Can poetry help you land your dream job – part II

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In the first part of these blog series we discussed the benefits of writing poetry in realm of developing positive identity narrative which can lead us to closer picture and knowing what we want to do in life.But what about when it comes to other people’s poetry? How that can help us achieve our career goals? Here I want to share with you two interesting examples. A college teacher placed a job advert in front of her students and asked them what the job is all about. An advert was mostly listing of technological skills and many students didn’t manage to locate the key skills employer was looking for, as it was cleverly ‘masked’ under technological terms:

Expertise: Information Systems Technology 
Education: Bachelors 
Job Type: Full-Time
Location: Tulsa, OK
Compensation: Commensurate with Experience
Start Date: Immediate

Provide technical support and assistance to both Williams internal application systems users and external customers/partners. Develop familiarity with business, application, and technical processes and use this understanding to improve the processing and accuracy of the data and the performance of the interfaces between internal systems and external customers. Lead efforts to resolve issues across business, application support, and technical support groups seeking the best solution to problems that arise in the process, performance, or accuracy of application systems and the data exchanged between internal and external systems and customers. Problem resolution efforts will often include direct interaction with external customers. Must be a strong leader able to manage cross-functional teams toward a common goal of problem resolution and process improvement. Problem resolution efforts will often involve teams with dissimilar goals and priorities and the need to manage them toward a common goal and gain the support of their disparate management organizations. Must possess exceptional written and oral skills. A good existing understanding of business, application, and technical areas is required and/or the ability to seek out and assimilate information independently and quickly. Must be able to work with little supervision and manage time effectively. Knowledge and experience acquired through this position will serve as excellent preparation for movement into advanced leadership positions within Williams Communications. Bachelors degree or equivalent experience.

When the teacher asked her students to take a look at deeper meaning in this advert, to treat it like they were reading a poem – that approach opend a lively discussion in the class and students managed to locate two key sentences:

Must be a strong leader able to manage cross-functional teams toward a common goal of problem resolution and process improvement. Problem resolution efforts will often involve teams with dissimilar goals and priorities and the need to manage them toward a common goal and gain the support of their disparate management organizations.

Beside the excellent communication and leadership skills, employer is looking for someone whose teams probably at the moment are not getting along; they are looking for someone new, with fresh ideas and perspective and as such who will be able to manage number of smaller groups with cross-purposes.

So the teacher proved to her students in this fun and exciting exercise, how poetry teaches us to take critical approach to what we are confronted with, and how in such fashion we are able to look for underlying causes and hidden facts, which are not obvious at first sight. This skill can be helpful in many life situations – even when it comes to haunting your dream job.

In another interesting  article, we can see the results of survey that Linkendin has conducted – they asked influencers what is the single best piece of advice they’ve ever received when it comes  to career. Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President at Apple Retail shared a single poem that encapsulates a lifetime of lessons: The Desiderata.

Its profound principles subliminally shaped and defined my core and have guided me throughout my life.

It was framed on the wall of her father’s office when she was a teenager.

At the time, I repeated the words without reflection, unconcerned by their meaning, but with perspective, I know these simple truths helped form the fabric of my leadership, inspiring me and reminding me of my place and my purpose.”

An excerpt:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.”

“Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”

So, in the nut shell these are my two recommendations for using poetry as a career guidance:

  1. Use metaphor to describe your problem: strong images and observations that can trigger some additional thoughts on how you can approach your problem differently and observe how you feel about each thought – it’s the best orienteer if you are on the right track with your solution. Positive language can enforce development of positive ‘narrative identity and choices’, which can lead to better understanding what is our purpose and calling in life.
  1. Find inspirational poems that align with your values and outlook on life. Read them frequently, use them as a reminder of what you stand for and what you desire your life to be.

Do you have any poem that profoundly influenced your life? Please share in the comments below.


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Can poetry help you land your dream job – part I

poetry_dreamjob

How to choose a career path? In these two-part post series I’ll discuss the benefits of reading and writing poetry for career development.

We all know that career as a definition and societal phenomena has undergone many changes and I do believe that today it has become very personal thing. A stay-at-home mom, having three kids and raising her family can be very satisfied with her life. Or someone who is working every day in an isolated lab, researching and developing new formulas can be very proud of their life. It all comes down to what we perceive that we are good at and what we consider success in life.

But we also have to keep in mind that many factors influence our decisions and how we see ourselves – especially in early adolescence. In my culture, technical sciences were seen as a crown of any scientific advancement and many of us were conditioned to make our educational choices according to that premise. Not what you are talented for, not what you liked to do – but rather what job markets needed. And there is nothing wrong with having that factor in mind, but also trying to find that middle ground where you can really express your talents and true nature – in meaningful and contributive way, is what you can do best for yourself (especially when you have a lots of interests).

