Idea's space

This blog is dedicaded to share ideas about personal and professional development.

Posts Tagged ‘challenge

How to face uncertainty?

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rock-climberIn my previous post, related to the choice of studies, I was talking about the fact that to predict the future is something becoming more and more difficult. Since now 25 years I am working, and looking around me, what is for sure is that uncertainty is growing. Who can predict now how will be the world in the next 6 months, or in the next 10 years? We try to make predictions in many areas and sometimes, we have to note that these predictions are not verified. How many times have we heard some economists explaining us the origins of financial crisis they were unable to predict.

The big question is how to face uncertainty as we don’t know in advance what the evolution will be in many domains? There are in my mind two types of uncertainty to take into account; the uncertainty linked to our environment and the evolution of it, and our own uncertainty, or I would say our own uncertainties. Facing uncertainties induce questions and make people worried. What will be my future? Will I have a job? Or simply will I be able to do this task, to face this challenge?

Our own uncertainties and the uncertainties linked to our environment interact. Most of you probably know the famous Peter Drucker’s quote saying “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself”. But to be able to create something, we need to have a good perception of the future and be able to perceive the trends and the changes of our environment.  But facing the environment uncertainties means to face also our own uncertainties, with a range of questions we are putting to ourselves. What will be the future and will I be able to face it? Have I the capabilities to face challenges and what challenges will be? To face our uncertainties means to try to know a bit more about ourselves.

To consider our own uncertainties is to be aware of our lack of knowledge and experience. By mentioning this, we underline the key role of education but also of curiosity. Education and school are the fundamental tools to develop our knowledge and capabilities. Education and knowledge will give us the opportunity to become first human being and to develop our autonomy, giving us more possibilities to make choices. This is why the role of education and the way to educate people are fundamental. It is important to develop curiosity, to encourage people to learn new things by their own, to discover new interests. To develop our knowledge is probably the best answer to the question related to my previous article: what studies have I to choose? Most of the time, it is difficult to know in advance if we will enjoy things we don’t know now.

This is why people have to be encouraged to make experiences, to be curious and to try new things. It implies the necessity to take risks. By multiplying such experience in a process of serial trials, you expand your possibilities fields and you dispel your own uncertainties. You will probably enjoy something new that you never suspected before that you could enjoy. We never know in advance what things could be if we could enjoy it or not, as we don’t know them.  Such experimentation process make that your own uncertainty dispels: you know that you enjoy something, that you are able to do it or not. By expanding your interest and experience fields, you discover new possibilities, you build new competences, but you also empower your self-confidence.

Self-confidence and competences are probably the two most important key components to dispel your own uncertainties. The development of these two components will allow you to maximize your chance to attract challenges and opportunities. With all your experiences, you will build your background, a knowledge base including information that helps you to analyze situations and to develop appropriate strategies. Nevertheless, despite the fact that success cannot be guaranteed anytime, it is also important to develop and keep critical mind. When facing a similar situation we faced by the passed, we should avoid making a copy-paste of previous solutions we applied. Things are less linear than before, and we have to take all the elements of the situation into consideration to implement solutions and action plans. It is part of an efficient learning process.

It is obvious we cannot live in an environment without uncertainty. But by developing a learning attitude, we can create a virtuous circle, where experiences and risk taking contribute to empower our self-confidence. A zero risk environment doesn’t exist, but this virtuous circle will allow us to be creative and to be stronger to face it and to quit more easily our comfort zone.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 8, 2014 at 06:07

Listen to your inner voice

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Steve Jobs, who listened to his inner voice.

In his famous speech at the Stanford university, Steve Jobs said “Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” I was remembering this sentence during a informal meeting of entrepreneurs organized by a partner.

I am used to attend some informal entrepreneurs meetings. These cessions are the opportunity to make new contacts, to expand our network, but also to hear about experiences, interesting professional ways. By sharing our respective experiences, we can note interesting things, learn about some useful solutions or advice, but also put an end to some believes.

