Time to Take a Look in the Mirror
by Chris King
the past few weeks, I have attended two seminars, both featuring excellent
and inspiring speakers. Even though both of the events were technology
related - the first a launch of a Microsoft product and the second an
all day symposium geared to technology communicators - I came away not
only with exciting tech information, but also with a new goal. It is called
"Looking in the mirror and reinventing myself." In this article,
I will share what I mean by this, and you will find out if this is something
you might want to tackle, too.
"Regularly reset your defaults." I know that this sounds
like he was talking about software settings, but the speaker was referring
to us. Just like computer software, we tend to have one way and only one
way of performing different tasks. We get comfortable, especially if they
are working (we have all heard the old cliché ad nauseam that "if
it isn't broke, don't fix it"). Well, I have news. As the speaker
pointed out, "Being very competent isn't enough."
these competitive times, we, as free agents, independent professionals
and freelancers need to develop an edge. So, it is time to investigate
your defaults and reset at least a few of them. The presenter suggested
the importance of developing specialized expertise. Ask yourself what
skills and expertise you now possess that can be pushed to new and more
specialized levels. What would you like to know more about? I find that
learning, just for the sake of learning, is not enough. It is important
and much more rewarding to study something that excites me. It is also
easier to sell clients on a new project that we are passionate about.
"If you don't like change get out of the freelance living business."
I have substituted the words "freelance living" for the speaker's
word, "software." If you and I haven't realized or accepted
it yet, every day brings about change. Change in the way we do business.
Change in whatever field(s) we work in. Change in attitudes - of the clients
and others in our lives. Change in methods of communication. Change in
the tools we use (yes computers are part of this, but also telephones,
etc.). Because I have many careers, I have started looking at each separately
and working on ways to change and come up-to-date. Just coming "up-to-date"
isn't enough, however, we need to get ahead. And that segues into my next
"Look in the mirror and reinvent yourself." This was
the final message shared at the all-day symposium for technical communicators.
"It is time for a reckoning," said one of the motivating speakers.
She stressed asking ourselves how we can get ourselves onto the leading
edge. We need to revisit our skills to discover how to solve problems
from a whole new perspective. (Sound familiar?) I suggest it is a good
time to reevaluate where we are, where we are going and how we can make
2006 the best year yet.
For ideas you might use, here is my list of ways to reinvent and upgrade
new skills do I need to learn? In the area of web development and
design I will become an expert on databases, how to set them up, use
them, and deliver Active Server Pages. I will also work toward becoming
an expert on Macromedia's new Studio 8 (I have it, but am just starting
to play with it).
new defaults will I set in my areas of comfort? I teach eight to
eleven fitness classes a week, and tend to follow the same format -
the rationale is that the students like to know what is coming next.
I am not going to make drastic changes that will throw them off, but
I am adding some new sections for variety and to keep us "on our
toes" so to speak. There are also other tasks that perform daily
in a comfortable way. I will start making note of different and more
efficient ways to approach these.
can I reconsider my financial picture in a better and more sensible
way? After receiving a "tongue lashing" from my tax preparer
for not "charging enough" for what I do, I have revised my
billing structure. I realize that if I don't value my work enough, others
won't either. Again, as long as we are comfortable, it is easy to bypass
hearing clients say they can't afford what we are charging. Then, it
is time to find new clients.
can I upgrade my marketing and what I am marketing? Marketing is
the area that so many of us avoid, but is necessary if our businesses
are to thrive. Know what you do well and do it (I love the networking),
but decide to pursue the techniques that aren't quite as easy (for example,
following up, making appointments and proposals - not as comfortable
a start, anyway. They sound like goals, and they are. And, now
that I have written them down for all of you to see, I have to pursue
Now it's time for you to take a look in the mirror. How are you going
to reinvent yourself? Let me
know. I love hearing from you!
A brand new FREE eclectic e-newsletter, Career Success Planning, is on the way. I will be contacting former sbscribers to Portfolio Potpourri and all who have taken the Portfolio Career Self Test to subscribe to the new FREE e-newsletter. Use the form below to sign up!
When I started doing the research for this book, I knew that my own experience as a Portfolio Careerist (having more than one career at the same time) wasn’t going to be enough.
After all, those of us who love and maintain Portfolio Careers also love the variety and thrive on doing things our own way. So, I put out a call to those I knew have or have had Portfolio Careers and would be willing to answer a series of questions.
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