What all that has to do with poetry, you might ask? Nothing and everything – depending how you look at things. As we practice writing poetry, I do believe that at the most deepest levels, while training ourselves to observe the world, we also observe ourselves: our feelings, needs, inclinations, behavioral patterns, habits. When you write in the first person, your attention is focused on yourself. You are learning about ‘real you’ and from there what kind of life you want. Poetic language is condescend, emotionally ‘pumped up’ and may contain hidden messages that in regular writing we would easily omit.

Free writing and journaling are quite straightforward and direct. Poetry very much relies on metaphor and figurative language. What we actually see and perceive, once expressed in metaphorical speech can also serve as a basis of developing new reality we want to experience – in any aspect of  life. It can trigger ideas for solutions and new approaches to problems, even when it comes to your career choice.

Instead of saying:” I’m confused, I don’t know what I want, what I want to do”, we can also say:

“Everything is blur and fogy around me,

 I can’t see clearly.

If I walk I might trip and fall.”

This kind of perspective can further opens door to new possibilities instead locking us down in our own thinking, leaving us feeling deprived, depressed or miserable. The above metaphor might apply the need for taking cautious, baby steps, trying to focus on one thing at the time (trying to find direction in dense fog and search for light).

This kind of approach can lead to development of healthy narrative identity, as defined by Northwestern University psychologist Dan McAdams. As further described in this article McAdams sees

narrative identity as an internalized story you create about yourself — your own personal myth. Like myths, our narrative identity contains heroes and villains that help us or hold us back, major events that determine the plot, challenges overcome and suffering we have endured. When we want people to understand us, we share our story or parts of it with them; when we want to know who another person is, we ask them to share part of their story.

How we perceive our lives also leads to “narrative choices” we make. If we are able to see anything good in our past experiences and have that internalized narrative that sheds a light of growth and improvement,  is the key to crafting a positive identity, having control over your life and that you are able to overcome life’s obstacles.

And I often like to say “we can’t change the past, but we can rewrite it”. Poetry can help us  to tell a different story about ourselves. Our capabilities, our desires, but also understanding of different perspectives. But most importantly, as poetry ask you to access your deepest and most hidden thoughts and parts of your personality, it can help you realize what you really want, what is your potential and how to realize it.

To complement this reading I also invite you to read this post about benefits of having  purpose statement and vision for your personal development.


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The poetic determination: Ella Wheeler Wilcox on positive thinking and how that impacts success in life

ellawilcox

On a few occasions I have used poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox in my posts and I have always found her verse to be very empowering and inspirational. For that reason, I’ve decided to explore further her philosophy on life and how that impacted her way of thinking and writing

Ella was born in Johnstown, Wisconsin in 1850 and her writing has made significant influence on the late 19th century american poetry. She began writing her poetry very early and managed to get published by the time she graduated from high school. Her writing is remarked by plain and simple rhyme style, which made her poetry accessible across diverse generations and very popular. She was also famous for writing about everyday human problems and struggles.

Lesser known facts are that at times she faced struggle herself when her work was rejected – once even 10 times. But her continues optimism and faith in persistence gave her courage to endure. She writes:

From reincarnated sources and through prenatal causes I was born with unquenchable hope and unfaltering faith in God and guardian spirits.  I often wept myself to sleep after a day of disappointments and worries but woke in the morning singing aloud with the joy of life.

I always expected wonderful things to happen to me.

In some of my hardest days when everything went wrong with everybody at home and all my manuscripts came back for six weeks at a time without one acceptance, I recall looking out of my little north window upon the lonely road bordered with lonelier Lombardy poplars, and thinking, ‘Before night something beautiful will happen to change everything.’  There was so much I wanted.

…Once I read a sentence which became a life motto to me.  ‘If you haven’t what you like, try to like what you have.’  I bless the author for that phrase it was such a help to me.

The trust she had in her work gave her strength to go through all negative events that followed her writer’s life. Seeing the positive side in every misfortune and the way she cheered herself is timeless wisdom we all as writers can adhere. What kind of power our thoughts have she also wrote in one of her poems:

I hold it true that thoughts are things
Endowed with bodies, breath, and wings,
And that we send them forth to fill
The world with good results – or ill

The desire of wanting something so badly is the drive that goes beyond any negative opinion someone else can hold against us. And in spite all stay gentle and kind:

It is easy to be pleasant when life flows by like a song, but the man worth while is the one who will smile when everything goes dead wrong. For the test of the heart is trouble, and it always comes with years, and the smile that is worth the praises of earth is the smile that shines through the tears.”

Always continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever you choose, if you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox died in 1919, with poetry collections left behind her: Poems of Passion (1883), A Woman of the World (1904), Poems of Peace(1906), Poems of Experience (1910), and Poems (1919).

