6 Tips for Your Professional Development
Let’s talk about advancing your professional development, and how to do so continuously. Steps you can take to make noticeable changes in your professional life, which ultimately flows into all other areas of your life as well.
Below are best practices I have discovered to be helpful in propelling you on your journey.
Look in the mirror and assess your internal intelligence. There are plenty of tests and quizzes you can take that will give you insight into who you are, your mindset, what makes you tick, etc. Even some of the Buzzfeed quizzes can shed some light, though I wouldn’t put much stock into the credibility.
Self-assessments can benefit you because sometimes you are not aware of blinders that are in your way.
2) Genuine Feedback
Find a mentor or ask a trusted friend you know will give it to you straight. You don’t need sugar-coating.
3) Tangible Goals (hard skills)
What skills can you enhance that will make you an expert in your field? Excel spreadsheets, grammar, speech, and even attire; all of these are things you can physically make improvements on and see progression.
4) Intangible Goals (soft skills)
Goals that might not be so apparent are also important. These are called “soft skills” and they are just as important as hard skills. Below are some of the soft skills that can be major game changers:
- Verbal and non-verbal communication
- Discipline and focus
- Public speaking
- Stress management/Emotional Intelligence
5) Reading & Podcasts
Knowledge is power.
Read anything you can get your hands on that will grow your mind and read for fun. You need both. Commit to this daily practice. Yes, daily. Even if it is only for 10 minutes. (Twitter does not count.)
Podcasts. This is free information sent to your ears, no hands required. Do this while driving, working out, cooking. You literally have nothing to lose.
Another great thing about the Internet, there are thousands of free courses to take. Ask others what they would recommend. Be in a continual state of learning and development.
Seminars are extraordinary to attend. Not only are you learning, but you are surrounded by individuals who are there for the same reason. The networking that can happen is invaluable.
Bottom line – grow, learn, develop.
Trust Your Creativity
TOO MUCH – YOU MUST CONFORM
I have been told more than once to tone it down. To be myself but not too much. To be calm. That I am too loud. To limit myself. To fit into some sort of societal mold. I am sure I am not the only one who has been told to conform. “Be creative but do it this way.” Hmmm. That’s stifling. Where does one draw the line? And who gets to decide what you do and do not get to expose? Ultimately you are the one who gets to make that decision, however it can come at a cost.
As a quick side note, there are situations that require you to be methodical and these are usually in the workplace. There is a fine line between creative and improper. I have found that if I wonder “is this appropriate?” I might want to rethink a couple of things. In a work environment use your creativity professionally. Find your method but remember your position and audience.
Art can take on many forms and creativity can be seen everywhere. Have you ever made something uninhibited that you wanted to show to the world not for attention but merely to stimulate – and the reaction was well received? Didn’t that feel great? You weren’t seeking glory, you were merely wanting to inspire. No limits were set. You were free to be creative. I believe that is where you need to tap in.
I saw a post the other day on Instagram. It read “trust your creativity.” That struck a chord. Hard core. I felt like I needed to high-five someone. Those three words hit hard and deep and I felt as if a weight had been lifted. That is exactly what I have felt for so long. That was it!
Do not limit your creativity. Find your method. Develop it. Edit. You are not stuck. You can continually evolve. Trust your creativity.
3 Basics of Personal Image
Personal image is a wide topic but can be narrowed down to key areas. I am going to touch on 3 key areas that cover the basics of personal image: appearance, voice, behavior.
Your physical appearance matters. First impressions matter.
Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen someone who has clearly not concerned with how they look, or smell. Listen to me – you need to be clean! Your hair combed, teeth brushed, nails trimmed, clothes stain free, and shoes in good condition. You will be scanned head to toe. I have been in this industry long enough, so when I say the scuffs on your shoes will be seen, trust me.
Now, let’s talk about that posture because this is part of your physical appearance. Your posture contributes to your image. Did you know that good posture can improve your confidence? In an article by Sharon Naylor on posture, it states that “researchers have found when you sit up taller and pull your shoulders back and outward, your brain gets a signal it’s time to be confident.” Feeling confident positively affects your image because you project self-assurance and self-assurance can go a long way. Stand tall, don’t slouch, head up, believe in yourself.
Body movement is not often discussed as part of personal image but it is an important topic and part of your appearance. Take a moment and think of individuals you respect and admire. How are their movements? I am willing to bet they are not a frantic ball of chaos. They are composed. Your body movements should be smooth, controlled and with purpose.
As with body movement, your tone and speech should reflect that of someone who is unflappable. Even if you are late for your next meeting because you got a flat tire on your way into work and spilled your coffee on your suit, you and your tone should remain steady. You set the tone.
Attitude check time. How is your behavior these days? Your actions aren’t a reflection of you, they are you. People will not want to be around someone is poor in character. It’s that simple.
If you really want to have a positive image, it is not about designer labels. Recognize areas that you want to improve upon and make your image radiate.
How to Wear Flats and Still Rock the Look!
Flats are more comfortable and if that statement wasn’t true, everyone would be in heels. Basektball players would be donning stilettos, Jeff Bezos would be strutting around in sky-high Louboutins, and runners would be in platforms, but they aren’t.
Women often ask, “can I wear flats and still be seen as professional?”
Yes, you can. You just need to know how to pick the right kind and that is why I am here. I want to help you feel and act continually at your best. When you feel confident, you act confident.
So, let’s get to it then shall we?
Loafers can be a hit or miss. I highly suggest one with a bit of a heel. Extra details such as a tassel or buckle over the tip adds more design to a somewhat slipper looking shoe.
Loafers are great for a few reasons. One, they are very much in style right now, so they are available pretty much anywhere you go. Two, since they are so in style at the moment, they are more accepted at work, which is great, because they are so comfortable! Make sure when selecting the right loafer, you do not compromise comfort for professionalism.
The brogue is a nice, clean look and in my opinion, a step above the loafer. You cannot go wrong with a brogue. The details are what makes this shoe even more put together than the loafer or mules.
Love the cut out – it takes an everyday shoe and adds a bit of edge. One thing to keep in mind with cut out shoes, they can be borderline unprofessional if there is too much left out. Keep it sharp.
