Sometimes the right question in the right moment is all you need. Once, when I was teaching a large group of people, a participant made a joking comment about me that got a laugh from the others. This joke sent me swirling down into a story about what kind of a person the participant was, what the people who overheard that comment must think of me and how that comment would surely undermine my credibility as a teacher. It was distracting and took energy away from my ability to be the teacher I wanted to be.
Thankfully my boss, who has an uncanny ability to know what to say asked me a question that immediately turned the whole situation on its head. “Could you think of any positive reasons the person may have said that?”
It took me a second to step out of my negative downward spiral, but I soon realized that the person and I have a congenial relationship and perhaps he made that comment because he knew I had a good sense of humor and was strong enough to handle the ribbing. Immediately I shifted from assuming everyone thought I was a rube to thinking everyone might see me as confident, funny and comfortable in my own skin. The sinking feeling in my stomach dissipated, and I could move on.
This story has been staying with me as I have been coping with the unknowns, fear, daily challenges and sweeping changes that come like waves day after day during this COVID-19 pandemic. During this time many opportunities to practice shifting my perspective have surfaced, and I have zeroed in on a few questions that have enabled me to pivot and see things in a different way.
Continue reading “Move from Fear to Balance by Asking Yourself the Right Questions”
I used to love taking magazine quizzes to learn more about myself. I thought it would be fun to create a quiz to help you find out what scientific career path may be the best fit for you. Be open-minded while taking the quiz and remember that this is just for fun!
1. My greatest strength is:
a) My artistry
b) My perseverance
c) My attention to detail
d) My problem solving skills
e) My personality- I get along with everyone
Continue reading “Pop Quiz: What Scientific Job is Right for You?”
I never hated my trips to the dentist until the anesthetic injection didn’t work and I felt everything the dentist was doing as he relentlessly drilled my molar. We eventually figured out why the injection didn’t work and solved the problem. I have had numerous pain-free visits since then, yet each time I’m in that chair my mind is anticipating impending doom.
The last time I went to the dentist, I decided to try a different approach. Instead of sitting in the chair anxiously awaiting all the things that might go wrong, I decided to “zoom out” in my mind. I watched my thoughts and reactions, just to see what would happen. I found that each time I thought I might experience pain, I tensed my jaw, tightened my fists, my heart raced and I made myself uncomfortable. The dentist wasn’t causing any pain in that moment, so the only thing making me uncomfortable was my reaction to my thoughts of “This is going to hurt. Get me out of here!”. I tried refocusing my attention, bringing myself into the present moment. If there was no pain, I didn’t need to be bracing myself for it. If there was a little pain, I was able to be with it in the moment instead of feeling it and then painting a worst-case scenario about how much longer it would last and if it might get worse.
Continue reading “Trying New Ways to Manage Pain”
Humans are, by nature, creatures of habit. The Experts Blog from the Cleveland Clinic tells us up to 95% of our thoughts are repeated every day–habitual thoughts, and they can take root in our lives without our conscious realization. Habits help us get through the day. Imagine having to wake up each morning and decide what you should do next. Knowing that you need to shower, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, etc. saves us some major brain power. Problems can occur when our habits unknowingly become incongruent with our values and goals. Many of us have habits that no longer serve us, such as smoking, the way we respond to our spouse or the thoughts we have about ourselves. These habits can keep us stuck and they don’t leave much room for creative thought and solving problems.
The obvious question is “how can we break free from obstructive habits?” Committing to just 10-15 minutes of meditation per day will create changes in the brain that allow you to increase the time between stimulus and response, which will give you greater freedom in how you respond and react. The cultivation of conscious awareness through meditation, therefore, can help us break habits that are unhealthy or that are no longer serving us. Just by recognizing our habits and placing our attention on them they will begin to soften. With commitment we can begin to see these habits change.
If you want to try an experiment, pay attention to the choices you make and your reactions over the next few days. Make a mental note of these thoughts and reactions and decide if they are in line with your values. You may also begin to notice what triggers precede these habitual responses. If they are thoughts or actions you’d like to change, make an intention to respond differently next time. No one can break these deeply rooted patterns all at once, but by noticing and deciding what you’d like to do differently, you will be taking a huge step forward in the process.
Recruiters aren’t pessimists, but throughout the years we have become more cautious and maybe a little suspicious. Many of us interviewed enough candidates that we have come to approach each new person with a “trust but verify” mentality. I’m very trusting in my personal life, but at work, my job is to be a detective. I follow clues to dig up the good, the bad, and the ugly.