I am always amazed by people who decides one day to take a completely different professional way. In the last cession I attended, there were two men who decided to change of professional goals, one moving from chemistry to sales of ICT hardware, and another, moving from manual activities to a training and coaching activity. Each of them explained in which circumstances they took their decisions, and by listening to their stories, I can learn or confirm a few things.

The common start point in such decision process was a dissatisfaction element. One of the guy was not satisfied about the job he was doing, and wanted to have more recognition, to look for something more interesting. The other was blamed by his boss, telling him that he will never be a good sales guy. He decided to show himself he was able to be one’s. In both cases, people want to have a better image of themselves, and are maybe noticing that there are not anymore at the right place, or never were at the right place. Suddenly, there is a shock, a flashing light in your head, meaning that you want something else. This shock brings the motivation to initiate that change process.

Such shock, such flashing light is not the only element contributing to decide to change of professional direction. It is also an effect of a long and gradual change process. Through our work, through different professional experiences, we are expanding our knowledge, acquiring competences, and sometimes, talents are emerging, a wealth you acquired day after day. The fact that you are looking for something else and that you make an assessment of your competences, make that you suddenly realized what are your competences and what new ideas you could concretize.

Of course, such transitions are not always easy, and one of the attendees, as many entrepreneurs I met, confirm such difficulties. But to launch a idea, a new business is always a challenge. The most important thing is to be focused on your goal and to persevere to reach it. It doesn’t guarantee that you will reach the success, but failure is not a fatality. By having the courage to launch a project, you will learn a lot of things, you will learn from other people you will meet. Even if you fail, don’t think that you will have to restart again. You will only take a new start, with more experience, with more knowledge. Have also the humility to share your failure experiences with other people. You will gain in credibility and break some believes that business is an easy thing. By sharing your failure experience, you will learn something to somebody else, and you will probably receive some advice from somebody else too.

To start a new business, to become an entrepreneur is always a difficult challenge. But with courages, motivation and hard work, by adapting your strategy, by meeting and working with other people, you can maximize the chance to reach your goal. But motivation can only be there if you are convinced by what you are doing, and if you have the talent to do it. Listen to your inner voice.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 9, 2012 at 23:08

Build your own way.

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Build your own way

I was recently asking a question on LinkedIn, about the best advice you ever received, related to your career or business. I received of course a lot of interesting answers. The only one who did not answer to that question was me, of course, but it is an opportunity to share my experience about that question.

When I finished my studies in finance and accounting, I remember my mother giving me a good advice. She was owner of a small metalworks factory, founded by my grand father after the second word war. She told me that “If I wanted to join the company, we have first to talk each other about this. A family business is not always an easy things, and I don’t want to have difficult work relationship with you as I had time to time with your grand father. First, do your experience somewhere else.” I remember, when I was still student, people saying to me that I had not worries as I had already the family business and I should never to have to look for a job. This remarks make me laugh today. I would say that the only thing which is an evidence is that I am the son of my mother and that’s all. I never join the family business and today, when I see the way I did, I learned a lot of things by having done it, and that is what I would like to share here.

By remembering my mother’s advice, I would translate it in another way: “Build your own way.” Nevertheless, is it a bad idea if you decide to join the family business and if you take it over later? Not necessarily, but I would says that it is important to let your footprint in it, to drive it following your goals. It is obvious that time are changing, we are leaving in a fast moving environment, and in these conditions, you will not do the same things than your parents did. In my case, I never joined the family business. I just became administrator of the company and assisted in some tasks related to the accounting and finance, but I was never part of the daily operations.

The way I did my career until now, and by not choosing to join the family business, made me think about interesting thoughts and statements.