Hit or Miss
I do not suggest flat mules for work. No matter how fancy the front, no matter how much they cost, flat mules are slide on shoes and slide on shoes are glorified slippers.
I also suggest staying away from bows. There are a few that look decent but bows give off a oh so cutesy look. Do you want to be seen as cute or do you want to be seen as a woman who knows her business and is capable of crushing it when necessary?
Ballet flats have a similar effect as bows. They are dainty. Do not wear them in your next business proposal presentation. They are a good backup for driving in though.
And a few side notes:
- Choose the material wisely as well. Certain materials on shoes can look too casual.
- Embellishments, when done right add to the shoe. When done wrong, are an eyesore.
- A pop of color is great. Obnoxious is not. Know the difference.
- Just because they are expensive doesn’t make them appropriate.
- Just because they are popular doesn’t make them appropriate.
To see more ideas, look over Tip Sheets or click here and let me know how I can help!
The Dos and Don’ts of Making Mistakes
A mistake has been made. What’s your immediate reaction because there are plenty to choose from.
- Don’ts (negative): make excuses, blame someone else, become defensive
- Dos (positive): accept responsibility, change your behavior, keep going
Everyone makes mistakes, what sets the skillful apart is how they choose to respond.
Don’ts: Excuses. Blame. Defense.
Someone who is constantly making excuses and blaming others creates an atmosphere of negativity. People cannot trust someone who is not reliable.
If you are constantly defensive, others will not want to confront you for fear of conflict. You make yourself unapproachable if you are unable to take responsibility for mistakes made.
Those who seek professional and personal growth must learn how to handle mistakes because no matter who you are, you are going to make them.
I am not going to spend too much time on the don’ts of making excuses, so for further insight on that topic, here is a great article by S.J. Scott titled 13 Steps to Stop Making Excuses and Get Results in Your Life.
Dos: Accept. Change. Keep Going.
What I will spend time on is the positive way to respond to mistakes. Learning effective responses to mistakes will help you be proactive in future decisions.
Own up to your mistake. Why? First, others expect it, and need it. Taking responsibility acts like a reset button. You are acknowledging an error and once that is out in the open, everyone can begin to move on.
Note I did not say full responsibility. Let’s discuss that next.
If an error needs explanation, there is a time and a place for that, but in the midst of addressing your mistake, the reasoning (if any) should not be in the same sentence. Do not try to explain “your side of the story”.
Also, do not take full responsibility if you do not need to. It is wise to take responsibility, but being the person who always takes blame, that is not good either. Clarify.
Should you need to make any sort of clarification, stick to the actual events that happened and leave all feelings out of it. Discuss what happened, be open to feedback and work out the kinks so you can handle yourself better next time.
What will you do differently going forward? What did you learn so you do not repeat the same mistakes?
Mistakes are great lessons, as long as you learn from them.
Mistakes are going to happen.
Don’t spend too much time focusing on the error. When you stay stuck in a negative mindset, there is little room for transformation. Reflect on it long enough to learn and mature.
It’s not how we make mistakes, but how we correct them that defines us. -Rachel Wolchin
Contact me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com for more tips and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you.
Destructive Behavior is Destructive – It’s Time for a Change
Image consulting is a professional field that aims to improve the image of the client personally or professionally through appearance, behavior, and communication. It is the process of evaluating the effect of a person’s appearance on their professional image.
Let’s talk about behavior.
Part of image consulting deals with behavior and how that can affect a person’s image, both personally and professionally.
Behavior is so important, there are studies on it, training on it, institutes, books, lectures, seminars, you name it.
Now, let’s talk about behavior in the workplace.
Behavior in the workplace is especially important for your image. This is not to say that outside of the workplace you have a free reign to act inappropriately, but for this article, we are going to focus on workplace behavior and how it relates to your image.
Your behavior affects your image. Your behavior affects your personal brand. Your behavior affects others, and in turn, your behavior will affect you.
Being someone who others can approach is a desirable quality. It is a skill. It makes the environment in which you work more effective. Opposite of effective behavior is destructive behavior.
You might not be aware of destructive behavior patterns in your day-to-day life. Recognizing them is a step in the right direction.
Common destructive behaviors:
- Negative mindset
When someone is curt with you, how does that influence your reaction? How does that affect the way you think about that individual? What is your perception of their image?
We all have some form of one or more than one of these behaviors. And keep in mind, in moderation, it is good to be a little defensive right? In moderation.
People see how you behave and relate that to who you are.
Making proper changes.
How can you correct these behaviors? Start making changes now.
- Identify what you need to change
- Commit to improve
- Be consistent
- Seek advice, a mentor, or a career coach
- Speak with a supervisor or someone who can give you constructive criticism
Break your plan into small, achievable, manageable steps. Set goals and timelines and don’t forget to look back on your progress.
Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does. -Sukhraj S. Dhillon
What Really is a Career Coach?
What does a career coach actually do?
Well, pretty much the same thing all other coaches do – coach!
What do coaches do? They help their players improve. They work with each individual to get better in an area or areas of deficiency and then equip them to continue the process with skill and competence.
Career coaches have a wide range of areas they are proficient in. Overall, career coaches should be able to give insight and “coaching” to those who have hired them. A trained eye to see where there is a gap in performance.
Who can benefit from services?
We all want to be the best we can be right? A career coach is great to be able to support someone who is in the workforce either at the beginning of their career, in the middle, or rising to the top.
What to expect from a career coach.
If you do decide to hire a coach, don’t expect it to be a one session and done sort of deal. It will take a minimum of 8 hours, or 4 sessions total to get some groundwork. Do not lured in by quick fixes and unrealistic promises.
You should expect to be confronted with a series questions and interviews. Your coach will need to get to know you.
- What are your frustrations?
- What is your current situation and why are you dissatisfied?
- What are your goals?
- What do you hope to gain from a career coach?
Expect to answer some tough questions and give honest answers. Don’t tell your coach what sounds good or what you think they want to hear, give them information that will be helpful to you and your future. And have some questions ready yourself. Ask questions that can’t be answered by Google; questions that will help guide your coach and you in the right direction.
