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Don’t be an elephant!

I recently heard an excellent story told by Dave Ramsey on his podcast, EntreLeadership.  The message sparked a profound awakening in me and my hope is that it does the same for you.  It went something like this…

You know how circuses tame a baby elephant?

They drive a “giant” metal stake deep into the ground with an “enormous” chain from it tied to the elephant’s ankle.  The infant mammal fights with all her might until eventually coming to an understanding that she cannot free herself.  Soon enough a mindset formulates, she accepts the situation, and no longer attempts moving the stake.

You know how they restrain her years later as a full grown, mighty adult?

They drive a “little” steak into the ground with a “tiny” rope from it tied to the elephant’s ankle.  Ironically, she chooses not to move.  Why?  The only thing holding this 10,000-pound mammal back is her belief in the past.

elephant-shackled

The reality is that many of us err on the side of perceived limitations, those that aren’t necessarily real.  Like the elephant in the story, we become immobile by past beliefs or at least they constrain us in some way.  By believing them, of what we can and cannot do, we become blind to future possibilities.  In doing so we impoverish our full potential.

Ask yourself, “What confines am I imposing on myself at work…are they real or just made up?”

Evaluate the story you might be telling yourself about goals.  Then shatter any limited beliefs that are holding you back.  The story of the elephant reminded me, and hopefully you, that we are confined only by the walls we build ourselves.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

 

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

Follow me on Twitter @JimCarchidi

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You don’t know what you’re missing!

Written by Cindy M., Recruiter & Assistant Team Manager – JFC Workforce  

Prior to my current work family I spent six years in the insurance industry as a case manager.  In that period of time I learned many things but was never ‘formally’ introduced to the concept of professional development.  After my time in the insurance industry I was hired by JFC Workforce.  It was a foreign world and industry to me however I was excited to embark on a different path.  That was three years ago and “wow” was I in for an awakening.

It was at JFC where I was propelled into being a student of deliberate learning; not just about the industry but also about myself.  It was a pivotal moment where professional development was infused into my mindset.

From the very first day, heck the very first hour, it was apparent that my employer genuinely cared about my personal and professional growth. Several of the VP’s spent one on one time with me and welcomed me to the team.  The CEO even spent time to learn about me and explain the vision and culture.  It was quite surreal.  It was also during those first few encounters that it sunk in…”I had gained a second family, my JFC family.”

I was dedicated to their philosophy of pursuing my better self and it was noticed.  Most recently I was selected for JFC’s Professional Development program – when each year a select few team members are entrenched in executive mentoring, consultation, coaching, as well as lesson study, and of course, team building activities.

So what did I learn?  

I was introduced to the topic of Emotional Intelligence and the “why” behind it.  If you have never heard of this, I urge you to look it up.  Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is critical to self development.

Here is the essence of EQ:

  • Self-awareness – Your ability to accurately perceive your emotions and stay aware of them as they happen. This includes keeping you on top of how you ten to respond to specific situations and certain people.
  • Self-Management – Your ability to use awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and positively direct your behavior. This means managing your emotional reactions to all situations and people.
  • Social Competence – The combination of  your social awareness and relationship management skills. It’s more about how you are with other people.
  • Social Awareness – Your ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and get what is really going on. This often means understanding what other people are thinking and feeling, even if you don’t feel the same way.
  • Relationship Management – Your ability to use aware of your emotions and the emotions of others to manage interactions successfully. Letting emotional awareness guide clear communication and effective handling of conflict.

Now I know what professional development really means…

Throughout my tenure at JFC I have been pushed to grow, to develop myself as a person. Most surprising to me was that learning doesn’t have to feel like work.  When done right, it is very energizing!

It also does not need to be in a formal setting, like a classroom.  Sometimes it is as simple as getting together with a group of colleagues to share experiences and provide support .

I imagine not many employees of other organizations can say the same.  After all, what have you learned this past month, week, day?

 

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“Big Brother” meets “Undercover Boss”

Undercover-bossImagine if a reality TV crew followed us around for an entire work week.  Think “Big Brother” meets “Undercover Boss.”  What would they see?

While many of us think that we are 100% effective at work, the truth is that we allow distractions to creep into our routines.  We create busyness such as checking our handheld devices, checking Facebook, browsing websites for irrelevant articles, and so on.  Busyness is not effectiveness; and it certainly will not bring us closer to achieving our best.

Effectiveness is about managing your priorities, not time, so to work smarter rather than harder.  It is finding methods to be more productive in less time.  It is how much you get out of an hour as opposed to how many hours you spend.  As business guru John C. Maxwell says, “Time is an equal opportunity employer; everybody gets 24 hours a day, no more, no less – but not everybody gets the same return on their 24 hours.”

