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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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07/18/12
Power of Habit. Career Discussions with a friend
Filed under: Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 4:47 pm

BACKGROUND
We have been friends for more than a couple of decades.
It started as employees in different divisions with common
technical interests.  We had problems in manufacturing and
she knew technical methods in electrochemistry that could
shed light on our high value, critical product for film
manufacture.

As time went on we found ways to help each other, occasionally
meet and have regular, keep-each-other-up-to-date conversations.
We were both active in technical societies and helped each
other there as well, leading to several programs on the local
level.

HABITS
She contacted me recently seeking advice.  In the process
of our conversation, old habits, and other people’s reactions
to them, were revealed.  These ‘old habits’ were nonverbal
actions and unintended behaviors of lower self esteem that
gave others the “green light” to make slight of her contributions
and ideas.  Being from a different division and more interested
in results than in “status” and “ownership of ideas”, I
looked beyond the old habits.

People in her work area and division, did not look passed
them.

So, I pointed out that she had demonstrated without
a doubt in her most recent two positions over the last
two years that removing the “yoke” of the old habit [low
self assurance, self deprecation] had given her new
recognition and status.  That she indeed did earn. 
When being offered her next position [and she believes
she is close on 2], I posed don’t just sit back and take
what is offered in salary, benefits, status, title and
equipment to succeed in her job.  Know what you
want and tell them what you desire.

POWER OF HABIT
She should act as a senior manager in a small company.
These ideas come under that observation that “all of our
life is but a mass of habits.”  Duhigg writes that 40%
of our actions are not decisions at all, but habits.  It is
critical then to know this, to know how habits work
in our brain, and how we can address improving
one habit at a time
.

The brain’s neurons are like an onion.  the outside layers
are the most recent additions.  Interior layers are the ones
that influence automatic behaviors.  She needed to
know and focus on changing how she represented
and communicated, emphasizing her two outstanding
strengths– interpersonal communication and critical
thinking.

GOAL SETTING IN AN IMPERMANENT WORLD
Our conversation led us to have my friend verbalize
her goals.  I shared this discussion with a common
friend of ours who posited that small companies
in technology areas did not feel safe any longer in
our current environment.  Interesting.
He felt her calling may be in one of a number of
quality community colleges that would benefit from
her breadth of experience and accomplishment and
more significantly offer her some security to reach
her goals.

When we reach beyond a certain number of years,
experience becomes a negative in small companies
and a positive in colleges, universities and community
colleges.

One Response to “Power of Habit. Career Discussions with a friend”

  1. site admin Says:


    There is a buzz about Antifragile, Nassim Taleb’s latest
    book about preparing for unexpected “black swan” events
    so you can survive and thrive through them.

    Practice, practice practice drills of the attention habit…
    “When you are threatened, your brain releases chemicals
    that race your heart and prepare you to face and fight or
    run.”
    These neurochemicals change how your brain functions.
    Even simple tasks are troublesome. You do not rise to the
    challenge, you move to the level of training.

    Repeat important actions, or think through actions, that
    you do on autopilot or lay out a plan of action. Moving it
    to the habit action mode facilitates the positive response

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