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10 Tips To Achieving The Ideal Internship Mindset

The student-employee role played by the intern provides a unique opportunity to learn lessons about the workplace and yourself that will serve you throughout your career.  The tips that follow will prepare you with the mindset necessary to the make the most of that opportunity.
  1. Be an anthropologist, not a missionary.
    1. Be a curious, open, respectful, and nonjudgmental invited guest.
    2. Employees have strong opinions about people and things and you may develop strong opinions as well. It is very important not to voice strong opinions (like the missionary), take a side in an issue or make unsolicited suggestions, since you don’t know who may feel insulted or resentful.  Instead, cultivate your curiosity and focus your mental energies on understand all the factors that drive different opinions.
  2. Despite any promises and job or program descriptions, assume nothing and be prepared for anything
  3. Insist on not insisting on anything
  4. Set expectations based on reality – not the other way aroundAppreciate all opportunities and stay positive, positive, positive
  5. Do the best you can – that’s all you can do
  6. Be aware of yourself as an interconnected part of a community
  7. Welcome frustrating experiences
    1. Insist on learning from adversity
    2. Notice your thoughts and feelings in response to the various situations and interactions you experience. Learn what pushes your buttons and gets you to overreact
    3. The most important learning outcome is the ability to experience everything around you without fighting, fleeing or freezing.
  8. Those mundane tasks that seem beneath you are a great opportunity to distinguish yourself.
  9. Give and get the most out of every role and relationship
  10. Keep a journal of your experiences, challenges, and lessons learned.
Cultivating and maintaining these habits take time and discipline.  No human being can adhere to these standards for very long, especially under pressure when your survival instincts will be push you toward defensive action and reaction.  Its best to think of these as aspirational values that can keep you on course.
Whatever time and energy you commit to achieving this mindset wont be wasted since it stays pretty much the same throughout your career!

To The Graduating Class of 2014

Dear Class of 2014:    Like it or not, you are venturing into new territory as you begin your career journeys.  America no longer has the dominance it once had and given the pace of change across every dimension that influences American industry, no one quite knows for sure what the new rules for career success will be long term.   But with several years of teaching and coaching individuals and teams struggling to compete and thrive, I want to share what I have observed about the the differences between those who have thrived and those who have been overwhelmed in this environment.  And I want to focus on what, for me, is most essential to understand — how to avoid being a victim and instead, leverage your personal power to achieve your goals in the real world of personalities, insecurities, territoriality, and lets not forget — unprecedented opportunity!

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Self-Awareness: The most powerful predictor of success

Unlike school, where the emphasis was on learning the “what”, “why” and “how” of the world, the cornerstone of workplace success is about the “who.”  And by “who” we mean you and enhancing your self-awareness.  We should probably take a minute to explain why exactly self-awareness is the cornerstone of Handbook For Early Career Success and Connect For Success — both advertised as offering a ’competitive edge‘ in the workplace.

Self-awareness is the most powerful predictor of workplace success. Sounds good but what does it mean?  More powerful than how smart you are or how hard you work or how motivated you are or how much you know or how experienced you are?  Come on.  How is that possible?

Glad I asked myself. Let me tell you a story that might help explain.   This is the true story of perhaps the most acclaimed competitors and champions of all time.

We meet him early in his career.  Undersized and knobby-kneed, he behaved and performed more like a burnt-out has-been than a future legend. His attitude was every bit as problematic as his physical attributes. Given to overeating and sleeping all day, what this cranky and stubborn ‘ne’er do well’ produced as a competitor, was far outweighed by what it cost to keep him around.

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