For this is wisdom- to love and live
To take what fate or the Gods may give,
To ask no question, to make no prayer,
To kiss the lips and caress the hair,
Speed passion’s ebb as we greet its flow,
To have and to hold, and, in time–let go.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

To further explore the topic on power of belief, I recommend:

  1. 3 reasons why we should “revisit” our core beliefs, from time to time
  2.  Removing your biggest obstacle towards success: fear of failure

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Why self-help books will not help you to move ahead with your business

thoreau

About 10 years ago I was in a sort of a turning point in my life, when I decided to radically change the course of my professional orientation – from geology and natural sciences I swam into managerial waters. Somehow my easy-going, free research spirit started to be molded by managerial principles, business rules and ext. I was still involved with natural sciences, but on the other side of fence: instead of exploring I was learning how to manage resources and it included entirely different way of thinking… and enjoying company of different people.

My business school professors and colleagues had a list of books that if you want to survive in the business world is a MUST read. Some of them included famous Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. As much as I agree and wholeheartedly advocate the habit of positive thinking, I do find that these type of books have a certain limitations if you try to live by their implied rules and suggestions.

The real world does not operate as the self-help gurus would want you to believe. Focus on consumption, consumerism, acquiring more of material stuff, while neglecting spiritual and purposeful side of our existing in the world is only contributing to already soulless corporate system. We all want to be better than we are or used to be, but instead of money and material wealth to be our measure of success, we should focus on contribution, value, integrity and sharing.

To really live is to experience life in all its manifestations, but that’s not the obstacle to live in the state of love, empathy and caring. My reading list of books to help you move ahead is accordingly a little bit different.

I would recommend:

Walden by Henry Thoreau, which takes you on the journey of discovering real treasurers in life. It helped me to appreciate more life and enjoy the gifts we all have.

The second one is the Wendell Berry’s Collected Poems: 1957-1982. In one of his poems he writes:

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Metaphorically speaking, poet encourages us to seek the meaning in things like family and spirituality, to look deep inside ourselves in order to find peace and harmony. In his poems, every word is entwined with love for nature and community and he writes with such sureness and agility, that is so easy to absorb any of his thoughts. It’s a great reminder that how we integrate ourselves in the world around us, what are our core beliefs and purpose is the measure of success. Finding purpose everyday in your life is your shortcut to success.

 

Removing your biggest obstacle towards success: fear of failure

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life–think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.

              ~Swami Vivekananda

We’ve all been there and done that. Fear of failure. It’s a cold, paralyzing emotion that simply stops you from being what you want to be, do what you want to do – simply live your life openly, freely, without judgment and regret. So what can we do about it?

Well the truth is, WE ARE the only ones who can do something about it. Nobody can do it for us, as well as nobody can succeed except us. It’s our hard work, devotion and commitment.

And I would say that we all have to invest time and work when we want to get rid of that fear: an obstacle that can make our life miserable, sometimes making us feel even sorry for ourselves while watching other people having fun and enjoying life.

Illustration of a cloud and a ladder

It’s interesting that only one change in my daily routine gave me so many different perspectives on various aspects of my life – including success and fear of failure. When I started regularly writing poetry it opened my mind to so many possibilities and different ways of thinking that every part of my life improved for the better. At the beginning I was so happy that I just, you know, began to write. With time, somehow, doubt began to creep in and  I started to look for flaws: Could I’ve written something better? Could I’ve express myself more precise? Why didn’t I come up with that word (while reading the work of other aspiring authors)? But then, I tried to cheer myself: “I can write another poem, and another poem. The previous one is nor bad nor good. It’s just a reflection of one moment of my life, my thoughts…it doesn’t define me. Tomorrow I can do it better”.

And these thoughts made me look more deeply at the essence of our fear of failure. The truth is: you cannot fail. These are also the words of my favorite teacher dr Wayne Dyer, that passed away recently. You cannot fail. You can only produce certain result. In one particular moment of time it reflects your efforts, mistakes, fears and joys. But it is not who you are. There is always another try, another poem to write, another story to tell, another project to start, another person to meet, another vacation to travel. You are never late. It’s just one moment in time, not a failure.

In this whole process I would also suggest that we should revisit our beliefs about success and failure. When I look back 20 years ago, I was very ambitious, eager. I had a lot of energy and motivation – simply I could “conquer” the world. And my notion of success in that time and now differ a lot. Now, I would do many things differently. In the first place, take care more of my health. And sometimes I wonder: “Did I really follow my goals under my terms, or somebody else’s? Because, many times society implies what is success. Yet, is that success for me? What’s expected from me – is that what I really want”?

So next time you hesitate to try something new, look at things from different perspective and ask yourself: “What is my definition of success? Am I living under my terms? Am I giving my best? What would’ve happen if I only try – without getting attached to the outcome”?

Success is counted sweetest by Emily Dickinson

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory

As he defeated-dying
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!