Just as athletic coaches require their students to exercise and run drills, so does a career coach, maybe just not as physically demanding. Simply put, if your actions were producing positive results, you wouldn’t need a coach. You hired them to help you work through challenges, so expect them to push you. Expect to get uncomfortable but also, expect great things to come.
What will the results be?
Motivation. Confidence. Skills.
Your coach isn’t going to get you the job you want, only you can do that. What your coach will do is equip you with the motivation, confidence, and direction to go out there and achieve your goals.
The time spent with your coach will help you understand your strengths and how to use them for your career and your future aspirations. You will be equipped with the correct tools to follow a path that leads to fulfillment.
Remember, this isn’t a one-time event. Along the way you might need to revisit what you learned with your coach or reach back out for further guidance. Never feel like you can’t make a change.
I am here to help. Contact me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com.
HIRING AN IMAGE CONSULTANT AND WHY YOU SHOULD
What is an image consultant?
Image consulting is a professional field which aims to improve the image of the client personally or professionally through appearance, behavior and communication.
Why Hire an Image Consultant?
Image consultants help individuals with more than just personal appearance. As stated in the definition, an image consultant helps in the areas such as appearance, body language, behavior, and communication. They are there to help evaluate, improve, and/or enhance.
Clarks Consulting elevates clients to the next level. I provide the tools needed to make effective improvements often overlooked or missed.
Common areas that are often overlooked:
- Professional appearance
- Body language
- Inconsistent behavior
- Effective communication
- Online presence
Most people are unaware of these how these areas can affect their image, but the good news is they are all coachable. Recognizing one or more than one of these areas needing improvement is a great step in the right direction, but what next?
What are the Next Steps?
First you must find the right consultant.
You want to select a consultant that understands your goals but also one that you enjoy working with.
Most consultants offer a complimentary meeting which usually is 30 minutes and consists of the basic questions that help them get to know you better.
- Concerns you have and what you would like to accomplish
- Answer any questions you might have
- Review of services and fees
- What you can expect and next steps
Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Make sure you ask the right questions – for you and your business.
Next is the contract agreement.
Once you have found the right consultant, you will need to discuss the contract agreement.
Thoroughly read through the entire contract agreement and ask any questions you have. Make sure you understand all verbiage and expectations.
The timeline goes together with the agreement.
A skilled consultant knows how to map out a reasonable timeline. Do not be fooled by unrealistic promises or quick fixes.
Based on the timeline presented, this should give you a good understanding of what to expect and the process.
There is no one size fits all, so making sure you are both in agreement of what the expectations are and a time frame in which to achieve those is important.
What to Expect from Your Image Consultant?
What you can expect from your consultant is a thorough gathering of information based on your needs and wants. This is usually in the form of a questionnaire or profile evaluation so the consultant can get a better idea of who you are.
Next is a list of recommendations that will fit your lifestyle. Your consultant will go through what is working and what needs to be altered.
Based on the area you hired a consultant for, they should develop a plan that you can easily follow and the tools to continue with confidence.
I would love to work with you. You can contact me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com.
Personal Branding Matters
Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal-branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging.
What does that mean?
So, I gave you the definition from Wikipedia, but what does that really mean?
Note the word “practice.” This means that personal branding is ongoing, continually evolving. You do not need to change who you are, but you do need to evolve. The difference – change suggests becoming something entirely different whereas evolve means to develop.
You should always be wanting to improve – to always be evolving.
And how does personal branding fit into all of this?
As you progress through life and your career, you will always have with you your core values, but, through the process of evolving, you will enhance those values and become a brand.
What is your brand?
Do you wonder what your personal brand is?
Ask yourself a few of these questions:
- What makes you stand out from the rest?
- Can people trust you?
- What do you think people say about you when you are not in the room?
- What you stand for? What are your values?
- What your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your goals?
- What’s your story?
These are questions you can ask yourself and come up with answers on your own. A more complex experiment of discovering your personal brand is to seek feedback from those around you.
Alex Freund, author at Personal Branding Blog, sent a request to some of his friends asking them to send him three words that came to mind when they thought of him. This a good idea, but make sure you allow others to feel comfortable giving you candid feedback AND you are open to listening to it all.
Building your personal brand.
You are a brand. A walking advertisement.
You know that saying, “fake it till you make it”? Be very careful here. Do not replace fake with authentic. There is some truth to “faking” confidence or optimism. Some people can create a turnaround in their lives and truly become confident and optimistic. But faking for the sake of being an imposter is not suggested. Eventually the truth comes out.
If you want to be perceived in a certain way, discover ways to make that happen.
- Be intentional.
- Educate yourself, constantly.
- Find your niche.
- Become the expert in your field so that when others think of whom to call, you are top of that list.
- Build credibility.
- Be authentic.
Was this helpful for you? How can I help? Contact me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com or connect with me on social media! I look forward to hearing from you.
Women, Master Your Confidence!
Why do so many women lack confidence?
If you ask those around you, you might find similar answers to that question. They feel like frauds, like they aren’t good enough, they don’t possess the skills and abilities, they are they compare, they are perfectionists.
Everyone is different and all facing unique challenges, but as a whole, why do women let their confidence sink so drastically?
From authors Claire Shipman and Katty Kay of The Confidence Code:
For years, we women have kept our heads down and played by the rules. We’ve been certain that with enough hard work, our natural talents would be recognized and rewarded.
Would you say you can relate to that statement?
The problem is, keeping your head down and always playing by the rules leaves little room for standing up in the boardroom presenting your ideas. Meek does not command a room.
Women need to start taking action and changing what has been ingrained in them for so long.
First let’s address 3 vocabulary no nos.
Stop saying “sorry,” “can’t,” and “just.”
“I’m Sorry.” I wrote an article on this that you can find here. Basically, by always saying “sorry”, you portray you are not confident and unsure about your expertise. There is no need to start sentences with “I’m sorry” unless you are actually sorry for some sort of wrongdoing. Communicate with confidence.
“I can’t.” That is one quick way to diminish yourself and your abilities. Stop telling yourself it can’t be done, that you can’t accomplish x, y, and z. Replace “can’t” with the word “will” and notice your mindset change.
