Monday Motivation

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

Marianne Williamson

Book Review: Stillness Is the Key

Maybe the pandemic forced you to rethink your life or career. Maybe you had arrived at the point of change regardless. But how to let go of the old and focus on and strategize about the new? According to Ryan Holiday, Stillness is the Key.

distracted and distressed

This book echoes similar sentiments to those of a popular Rascal Flatts’ song: “Sunday was a day of rest, Now, it’s one more day for progress.”  The author states that we “are pulled in countless directions by competing priorities and beliefs.  In those battles, in that war, stillness is the river and the railroad junction through which so much depends.  It is the key…”  Holiday gives several obstacles that present us with so many distractions.  For instance: “We are afraid of the silence.  We are afraid of looking stupid.  We are afraid of missing out. We are afraid of being the bad guy who says, “Nope, not interested.”  The author adds a quote from John Cage: “If the mind is disciplined, the heart turns quickly from fear to love.”

finding peace through stillness

Holiday divides the book into three domains: The Mind, Spirit, and Body. The head, the heart and the flesh.  It is in these three areas the author encourages us to focus and develop methods for stillness.  The author references a wide range of the world’s greatest thinkers to show us what stillness is and how we can achieve it.  The objective is to reduce the disturbances that make stillness impossible. To be at peace within ourselves, and to establish a lasting inner and outer peace.

It is critical that the mind domain is mastered in order to find success in stillness.  That will involve managing the amount and type of information you allow in and to properly appreciate being present in the moment. Protect yourself and your mind by managing your thoughts.  Invest time and mental energy to find truth and solution to problems you face.

tips and techniques

One effective method for stillness is to journal.  Journaling allows you to transfer some of the thoughts that are floating around in your head to another medium and to clarify your thoughts. Seeking wise counsel is another proven method for gaining stillness along with receiving constructive criticism.  Cultivating a flexible attitude will allow you to grow and experience situations in a whole new light.

Holiday gives a laundry list of goals one must meet in order to find stillness, some of which include…

  • Developing a strong moral compass,
  • Steering clear of envy and jealousy and harmful desires, and
  • Coming to terms with the painful wounds of childhood.

The author instructs us to take responsibility for our own emotions and impulses.  To strengthen our bodies as the physical vessel of our minds and spirit by developing a routine and investing in ourselves through personal hobbies.  Holiday states that “when the body is busy with the familiar, the mind can relax.  The monotony becomes muscle memory.”

Holiday insists that we “Get out from under all your stuff.  Get rid of it.  Give away what you don’t need.  Declutter.

In the midst of stillness, you can find peace. And with peace of mind you can better find your new career or life’s purpose.

This book can be placed on hold from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Cynthia Payton

June 2021 YouTube Video Roundup

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the Career Center’s YouTube account. What began as a desperate attempt to find a way to help people while socially distancing has now evolved into a channel with more than 90 videos, over 400 subscribers, hundreds of comments, and tens of thousands of views across the globe. We are profoundly moved by this success and truly proud to think that we have helped so many people.
And to continue in that proud tradition, here are the latest videos from our YouTube channel:

Resumés and Cover Letters

cold call and pain letters: get a job when they’re not hiring

How do you apply for a job that doesn’t exist? A well-written cold call or pain letter could potentially convince employers to make room for you and your unique skillset. In this video, Certified Professional Resume Writer Lynnette Lee explains cold call and pain letters, including how to format them, what content to include, and when they’re appropriate.

Common Job Application Tutorials

how to apply for a job at raising canes

Raising Cane’s is a Louisiana-based fast-food chain which is quickly expanding. In this video, Career Specialist Cynthia Payton demonstrates the online application process to work at Raising Cane’s.

how to apply for a job at autozone

In this video, Career Specialist Rick Wright demonstrates the process of applying for a job with AutoZone, a retail chain specializing in automotive equipment.

Job Search Websites

How to use snagajob for the job search

SnagaJob is a job-search website which focuses solely on hourly positions. In this video, Lynnette Lee takes a look at how to find jobs and build a profile with SnagaJob.

Seven deadly sins of the job search

part v: the job interview

Getting invited to an interview is an achievement to be proud of – but don’t let that achievement lull you into overconfidence. It’s critical that you prepare and practice for these tricky high-pressure situations. In this video, Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak recommends smart ways to prepare for the interview.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Workplace Survival Guide, Part 2

This article is a follow-up to Workplace Survival Guide Part 1. This series is designed to help workers make good impression on bosses, fit in with co-workers, and succeed in their careers.

communication dos and don’ts

Communication is one of the most important skills you’ll need on the job. A large percentage of the interpersonal problems that happen in the workplace boil down to communication problems. If you don’t communicate clearly, you may give people the wrong impression – they may feel that you’re insulting them or not taking them seriously, when that was not your intention. Everyone thinks and speaks a little differently, so often, we aren’t aware of how we come across to others. Keep these techniques in mind.