  • It is first important to build your own way. What do you want to do as a job, what  are your goals in your life. You have only the answer to that question. And sometimes, it is not always easy to determine, because people are used to put labels on you. They are not necessarily seeing you as you are, but as they want to see you.
  • Motivation is a major key of success, in your personal as in your professional life. Choose a job you like to do, a job where you can find interest and motivation. You need to be convinced yourself, in order to convince the others, and to maximize your chance of success.
  • Avoid to live in the comparison. By choosing your job, by building your own career, you decide to be the own actor of your life, to be you and not another. If you want to be so successful than somebody else, you will be probably disappointed. Each person is different, and it is useless to try to copy somebody else. The original is always better than the copy. Be the original, not the copy.
  • Work with inspiring people: I had the chance to meet people who brought me a lot of significant things, contributing to improve my work. This is only possible if you develop harmonious relationships with people. I think it is probably more difficult as member of the family business. You will be more seen as a family member of the boss, and not as a normal collaborator.
  • Learn from your own experience. By building your own way, you will meet success and failures. Take successes as rewards, and failures as opportunities, and you will probably learn much more from your failures. Each experience will improve your know-how and is an asset to face new challenges. Your own experience will improve the way to do things, to face issues and challenges on a different way.
  • Develop your capabilities and curiosity. By setting your own goals, by building your own projects, you expand your capabilities. You discover each day who you are. And with curiosity, you will maybe discover new interests, hide talents.
  • We have not only one life. By taking over a family business, you realize maybe something you want, but you subscribe also to maintain a tradition, and maybe to do the same activity during all your life. You are always free to change, to sell your business if you want. But by choosing to take over the family business, you are more in a spirit of continuity.

You are the only one who knows what you want to do. You can always ask advices to other people, but don’t loose your critical mind. It is always important to confront the given advice and ideas to yours. What seems to be positive for somebody else, can not be seen as positive by you. Each of us, we have our own expectations, our own ambitions. These expectations and ambitions are the result of different components. It is related to our temper, to our education, but also to our own life experiences. Each of us, we have different tempers, we received different educations. We are unique, we are ourself and not somebody else. The decision to take a way or another has to be ours, and not the one of somebody else. This decision is the result of several experiences, of a brainstorming process, determining goals and expectations. It is the only way to be ourself, to be the actors of our own life, to learn and discover who we are, but also to enjoy life as we are expecting. Build your own way.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 18, 2011 at 21:40

The discomfort zone

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The comfort and discomfort zone

When I started my career beginning of the 90’s, it was still believable to do your career or a big part of it in the same company. At that time, as my second job of my career, I was joining the Belgian subsidiary of a IT Japanese company with that thought. But around two years and half later, the company was restructuring and I was part of the people who lost their job. I was not really happy at that time and the future looked a bit dark in my eyes. The reason of such darkness was also that I saw people around me, people of the generation of my parents, working since many years in the same company and loosing their job in a few minutes. To my eyes, something was changing. The world of business and of jobs will not be the same than before.

When such things happen, it is always an opportunity to analyse your background and to understand the way you did. I remember that I had my second job because there was some knowledge and experiences needed, and that I had the chance to develop this knowledge in my previous job. The experience I acquired during my first job was clearly an asset to build my career, to get other opportunities. I compared also my first job and the second one to see what was different. As first job, it is always the one where you will learn a lot because it is your first experience, but in my case, another reason was that the small structure of the company where I was working, was an environment where you have to do a range of different tasks and where you can learn a lot of different things. My second job was an interesting one, but was only focused on a specific function. I was account receivable accountant at that time. By having a look to the two years in these Japanese company, I had to note that my career and work evolution was lower than in my previous job.

By thinking about this particular change in the work world, I conclude that before, the perspective to work on a long-term basis for the same company was seen as a positive and comfortable perspective, but this statement is not true anymore today. You can maybe still work for a long time in the same company, but the most important is to make sure that you will evolve in different functions, that you will expand your skills and knowledge.

