Idea's space

This blog is dedicaded to share ideas coming randomly from my experiences

Posts Tagged ‘constraint

Change of life, yes but….

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Michel Kacenelenbogen, founder of the theater "Le Public" in Brussels, was first a business man.

Some of us are dreaming to change of life, by changing of professional activity, by doing something different from what we are doing now. We see of course the positive side of such changes but there will be also new constraints to these changes. These changes imply to take decisions, to make choices, but these decisions and choices have to be the result of a reflection process and not of improvisation.  There are several things we have to think about before to operate such change and to be sure we are going in the right direction. Walt Disney said “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Nevertheless, we have not to neglect the importance and the consequences such changes can have. What is a dream will become a reality and we have to make sure that we can assume this new reality. I would like here to share some ideas about some aspects you have to think about, if you dream to change of life.

  • Indentify clearly why you want to change of career, of job. Is it because you do not like what you are doing, or because there is another problem not related to your actual position. I remember a single-handed sailor, who was telling that he received often letter fro people who were fed up about life and who want to come with him on board to sail with him around the world. The sailor do never accept to take these people with him, he said, because they have to solve first their problems before to be on board. By not solving their problems, they will come on board with their problems and in this case, it could be a danger.

  • Make sure that the choice you will do is really the one you will be passionate by. If you decide to move to something you are passionate by, it is because you are already doing this activity as a hobby, or you are bringing a lot of interest to that activity, and this is motivating you. This kind of decision is something you decide because you discovered something new that brings motivation. It is difficult to say that you will be motivated by something if you never did it. In this case, your dream could be simply an illusion.

  • Be aware that you will have to deal with new constraints, and you will have to be able to face to them. You can prepare this future activity and  build scenarios, but if you are paying attention, you see that very often, things does not happen as foreseen. I remember friends of my parents who decide to leave Belgium and to buy a farm in south of France. For these two scientists, it was a total change of life, with new positive things but also new constraints to deal with. There is a huge difference to live permanently in another country and to go in this country for your holidays.

  • Be sure that your choice is matching with your values of life or new values you decided to follow. To switch to another activity does not mean that you will only gain advantages. As mentioned before, you will have to face new constraints, and one of these constraints is money. I read in an economical magazine some testimonials about managers who changed of life. Most of them were saying that there were earning less money than before, but they were much more happy with what there were doing now. Such choices make that you will have to move from a passive consumer position to a creative actor.

  • Make sure that you have enough competences to do what you are dreaming of. This is another essential condition to switch successfully to another activity. To start a new challenge makes that you will be a junior in that new domain of activity, and in order to be at the same level of your competitors, you will have to provide intensive efforts and hard work. This is a period where you will have to be strong, and the only things that can support you during these times are your capacities and your motivation.

  • Be prepared to such change and have always an alternative plan. Such change can have an impact on your revenues and your comfort. To move to another enterprise is always a risk, but you can prepare such situation. Determine how much risk you can take and you are able to face, and have always an alternative plan if you do not succeed.

Make a change of career is not a decision you take suddenly. You are lead to make such choice in function of the circumstances of your life. But as a sailor, when you decide to change of road, you have to know first where you want to go, and to be aware about the constraints linked to this new choice, this new road. The new choice you will do will not be necessarily more easy that your present situation, it will be different and more matching your values and expectations.


Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 6, 2011 at 19:28

Act as an actor for your career and for the community.

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Actor of your own career and of the community

Recently, I read an article about the lack of doctors in Belgium. In Belgium there is a numerus closus in the universities for medicine studies. Only a limited number of graduated doctors can exercise the profession. This could explain the lack of doctors Belgium has to face. But Jacques de Toeuf, doctor and former president of ABSym (Association belge des syndicats médicaux) has not the same opinion about the problem. Based on statistics, he mentions that there are enough graduated doctors in Belgium compared to the number of beds in hospitals, but the problem is that some of then does not want to work in hospital, does not want to ensure permanencies during the week end, taking care more about quality of their own life instead of the quality of life of patients. And Jacques de Toeuf is wondering if these people, only visiting three of four patients per day, are still able after a couple of year to diagnose deceases, if they still have the competence to do their job correctly. As he mentions, medicine is not the same as to sale “tupperwares”. You do not do it when you want.