“Just.” This is another subtle word that undermines your confidence. It is also a filler word. It takes up space, has little value, and weakens your message. Delete this word from your messages.
The Comparison Trap.
Very dangerous territory here. Have you heard the quote, “comparison is the thief of joy”? This couldn’t be truer.
In the right context, comparison is helpful, but an unhealthy amount will only rob you of many joys, one being confidence.
Focus on your strengths. On your skills. On your successes. If there is an area you need to make improvements on, find ways to do so. Redirect the energy spent comparing yourself to others and use that time to develop yourself.
Recognize comparison triggers. Are you comparing your current professional status to a peer? Why? Do they receive recognition from others that you would like as well? Ask yourself why, then dissect your answer. Get to the root and once you have that answer, find a solution. Your coworker is constantly getting praised because of their successful business practices, so what best practices can you start incorporating?
Not Good Enough.
I hear this all too often. You might even feel it right now. That you aren’t good enough.
More than 80% of women believe they aren’t good enough. That is a high percentage.
There is usually an underlying reason. Digging to the root of that can be time-consuming, and as I have stated in previous articles, I am by no means trained in psychology, but what I can offer is our expertise in handling this feeling.
Figure out why you feel you are not good enough and write out the details. For example, let’s say you feel you are not good enough to deserve a promotion because you don’t think you have mastered all the areas of your current position to move up to the next level. Write out what the requirements are for that position you want. Next, write down what skills you currently possess. Then, evaluate the two. Chances are, your fears of not being good enough will be squashed once you see you are good enough, or better.
Change feelings of inadequacy into facts. Get real with your thoughts of doubt. Take back the control.
Stop living in not good enough. Be confident.
Quick Confidence Boosters.
Need a quick boost? Try these, because they work!
- Celebrate small wins
- Revisit past successes
- Power pose
- Dress nicely
- Think positive
- Focus on solutions
For more on this, read 7 Steps to Take When you Feel Like You are Lacking Confidence.
Confidence is allowed.
There are ways to take back your confidence. There are ways to have personal breakthroughs. I have seen it. I coach it.
You do not have to apologize for being a confident woman.
You are good enough.
I would love to work with you. Contact me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com.
You Don’t Have to Settle for a Job. Here’s What You Can Do.
Job shaming is real. People complain about their jobs on a daily basis and it’s not thought to be abnormal.
There are some who are very fortunate to be doing what they love to do. But don’t neglect their hard work. The perfect job doesn’t just fall into your lap, and even if it did, you must put forth effort every day to keep yourself on the correct path.
You see, successful people don’t coast along. There are many early mornings and late nights. There are failures along the way. There are doubts. But the point is, they keep going. They don’t give up. They don’t say “I can’t.” And neither should you.
You are not stuck in your current situation. Your mind is stuck. Change your mindset.
“If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t…you’re right.” -Henry Ford
Don’t believe me?
J.K. Rowling – Before becoming the world’s first billionaire author, J.K. Rowling’s literature was rejected several times. She was a divorced, single mother on welfare. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and contemplated suicide. She didn’t surrender to her situations, she persisted.
Madonna – A college dropout, she moved to New York with $35 in her pocket. It was her first plane ride and first time ever in a taxi. She worked as a waitress at Dunkin’ Donuts while she actively engaged in singing and dancing gigs on the side. She faced challenges head on and didn’t give up.
Ursula Burns – Ursula was raised by a single mother in a housing project in Manhattan. Both of her parents were Panamanian immigrants. She didn’t let her circumstances dictate her future, she made her future.
Mediocre is good enough.
Most individuals choose mediocre over pursuit of fulfillment for many reasons. Fear of the unknown, embarrassed to fail, or the most common, comfort and convenience.
So even though their current job is satisfactory at best, most people will opt for staying rather than making the changes necessary to lead a more gratifying life.
“If you’re too comfortable, it’s time to move on. Terrified of what’s next? You’re on the right track.” -Susan Fales-Hill
People fear what they don’t know, so they decide to stay at a job simply because there is no risk, however, we all know that a job can come and go in the blink of an eye. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to go outside of your comfort zone. Be afraid of becoming complacent and having no backup plan.
“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow.” -Marissa Mayer
Is it really that easy?
Yes and no.
No because it requires change and we all know change is not easy. There is a good article written by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. about why we don’t like change. Basically, subconsciously people associate change with unreliable.
I get it. When you have people relying on you and your paycheck to feed them, changing careers is a scary thought. When you are barely making ends meet, the very idea of starting over is the last thing you can handle.
But…what if on the other side of those fears lies a better life for you? We humans spend a lot of time at our place of employment. The average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. Don’t you think you should spend that time doing something you find enjoyment out of? Life is not meant to live for your next day off.
And now the yes part. Yes, it is really that easy. You replace the word “can’t” with will. You will find a way to make it happen. You will come out on top. You will be happy. Once again, mindset.
Easier said than done? Not necessarily.
The only thing that is difficult is changing your belief. That is what you will have to break through. I am not a licensed psychologists, so I am not going to even start getting into how to train your brain to start thinking differently. What I do possess is experience. I have learned many lessons along the way and want to share some successes with you.
Here are 5 tips helpful when you are ready for more:
- Replace the negative – those who are influencing your world. You become like the 5 people you spend time with. Pay attention to their outlook, how they speak, what they think. Replace the negative with logical encouragement.
- Know what you want. Don’t just say you want a job with perks, define what those perks are. Know exactly what you want and write it down.
- Never stop learning. Ever. Never ever. Did I mention never?
- Baby steps. If you aren’t ready to take the full plunge, start small. Get yourself some small wins under your belt. Keep going.
- Embrace failure. I will leave this last step in the hands of Ekaterina.
It seems that failure tends to be more public than success. Or at least that’s what we perceive it to be. We fret it, we try to avoid it, and we question ourselves every time we have unconventional ideas. But the simple truth is – no great success was ever achieved without failure. It may be one epic failure. Or a series of failures – such as Edison’s 10,000 attempts to create a light bulb or Dyson’s 5,126 attempts to invent a bagless vacuum cleaner. But, whether we like it or not, failure is a necessary stepping stone to achieving our dreams. –Ekaterina Walter
Don’t just wish your career was better and continue typing away in your cubicle. Your situation won’t change due to good luck and fortune. You must make things happen.
