Tag Archive | reinvention

How do you discover your niche?

Each of us is unique, and it’s got nothing to do with our gender or appearance. Even identical twins have differences, and sometimes the only thing they share in common is their looks and date of birth. This uniqueness has everything to do our purpose under heaven, yet for many it seems difficult to discover. So, how do you discover your niche?

In my efforts to reinvent myself for my later years, I found that I had a lot of interests and some knowledge and skill in each area, but I was not focused. Some people have a strong passion for one thing, and they can’t seem to help themselves. They have to pursue it.

Years ago, I had just such a student. Today, kids would call him a nerd because he zeroed in like a laser on anything that had to do with science. I’d continually have to tell him that science was not my forte, so he’d dumb down his theories for me until our next conversation. And the topic? You guessed it. Science. He loved it. If anyone tried to realign his thoughts, he’d always return to his favorite. He had focus.

I read something the other day from Brian Tracy on finding your competitive advantage, and I thought it might be applied as well to finding your niche and moving forward with it. It will require some time when you can be alone for some self-analysis, but hey, you’re worth it.

  • Identify your strengths – What do you think you’re good at? Where have you excelled in the past as well as the present? What do others see as your strongest qualities? Write them down even if they seem small. They may develop into a pattern.
  • Identify your interests – What do you really like to do? Pay close attention to your heart because your true interests may not be where you’re currently expending your energies. Someone mentioned that you should think back to age 10 and what you wanted to be when you grew up. Are you there?
  • Identify your area(s) of specialization and narrow it down to one or two core skills. Keep in mind that these should be in the area of your strengths and interests.
  • Identify areas within your specialization that could be further developed to add different and better value. You want to differentiate yourself from all the rest by excelling where others have not even thought to go.
  • Identify markets where your skills and talents will be best used or better yet, an unfulfilled need where you can forge into new territory.
  • Pray. God created you with a specific purpose in mind, and He delights in revealing His plans when you ask.

It took me a while to narrow my focus and find my niche, but I think I’m on the right track now. Don’t be discouraged that the process requires time. Remember, it’s what we’re here for.

What’s so great about the Comfort Zone?

Have you ever spoken with a person who was miserable in his job? He hated to get up in the morning and face the onslaught of meetings, messages and minutia. He lived for the weekend reprieve, yet if you tried to pin him down on what he’d rather do, he had no answer. He’d bought into the old adage that the bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. Although the proverb warns against greed, it can also imply being satisfied with the status quo. In other words, it’s easier to exist in what you know and are comfortable with rather than try to improve yourself and grow to experience more. You know where he lived? Right in the eye of the Comfort Zone.

I’m not going to pick on that individual because if truth be told, we’ve all lived there at one time or another, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. What’s so great about enduring and tolerating unpleasant situations, behaviors and habits when they do nothing for us? Do they help us develop new skills, meet new people, see new places? Will we experience greater focus, commitment or self-discipline and better health? Are we truly better off? We need to ask ourselves these and some other important questions especially when we find ourselves in difficult or stressful situations. Our friend may not be able to quit his day job just yet, but he can begin to make changes to reinvent himself so that he can fulfill his dreams, goals and purpose.

Like him, I have areas of my life that I want to see changed. While one of TV’s total makeovers would be nice, it is not reality because lasting change requires commitment, action and time. I believe it also requires God’s power, and I am enlisting His wisdom and strength to do it because, frankly, I see nothing great in the Comfort Zone.

Would you use it?

 

Can you remember the days of typing letters, proposals, and forms on a typewriter? Instead of making photocopies, you used carbon paper and onion skin. If you made a mistake, it was a very big deal because not only did the original have to be corrected so well that you could not detect the error, but also  you had to correct each of the copies with the same level of skill. If you could spot the blunder, you had to begin all over. I must say people did learn to type quickly and accurately in order to prevent mistakes. But I digress.

Let’s jump forward to today’s technology when a mistake in a document is no big deal unless you don’t catch an error before you send it. Just delete or undo and only the computer (and possibly your local IT folks) know about it, and they don’t care. Today, if you want to make changes to the default settings, you have only to hit the reset button. You can change it up or reinvent the document with a push of the proverbial button.

That brings me to today’s question. What if you had a button that could reset you? Would you use it? If you could push this button and reinvent yourself into the person you were intended to be – not just one of the beautiful people – would you use it?

Unfortunately, the process is not as fast as today’s technology, but it works just the same. It requires courage and stamina to reinvent yourself because there’s risk involved. You may fall flat on your face, but if you’re not afraid to get up and start again, you’ve got what it takes to reach your potential. You may face disappointments along the way as well. Those you think will understand and support you can sometimes become your biggest critics. (Don’t hold it against them. They don’t understand what’s at stake.) The road isn’t easy, but few things that are worthwhile are.

So if you had such a button, a reset-me button, that would enable you to follow your dream to write, invent, paint, draw, become a missionary or world traveler, would you use it?

What’s the use?

If you’ve had the opportunity to visit a botanical garden like Longwood Gardens in the outskirts of Philadelphia, you know firsthand about the fantastic displays both indoors and out. It is an awesome experience. You make your way through the various buildings and flora-lined walkways, but as hard as you try, you just can’t take it all in on one visit. 