But what about all the unplanned interruptions?  Admittedly you cannot eliminate interruptions.  On the contrary, you do get a say on how much time you will spend on them.  It is in your power to decide what gets your time and attention and how much of it.

I think it safe to say that all of us could benefit from tweaking at least a few of our daily activities to become more effective.  It’s time to remove any self-sabotage or self-limitation you have around “not having enough time.”  Prioritize and schedule your work week for maximum impact, develop and maintain focus, and motivate yourself to achieve extraordinary things!

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

 

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Separation: It’s good for problem solving

It turns out that the advice Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) gave Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) in the 1991 hit movie “What about Bob?” was more than the premise of a funny movie. In the comedy, therapist Dr. Marvin tells patient Bob Wiley to “take a vacation from his problems”.

And sure enough while on vacation Wiley finds the answers to his greatest problems.

What about BobWe have all been stumped by a problem at work that seemingly has no answer to it.  In that moment we conclude that we have approached it from every angle, and yet there is no apparent solution.

During those pressure cooker moments, we find ourselves in the weeds – no longer seeing the forest through the trees.  Our minds become hyper focused on what’s in front of us and begin to shut down.  We tell ourselves, “I will just work longer nights at the office…or…I can cut out my morning walks and come in earlier.”

More often than not, this is the wrong approach.

Our professional lives are routinely interrupted by extraordinary challenges; those by which we no longer see light at the end of the tunnel.  It seems counter-intuitive but this is when you should create space and distance yourself from the problem.  Don’t take it from me, take it from NASA.

In 1993 NASA suffered extra pressure and great stress when the Hubble Space Telescope broke down.  They faced a daunting task of figuring out how to go up in space and fix the distorted mirror inside the telescope.  For months the brightest minds in NASA couldn’t identify a solution.

Then one day NASA engineer, Jim Crocker, was taking a shower in a hotel and noticed how the shower head was mounted on adjustable rods with folding arms.  Eureka!  The answer did not appear while working late hours in the lab.  It occurred when Jim was in the shower on vacation, when he created space (no pun intended) from the perplexity of his problem.

Why does creating space work?

Your brain is like any muscle in your body.  Imagine lifting weights multiple times per week but only on biceps.  Doing so will surely strain and fatigue those muscles.  Thus, when you are consumed by constantly tackling the same challenge at work, you actually lose mental energy needed to identify solutions.  This is when it’s time to create space!

Let me be perfectly clear.  I am not suggesting you kick the can down the road and embrace avoidance. That will simply create additional problems. But like Bob Wiley, or Jim Crocker, you may find answers to your greatest problem when you take a vacation from the problem.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

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What Really is Professional Development?

This month’s blog was written by Will Richard of the JFC family.  A little about his military service: 4 years in the Army with a year tour in Iraq, Rank:  Sergeant, Company:  756th EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), MOS/Job: EOD/Bomb Squad

The term “professional development” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In its simplest form, it is the continual process of acquiring new skills and knowledge as it applies to their career. It requires turning your focus inward to self-reflect and take an honest appraisal of yourself. In my own self-reflection I found that there were two areas that had the greatest potential for personal and professional growth. Figuring out how to lead by inspiration rather than fear, and learning how to better handle personal issues when they leak into the business world.

It’s easy for managers to try and lead by fear and intimidation. While in the military, fear was the main tool taught and used on a daily basis. From basic training to everyday life, fear was used by most people in charge to keep the troops in line. It’s a quick and easy way to get people to listen and do what you say. Fear has its limits, though, making people comply only enough to avoid what causes their fear. Whether that’s a talking to, a ton of push-ups, or even losing their job. Fear is a short term solution and when it is removed so is the motivation. That’s why I’ve devoted a lot of my professional development energy to learning new and superior tools. I want to inspire and lead, not just manage through intimidation.

Fear is an easy, one size fits all method. And as most good leaders know, it is rarely the easy way that’s the optimal way. In order to get best results from people you have to take a more nuanced approach that’s tailored to each individual. You must find what makes them tick and what makes them want to give their best. This takes time and can be very difficult because it requires a leader to spend energy and use tools that are much more complicated. Fear is the fast food of a leader’s tool kit. Quick and easy but it won’t give you the best results. Over reliance on it can have devastating long term effects.

