• Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Personal Brand

    “What do I Want” is a Hard Question

    Few weeks back I was giving a talk at a big tech company about focusing on the vision. As usual someone asked this basic question- “I don’t know what my vision is”! I am not surprised. This was my question only a few years ago. Over the years, by resolving my own dilemma and by working with my clients, I found a few ways to address this. Why it is hard? While growing up we were given standards to meet, tasks to accomplish. We were rewarded to achieve hard challenges, to score higher than others. Things we did for our own pleasure (if any) was a privilege and was not encouraged…

  • Career satisfaction,  Personal Brand

    Job Interview : How to Avoid Negativity about Your Employer

    Everyone knows this interview tip: “Don’t bad mouth about your employer”. But interesting enough this happens quite often. I got some clue when I was talking to my client Tom few weeks back. Specifically he wanted to learn how to avoid falling in trap of talking negative about his current employer. Apparently he made this mistake in a recent one. To get his perspective, I asked him about his genuine feeling about the current employer/job. What I heard was that he had been looking for growth in certain areas that was not available in his job. This company’s priority (to fix legacy code issues to quickly unblock the customer) didn’t…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Personal Brand

    Know your Strengths, Capitalize on Them

    Too many times companies send employees to trainings to fix the areas of weaknesses, we expect people to be well rounded to be successful. The fact is excellent performers are hardly “well rounded”, they are sharp. The difference between an excellent performer and an average performer is that the former ones are aware of their strengths and are cultivating it through their day to day work whereas the later ones are spending time and energy in places other than their strengths. What I Mean by Strength 1. An activity is your strength when are able to do it consistently, repeatedly, happily and successfully. 2. You don’t have strength in every…

  • Happiness

    Focus on Your Vision: A Positive Approach to Life’s Challenges

    [Key point: I have described  how vision focus works as a great parenting tool for me. It not only helps to manage the current situation more gracefully, it gives a greater clarity and builds a more sustainable foundation for the future.] I am preparing for the seminar next week on this topic for a tech company. No matter how professionally savvy audience I address, I always get a few parenting questions (specially from the Moms). A typical one: “How can I teach my 8 year old to be responsible enough to keep his room clean”?  I candidly admit that it is a work in progress for me as well. I…

  • Time Management

    Struggling with Time Management? Look at the Root Cause

    This is one of the top most issues in the mind of nowadays professionals. When they come to me they want a solution for it. To be honest I don’t have an answer for it and I get lost when I think about it. So why am I talking about it today? My experience says sometimes we “hide” under the time question only to avoid addressing some other underlying issues. I sometimes ask: What would you achieve when you have better time-management? A typical answer: “I will be able to do everything I want to do and will be able to spend time with my family and for myself and do…

  • Happiness

    Caterpillars to Butterflies : Human Maturity Stages

    [Key point: If you are doing everything right, working hard and still not getting the fulfillment, don’t just label it as the mid-life crisis. You may be ready to transition to the next maturity stage. It’s your choice to pay heed to your heart’s calling or to stay comfortable and forgo any further exploration of this wonderful life you have.] When I ask “what do YOU want” people sometimes get confused.  Common responses are: “Wouldn’t that be selfish”? “I always think about others, I put others needs ahead of me, am I not supposed to do that way”? I realized some awareness around Kegan’s Human Maturity Stages might shed some light…

  • Happiness

    Fulfilling Achievements are Good, Experiences are Even Better

    I ask this question to my clients and class participants: Describe some occasions from the recent past when you felt excited and fulfilled. The common responses I get are, “when I graduated college”, “got my dream job”, “had my last promotion”, “had my baby”…. Interesting to note, the “recent past” part gets ignored easily. Another observation,  all those listed are mostly focused on achievements and not on the activity or the experience of doing something. You can ask me why this is a problem. The problem is when we are only focused on achievements, we need to wait (sometimes long) for those to happen again in order for us to…

  • Personal Brand

    Align with Passion – What, Why and How

    “I don’t get it, how do people mix passion with their career? I do love to paint but I can’t even think of taking it as a career and doing it all the time.  That would be too much for me” – Katherine snapped at me and dismissed my own motto – Align with Passion! This is not the first time I got such comment, and Katherine is a good friend, so I could see where she was coming from. She was referring to a commonly known definition of passion – mapping it to some particular hobby or an established career/profession. Metaphorically it is like buying off the shelf solution for…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Uncategorized

    Don’t Focus on the Problem – Focus on your Ultimate Vision

    Last year, an engineer, let me call him Tom, came to me. He looked very tired and unhappy. “Sharmin, I am working long days, late nights, still my manager wants me to do more, have more impact, show more leadership…where is the time…why can’t he see my contribution already! With changes going around all the time it is so hard to get anything done on time. I even wanted to change this job, but in this economy it is so hard to get an interview even!” – Tom gave me a quite a vivid picture of his life. I felt compassionate for him. Not too long ago I experienced this…

  • Uncategorized

    Why Do I Do It? 3 Steps to Clarify Your Commitments

    Common wisdom goes as, we do paid work for money and volunteer work to fulfill other needs. Whatever we do, paid or volunteer work requires some commitment from our part. Sometimes we get so much fun that it doesn’t feel that way, but there are times we need to renew our vows – why am I doing it again?  It is more productive and rewarding when we have some clarity for it.  Here are three ways to get there. 1.     What does it give me  – Alignment with my longer term goal How this particular involvement aligns with your bigger purpose? For example, your three year goal is to become an event…