So, what are you doing about it?
Contact me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com.
Constructive Criticism is Great! Here is What You Can Learn.
Constructive criticism: helping to improve; promoting further development or advancement (opposed to destructive)
Why is constructive criticism hard to hear, even when you ask for it?
Maybe because deep down, you secretly wish others would say you are perfect and doing everything right.
Being made aware of faults is tough but trust me, the alternative isn’t all that glamorous. If you aren’t being given feedback, that isn’t a sign that you’re perfect, that is a sign of much bigger problems.
Respect those who give radical candor – they want you to improve and succeed.
In an article written by Amber Shiflett, she made some great points about receiving constructive criticism. She mentioned how it increases insight and perspective and how it can cultivate a trustworthy workplace, all of which are true.
There needs to be a mindset shift. Criticism is inevitable. So instead of becoming defensive, use it as an opportunity to learn. Chances are you have received feedback before that was unpleasant but necessary. And chances are that feedback helped you make improvements. So, what can you learn now?
There is benefit in receiving feedback.
As noted above, there is benefit in receiving feedback. You gain insight and perspective you didn’t have before. You see situations with new lenses. You become stronger and more confident. When feedback in the right form is given, the opportunity for unbound development is invaluable. Think of it as adding gains to your portfolio.
What to do when you receive constructive criticism:
- Relax. Relax and listen respectfully. View the feedback as an opportunity for improvement. Remember, there is benefit in getting feedback.
- Don’t take it personally. A common reaction is to become defensive or emotional. Radical candor is meant to help, not harm. Realize those speaking with you only want you to achieve success.
- Take time. Allow yourself time to process the evaluation you received. Give yourself time to reflect and digest the information.
- Ask questions. Take notes during the conversation and follow up with questions so you can fully understand what was discussed. Ask for specifics and make sure you understand what was communicated.
- Thank you. Thank those individuals for taking time to discuss these items with you. Be appreciative for their time and candor.
- Solicit help. How do you use the information provided to make necessary improvements? Ask for recommendations on what your next steps should be.
- Follow up. Follow up matters. Use the suggestions given to make the necessary changes and be consistent.
Now it is time to put it into practice.
Have a list of the areas you need to focus on and arm yourself with tools to achieve success. For example, if you were told that your approach to email communication is lacking a respectful tone, make the necessary changes. Learn from others how they compose respectful emails. Use the power of the Internet and find examples of properly composed messages. Continue to seek feedback and guidance. Be consistent.
Knowing your strengths and areas needing change is immensely helpful. Keep a list in your planner, save notes on your hard drive, write down reminders on a sticky note, find ways that work best for you to achieve success.
This is your path, you are in control.
For more suggestions or comments, email me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com. I look forward to working with you.
Self-Awareness – Why It Matters and What Steps You Can Take
What does it mean?
conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.
Do not confuse this with confidence. Confidence is a feeling or belief; self-awareness is being aware of those feelings and beliefs and why.
Why does it matter?
Many people throughout life have been told to “trust their instincts” and act on a gut feeling. While trusting your gut is an important intuition to have, allowing feelings to overcome logic is not always the best route.
Just because a feeling is strong, that doesn’t mean it is correct. The key is to step back, assess the situation, examine yourself, and determine if what you are thinking, and feeling is logical.
Being self-aware matters because it allows you to evaluate your current situation and what adjustments can be made to improve – and you should want to make improvements. Chances are, there is an area in your life that could use an adjustment. Being self-aware gives you the opportunity to correct misguided courses and realign yourself with your goals.
Quick reminder, this is not a once and done sort of practice. It is a continual and learn as you go process. The important part is that you make the choice to evaluate regularly and make changes necessary. Please note, changes might not always be easy, but incredibly significant.
As mentioned, this is not something that is done overnight or once and done. Self-awareness is a continual check-up. The wonderful thing is it can be done at any stage in your life and at any time.
Finding out what makes you tick will always be powerful. There are countless personality tests out there that can help you find your areas of strengths and weaknesses but those are only tools and a small piece of the puzzle. There are many other steps to start (or continue) the journey.
Most common suggestions are:
- Start now!
- Write down goals
- Seek feedback
- Discover destructive impulses and successful best practices
- Practice and repeat
Let me know what you think and if you have anything you would like to add. Comment or contact me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
7 Steps to Take When You Feel Like You Are Lacking Confidence
Drop the ball.
Sometimes you just can’t seem to get it together. And for some, you stew over these missteps and errors. You start to feel inadequate, you start to feel less confident.
What do you do when you feel like you are lacking confidence?
Confidence is a key component in your day-to-day activities. If you are feeling less than confident, it shows. The way you act, behave, and even your posture. You project what you feel.
Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take to give yourself a boost.
- Celebrate small wins. You might have missed the mark on a recent big project, but don’t let that one misstep overshadow your smaller victories. Set little marks along the way and as you achieve them, be proud. Small wins along the way are building blocks and they can really boost your confidence.
- Revisit past successes. You aren’t always going to fail at all your endeavors. Want proof? Revisit your past successes. Look at your track record.
- Learn from the failure. Increase competence. What did you learn from the experience? Great, now, how can you improve? Determining where you went wrong is ineffective if you do not learn and grow from it. Failure leads to success. You learn from mistakes and you learn about yourself. Top CEOs failed before they became successful. Does Bill Gates ring a bell?
- Clear the clutter. Get rid of hindrances. Messy workspace, procrastinating a task, constantly checking social media? Rid yourself of needless distractions and get to work. Stop making excuses.
- Dress nicely. Stand Tall. Your appearance has an impact. Not just on how others perceive you, but how you perceive yourself. A previous article (Dressing For Success) spoke on just that. How you dress matters. And so does your posture. Adopting a commanding posture can immediately help you feel confident and empowered. Stand tall. Sit up straight. Hold your head high.
- Empower yourself. Arm yourself with tools to improve. Read. Study. Learn from others. Gather as much as you can get your hands on to catapult you to the next level.