The comfort is something enjoyable when things are going well in your job. But the question is how long will it stay like this. In a fast moving environment where restructuring processes happen more and more in companies, the comfort feeling could be a danger. Skills, capabilities and experience are the guarantee to succeed in finding of job opportunities. But skills and capabilities are not something static, but dynamic. In a fast moving environment, your skills and competences have to move, to evolve too. As I mentioned before, you will probably have a job because the needed competences match with yours, but you have also to stay competitive on the job market place. It is the reason why the acquisition of new competences and the talent development is an asset and a necessity.

It is important to check time-to-time, in your professional as in your personal life where you are, where you were and where you want and have to go. When you see that things do not change a lot and that you are still in the same place, in the same function, that you do not see any evolution in your work, your career, than think that it is probably time to move to another challenge. Think also to follow some trainings in order to improve and increase your knowledge in specific areas, in some matters you are interested by and where you have really talent. Don’t do this only in your professional life, but also in your personal life, by having hobbies, fixing a goal to them and persevering in order to reach your goal. In other words, move from the comfort zone to the discomfort zone.

Move to the discomfort zone has to be an ongoing process. As many exercise, we have to be used to do it, we have to go over a certain inertia. At the beginning of my career, I was thinking to do my career in the same company. Today, as freelance consultant since few years, I cannot imagine anymore to move to such career if it would be possible.

This statement, this experience makes me take a few conclusions. In every negative event, you can always learn something and find opportunities. It is a characteristic of an entrepreneur mind, and you have to be the entrepreneur of your own life. Move to the discomfort zone will give you other opportunity, will contribute to your self-development and empower your self- confidence. Move to your discomfort zone is just a question of habit. With this, you will see that the discomfort zone is not so uncomfortable.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 2, 2011 at 21:20

Lack of talents or lack of motivation.

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The "Motivation machine"

Professional organizations are publicising figures about employment on a regular basis. Even these last times, things seem to be going better because the economy is recovering from the financial crisis, there is always a same finding. This finding is the difficulties that companies have to find and recruit some specific profiles. The lack of talents is a brake for the local economical development, and the problem will probably be more important in the coming years with the baby-boomers who will be retired. What are the reasons of such situation?

A first reason could be a weakness in the performances of the education system. An inefficient education system induces a lack of qualified people. Let us remind that a strong education is the basics of an harmonious personal development for people. Before to be workers, we are first human being and we are going at school to be first educated people, to be ourselves. By benefiting from a strong basic education, we increase the possibility to move to a larger range of studies at high school or university, and to have access to a larger range of jobs.

But is the education level the only reason of lack of talents? And what about remunerations? In this particular difficult time, it is often told to people that the salaries level has to be maintained. I know people around me applying for new job, who were asked to work with a salary decrease around 30%. As freelance consultant, I received some assignment proposal for a rate lower of 36%, and one of them was for a large company in the banking sector where the bonuses allowed to the top management did not know such decrease. By mentioning this, should not we allowed to think that the problem of missing profiles is not due to a lack of talent but to a lack of motivation from talented people. Some studies show that salary level is not the most important thing people are looking for, but they hope to have a decent salary for the job they are doing and for the related constraints they have to assume. Some people want one job or another, and are choosing the one that is well paid, what is understandable. But if there is no salary difference between that job and the one they really would enjoy to do, why would they continue to do it? Sometimes ago, I read some testimonials in such way about people launching their own activity, and telling that they will not probably earn more money but they will have the advantage to be their own boss.

The lack of motivation and lack of talent induce negative consequences on the economy. When some profiles are missing, companies are relocating activities in other countries. The fact that salaries are always dumped, induces a negative impact on the local economy. When people have a lower purchase power and that they are pushed and encouraged to consume, they begin to contract credits they cannot reimburse. We have seen the consequences with the financial crisis of 2008. But apparently, some people have a short mind.

