What do Madonna, Steve Jobs, and Vicki Peters all have in common? They continue to be at the top of their field and the top of their game by constantly reinventing themselves. What could you have in common with these movers and shakers? More than you might think!
Manufacturer Vicki Peters was a champion in the competition arena but wanted more. Consultant and author Janet McCormick was an accomplished salon owner but burned out. Geno Stampora didn’t start out to be a life enhancement speaker. He began as a beauty professional, just like you. Indiana State Board member Diana Bonn was mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. We all reach a point in our career where we need to change, grow or die. Maybe you’ve hit a monetary ceiling behind the table, or have a passion within the industry you’d love to pursue. However you arrive at this point varies greatly. What you do at this point however, can change your world.
Where do I start? “To reinvent yourself you need to be prepared to change and update yourself, your skills, and your image,” says Craig Robinson, head of service delivery for business consultants Right Management. “You may also need to think and act differently.” Many top industry leaders simply started with a passion or an event that motivated their transformation. Rediscovering your passions can be an interesting journey filled with many unexpected side trips. I always begin with research that includes new books, new Google searches, and interviewing leaders themselves. All the information and knowledge you need has already been written, you just have to make the time to find it. A few simple exercises can spark areas of interest within your current career field or help you expand to an all new career path.
Begin with a self-assessment. Be brutally honest. It won’t do you any good to skim over the truth. Have you lost sight of what you entered this industry for? Are you too busy being who you are that you don’t have time to think about who you could be?
Robin Fisher Roffer, author of Make a Name for Yourself, recommends you assemble your own “board of directors” for building the brand that is YOU incorporated. It is impossible to see ourselves as others see us, try as we might. By assembling this team and asking them to describe your attributes as well as your faults, you will discover some hidden talents and truths that the world sees in you. Make a list of what your core values are and what you find to be intrinsically valuable.
Identify your passions. Find what makes your heart sing and follow where it takes you. Chris Widener, author of The Angel Inside, Michelangelo’s Secrets for Following Your Passion and Finding the Work You Love, tells a story of a young man who has lost his passion for life. The piece of marble that became the masterpiece that is David was originally cut before Michelangelo was even born. The marble was turned down by two other artists, one being Leonardo Da Vinci. Only Michelangelo could see what the marble held deep within and it took him 28 months to sculpt David from beginning to end. “No matter what others say there is an angel inside you, waiting to be set free,” Widener explains. What lies hidden beneath the marble in you? Roffer also encourages her readers to find their passion. “Of all the things you might succeed at, those things you are passionate about give you the best chance for success,” she says.
Look deep within your talents. Stay open and flexible and don’t turn down an idea even if you can’t identify how it is relevant at the moment — it may be useful in the future. Ask family members what they remember about you as a child — what you loved, what you were always reading, what you said you wanted to be when you grew up. I remember finding a report card from the fourth grade where a teacher wrote “Never give up your writing.” What did you like in school? What were your favorite subjects? What do others see in you or say is your best talent? What is a current passion that can cross over to you current career? Do you have a knack for teaching? Manufacturers are always looking for talented technicians who want to share their passion with others. Now, Discover Your Strengths, and the new Strengthfinders 2.0 authors Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton have built an industry of helping people discover their unique talents and strengths. Using a 40-year study by the Gallup Organization, this StrengthFinder assessment based on 34 common talents helps individuals identify their top strengths and how to use them for career development and satisfaction. They pose the question “Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? Their online assessment helps in discovering once hidden, untapped talents and focus on strengths as opposed to building weaknesses.
Network, network, and network some more. You never know in what area of your life your next big idea will come from. Tell others of your journey. Send the message out to the world. Roffer believes, “Everything that you are seeking is also seeking you.” Take the time to truly define what your goals are and what your best life looks like.
Seek out mentors and ask for feedback. Whatever you want to do, chances are someone is already doing it. It never hurts to approach these people and ask for advice — many are much more willing to help than you think. “Finding a source of wise opinion and advice, finding that person who has faith in you, is like finding an anchor in rough seas,” says Roffer. Don’t be afraid to ask, “How am I doing?” You’ve seen the bumper stickers that ask “How’s my driving?” Consider an online feedback page where clients can anonymously rate their visit. Some salons include a survey with every new client bag and offer a discount on their next service if filled out and returned. Ask friends for honest feedback about your career track.
Become a life-long student. Keeping up with trends in all aspects of business is just a fact of business life. The good news is, keeping up has never been easier with the Internet, podcasts, and RSS feeds. Market trends are delivered to my inbox monthly from various websites whose newsletters I have subscribed to. Participate in online webinars to keep on top of industry trends and news. Many are free. Decide what it is you want to learn that’s new this year. Whether it be in technology, business, management, art, music, fashion — anything that you can draw creative energy from.
Remember the Sistine chapel wasn’t painted in a weekend. Success takes weeks, months, and years of persistent, deliberate action. Consider focusing on one principle a week, but remember in order to be successful you must commit to doing something every day to move you toward your goal. While it may seem overwhelming at first, following these strategies and drafting an action plan to guide you on your journey can get you to your destination. Whatever that new destination may be.