Monday 30 April 2012

The Power of Personal Values  by

“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are” Do you know what this popular quote by  Anais Nin  means? 

Well I think it means that we all tend to view things not as they truly are, but within the context of our personal preconceived notions and prejudices. We measure everything and everyone by our impressions, beliefs and values – our previous experiences usually affect our expectation of future realities. We only see what we are prepared to see. 

Not words…but meanings.
This is often the reason why in “good conversations”, as stated by Emerson, people don’t speak to the “words” but to the “meanings of each other” – It is not so much about what is actually said, but more of what we actually think has been said. As Richard Pascale said “…we are much more likely, to fulfill our perceptions about how the world works than we are to fulfill our goals, ideals and visions.”- in fact it is believed that you can affect other people’s  perception about you, by what you perceive and communicate about yourself.

A Harvard research has shown that 90% of the errors in thinking are errors of perception. When companies advertise their brands, it is to your perception of their brand that they appeal to. It is not what is, but what you think it is. Little wonder advertising and media communication remains big business. Truth be told…Your perception is your reality.

If perception is such a big deal, I need to know, “How can I in my daily conversations, address and respond effectively, to the “meanings and nuances of conversation of the next person?”

It all begins with clarifying, understanding and interpreting your values. If you are not clear on your values, on what’s most important in your life, what you truly stand for; if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have a tough time making a decision about something – it is because you have a values conflict – what this means is that all decision making comes down to values clarification.

What exactly are Values?
‘Values’ is literally translated from the Latin word, valere, which means, “to be strong” – this means something that gives you strength, something that is important to you; something that you feel strongly about, something that is worth standing up for, something that gives your life a meaning. It is defined as, “deep engrained principles that guide your actions”. Values are the lenses through which we view ourselves and the world – the essence of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Your true values, someone said, are the principles you live by in your life. They are the behaviours and activities you are naturally drawn to. Your true values define who you really are. Too often, we find it hard to identify what is really important to us. Instead we pursue goals which are out of alignment with our values and wonder why we feel unbalanced, dissatisfied and why things are not working out. (Just like a car with the engine in perfect condition but with tyres out of alignment). 

Clarifying your top four values
Although values are powerful when unearthed, they can be difficult to bring to the surface because they operate below our conscious awareness; and as such would require the administration of a set of tools or a test like the values matrix, to help identify which values significantly contribute to an individual’s  value judgments and make up the essence of the choices which drive behavioural patterns- (you can email for details on how to receive a values matrix evaluation) 

After this, now what?
After you come up with your top four values, ask yourself, “What do my values need to be, to achieve my goals?  It’s the same as asking, “What kind of person do I have to become to achieve my goals”?
You should however understand that when considering a career change or habitual change of any kind, your values also need to experience a shift; this is because you’ll need to change at the core of who you are – how you think, how you look at the world – you will need a paradigm shift involving significant adjustments in perspective (It means who do I have to “be”, to “do” what is necessary to “have” whatever it is I want to have.).

It is only when you are being the best you can BE (which points to personal development), that you can  DO what it takes to HAVE what you want in life.

Peer Mentoring

What you do next is to post your new values at home, at work – anywhere they will be seen; particularly by people who can hold you accountable to the new standard. Commit to a peer mentoring process in order to make this a reality.  Jim Rohn said, “I wish to pay fair price for every value. If I have to pay for it or earn it, that makes something of me. If I get it for free, that makes nothing of me. All values must be won by contest, and after they have been won, they must be defended.”

All of this will cause you to change the way you look at things; causing the things you look at to change for you.
Every time a value is born, existence takes on a new meaning; every time one dies, some part of that meaning passes away. Joseph Krutch.
Here’s to your success!

“We can be depended on to tell you what you don't want to hear, to help you  see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be” Executive Toolkit

Friday 27 April 2012

A Networking tale : A Philosophy

  A young lady, who I will call Jane (real name withheld), hired my services as her Career Management Coach a while back. After our preliminary sessions on self-awareness, in which I administered several tests and psychometric tools; I proceeded to ask her to design the next 10 years of her life. One particular goal caught my attention, “…to meet a Nobel prize winner from a third world country.”
I then asked her, “Who she had to “become” to meet this person? Her blank stare told me all I needed to know – she had no idea.