The talent development is an ongoing process, producing short, mid and long-term effect. The talent development is a process having to be improved and worked on both sides. Ourselves, we have to develop our talents in order to evolve, to increase our potential and our knowledge, to get more opportunities. But we have to know that we will have possibilities to use our talent and that our talents and efforts will be correctly rewarded. That is the reason why companies, managers have to promote talents and to define clear goals and challenges, as opportunities where people can express their talent and be part of a nice project. It will make the difference between to have people who are doing their job because they have to, and they have to earn money and the one’s who have the feeling to contribute to a common project. In the second case, there will be clearly added-value for people and for the company.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 25, 2011 at 15:28

Trust, responsibilities and motivation.

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Trust, responsibilities and motivation, ingredients of teamwork.

In the economical world, where the competitions become harder, the key factor maintaining companies in a leadership position, is the performance level. Performances of companies or organizations are related to the motivation of the personnel. The motivation is generated by different factors.

First, it is important that people have a clear idea about the content of their function, their mission, and have clearly defined objectives, mid and long-term career perspectives. This is a reason why the recruiting process is a key factor contributing to a potential long-term collaboration. Indeed, the content of the function and the targets have to match with the employee expectations. A recent study performed in the Belgian work market shows that people are according more importance to challenges and career evolutions perspectives than to the salary packages.

A second point is the trust given by the management to the employee. When people are trusted, they have the feeling that management believes in them and about their capacity to work autonomously. I remember some years ago, I was working as accountant for an American company. My boss was on holiday, and we had to face a serious trouble with the IT during an upgrade process. A part of the data’s was lost because the backup systems did not work properly. Two weeks of data were lost, and the last accounting monthly closing disappeared. I contacted a controller at the head quarter in the U.S. I explained the situation, and he told me that I would have a better overview of the situation than him, and that if it was necessary, I had to look for temp people in order to come back to a normal situation. Fortunately, an IT company where we sent the hard disks retrieved the data and we were back to the normal. The instruction of the controller was a real challenge for me, but also an evidence that he was convinced that I would be able to manage the situation. This trust evidence was a source of motivation for me. If people believe in you, you believe in yourself and are motivated to face challenges and take responsibilities. But it is obvious that we have to respect the given trust and the merit of trust is a daily exercise.

A third point is to give responsibilities to the people. When you trust on them and when you know that they can work on an autonomous way, then you can delegate tasks and responsibilities, which is a key point in term of management. We are used to say that if somebody is able to perform a task or a process at around 75%, then you have to delegate it. By delegating, you are giving higher responsibilities to the people, and showing that you trust on his capabilities. You offer him also an opportunity to learn and to increase his capacities and competences.

Recognition of the work done is another important factor of motivation. We know that successful project achievement can only be done by a hard contribution from each member involved in the project. Most of the biggest challenges are achieved by hard work provided by the project team. More than a bonus or a salary increase, the recognition and the feedback about the provided work is important to motivate people.

And what about team spirit? People can only give the best of themselves, if they are working within a team where members are moved by team spirit and by the will to reach first the common goal. When people are working together and want to achieve the common goal, it means that everybody can achieve his own goal related to his function and contributing to the common goal success. In such way, people have the feeling to be really part of a team and of a project where their work is recognized.

All these points show that trust can generate a win-win relationship between employees and employers, between partners. Trust can increase the motivation and the will to take responsibilities. It is in fact a contract where each partner have to respect the clauses.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 18, 2011 at 22:40

Those who created their job.

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Luc de Brabandere, enterprise philosopher.

Most of you already heard about that quote from Abraham Lincoln saying that “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” This quote have more and more sense in a fast moving environment where we don’t know what will be our future. Today, job security is an oxymoron. As already written in a previous posting on this blog, the only existing job security is to expand our knowledge and capabilities. All what you can learn will probably be helpful for you in order to find and to get new opportunities. More than this, when something seems to begin obsolete, it is time to invent something, to find other solutions, to be creative. It is true for business, for product and services, but also for our career.