Can you imagine how many people and how much effort goes into making each garden bloom on cue according to the seasons? (You don’t grow poinsettias in April or daffodils in October.)  They do all of this while maintaining the grounds and facility in readiness for a vast number of tourists seven days a week. Think, too, about the challenges these horticultural wizards face between the elements of time and weather alone. It goes without saying they tackle other obstacles on a daily basis. Yet they achieve outstanding results because they continually focus on the plan. To the outside world, it looks easy. 

As we go through various seasons in our lives, we, like Longwood Gardens, must adjust to new expectations. At times, this requires a total makeover. All of this reinvention requires prayer, organization, time and action in order for a successful change to take place while life goes on and business continues as usual. Some days you can remain on task and schedule, while on others it seems you meet obstacles at every turn. When this happens, return to the plan (or make one if you started off without one), refocus, make adjustments as necessary and move forward.    

Doing this may be difficult. You could find a host of people and situations to blame or throw your hands in the air crying, “What’s the use,” but that won’t get you Longwood results.

Looking for a job?

In these days of economic uncertainty, more people are finding themselves out of work. In fact, in the US, there are now 12,806,000 former employees trying to feed their families and put a roof over their heads. Depending on your skill set and the number of others with similar capabilities, you may find it difficult to find a position in your field especially if the market is saturated. This situation may seem bleak, yet it could be a marvelous opportunity for you to reinvent yourself to find the job of your dreams. 

So where do you begin? Why not start with some self-probing questions? 

  • What do you REALLY want to do? What is preventing you from doing it?
  • What action could you take today to begin moving yourself in this direction?
  • What resources are available to you now?
  • Who do you know that is already doing this and who might be able to assist you? 

Many people who ask themselves these questions find that their previous position was really only a means to an end. They really would have preferred to do something totally different. If that’s true of you, you might want to pursue further education in order to acquire new skills. You might even decide to become an entrepreneur and develop something on your own. Kate Middleton’s mum started her own business when she couldn’t find party supplies for her children’s parties. 

What ideas do you have? Opportunity might be knocking on your door right now to pursue them. Will you go for it?

Continuous Improvement Required

The only thing that does not change is God.  He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. Everything else – seasons, time, people, cultures, clothes, etc. – require change and that’s a good thing, but does it ever stop?

I get it. The business world must continually improve, reinvent and adjust itself because the marketplace and technology are changing so fast they have to keep up to compete. Employers expect their staff to do the same or lose their jobs. Even if you’re one who’s on the unemployment role, you understand these principles and start your reinvention process in order to find a new way to add value and land a job. The truth is, you never reach a point where the improvement process is no longer necessary. 

Few would argue that keeping up with technology, communication and industry trends enhances your capabilities, yet the reason for doing it all is often lacking. The fact is many workers travel focused career paths only to provide the pay and perks they desire. Although climbing the corporate ladder presents its own challenges and rewards, some reach the top and wonder what it was all about. There is a higher purpose for it all, but you could miss it if you’re not looking. 

I figure why wait until you get to the end to ask the hard questions, so I’m asking them of myself now.  To add emphasis, I’m putting them in the present progressive tense.   

  • How am I adding value today?
  • How am I making a positive difference today?
  • How am I making my work count today? 

If I can answer these questions truthfully each day, I should begin to see the direction of my life.  If I discover gaps or inconsistencies, I know I’ve got some work to do. The good news is as long as we have breath, we can change. The best part is if I choose the road of continuous improvement, I might actually change the world or at least the part where I live.

Want to join me?

Is once begun really half done?

As a child, I loved Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare.  Being athletically challenged, I could rarely identify with the hare but delighted in the knowledge of the slow and steady turtle winning the event. Although Aesop did not include it in the text, some illustrators depict a crowd of onlookers cheering the tortoise on as he painstakingly took each step. Though the moral encourages us to get into the race and persevere to the end, it begs the question is once begun really half done? (It certainly did not work out that way for the hare.) 

Many may attribute the turtle’s success to his commitment, focus and determination alone. I think the affirmation of the crowd also played a major role to spur him on when he became discouraged by his opponent’s quick start, when his racing form was lacking or harmful or when weariness may have precipitated thoughts to quit. 

The tortoise and the hare appear to be participating in a one-time event. Yet throughout our lives, we humans are called upon to make minor adjustments as well as drastic changes as circumstances and relationships fluctuate. Studies show that such changes don’t occur over night. It takes time to develop new habits and create new patterns in the brain.

As one traveling the road of reinvention, I am greatly encouraged when others share their experience and insights with me.  I appreciate their challenges and support.  Having a mentor, accountability partner or good friend moves you forward more quickly than if you were going it alone. I find that spending time in the Bible and prayer provides continuous inspiration from my Creator and empowers me to go in the right direction. In addition, I seek out people who will ask me the hard questions about my progress and encourage me to get up again when I struggle or fall. 

If you don’t yet have someone like that who can encourage you as you begin your newest challenge, count me in as your head cheerleader, and go for it!