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Tag Archives: Margaret Smith Twin Cities

That old saying “no man is an island” still rings true today. We are all connected with others in myriad ways, and we all depend on a large network of people to do our work, enjoy life, and, frankly, to survive. The CEO of a company might receive most of the fame and recognition, but that person’s success is intrinsically linked to others—their mid-level managers, the company custodians, the IT support team, the customers who believed in the company and its offerings.

This interconnectedness extends to our personal lives as well. We rely on the farmer to harvest food, the construction crew to repair our roads, the teacher to educate our children. I often see this community and interconnectedness at play with my grandson. He and his parents rely on care from a network of people. It truly “takes a village” to raise a child.

It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of community.

A strong community offers support, resources, and guidance. It not only provides us with necessities, but uplifts us and motivates us to keep going.

Today, we might find a sense of community and belonging in a variety of places—through work, family, online forums, volunteering. However, while it’s possible to be more interconnected than ever before, people are now lonelier and more depressed than ever. In the U.S., loneliness has been steadily increasing since 2015 (especially among younger generations), and that trend has been noted across the globe, as well.

Why is that? Why is our highly networked world lonely?

From my observations and research, I believe this has to do with the quality of our connections, rather than the quantity. One of your Twitters posts might be liked by 5,000 people, but do you really know any of them? You might engage in a webinar with 200 other individuals, but are you really talking to each other and getting to know one another on a deeper level?

At this point, you may be wondering, “So what? Why does it matter if people are lonely?”

Aside from the mental and emotion toll loneliness can cause, it has been linked to many physical side effects such as an “increased risk of mental health issues, heart disease and even death.” The Campaign to End Loneliness reports that, “Research shows that the impact of poor social relationships on mortality is comparable to the impact of smoking 15 cigarettes a day and consuming alcohol, and exceeds the impact of physical activity and obesity. Lonely individuals are at higher risk of hypertension, poor sleep, and the onset of disability.

So, what do we do?

I challenge you to seek out meaningful, real-world connections. Get to know your neighbors, host a barbeque, volunteer in your community, join an in-person networking or hobby group. If you are already connected with a number of other people, I challenge you to strengthen those connections by making an effort to be in touch, sending the occasional greeting card, or arranging a lunch or coffee date. You can also go the extra mile by reaching out to those who you suspect to be socially isolated (elderly friends, those who have limited access to reliable transportation, new parents!) and offer your support.

Community is created through conscious connections, not just through liking someone’s social media post in passing. It’s made by asking others about themselves and reciprocating by opening up and being a little vulnerable. Let’s dare to strike up conversations and make connections! Let’s strive to consciously foster community.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

Her new eBook is called A Quick Guide to Courage
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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I just released my new eBook: A Quick Guide to Courage. Let’s continue our discussion of aspects of courage…

It’s easy to fall in line and do/say/think what everyone else is doing/saying/thinking. If you’re like most people, you don’t want to rock the boat; you simply want to get through the work day, complete your daily tasks, and stay employed! While there’s nothing wrong with those goals, “falling into line” could become problematic if you disagree with something or encounter a situation that goes against your values, ethics, or perspective.

In these tricky situations, staying silent is the path of least resistance, BUT it is not always the best route. Why dare to speak up and go against the grain?

  • To uphold your personal code of ethics
  • To encourage others who are feeling the same way to also speak out
  • To share your perspective
  • To spark a dialogue
  • To encourage candid communication and cooperation

Speaking up can be a good thing, but it can backfire if done incorrectly. If you are not tactful, or if you speak out of turn, you might be instantly shutdown and silenced. Instead, approach a situation with respect, calm, and thoughtful language.

Here are a few tips:

  • If you need to speak up during a meeting or group gathering, either wait for a lull in the conversation or interject respectfully.
  • Begin by clarifying what you think you heard. For instance: “I believe you said XYZ, is that correct?”
  • Give your perspective using “I statements” and logic. For instance: “Let me explain why I am troubled by XYZ. From my perspective…”
  • Offer alternatives. If you have a different course of action in mind, state it as clearly as you can.
  • Invite conversation. For instance: “Clearly, this is my take on the matter. If I am missing or misunderstanding something, I welcome any clarification.”

If you have time to step away from the situation and think about your counterarguments, that’s great! Prepare your talking points, anticipate questions, and present your case (either in a one-on-one meeting or to your group). The same basic guidelines apply—asking clarifying questions, being respectful, using logic, inviting dialogue—but you also have the luxury of gathering evidence (if applicable) and drawing up a more comprehensive counterargument.

