Category Archives: Transitions

How to Maximize Your Inner Strength

Using Solitary Time for Spiritual Growth

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayishlach - Genesis 32:4-36:43

Have you seen the TV show Rawhide? Clint Eastwood gained his first claim to fame as Rowdy Yates in a 7-½-year long cattle drive. Often you see a single rider out on the plains. Can you imagine being so alone? No cellphone to contact his fellow cowboys. No iPod to feed music through earbuds. Just the noise of cattle moving and an occasional shout carried on the wind. What did these cowboys do with so much solitary time? Parshas Vayishlach answers:

“And Jacob was left alone…” (Bereshis/Genesis 32:25).

How to Maximize Your Inner Strength

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with Jacob preparing to be attacked by Esau. He defeats an angel who gives him the name Israel.  Then he reunites with his brother. Jacob settles in Shechem where the prince of the country abducts and rapes his daughter. His sons, Simeon and Levi, take revenge by killing all the males in Shechem.

Jacob travels to Bethel where G-d confirms his new name. The Almighty reaffirms He will give the land of Canaan to his descendants. Benjamin is born and Rachel dies. After reuniting with his son, Isaac dies. The parsha ends with a listing of Ishmael’s family and his death, a listing of the lineage of Seir, and the chronology of the Edomite kings.

The Source of Inner Strength

An army of 400 men doesn’t sound big by today’s standards. But it was a powerful force in Jacob’s time. As far as Jacob knows, Esau’s vow to kill him stands. Nor does he have any reason to think his brother will be merciful with his family.

Yet the night before a battle, Jacob goes off by himself. He sacrifices what may be his last few hours of life with his family. To what purpose?

Life can be summed up in two words: “emulate G-d.” The Almighty embodies all creation. In Him, the physical ∞ mental ∞ spiritual realms perfectly merge. In this ultimate unity, the G-d is unique. Jacob knew he needed the inner strength that comes from unity and uniqueness.

The Torah describes the battle between Jacob and the angel as a wrestling match. But beating an angel is a spiritual victory. It came through the innermost resolve in Jacob’s soul.

Jacob could not have mustered such spiritual strength amid the chaos of family life. He needed solitary time to model the Almighty’s uniqueness. By unifying the three realms, he became unconquerable.

Transitions Require Solitary Time

One of the best character traits you can develop is the ability to be alone. When faced with a major change in your life, you will need every ounce of inner strength. By keeping your soul focused on your desired outcome you are much more likely to achieve it.

Conversely, lack of spiritual commitment to a transition undermines your mindset. You may feel unsure of yourself. New friends, colleagues, and hiring managers you have to interact with sense your hesitancy. They get nervous about dealing with you. Each feeds on the other.

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Jacob inherited his ability to grow through being alone from his grandfather Abraham. G-d Himself called Abraham unique in his world. No one exceeded him in pursuing G-d. But you don’t have to have such an illustrious ancestor.

To gain inner unity, you need to forge your ability to be alone.

  1. Explain to your family why you need to take time away from them periodically.
  2. Find a comfortable place where you can be alone with you thoughts.
  3. Plan to do nothing, just think.
  4. Meditate on what makes you unique. Reflect on your values, skills, experiences, and your goals. How do they form you into a unified individual?
  5. Write down your thoughts. Read them back to yourself. Do they make sense? If not, clarify them.
  6. Each time you practice being alone, go deeper. Like exercising your muscles, spiritual strength comes from overcoming resistance. In this case, the hurdles come from the heart and soul.

Before the crunch of a transition hits you, build your inner strength. Get crystal clear on your uniqueness. Create the foundation for an unshakeable mindset. Take solitary time to fortify yourself for the battle to come.

