes and I discover I still haven’t given up all of my worldly possessions and trekked off to the Himalayas to ‘find myself’, I increasingly wonder what’s wrong with me.

Harley Davidson motorbike

No…still nothing!

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Are you a maximiser or a satisficer?

Imagine that you were receiving feedback on something you had worked on along with a colleague. Which of these two scenarios would you prefer?

  • Scenario 1: You receive great feedback from your supervisor, but your colleague receives even better feedback.
  • Scenario 2: You receive really negative feedback from your supervisor but your colleague receives significantly worse feedback.

On the face of it, Scenario 1 seems to be the best situation; you are receiving great feedback rather than negative feedback. However, in one study, certain people experiencing Scenario 2 reported feeling happier and more self confident than those experiencing Scenario 1. They would rather do better than their peers even if it meant performing much worse overall. Not everyone felt this way, though. In fact, it was only people who reported themselves as being generally unhappy who engaged in this social comparison. Happy people were just pleased to get a good report and didn’t measure themselves against other people.

What makes some people more sensitive to their relative success than to their absolute success? And what implications does this have for career decision making?

According to Barry Schwartz and his colleagues the unhappy people are ‘maximisers’ and the happy people are ‘saticficers’.

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Classics – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Do you get sick of the succession of students falling over themselves to obtain a career in ‘The City’? Even the credibility-destroying events that led to the worst recession in decades don’t seem to have deterred the lemming charge of undergraduates towards this particular high cliff. And when you ask them why they are interested in this type of career, there is one word which falls from their lips with depressing predictability — money.

Are these young people hopelessly materialistic? Is their only notion of value linked to the size of their potential bonus? If you look at the Fred Goodwins of this world you might say yes. But are bankers only greedy because they are stuck at a more rudimentary stage of psychological development?

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Boasting safely

A boast-it note

A boast-it note

One of the most difficult things about networking is how to let people know about your dazzling achievements without appearing to be an overbearing self-publicist. Some recent research has looked at when it might be safe to boast and when it might damage your reputation.

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Time travel

It's nothing to do with a nuclear deterrent!

I was really pleased by the response to an earlier post in which I described my own Zones model. People seem to have found it helpful in framing what is going on with a client during a discussion. Buoyed by this success, I thought I would present another model that I tend to use in my practice. Because of the shape of the diagram, I call it the Trident model. As usual, it has been inspired by a number of different sources (see the Further Reading list at the end), but it was mainly triggered by the debate over the differences between the Counselling and Coaching approaches to guidance and the relative merits of action and reflection.

Personally, I find it useful to keep track of the balance and focus of a discussion with a client.

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Anchors aweigh!

No, it’s not International Talk Like a Pirate Day (that’s Sept 19th for any of you that are interested) but recently I’ve been asked to be a participant in a study based around career anchors.  A PhD student from New Zealand is looking into how Schein’s Career Anchor model (1975), may now be expanded and updated.

Edgar Schein‘s model proposed that everyone has a different set of values and qualities which they employ with regards to their work life.  These values make up their career anchors. A better understanding of one’s motivations (or limits) will lead to a clearer self concept and this will facilitate better career choices.

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A New Hope

Hope by Ernesto Lago

How big is your hope

Several years ago I made a New Year’s resolution which I have managed to keep ever since. I resolved never to make a New Year’s resolution again. It makes things a lot simpler and I no longer disappoint myself when inevitably I revert to my old ways after a couple of weeks.

At the New Year many people resolve to do something about their career — get out of that dead end job, find work that is more meaningful, make faster progress, etc. As a result we often see increased interest in our careers consultancy service, C2, in January.

How successful are such career resolutions likely to be and what could give people genuine hope for the future?

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