Each of us, we hope to meet success in our professional and private life. Some years ago, the success was to join a known company or group, and to make a whole career, joining a stable environment where you were benefiting from a good salary with a range of benefits. Today, such career perspectives are more improbable, in a fast moving economical environment where restructuring processes in companies imply jobs cutting as negative effects. Does it mean that success became also something improbable? It depends how we are defining success.

In our society, work is often considered as a constraint. By seeing work in such point of view, people will choose a job for bad reasons. Is it forbidden to believe that job could be something very enjoyable? It is up to us to decide it. Some people decided to do their job enjoyable, and some of them came to invent, to create their own job.

I will take the example of Luc De Branbandere, a Belgian consultant in creativity. This man has a diploma in mathematic sciences and started his career in a bank. He was quickly interested by all what is related to creativity. In order to move further in that subject, he made studies in philosophy. He wrote several books about ideas and creativity, books that I highly recommend. Luc De Brabandere is defining himself as an enterprise philosopher, coaching and helping companies in creativity processes.

 

Marc Ysaye, director of Classic 21

Let us take another example. Marc Ysaye, who is the drummer of the Belgian rock group Machiavel, made several small jobs during his youth, from taxi driver to trucks driver. He is passionate by rock’n roll music, and his knowledge of the rock’n roll is impressive. He joined the Belgian radio (RTBF) in 1982. In 1988, he created a radio broadcast, “Les Classiques”, presenting a rock’n roll group every Sunday morning on Classic 21, a chain of the RTBF. This radio broadcast is still a success today, and Marc Ysaye is the director of Classic 21 since 2004. Classic 21 is one of the most successful Belgian radio station dedicated to rock’n roll music.

We can find numerous example of self-made man, people meeting success by creating their own job, their own project. There are several reason why they meet such success, and some of them are the following:

  • The passion. Somebody who creates his own job is moved by a passion. Of course, he has to work hardly to build his project, but this work driven by passion make that he is considering his job as a hobby, as a game and not as a binding job.

  • The curiosity and the passion to learn. A self-made man wants to discover, to learn every day. His passion is a never-ending story, and by knowing that he can learn everyday, he has a feeling of happiness and is conquering his freedom day-after-day. All what he can learn and discover will be a strong row material to develop new projects and ideas.

  • Be the original instead of the copy. Oliviero Tuscani said that “We have not only to be the best, we have to be unique”. It is when you build your project based on your own experiences and passions that you build something unique and original. Of course, we are often inspired by other people, but this inspiration has to be only the needed energy to build our own project, our own legend as Paolo Coelho says.

  • Goal and conviction: Building your own project means that you have a goal, your own goal, and that you are convinced by what you are doing. Conviction is close to passion. It is only when you are convinced yourself that you will convince the other people. It is also when you are convinced by what you are doing that you maximize the chance to reach your goal.

  • Pay attention to opportunities: we are used to say that an opportunity is coming one time to you, not twice. It is important to pay attention to each opportunity. Meeting the right people at the right time and in the right place is not something that happen everyday. You cannot miss such chance. We are responsible of our successes and of our failures.

  • Work and perseverance: The most important and main project we have is our own life. It is something we have to build everyday in order to get long term results. By facing challenges and issues, and by working hard in order to find solutions and to reach your goal, you will learn about yourself, you will be more self -confident. It is by learning everyday, by increasing your skills and capabilities that you will be able to move your limits and face bigger challenges.

Is it possible to create our own future, our own job? Yes, it is, but a major point is to know how we define the success. Our definition will be related to our value. Is the success related to the money we are earning, to the projects we are winning, to the satisfaction level we are gaining from our activities? Success will be defined differently by each of us. But success will have to be integrated and found in our moving environment. It will be related to our value, but also linked to our capacity of change, of adaptability. As entrepreneurs of our own life, we need to have always a project in advance, to have always different interests, and to make them growth everyday. Is it impossible to create our future. Some people will answer they did not know it was impossible, so they did it !

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 3, 2011 at 22:34