It is often uncomfortable to go against the grain, but it is often worth it. If you present yourself and your case with tact and reason, people will likely listen to and consider what you have to say. Tap into your reserves of courage, prepare as best you can, and remember that YOU and your perspectives are worthwhile (see the affirmations in last week’s blog post). Positive workplace environments are often built by the courage of individuals.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

Her new eBook is called A Quick Guide to Courage
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Have you had to take a break from work? Maybe you were one of the 38 million people who resigned in 2021. Or, perhaps you had to take a break for personal reasons—starting a family, health issues (physical or mental), caretaking for an aging parent. Or maybe you felt undervalued or underappreciated at work, and decided to take a break to reassess your life’s path.

 Whatever the case, know that your reasons for quitting are valid. Other people may pass judgment, but they likely do not know or understand the full story. And you are under no obligation to justify yourself.

Besides, you now have the opportunity to find something better than you had before—a role that is well-suited to your personality, interests, and skillset. A position that pays well and offers excellent benefits.

The problem is, how do you reenter the workforce once your break has come to its natural conclusion?

What if a potential employer asks about your work gap? What if your skills are rusty? Or, what if you’d like to switch career tracks entirely?

These are all scary prospects, but fortunately, they are not insurmountable. If you’re thinking of dusting off your resume and searching for a job that sparks your interest, here are 5 tips:

Reflect

If you’re thinking about beginning a job hunt, don’t just jump in! The last thing you want to do is rush things and end up with a job that is not suited for your talents and interests. Instead, take the time to practice meaningful reflection. This could involve journaling, creating a vision board, meditating, or talking with a trusted friend or career coach.

When you’re reflecting, ask yourself questions such as:

  • When am I happiest? When do I feel like I’m thriving?
  • What are my favorite work memories? Least favorite?
  • Where do I shine? What are my top skills?
  • What are my interests? What excites me?
  • What are my career goals?
  • What does my ideal future look like?

Write a resume for the job you want

You never want to lie on your resume, but it is possible to tailor it for the job you want. Highlight the skills and experiences that are relevant to your dream job. Make them stand out. For instance, if you would like to work in management at a company, it’s a good idea to emphasize your leadership skills and roles. Did you spearhead an important project at your last company? Do you lead your daughter’s girl scout troop? Have you led volunteer initiatives? All this experience counts and can appear on your resume.

Brush up on relevant skills

If you’re thinking about making a major career change OR if your skills are a little rusty (this is especially true for tech industry workers), it’s a good idea to update your skillset. Enroll in online courses, take a community education class, or sign up for a certification program. You could also take independent classes from informal online schools (such as Udemy or Teachable); although they will not earn you a formal certificate.

Another way to brush up on skills is to talk with people in the industry who have (or have had) a similar role. Ask if you can conduct casual interviews and ask questions about the skills required for the job. Talking with someone who has been “in the trenches” can reveal aspects of the role that you may not have considered.

Create a calendar

If you want to take the major step of reentering the workforce, it pays to have a game plan. Otherwise, you might feel rudderless or unsure of what to do on a given day. Having a plan can keep you focused and prevent you from mindlessly scouring the internet every day.

I recommend creating a calendar and making daily goals for yourself. The goals do not have to be large, but they should contribute to your job hunt progress. You might include items on your calendar such as:

  • Reflection/planning time
  • Skill-building
  • Sending out five emails requesting informational interviews
  • Spending three hours perusing job listings
  • Rewriting your resume
  • Writing a cover letter
  • Filling out two applications

Be Courageous

Most importantly, believe in yourself! Know that you have the grit to dive back into the workforce and the determination to be an outstanding employee. Have conviction in yourself and believe in your skillset. You DO bring value to the table, and it’s up to you to articulate that value.

Before beginning the interviewing process, be sure to practice speaking about your resume, background, and skills. Talk aloud to your mirror or practice with a friend or spouse. Anticipate questions the interviewer might ask and practice answering those questions. Go over this information time and again until it feels natural to you. Preparation and Practice are two vital components of courage.

This is your moment. Employers are hungry for dedicated, talented employees, and they ARE hiring. Even if you’ve taken a break from the workforce for a while, you can get back on the horse with a little reflection, skill-building, and planning. The most important part is believing in yourself and your abilities.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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