Question – How can you gain the most benefit from alone time?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

10 Things that will Boost Your Transition

How to Reintegrate to Civilian Life Quickly and Smoothly

2-½ minutes to read

You don’t know what you don’t know. Wouldn’t you love to have a dollar for every time you heard that during your military career? And its corollary → You can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong. Both are true. And they apply to your transition to civilian life. It doesn’t matter if you’re already in civilian life or getting out next year. Knowing the most common pitfalls veterans fall into will help you avoid them.

10 Things that will Boost Your Transition

3 Areas Where Veterans Struggle

The three areas may not surprise you. But give yourself an honest appraisal of the specific issues within each one:

  • Skills
    • Poor job search skills
    • Cannot translate military skills and experience to the private sector
  • Support
    • Lack of camaraderie
    • Lack of proper mentorship
    • Unable to communicate effectively with civilians
  • Mindset
    • Rigidity
    • Lack of structure
    • Lack of confidence
    • Bad attitude toward civilians
    • Lack of preparation and follow-up
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My series on the 8 Deadly Sins of Job-Hunting shows you how to avoid the most common mistakes veterans make when looking for a job. You can learn to properly assess your skills using the four steps I outline here. Let me know what questions you still have. Look me up on the mobile phone app Carrot.FM if you want to do a quick one-on-one.

Create Momentum in Your Transition

With any long-term task, some early wins will motivate you through the inevitable setbacks. If you’ve been struggling for a while you know how a lack of positive momentum hurts your efforts.

Start by ensuring your job-hunting skills are up to speed. Be clear about you private sector value proposition. Know the outcome you want. Because you control these issues they’re the easiest to deal with.

Now you can overcome the bigger hurdles of support and mindset.

Support seems like a straightforward issue. But surrounding yourself with people who can and will encourage your aspirations can be difficult. Do you miss the closeness of relationships in the military? You may have to give up some friendships and create new ones. Be intentional when deciding whom you’ll befriend.

Not everyone who wants to mentor you can. Find one who has:

  1. Already succeeded in civilian life.
  2. Knows military life and culture well.
  3. Has the time to help you.

If any one of these is lacking you won’t get the support you need. A person can’t teach you to communicate in a realm he doesn’t know.

Most coaches will tell you mindset conquers all. Actually, your attitude and ability to market yourself mutually support each other.

Adapting to civilian life requires flexibility. Paraphrasing Helmut Van Moltke:

You have thoughts about how reintegration will work. You have dreams for what civilian life will be like. Fine. Just know reality won’t match what’s in your mind.

Despite all my experience and contacts in the civilian world, very little of my transition matched my post-navy plans. Some things turned out better. Others worse. That’s life.

At the same time, you must be self-disciplined enough to overcome the loss of military structure. Have a set wake up time and bedtime. Keep up an exercise regimen. If you’re looking for a job, work the same hours as you would on the job.

People get a gut feeling about your confidence level. If you have a negative dialog going on in your head here’s how to change it. Have your mentor on call to give you confidence boosts when you need them.

Check out Job-Hunting Deadly Sins #3 and #8 to handle a bad attitude toward civilians and follow up. I’ll talk about preparation in a future post.

Now you know the key issues supporting a successful transition. Examine each one in light of your own situation. If it applies to you deal with it as soon as possible. None of them are insurmountable. Put on your Kevlar and push through the obstacles.

Which issue is disrupting your transition?

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Are You Using This Excuse for Not Reaching Your Goal?

2-½ minutes to read

You need to take action. You won’t accomplish your goal if you don’t. Finding the job you want. Improving your physical fitness. Getting closer to your spouse. Becoming closer to G-d. All require doing something. The problem is what you did in the past didn’t work. And acting for the sake of being busy is pointless. What do you do?

Are You Using This Excuse for Not Reaching Your Goal?

Not Knowing What to Do

Procrastination tops the list of things I bawl myself out for. Work time has to be productive. I’ve learned to alternate easy tasks with those that take intense focus. This keeps my momentum going.

When I start putting off a difficult task, I need a quick way to get back on track. Once I’ve identified the source of my procrastinating I can overcome it.