Fear is a strong emotion, but many strong emotions can creep into the workplace. I’ve always been very good at learning new processes, solving unique issues and handling stressful situations, but if you put a crying person in front of me I’ll have no idea how to handle it, or at least, that’s how I used to be. This can be a problem if you’re leading a team because, no matter how hard we try, personal circumstances can infiltrate the workplace. Growth as a professional for me has meant learning how to handle emotions in the right way at work.

fear

It becomes a delicate balancing act of showing concern for your fellow employees without overstepping boundaries. Some people like sharing and having others involved in their personal lives, while others are very closed and guarded. Showing care without pushing too far and maintaining a professional working relationship can be difficult. This is where learning different strategies for handling unique situations is so important. Talking out real and hypothetical situations with others who have experience is an excellent tool in a leader’s toolkit.

Ultimately, I want to be the type of leader that motivates and inspires my team to reach their full potential rather than bark orders and get the bare minimum. In order to do this, I will continue to hone my management tools, adding new ones and adjusting others for the situation. I’ll continue to balance being there for others in their time of need with the needs of the company. I’m still not much of a hugger, but if an awkward hug will brighten your day, then feel free to stop by anytime.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

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How will you pursue your better self?

So many of us are not deliberate or intentional about our own professional development.  Maybe it’s fear, maybe its complacency, or a little of both.  No matter what the reason(s), all are unacceptable.  Rather than go with the flow we should routinely stretch our boundaries and push out of our comfort zone.

Legendary leadership guru, John Maxwell, said it best, “The smallest crowd you will ever lead is you – but it’s the most important one.  The first person we must examine is ourselves.  If you don’t look at yourself realistically, you will never understand where your personal difficulties lie.  And if you can’t see them, you won’t be able to lead yourself effectively.”

My personal advice…focus on the present.  Don’t put off today what you should have started yesterday.  Do something today that your future self will thank you for.  When you’re constantly focused on the future you’re actually much less productive in the current moment.  No one can control the future BUT what you do today will influence it.

future self

My personal request…take action and repeat.  When was the last time you read a book about professional development?  When was the last time you listened to a Podcast for learning?  When was the last time you sought out a mentor?  How about video TedTalks?

Discover untapped abilities by working toward your full potential; never stop growing into your better self.  Be a driving force that contributes to your future self!

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

Follow me on Twitter @JimCarchidi

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@ Work, How Do You Create Space?

In 1993 NASA suffered extra pressure and great stress when the Hubble Space Telescope broke down.  They faced a daunting task of figuring out how to go up in space and fix the distorted mirror inside the telescope.  For months the brightest minds in NASA couldn’t identify a solution.

Then one day NASA engineer, Jim Crocker, was taking a shower in a hotel and noticed how the shower head was mounted on adjustable rods with folding arms.  Eureka!  The answer did not appear while working late hours in the lab.  It occurred when Jim was in the shower on vacation, when he created space (no pun intended) from the perplexity of his problem.

Mindset spaceCreating space allows our minds to process thoughts more freely and creatively.  Heck, Newton discovered gravity when sitting under an apple tree.  It requires purposeful separation from the typical problem solving environment in order to let your thoughts move more freely.  It happens when thinking on a problem while out for a stroll, riding a bike, or sitting out in nature (under an apple tree).

Why does creating space work?  Your brain is like any muscle in your body.  Imagine lifting weights multiple times per week but only on biceps.  Doing so will surely strain and fatigue those muscles.  Thus, when you are consumed by constantly tackling the same challenge at work, you actually lose mental energy needed to identify solutions.  This is when it’s time to create space!

June is the halfway mark.  You are six months into 2016.  Are you where you should be? Are you where you want to be?  Take time, create space, and allow deep thought to happen.  The goal is not to be perfect – it is just to be better than before.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

The greatest compliment I can receive is a referral from readers.  Please SHARE my blog with your network.  Thanks for not keeping us a secret!  

Follow me on Twitter @JimCarchidi

 

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Vulnerability & Professional Development

What does Professional Development mean to me…

By Jen Silvetti, JFC Workforce Branch Manager 

Honestly- I didn’t know what it was until I started working at JFC.  Every other job previously was just that, a job.  I showed up on time every day and worked to the best of my ability.  Not until I joined the JFC work family did my professional and personal worlds collide so drastically.

I started almost 4 years ago in, what I thought would be, a job.  I still was showing up on time and working to the best of my ability.  Then only after one year I heard a knock at the door- it was opportunity. (I know it sounds cliché doesn’t it?)

Well, for those who know my personality, I am one to take advantage of opportunity.  This meant stepping into the role of Branch Manager in the very branch I was already working in.  Wow- can you imagine?  There I sat managing those who I called my team just the week prior. What was I getting into?  I will admit, it took some time to find my way.

My previous life of corralling preschoolers and probationers did not prepare me for this new world of Staffing and Management- wait yes it did.