During a recent talk with fellow recruiters, we realized there are some things many candidates say that perk up our sleuth ears every single time. These answers may be coming from a truthful and benign place, but they raise suspicions in any good recruiter. The average candidate has no idea what other candidates are saying, so I’m here to share. Recruiters hear these answers often and, take it from us, you’ll come off better in your interview if you avoid them. Continue reading “Five Interview Responses Recruiters Can See Right Through”
I’m a list person. You may know people like me—we are the ones who start compiling a list of items to pack for vacation a month in advance; we wouldn’t be caught in a grocery store without a carefully curated grocery list (often organized by department), and we have been known to write down previously completed items on our to-do list just to experience the satisfaction of crossing them off. The internet is full of lists and I love comparing other people’s checklists against my own to make sure I have what I need.
Some call my list-making zeal a curse, some call it a gift. Whatever you call it, I’d like to share with you my suggestions of items to bring to your next onsite interview (in list form, of course). Whether you are as passionate about lists as I am or not, I think it can help. Packing for an onsite interview in advance can help you feel calm, confident and prepared; which is exactly what an interviewer wants to see. When getting ready for an interview, be sure to pack: Continue reading “Interview Day Checklist”
Mindfulness is all over the news these days, with people touting research-backed benefits like stress reduction, better grades, improved emotional regulation and even boosting you towards your weight loss goals. Here at Promega we have offered yoga classes and meditation sessions for years, and we just finished an 8 week internally developed mindfulness training program.
The approach was to present mindfulness techniques in a “profoundly lighthearted” way. As participants, we were encouraged to be our own test subjects and experiment. In the 30-minute Friday group sessions we learned about a new aspect of mindfulness through teachings, stories and practice and were then encouraged to practice throughout the week. The results were nothing less than life-changing for some participants. Here are a few techniques you can experiment with incorporating into your life.
Continue reading “ProMindful”
Next time you have a job interview, try not to think of it as a question and answer session, but instead think of it as an opportunity to tell your story. Boring questions tend to lead to boring answers, so that’s what recruiters and hiring managers often get. Before reciting a canned answer to the question “How would you describe your leadership style?” or “What is your greatest strength?”, take a step back and come up with a story to explain your answer. You’ll come across as more charming, a great communicator and the interviewer will get a chance to know you better. Continue reading “Tell Me Your Story”
When searching for a job it’s important to consider the job duties as well as the company and the company’s culture. Two companies have become famous for their cultures—Google and Zappos. Google is known as a company where you work hard in an amazing environment. Oh, and the food is free! Zappos is known as a place where employees are valued, and customer service is the first priority. Here at Promega, science rules, employee well-being is extremely important, and you can make a big impact regardless of your job title.
If you are able to find a company with an appealing culture and similar values to your own, it is a win-win situation. You will likely be happier in your job and therefore a better performer.
Here are some questions that you can ask to learn about the company culture and figure out if it is a fit with your personality and needs. These questions can be asked in an interview or in an informational conversation with someone in your network before you apply for a job. Keep in mind that there is no right answer to these questions. Some people thrive in government jobs while others have more of an entrepreneurial spirit; you need to figure out what type of culture will work best for you. Continue reading “Culture Rules- Investigating Company Cultures”
Want to continue improving your performance at work? Want to make your boss and co-workers truly appreciate you? Lucky for you, tis the season for resolutions and I have some ideas for you. Check out the list below for some easy ideas that can make you and your boss happier in 2014. Do you have more ideas about how to rev your career engine? Share them with us in the comments!
- Ask for feedback often. And not just during the company’s formal review period.
- Actively build your network on LinkedIn.
- Bring a positive attitude to work.
- Build a cross-functional network of people within your organization who can help you get things done.
- Find and follow some good blogs related to your field. By reading this blog you already have a head-start. Good for you!
- Update your resume, even if you aren’t looking. It’s good to have a running list of your accomplishments.
- Tell your manager about your career goals.
- Be punctual. It’s a small thing, but arriving on time for work and meetings shows respect.
- Identify and take on a project to improve your team.
- Make friends. People are happier and better employees when they have friends at work.
- Organize your life. Check out Getting Things Done by David Allen, and then actually implement the solutions.
- Learn to be a cheerleader for your co-workers. This will help create a supportive community.
- Take a vacation. You’ll be happier and more productive when you return.
- Update your facebook account so it is private to anyone except for your friends (your potential future boss does not need to see your selfies).