You learn a lot from helping people get past their barriers. Having coached over 1,300 veterans in the last eighteen months, I’ve found most procrastinate because they’re unsure. It comes in two forms:

  1. Lack of information.
  2. Lack of self-confidence.

Of the two, the first one is by far the easier to solve. You need a couple of things:

  1. Data. The Internet puts a massive amount of information data at your fingertips. You know you need inside connections to get the job you want. Research their names. Proceed.
  2. Process. Figuring out what steps to take and how to execute them is more challenging. If you don’t know how to build relationships you can learn from trial and error. Or you can get trained.

At times you may overload on information. In that case, arrange your options from best to worst. Better choices will stand out. If they don’t, order them at random. Then act on option 1. If it works, great! If not, move on to option 2.

Working the process gives you momentum. Agonizing over it produces idleness. Careful choosing won’t guarantee success. Acting consistently will.

Not Wanting to Do It

The real problem comes when lack of information conceals a lack of self-confidence. The scenario usually plays out like this:

If I only knew ______________, I could ________________.

For example, fill in the blanks with “how to better write my resume” and “get the job I want.” If you're relying on your resume to get you a job you'll be waiting a long time.

Often this attitude comes from having tried things that didn’t work. Here’s where you have to be careful.

Are you sure you don’t know what you need to do? Or do you just not like doing it? Think of how many nasty things you had to do in basic training. Many seemed useless. Now you laugh at them. Civilian life isn’t any different.

The worst case comes when you get discouraged. Motivating yourself to take the right steps yet again seems pointless. You convince yourself it’s a waste of time. There has to be a better way, right?

Do that long enough and you’ll kill your self-confidence. At that point, you won’t take action because you’re sure it won’t help.

Be honest with yourself. Don’t give yourself an out. Do you really want to reach your goal? Just plow forward no matter what.

Teddy Roosevelt famously said:

If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your troubles, you wouldn’t sit for a month.

How about giving your backside a break in 2017?

What information do you need to reach your goal?

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How to Get a Company to Give You the Job

2-½ minutes to read

It’s aggravating when you’re not asked to come talk about a job. It’s worse going to a bunch of meetings and still not landing one. Nothing fuels self-doubt more than having a great meeting with the hiring manager, walking away feeling it’s in the bag, only to have the phone remain silent. If you keep coming up short you’re committing job search sin #8: Not asking for the job if you want it or not following up properly or at all.

How to Get a Company to Give You the Job 

When You Want the Job, Ask

To a large extent, job hunting is a numbers game. If you have been diligent about identifying your skills, understanding your passion, and determining market demand you will get a job. When you work from the inside, as I suggested in last week’s post, you’ll reduce the time it takes. But you’re not going to be offered every job you apply for. You may not get offered any of them if another candidate has the gumption to ask at the end of a meeting, “given everything we’ve discussed, can you offer me the job?”

The company may choose to speak with all candidates before making a decision. But the hiring manager may not want to risk losing an excellent employee. So if a previous candidate makes his wishes clear, you’ll be out of luck.

It seems so basic. But a lot of veterans don't do it. If you want the job, ask for it.

The purpose of the meeting is for you and the hiring manager to assess the mutual benefit of your working there. When you ask for the job it should be clear you believe this is good for you AND the company.

You won’t be ruled out for making your assessment clear. Nor will it impact your position when negotiating compensation. In most cases, such decisiveness will work to your advantage.

If the hiring manager doesn’t see the fit, aren’t you better off knowing immediately. And if he disagrees with your assessment or doesn’t like your assertiveness what does that bode about a future work situation?

Alleviating the Fear of Asking

Asking for the job can have three results:

  1. No, you’re not the person we’re looking for. Great, you know where you stand. Perhaps you thought the meeting went well. Was your perception correct? Ask questions. The hiring manager may be reluctant to discuss the matter. If the reasons sound harsh he may have legal concerns. Ask for suggestions on how you can improve for your next meeting.
  2. No, not right now. Great, you know you’re still in the running.
  3. Yes. Great! You got the job!