- Think positive. Good things cannot come from a negative mindset. You control your attitude. Get rid of negative outlooks. Envision great things that are yet to come.
What has been helpful for you? How can I help? Contact me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com or connect with me on social media! I look forward to hearing from you.
Do You Want Success? Then You Need to Dress for Success, and This Is Why.
It’s what’s on the inside that matters…not in this case.
It takes 7 seconds to make a first impression. 7 seconds for someone to look at you and make a decision that is based completely on appearance. And, that first impression is hard to change. There is a lot that goes into first impressions, but I am going to focus on attire.
You might be a good person and a hard worker but your appearance matters.
Whether you like it or not, you need to dress the part or better.
What do you think of when you see someone with stains on their wrinkly clothes? What message does that send? Now think about someone who is always looks put together. What message does that send?
You do not need to buy designer clothes to look professional. You do need to dress appropriately though. Your clothes need to be clean. There should not be any holes or stains. Your shoes should be shined. Items should not be low-cut or skin-tight.
Dress the part.
: to dress the way that people in a particular role usually dress
If you want people at work to believe that you’re a professional, you have to dress the part.
That is straight from Merriam-Webster.
Take note, you have to dress the part. Even Wiki How has a step by step on dressing professionally.
If you want to be taken seriously, you must present yourself in that manner. Have you ever heard of the saying “dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” or “you feel as good as you look”? There is truth to those quotes.
Dress for success.
In an article by Scientific American, they speak about how “what you wear can influence your thinking and negotiating skills, and even hormone levels and heart rate.”
That the way we dress can affect our mental and physical performance!
Another article by Business Insider touches on what I have already discussed, “wearing nice clothes in the office can affect the way people perceive you, how confident you’re feeling, and even how you’re able to think abstractly.”
If you want to do well, there is a list of things that can help you, but one thing is for sure, the way you dress matters.
Your office, whatever that may be, has standards. Some work environments are casual, others ask that their employees to wear suits. Know what is and is not acceptable and be aware of the culture. If jeans are allowed, make sure they are clean and don’t have holes in them. Every dress code has standards. Know what those are and represent yourself appropriately.
It makes a difference.
Don’t think no one cares about your unwashed hair or wrinkled shirt. You might not receive immediate feedback, or any feedback at all, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t making judgements. You do not want to send the wrong message. The way you present yourself, your personal brand, that is what others view and make subconscious decisions on.
If you truly want to excel in your profession, and personal life, skillfully package yourself.
If you have to ask, “is this appropriate,” chances are, the answer is no.
Don’t miss out on opportunities because of a poor choice in attire. You have control over this area. Stand out, in a good way. It really makes a difference.
If you found this helpful or have any questions, I would love to hear from you. Contact me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com.
This is Why You Need to Network at Every Stage in Your Life.
Not a new concept.
Networking continues to be effective because it works. It continues to be worthwhile because of the successful outcomes. Another plus, it is not reserved for an elite group of individuals. Networking can be done, and should be done, by everyone. It does not matter if you are still in college, or a well-established CEO, networking is valuable.
You are not too young or too inexperienced to network.
Just because you are still in school doesn’t mean networking is not useful to you. On the contrary. That is one of the best times to start making connections. Those interactions that might not seem like much at the time have the power to produce results later down the road.
You also don’t have to have an official title to your name. It is not necessary to have a Ph.D. to mingle.
I find that those just starting out in their professional career do not view networking as an important step of the process. That networking doesn’t apply to them because they don’t have a detailed LinkedIn profile.
One of the best decisions you can make for yourself is to get face to face with other individuals that have the capability to introduce you to others in the community. You want to grow your network. And as you grow your network, you will gain invaluable connections and information along the way.
There is a vast amount of knowledge that you will never learn from books or webinars. Don’t delay networking.
You are not too old to network.
Another tip – don’t stop networking.
You have heard the phrase, “you’re never too old to learn.” There is always so much that can be learned by meeting with others and finding out about new trends. Stay abreast on current affairs.
Another phrase, “you are never too old to reinvent yourself.” Don’t discredit yourself because of your age. You can keep learning and reinventing yourself as much as you want. You are not held to one role.
The power of networking.
I have discussed the importance of networking, but I wanted to show some statistics that back up my advice.
- 70% – 85% of jobs come from networking and referrals
- Seventy-two percent of people say their impressions are impacted by how someone appears and their handshake
- One in four don’t network at all
- 68% of entry-level professionals value face-to-face networking more than online
- Nearly 100% of people say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships
It’s not only about jobs, is it?
You hear a lot about how networking helps in finding jobs and applicants. While this is true, networking is not only about job searching and recruiting.
Networking brings groups of people together, who wouldn’t normally be in the same room, and encourages the exchange of ideas, solutions to obstacles, brings forth insight, and develop relationships that sometimes last a lifetime.
So, while networking does help immensely for finding a job, don’t limit the only time you participate in functions to when you are looking for employment.
Networking and job searching.
Now to the part about how networking can help you with finding a job.
One of the major reasons that networking is such an effective way to get a job is that there is something of a hidden job market out there. Some estimate that as much as 80 percent of new jobs are never listed but are instead filled internally or via networking. -PayScale.
That is a large number of jobs people are potentially missing if they are not networking.
There is also something to be said about a respected individual giving their personal endorsement on your behalf. Companies are more likely to hire a referred candidate than spending time and resources doing it on their own.
If you are on the hunt for a new job, don’t forget connections you have made or can make.
Suggestions and advice.
From those who have been networking for some time now, I bring you a few suggestions and advice.
- Be aware of your online image. Once you start meeting people in the community, they will check out your online presence. Your posts will be reviewed. Your photos will be looked at. All of your social media platforms will be inspected. Make sure you are representing yourself accurately.
- LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn profile has immense power to influence. This is acts as your virtual resume. Manage accordingly.
- Personal brand. You are a walking brand. What image do you want to project? Dress the part. Look sharp. Know your audience.
- Follow up. Did you meet someone you admire and respect? Follow up! Don’t just request to follow them on LinkedIn, actually follow up with an email or note. Stay in contact. Meet for lunch. Keep your connections close.