I was not managing, I was coaching.  Everything I have done up until this point has shaped me in some way.  My life has created a virtual tool belt and I get to utilize it every day.  One has no idea what tool she will be called to use at a moments notice.  Since working with our Chief Enthusiasm Officer (Jimmy) and the JFC work family, I have been provided with a never ending supply of tools.

What I needed most was to be vulnerable; being afraid to make mistakes and fail.  Or as someone that I met just recently referred to them, see the opportunities in every failure.

How cool is that?

human eye tearingWith this mindset, you have nothing more to do than grow. All these years, I had no idea that being vulnerable was even “a thing” until I heard it and read more about it. I had always thought that this was a sign of weakness and a flaw I had. Since working at JFC, I have grown comfortable embracing vulnerability.  I now know that it is merely something to be conscious of and continue to work through.

Vulnerable by many means, “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.” Susceptible yes- but you must have the courage to face it.

Over the last few years, I have learned how to cope, manage and coach through my vulnerabilities throughout my development.  JFC has provided such a variety of ways to do this.  I have never in any workplace felt so respected and encouraged. I feel safe enough to make mistakes and question things as long as I still have the openness to keep getting better (and receive feedback).

Also, I am no better or worse than anyone else. These skills that I have learned, and continue to learn, not only help me the 40 hours a week at work but also with my personal life. I am so excited and passionate about my growth, I love sharing it with others anytime I can.  As you can imagine, not everyone is open and vulnerable.  But I will continue to learn and share as much as I can.

Thank you to JFC for showing me how important Professional Development is!

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

 

 

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The World Needs Less Managers: More Coaches

The Coaching Management Philosophy:
In this new edition of the Vistage podcast series, Vistage member Dave Nelsen interviews Jim Carchidi, the CEO (Chief Enthusiasm Officer) of JFC Staffing Companies, a direct hire and temporary placement company. JFC Staffing Companies was originally started by Jim’s parents, who built it from the ground up, and passed it onto Jim.  In this discussion, they talk about what makes a good leader and a positive work environment during a time when there are high levels of employee dissatisfaction.

Happy Employees Lead to Happy Customers
Jim’s company was chosen as one of the best places to work in Pennsylvania, based entirely on anonymous feedback from employees (versus companies submitting an application). They have also been named to Inavero’s Best of Staffing Client List, indicating that happy employees leads to happy customers. A recent Gallup poll states that about 70% of the American workforce is not engaged, and Jim finds this to be an “epidemic.” To him, having a happy, enthusiastic workforce is just as important as having a satisfied customer.

The Coaching Management Philosophy
According to Jim, leaders need to learn to take the “chief problem solving hat off” and really listen to the input of their employees. Employee success equals company success and often they see things that someone with a big picture scope — like a coach on a football field — might not see as clearly. Listening to people needs to be personal, and management can’t try to take on the tasks of fixing everything single-handedly. A company is a team, and the leaders are the coaches.

The Power of Communication
Jim’s staff endeavors to be high-tech, as well as high-touch, ensuring that the use of today’s technologies doesn’t hinder personal interaction between human beings. He stresses that management communication sessions every month are vital to ensure continued improvements in employee performance. “It is unfair to rely on the annual review as the only time to give and get feedback about performance and management style,” he says, “not only for the employee who might be garnering criticism that comes seemingly out of left field, but also for the employer, who may have had to tolerate a full year of sub-par performance.” Communication, he stresses, is key, particularly face-to-face communication.

Express the Goals of the Company
One of the things Jim learned from a Vistage speaker was to articulate the grand scheme, long-term visionary ideas for their company, and to involve his employees in the development in the implementation of those ideas. He was taught to send a letter outlining the goals for the company to his employees home, where their families might also read it and get involved.

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WWII POW & Choice: Lesson Learned

How did you reflect on memorial day?

Thanks to the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve our country, we are granted freedom.  Unfortunately, far too many of us never fully appreciate and leverage our single greatest freedom: choice.

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor says, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Now imagine it is World War II and you survived a horrific plane crash, followed by a seven-week journey across the Pacific in a raft only to face near starvation and unspeakable torture in Japanese POW camps.  This is the true story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini.  His tale is one of those that would be dismissed as fiction if it was not known to be true.

When all of his extrinsic freedoms were taken away he relied on his greatest intrinsic one, choice of mindset.  Rather than choose victimhood, and of all circumstances this would seem acceptable, he focused on a future of possibilities.  His positive mindset not only saved his own life but that of countless other POW’s.

You might recognize this story.  Angelina Jolie did a movie on his remarkable survival called, “Unbroken.”

As you enjoy the start of your summer, remember our armed servicemen/women, and your freedom of choice in mindset.  It is the most powerful of all our freedoms.

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