There is no downside to asking for a job you want. You may feel uncomfortable. Practice what you’ll say. Stand or sit in front of a mirror and watch yourself. Better, rehearse with a friend and video yourself. Before long you won’t feel awkward.

If the company needs time, make a plan to follow up. What happens next in the process? Will they be assessing the people they spoke with? Or will there be a second or third meeting? What is the timeline? Be polite but don’t leave matters vague.

Establish the latest that you can expect to hear back. Confirm you can follow up after that time. Do so, even if you’ve found another job in the meantime. Show you follow through. Don’t burn any bridges.

Within a day of the meeting send a handwritten thank you. A quick email right after is fine. A card or note the person will keep on his desk keeps you front of mind.

If you got a flat out no, before you leave the meeting ask for referrals to other companies looking for someone with your qualifications. Most people don’t like rejecting a candidate so they’ll be happy to help if they can. You can’t lose anything by asking.

To get the job you want you’ll have to ask for it. Most likely, you’ll have to ask more than once. A proper follow plan and execution will make the process easier and more comfortable.

Do you think it’s better to know right away if you didn’t get a job?

Please comment on this question or ask another question below.

How to Be an Insider Who Gets the Job

3 minutes to read

Many veterans tell me stories about not getting a job that they obviously qualify for. They can’t figure out why they lost out or didn’t even get a meeting with HR. It feels like when you were a kid and wanted to be in a particular club. Try as you might, they wouldn’t let you in. If your hunt for employment feels like constant rejection from the “in crowd,” you’re committing job search sin #7: Applying for a job at a company where you don’t have an internal advocate.

How to Be an Insider Who Gets the Job

The Huge Advantage of Getting Referred

About 7% of applicants for a job got referred by someone already working at the company. But 40% of people hired by a company come from employee referrals. Six times as many people apply for jobs through job boards. But only 15% of hires come from that source. Your chances of landing the job you want increase significantly when you have an advocate in your target company. Consider that:

  • 86% of employers and recruiters said referrals are their top source for quality candidates.
  • 70% of employers felt referred hires better fit their companies’ culture and values.
  • 67% said the recruiting process is shorter with referrals.
  • 51% said it was less expensive with referrals.

You may be thinking that’s fine for employers, but what about me?

  • Employees hired through referrals reduce their average start time from 39-55 days to 29 days.
  • The process for hiring a referred employee is 55% faster than one who comes through a career site.
  • Referred employees stay at companies two to three times longer than those hired through a job board.

You’ll likely have greater job satisfaction if you’re referred to a company.

So if having an insider advocating for you is so great, why doesn’t every job searcher get one? Well, most people don’t have the basis for making the initial connection. And they won’t do the hard work to build the relationships.

As a veteran, neither of these hurdles stands in your way. Military people love to help each other out. And you’re used to working hard.

Becoming an Insider

Here’s where social media gives you a huge advantage. Once you’ve identified a target company, find another veteran who works there. Stick with someone who served in your branch of the service if possible. Then get in touch with the person and start building a relationship.

Earlier this year I wrote several posts on relationships building. They explain how to choose whom to connect with and the process of growing relationships. If you’re not sure how to get started select a topic, read up on it, then take action.

Learn what it takes to go from contact to relationship.

Build relationships physically, mentally, and spiritually. Keep in mind business relationships are first and foremost relationships.

How to spend your time creating relationships wisely.

How to make connections.

Prepare yourself to invest time.

Be on the lookout for fortunate opportunities to create relationships.

You may blow the first few contacts. But remember, you’re dealing with your fellow veterans. We’ve been there and want to help you. So be genuine, be open, and by all means be proactive! Get a company you want to work for in your sights. Then go find your internal advocate so you can be an insider and get a job you’ll love.

What is the best way for you to connect to other people?

Please comment on this question or ask another question below.

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