My next session with her proved pretty interesting – she informed me that she now had the man’s telephone number (I recall she had a smirk on her face as she waved the slip of paper containing his number right in my face). On hearing this, I said to Jane, “since you now have his number, why don’t you place a call through to him right now? On hearing this, Jane replied, “I can’t!”, I then asked her, “why not?”, she said, “oh I don’t know”, I then said to her, let me tell you why you cannot call him, “you have not become the kind of person that can call him  –  you need to do your homework to unearth his hobbies, goals and even some of his challenges;  you also need to find out what is he is like as a human being, what is he passionate about, and some of his proudest  achievements; when you are done with getting all this information, you then have to identify where you have common interests with him etc.  (Shared interests are often the building blocks of any relationship not common chitchat).

What even stands out as more important than the above, is who you are (the fact that we measure everything and everyone by our own beliefs and impressions – the reason why we don’t see things as they are but as we are), relative to the kind of person you are trying to build a relationship with. What I am trying to say in essence is that you will only attract sustainable networking relationships in alignment with the kind of person you are – all pointing to the importance of personal development in networking.

It’s hard to estimate these days how many working professionals in Nigeria have the telephone numbers of influential persons in the society; obviously gleaned from diverse sources, and in most cases these people do not know who you are. This happens because many people believe that networking is about reaching out to people for help when you need something – such as a job. The truth however is that no one likes someone who comes around when they need something and disappears when they don’t. You must build it before you need it – you must reach out long before you need anything at all (and this applies to everyone).

What real networking is?
Real networking, according to Keith Ferrazzi, is about finding ways to make other people more successful , it entails sharing knowledge and information without expecting anything in return, you must give and give and give freely first without keeping score – you pay it forward!
Herminia Ibarra defined networking as, creating a fabric of personal contacts that provide support, feedback, insight, resources and information. It entails the building of alliances; these contacts provide important referrals, information, and often developmental support such as coaching and mentoring.
David Jensen also defines Networking as the process of establishing links between people with the intent to promote communication for mutual benefit.

All these definitions put together show that Networking is not just a job seeking tool but a philosophy, a lifelong career development tool; a tool that demands that you must give first before expecting to receive, you must give to your social network support, feedback, insight, resources and information without any hidden intention to get anything in return – building your social capital for a time in the future when you will need it.

Let me give you a personal example, I started  the Career Unit, well over 10 years ago, at Daystar Christian Centre (a church of over 20,000 members), with one objective, to provide graduate job seekers and career changers with  information (through career education workshops, seminars etc.), and networking opportunities. I have literally coached thousands of people(entry level and career changers), and held hundreds of group sessions, made scores of telephone calls and spent thousands of hours on behalf of people seeking one advisory help or the other. 

In fact there was a time one of my church’s associate pastors told a lady seeking career education, “if you need career advice, go to our church facility and see kayode.” The lady then asked for my telephone number, the pastor replied, “you do not need his number, just go to the facility on Saturday; by the time you walk round the whole place, you will find him somewhere – he’s always there!”

All of these career education services were administered freely without any charge. When the workload became huge I began asking seasoned professionals (md/ceo’s; human resources directors, trainers etc. to assist us in impacting lives – and they all offered their services for free.  In return – I have been blessed with an unusual rolodex/network of key relevant professionals in many organizations – because of my passion for the employable state of the average Nigerian graduate. I have gained the trust of many senior executives by asking not what they could do for me, but what they could do to help others – my story taught me that the currency of building networks is generosity.

I have a dream to grow my network until it gets to the “network zone” – a place where my network gets so broad and deep that almost anything can be accomplished through it. My objective is to give without remembering and receive without forgetting. Dale Carnegie said, and I love this “You can be more successful in two months by becoming really interested in other people’s success than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in your success.”

To your success!
Kayode Olufemi-ayoola, Certified Career Management Coach