I would love to hear from you on any success stories you have or questions for me. Contact me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com or comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.
You Are A Brand. How Do You Want to Be Seen?
You Are A Brand.
Did you know that you are a brand? An actual walking billboard advertising yourself. Eek!
Your personal brand is important.
This goes far beyond the way you dress. It is how you hold yourself. It is your lifestyle. It is who you associate with. It is what you post on social media. It is every nook and cranny. It’s things you might not even think about. It is how clean you keep your car!
According to Wikipedia: Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal–branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging.
Your brand matters because it is what you are projecting to the world. It is what you are telling people about yourself. It is what people think about when your name is mentioned. So, what do you want to be known for? What do you want to improve? What steps can you take to make a mark and developing your brand?
What You Can Do To Develop Your Brand.
First, I suggest setting a clear goal. Know exactly what you want and what you want to be known for. Do you want others to come to you for advice about finance? Do you want to be regarded as confident and a thought leader? What image do you want others to have of you and then find ways to make that happen?
Make it happen. The next point. Once you have figured out what you want and who you want to be, do it. Stop making excuses. Make plans. I have found it helpful to have a list. Many people I know keep an excel spreadsheet of their goals and notes on how to achieve each. Also, give yourself time frames. Goals are merely words if no game plan is established.
In your face. Ok, maybe not in an obnoxious way, but don’t sit in the corner and keep to yourself. Start becoming an expert in your area of interest. And it is worth repeating, be aware of your online image. There is power in the world-wide web, and that power can ruin your image fast. Make sure you are projecting what you want to be known for. Be mindful of what you are posting.
Knowledge is power. Read. Study. Educate yourself. As mentioned before, become the expert. Please note, this does not say become the know it all. There is a difference. You don’t want to be that person who monopolizes every conversation. There is a lot to be learned by listening.
Rebrand. Never stop growing. Never stop learning. And if you continue to improve yourself, you will need to rebrand yourself. With growth comes necessary changes.
Dress the part. I said earlier that the way you dress is not the only part of your brand, but it does plays a large role. Make sure you are always presentable. It will just happen to be that day that you phone it in when your biggest client or opportunity comes up and you aren’t presentable.
Tell me what you think! TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com.
Career Moves I Wish I Would Have Known Then. 10 Tips that Work!
Three years ago I started my career completely over. I literally started from scratch. I have learned so much over these last 3 years that I wish I would have known fresh out of college. Seems to me colleges, and high schools are missing some fundamentals in preparing young individuals for the real world, but that is a discussion for another time.
In an effort to keep this short and to the point, let’s dive right in. Here are 10 specific things I have learned these last 3 years that have made monumental impacts in my career.
- Network. Do not get in a rut staying in your cubicle. Meet new people. Go to seminars. Attend workshops. Accept a happy hour invite. Utilize pockets of time to meet others and gain knowledge from their experiences. You never know where connections will take you.
- Read. Immerse yourself in current affairs, industry news, personal development, etc. Some of the wisest and most powerful individuals will tell you that reading is the gateway to growing yourself. Don’t believe me? Here are a few name drops: Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Warren Buffet. All avid readers.
- Interview. Find people you admire and ask them if they have time to meet with you and tell they why. There could be many reasons why you admire that individual, but let them know why you would like to speak with them and have a list of questions ready. And always thank them for taking time out of their day to assist you in your growth.
- Try something new. Don’t think you are “qualified” to handle a project? Why not try? Volunteer to help with an initiative and learn. You will never grow if you don’t take on new adventures. Aspire for more.
- Put emotions aside immediately. Having a bad day? Leave it at the door. Everyone has a battle they are facing. Everyone is going to have a bad day but if everyone let that affect them, nothing would get done. This does not mean you need to be a robot, this just means work is not your personal soap opera.
- Be confident in yourself. You are in your position for a reason. Recognize your amazing capabilities and use those to your advantage – every single day. And be proud of your hard work.
- Are we friends? You are not at work to make friends. You are not at work to sit around and gossip. Your job is not to be best liked for the yearbook. Be nice, be cordial, but remember, you are in a professional setting. There is a time and place for everything. And please know this, crying at work doesn’t get you empathy, it gets you a spot very low on the professionalism totem pole.
- Slow down. Unless you are an Olympic runner, slow down. Do it right the first time. Have all materials needed before pitching the idea. Proof read before sending the email. Gather all the facts before making a decision. And really take time to think of the outcome of those decisions.
- Handshakes. Never underestimate the power of the handshake.
- Don’t chew gum. No explanation needed.
Let me know what you think. Would love to hear feedback and other suggestions! TheClarks.Consulting@gmailcom.
Career Advice: The Importance of the Handshake. Advice and a Few Tips.
Do Not Underestimate the Power of the Handshake.
I am fairly certain the incoming generation is unsure about this action. It seems to be confined for those of a certain age, dressed in business attire, working in an office.
People’s hands are so full these days, and a large culprit – cell phone, and eye contact is lacking – looking at cell phone. Another tip, put down your cell phone.
What I find delightful is that no matter what language you speak, the handshake is for the most part universally known with very little explanation needed.
“Archaeological ruins and ancient texts show that handshaking was practiced in ancient Greece as far back as the 5th century BC.” You could say it’s been around for some time.
Nowadays, the handshake is a form of a greeting or farewell, an introduction, a well intended gesture, business transactions, or possibly a truce. Some people are even taught how to have just the right grip and shake. If you look up tips for having a good interview, the handshake is part of that list. And, for your reading pleasure, here is a link about proper handshake etiquette around the world.
Here’s the advice part, don’t reserve it for interviews only. Handshakes make a very good first impression but also a lasting impression. It has such history, power and importance.
My suggestion is to make this part of your personal brand. Be known as an individual who conducts themselves respectfully and professionally. The handshake is usually accompanied with a name inquiry and eye contact. If you ask someone their name, remember it. And always look others in the eye. Stand up tall. It doesn’t matter what your job title is, hold yourself as if you command authority.
Handshakes mean so much and are so simple.
Share your thoughts with me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com.