By reading this, there are two questions to be asked. What are the values we dedicate to work? Work is, most of the time, considered as a constraint. Some people are doing a job because “they have to work to earn money”, waiting the week end, the end of the month to receive the cheque, the holidays, the retirement, ..the death? In a previous posting, I already talk about the importance to choose the job you want to do, the job you are convinced by. If you are convinced by what you are doing, life will be much more exciting, and you will be able to give the best of what you can do. The motivation is an essential condition to stay on the top of competences. In a fast moving environment, you have to maintain and improve your skills everyday, it takes time, but this time has to be considered as an investment, a essential condition to ensure you a sustainable career. If you do not improve your skills, your knowledge, you will come shortly to incompetence, and the chance to find another job will be thin.This is why to do the job of your dream is so important, and is probably the only good reason to do it. As said Confusius: “Do the work you like to do and you will never have to work during your life”.

What I mentioned before is related to the private sphere. But there is another important question and value, needed to be considered, it is your function in the community. Each of us, through the job we are doing, we have a mission, we have to contribute to the community. If you are responsible for customer service in a company, you will take care that everybody could benefit of a good service. If you are a doctor, you will do what you can do in order to save your patients. We have to consider we are playing a role for the community, and this implies the notions of responsibility, respect and commitment. A doctor has the obligation to do all what he can do to save a life. If he has a conscience, he is aware about his duties, and will not try to escape to it. I am used to say that there are constraints in each job. You are free to choose the job you want to do, but remember that the only existing freedom is the one to choose your constraints.

Commitment to act for the community is a value having to be part of our professional choice. Commitment means to have respect for the others. This means that we have to play as an actor for the community, but we have to be first the actor of our own life, our own career. It is only if you try to build a project for yourself that you will contribute to build projects for the other, with efficiency and concrete results. By doing the job you like to do, your working hours are an investment and not a loss of time, and as each investment, you will have a return on it. If you are a doctor, and if you take care about your patients, then they will recognize your talents, and will probably recommend you to other people. Be an actor of your career, of your life and for the community.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 22, 2010 at 20:26

Entrepreneurship, a freedom space?

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Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, a successful entrepreneur.

If some of you are entrepreneurs, you have probably already heard some people saying that when you are entrepreneur or self-employed, you are free to do what you want. Is it true or is it an idea shared by people dreaming to become entrepreneur but who are scared to start such adventure?

To become an entrepreneur is not only a change of social status. The first question to be put is what I want to do in my life, what are my interests, for which reason would I become an entrepreneur? Is it to have a better life, to earn more money, to work in a way you like to work? These are the main questions to be asked because your professional and entrepreneurial life will be a part of your personal life and will have interaction with your private life.

To become entrepreneur means that you will have to manage a range of things. This is an important change compared to an employee. When you work as employee in a company, you are only taking care about the things under your responsibilities. If you are responsible for the accounting, you will not take care about marketing or IT aspects. When you are self-employed, you have to manage everything. You will probably delegate some tasks which are not your core business to more qualified contractors, but do not forget that you have to hold the lead of what you are subcontracting. You are the boss, the owner of your own company and you have the responsibility of the whole processes.

Be aware also that your life as entrepreneur or self-employed will be a range of successive projects. And as you know, a good entrepreneur has always one or two projects in advance. We are living in a fast moving environment, implying to offer the better services based on up-to-date competences. It means that the training aspects are important, and you have to forecast regular training sessions, or time dedicated to read documentation.