Do: mind the gap – the generation gap. Older workers tend to prefer face-to-face conversations, finding that they express themselves better that way. Younger employees tend to prefer email, text, or DMs, finding in-person meetings to be too time-consuming. Be aware of your audience, and if a certain method of communication doesn’t seem to be working, try a different one.

Don’t: get mean, angry, or insulting. Never lose your temper, even if you are provoked – keep to the high road and maintain your professionalism. Do not talk to another employee as if they’re the problem. Talk to them about how you can work together to fix the problem. If you create a “me vs. you” dynamic, the other person is going to become defensive. But if you can create an “us vs. the problem” mentality, you can move forward.

Do: think about their perspective. As the adage goes, walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. Before you express yourself to a colleague, stop and think: How is the other person going to feel about what you’re saying? Be aware of what your colleagues are feeling and thinking. And if you don’t know, ask. If someone seems to be upset/angry for no good reason. . .there probably is a reason that you don’t know about.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Don’t: tune out what others are saying. Do you really listen when other people are talking, or are you waiting for your own turn to speak? If you have a tendency to tune people out, ask yourself: how does it make you feel when other people treat you that way? Active listening is a key part of good communication. Give your co-workers your attention and respect.

Do: pay attention to your tone of voice. It’s not just what you say that matters, it’s how you say it. When speaking with a colleague, keep some energy and enthusiasm in your voice. That will make the other person feel that you’re enjoying the conversation. Tone of voice is especially important when you’re having a difficult conversation – for example, correcting a colleague’s error or reminding them about an uncompleted task. If your voice is friendly, calm, and patient, you can avoid making the other person feel as though you’re attacking them.

Don’t: let your body language sabotage you. A large percentage of communication is non-verbal. Even if you say the right things, the way you carry yourself may make you look hostile or distracted. Make sure you maintain eye contact with the other person, as well as a friendly facial expression. Avoid sullen-looking gestures such as crossed arms or slouching.

Do: recognize your bad habits and work to change them. Nobody’s perfect. We all have bad habits when it comes to communication. The key to being successful at workplace communication is to realize your weak spots and work to improve or overcome them.

If you would like further assistance with these soft skills, please call us at 225-231-3733, email our Career Coach at anowak@ebrpl.com, or visit our YouTube channel.

Written by Lynnette Lee

May 2021 YouTube Video Roundup

A new month, a new playlist on the Career Center YouTube channel! This month, we’ve started covering how to create accounts in various job search websites, and how to use them to supercharge your career. We’ve also uploaded a video on when it can be a good idea to include infographics in your resumé, and another tip for when you get the interview.

Job Search Websites

How to Use Indeed for the Job Search

Job search websites can be a very useful tool to help jobseekers find openings. In this video, Lynnette Lee takes an in-depth look at the ins, outs, pros, and cons of Indeed, one of the largest and most popular job search engines.

How to Use Glassdoor for the Job Search

Glassdoor is a unique website – in addition to posting job openings, Glassdoor can provide jobseekers with information about companies, salaries, and interviews. In this video, Anne Nowak take an in-depth look at how you can use this website in your job search.

Job Interview Questions

How to Answer, “How Would You Handle an Angry Customer”

Customer service is a key part of many jobs, so employers will want to know your approach for dealing with difficult customers. In this video, Anne Nowak and Lynnette Lee demonstrate some of the common pitfalls for answering this question, as well as what you might say instead.

Resumés and Cover Letters

Infographic Resumes vs. Text-Based Resumes

Most people tend to think of resumes in terms of words – but it’s useful to pay attention to design as well. In some situations, an image-based resume can be more eye-catching and effective than a traditional text-based resume. In this video, Anne Nowak takes a close look at infographic resumes – what they are, how you can format them, and when they would (and would not) be appropriate.

Written by Case Duckworth

The Workplace Survival Guide, Part 1

“i do my job, so why don’t they like me?”

Sometimes in the Career Center, we see patrons who aren’t sure why they’re having such a rough time in the working world. Often, they have difficulty keeping a job, or they seem to constantly be in trouble at work. Sometimes, they complain about their bosses not liking them, their co-workers excluding them, or generally not fitting in.