Women – Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”
“I’m sorry.” How many times a day do you think you say those two words? Ever stop to think about it? I am going to challenge you to a little experiment. Take notice of how many times you say you are sorry. I guarantee it you apologize for things you don’t even need to apologize for! I am serious. Try it tomorrow and report back.
Generally speaking, every time you say you are sorry, you are admitting a fault right? You have made some sort of error that now warrants an admission of wrongdoing. But what about things that are just flat-out ridiculous to apologize for? Below is a list from Greatist of 7 things you should absolutely stop apologizing for and I agree with every single one of them:
- Telling the truth
- Your feelings
- Me time
- Asking a question
- Other people’s behavior
- Not responding immediately to a text, call, or email
- Circumstances you can’t control
Hey, if I accidentally bump into you while you have your drink in your hand and you spill it all over your shirt, I honestly do feel bad, and yes, I will say I am sorry. And if I have wronged you, I will own that. But apologizing for not having a great hairdo that day, no. And don’t even get me started on being made to feel guilty for having some me time. Do you know what message you are sending by always saying “I’m sorry?” You are saying to others that you are not confident, you are unsure, you are timid. Ugh.
By the by, would you like to know who the biggest culprit is in all of these apologies? Women. It’s like women have this need to apologize, thinking that by doing so, people will like them better. Here’s the mentality: “If I say I am sorry, then it makes me look sincere and caring, and not too bossy, then I will be accepted and liked.” Heaven forbid women don’t play the dainty, polite, little lady, who sits quietly in the corner as to not disturb anyone. Amy Schumer nailed it in a sketch titled I’m Sorry. “For many women, our default is to apologize without even realizing it.” Which brings me to my earlier question: How many times a day do you think you say “I’m sorry?”
The flip side to this epidemic is it is fixable. You just need to rewire your way of brain a bit. Tweaks here and there. Make yourself aware. Listen to yourself in conversations. Replace “I’m sorry for bothering you, but…,” with, “When you have a free moment, can we speak?” Replace “I’m sorry.” Find other ways to communicate your message. Have some confidence in yourself!
No, you are NOT sorry.
Contact me at TheClarks.Consulting@gmail.com
Career Tip for Women: Being Good Isn’t Good Enough. You Want More, Fight for More!
There is a school of thought that says as long as you do your job, play nice, and don’t rock the boat, your value will be seen and rising in rank inevitable. “Sit still and look pretty.” You will get that promotion and/or raise. Until recently, I thought this too. I am so thankful for all I have learned in my new career these last 3 years, but also, disappointed I didn’t know the basics earlier. So I am here to help!
Sitting quietly will only take you so far.
Do you really think the greats of this world sat in their cubicle never voicing their opinions?
Everyone wants to shine, and only you are the person responsible for shining your light. It is not bragging, it is showing what you are capable of. If you think others are singing your praises nonstop, you are leaving your fate in the hands of others.
You cannot be worried about hearing “no.”
Think you have an idea that might be good for the business? Share it. Don’t be worried about hearing the “no.” Studies have shown that presenting your ideas far outweighs staying quiet. It shows your creativity, initiative, and that you are proactive. If your idea is turned down, you can’t take it personally. Set your feelings aside. It’s just business. And do not stop presenting ideas! Bring it to the table.
Network. Network. Network.
Trying to decide whether to go home and lounge on the couch or that networking event that will be over by 8:00 PM anyway? Little tip, you are missing a lot of insight and knowledge that can’t be learned from a book or webinar. You don’t have to go out every night after work, but you should attend at least 2 a month. And don’t forget your business cards.
Ask advice and seek feedback.
Once again, there are some things you can’t learn from books.
Ask advice from those who have more experienced than you. Their life lessons are invaluable. Their wisdom is priceless.
And always be open to feedback. Seek it. Sometimes you simply cannot see your blind spots. Being open to receiving constructive criticism is largely beneficial for your personal and professional growth. It might be hard to hear, but take it as a compliment that someone only wants to help you improve.
Sit up straight. Stand tall.
There is much to be said in correct posture. Don’t slouch.
Ladies, don’t sit idly by hoping for the best. Make it happen, but also remember, you are a professional, act like one.
Define Success on Your Terms
Society Has Ideas
Society says you are successful if you have A, B, C and D. Basically, defining what success is for you and everyone else. How about defining success on your own terms.
What does it look like for you to be successful? What do you want to achieve for yourself and your personal satisfaction? To answer this, you will need to erase what has been ingrained in you for so long.
It Takes Thought
Everyone has a different idea of success, and that actually is really great! That means there are an unlimited amount of positive outcomes. What is important to figure out is, what is your idea of success is and why? Do you have a clear idea or are you comparing it to someone else?
Constantly looking at other’s success and gauging yours off that will lead to disappointment. Do you really want someone else to define it for you? To define your journey? You will never know how to achieve real success if it’s not yours. Admire others, but don’t use their ambition as yours.
So what does it look like for you? How do you figure it out?
- Realistic. You have to be realistic. You can dream, and please do! Just acknowledge what’s realistic and what is a once in a million chance. Side note, it is ok to want both.
- Yours. Make sure you are using your passions and not anyone else’s. Don’t allow someone to define what your path is.
- Time. Give yourself time to weave through the clutter but also make sure you set a timeline. Giving yourself time frames will ensure you stay the course and,it is proven that you will be much more likely to achieve your goal.
- In Your Face. Make sure you know what your success looks like and then make sure that is in your sight every day, literally. Cut out photos, create a Pinterest board, have a background on your laptop. Do what it takes so that you see your goals daily. Side note number 2, vision boards are widely effective. Ask any successful person. I guarantee you they have one.
- Expect Failure, More than Once. You are going to fail. Guess what, you aren’t the only one. Don’t believe me? Take a couple of minutes to read about others you know who weren’t an instant success.
- Don’t Compare Someone Else’s Phase. This is big. Just because Joe Bob has 3 homes and a private jet while you’re warming up your Lean Cuisine for dinner in your one bedroom apartment doesn’t mean you aren’t successful.
Know what else, start now. Begin anywhere. Do what you can.
Let me know what you think and share your stories!