Surprising Career Paths

You may not believe this, but I have interests other than career development for scientists. One of them is needlework, and in particular quilting. In that vein, I read a blog called Going to Pieces, by a very talented quilter.

In a recent post, she talks about a trip she took, and a gentleman she encountered who had a very surprising career path. Check out Fun and Surprises in San Francisco. The piece I’m talking about starts about halfway down, after the second photo. I actually remember encountering this gentleman on a trip of my own several years ago, but the career path aspect didn’t occur to me until Diane pointed it out.

The Importance of Good Communication

It’s amazing how one little word can make a huge difference.

I’m listening to coverage of the presidential candidates, and the reporter just said people are getting to a level of “comfortability” with Obama. I thought I must have heard wrong, but then a minute later he said it again. That one word destroyed any credibility the reporter had with me, and I stopped listening to anything else he had to say.

While this is an extreme example, it is probably not that unusual. Your choice of words reveals a great deal about how you really feel about things. The level of care you take with your words, especially with written communications, is often a direct reflection of how important you believe a talk to be.

What subtle messages are you sending with your words?

Attitude truly is everything

I recently had an interesting exchange with my son. He had just returned home from cross country practice, and was exhausted and starving. I told him that while he was gone someone had called desperately needing a volunteer for another group he’s involved in, and they needed the person in 15 minutes. He quickly showered, changed into the appropriate uniform, and grabbed some food – with much prodding from me. Then he came and grumped at me that “he guessed he was read to go, if I have to.” I told him it wouldn’t do any good to go if he was going to be in a bad mood – the whole point was to show how much fun this organization was, and to persuade others to join.

He replied “I can fake it Mom – I can act fun. But I’m not going to waste it in front of you.” At first I laughed, and thought sure, he can show his true mood in front of me. But as I thought about it, I wondered how many people do this in their career. Do you ever find yourself trying hard to be enthusiastic about your career and accomplishments in front of people you think can help you, but letting your “true feelings” out in front of people who “don’t matter”?

First, what does this mean you really feel about your career? If you have to force the enthusiasm, and the complaints are more reflective of your true feelings, perhaps you need to think more about what you really want to be doing.

Secondly, how do you know who “doesn’t matter”? You may be sitting next to, or overheard by, someone who is the best friend of the person who has your dream job. If you appear grumpy and pessimistic, they are unlikely to volunteer to help you.

Positive people attract more positive responses, so at all times you should do your best to project a positive attitude. There must be some aspects of your career that you enjoy – focus on those, and work to expand them.

In the words of Randy Pausch, “choose to be a Tigger, not an Eyeore“.