There are many reasons that could be happening, but the most common one, we’ve found, is that these patrons don’t know the “unwritten rules” of the workplace. These unwritten rules discuss behaviors which, while you’ll never find them listed in a job description, are always a good idea on the job. Following these rules can help you start a job on the right foot, get along with co-workers, make a good impression on boss, and generally succeed in your career.

The 6 unwritten rules of the workplace

This information was adapted from the seminar “Preparing At-Risk Youth for Workplace Success”
by Dr. Steve Parese of Workin’ It Out Training. Please visit their website for more information about their soft skills training classes.

  1. Work comes first. Personal issues shouldn’t get in the way. This can be difficult, because you do have a life outside of work, and that’s perfectly normal. But make sure that life doesn’t interfere with your job. Ask yourself – are you constantly talking about your personal life at work? Do you have issues in your personal life that are affecting your attendance, reliability, productivity, or attitude? If so, your personal life is getting in the way of your job.
  2. Don’t get involved in other people’s problems. As an extension of the previous rule – in addition to keeping your personal issues out of the way, make sure you don’t let other people’s personal issues get in the way of work either. Avoid gossip and rumormongering. If you have co-workers who bring drama to the job, stay out of it. Their business is none of your business. Work is not a social club or a high-school clique, and behaving as if it were can backfire and make enemies for you.
  3. Try to fit in. Don’t act or dress TOO different from everyone else. Observe what everyone else is doing – does everyone in the department dress a certain way? What are the popular topics of conversation among your co-workers? What sorts of personalities, attitudes, and work styles are most common? The more you align yourself with the group, the more you’ll fit in with your co-workers. Of course, you’re a unique individual, and you’re not going to be exactly like anyone else at the company. But if your personal culture is vastly different from the company culture, you’re going to have trouble making a good impression.
  4. Stay busy (or at least LOOK busy) the whole time you’re at work. If you finish your work ahead of time, that’s great! But sitting around doing nothing for the rest of your shift. . .that’s a bad look. Your boss is not likely to think, “How efficient of that employee to finish their work early!” No, probably, your boss is going to think, “How lazy of that employee to do nothing. Why am I paying them for this?” Now it’s only human to occasionally need some downtime, but if you’re going to goof off at work, do so in such a way that no one can tell you’re goofing off. Perception is key.
  5. Do what they ask, even if you don’t want to. No boss ever wants to hear, “I’m not doing that. That’s not in my job description.” If you’re not willing to go above and beyond occasionally, that suggests an uncooperative, do-the-bare-minimum attitude. Please note, however, that we are NOT suggesting that you let a boss bully you into doing something dangerous, inappropriate, or illegal. In that case, you can absolutely stand up for your rights as a worker. However, it’s probably a good idea to agree to perform any task that could reasonably be expected of an employee in your position or department.
  6. Work is not always fun. That’s why they pay you. This reinforces every previous rule. Staying busy, fitting in, doing unpleasant tasks, and avoiding personal issues – none of that sounds fun. But that’s the point – work isn’t a fun recreational activity; otherwise you’d do it for free. Even the best, most fulfilling job in the world will occasionally include things you don’t want to do. A true professional accepts this.

scenarios

  1. Jasmine works as a cashier at Winn Dixie. At a slow point, her boss asks her to clean up a spill in the soda aisle. She ignores him.
    • What she’s thinking: “I’m a cashier, not a janitor. He shouldn’t tell me to do stuff that’s not my job. I hate the way he bosses me around.”
    • What her boss is thinking: “If she’s just standing there doing nothing, I’m going to ask her to help out. She thinks the rules don’t apply to her, but we all have to do the work that needs doing.”
    • What unwritten workplace rules apply to this situation?
    • What would you advise Jasmine to do?
  2. Carlos works on the lawn care crew at Radisson Hotel. His boss tells him to take out his piercings and cover up his tattoos. Carlos is angry.
    • What he’s thinking: “It’s my body; I should be able to look how I want. What does my nose ring have to do with my ability to cut grass?”
    • What his boss is thinking: “Our company must maintain a certain image. Our guests expect the staff to look professional. All those piercings and tattoos may scare or offend people.”
    • What unwritten workplace rules apply to this situation?
    • What would you advise Carlos to do?

If you would like further assistance with these soft skills, please call us at 225-231-3733, email our Career Coach at anowak@ebrpl.com, or visit our YouTube channel.

Written by Lynnette Lee