And what about the financial aspects? Often, I heard some entrepreneurs having good projects, having customers, who felt in bankruptcy because they neglected the financial aspects. If you are looking to the last 30 years or more, you can see that the trend of the economy is going up and down. When we are in a positive trend, put your earnings in reserve in order to be able to face the more difficult period, and in order too to invest in research and development, to offer new innovative products and services.

Is entrepreneurship a freedom space? It is a fact that by discussing with entrepreneurs, we brought up to the fact that to be entrepreneur gives you the opportunity to realize your project without to be blocked by “political” constraints. By defining a project and fixing objectives, you will be free to choice the most appropriate way to your eyes, to realize the project and to reach the defined target.

The freedom you have to choice the way you will lead your project allows you to be creative, and creativity is a freedom you decide to take. Does it mean that you have all the ingredients to realize your project, by having only the freedom to realize it and to create something? You will probably need some partners, financial partners or technical partners in order to realize the parts of the project you cannot do yourself. These partners will have to be convinced by your project, your ideas. The presentation aspect of your project is important, and it takes a lot of energy and effort to convince the others to support your project, even if you are convinced yourself, which is a necessary condition.

All of us, we saw successful entrepreneurial projects, which are the fruit of efforts and determination. But we saw also other failing projects. To be entrepreneur means always to take some risk. You can of course calculate and evaluate the risks you are or you want to take, but there are always parameters you cannot have under your control. The risk will be also proportional to the scope of your project. It depends also the level of your target and objectives which will be also proportional to the scope of your business. If you want only work 3 days a week instead of a full week, you will earn less money, or you will have to provide higher quality level services if you want to earn the same amount. In this case, you see a proportion between the level of added value services and the income you want to get.

By conclusion, I would say that entrepreneurship is a freedom space, but the most important is to know how you define the freedom. The only freedom you have when you are entrepreneur, is the freedom to choose your constraints.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

August 19, 2010 at 22:49

The good time to stop working ?

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Stop to work ? When ?

Since few times, some governments in Europe are debating about the legal age to be retired. As the age pyramid begins to be old, governments are facing the problem of pension payments. To face such problem, one of the proposed solutions is to increase the legal age of retirement. But most of the trade unions do not agree with such measure, arguing that people merits to take rest after a forty years professional career.

Does anybody want to stop to work at the same age? The answer to that question is different for each person. There is a relation with the kind of job you are doing, the condition of work and the satisfaction you had from your professional career, and maybe also with your personal goals. People who worked during many years in a manufactory, achieving hard and difficult tasks, will be probably happy to be retired when sixty five years old, in order to take good time for hobbies, for family. It should not be exact to say that everybody is doing the job of his dreams. For some people, the work is felt as a necessity in order to earn money, for the others, work is a blooming source. For this last category, it is sometime difficult to stop working.

Few time ago, I had the opportunity to meet a person, who worked during his career for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. When he was sixty two years old, the company he was working for, wanted to stop the collaboration and made a proposal of retirement. He refused such plan. He told me at that time, he was still enjoying his job, was still full of energy and projects, and as it was not yet the legal age to be retired, he did not agree to stop to work. Finally, the company decided to fire him.

After a period of outplacement, this person thought to found his consultancy company, providing services based on his competences. You have to know that he has a wide culture, he is fascinated by China, and he is speaking seven different languages. After some training in accounting and legal matters, he finally created his own company, giving advices and helping companies to develop business with Asian countries. The most amazing thing is that the last company where he was employed and who fired him, is working now with him as a consultant. By doing this, he demonstrates that even if you are sixty years old, it does not mean that you are not able to work and to develop potential. At that stage, you are not considering your job as a constraint, but as a hobby, as something you like to do. As already mentioned in other postings, the most important thing is to have a goal, to have always a project. This is a motivation and life balance source. The person I am talking about, realized a successful career conversion, and is often invited by professional associations as lecturer, to tell about this conversion.

My opinion about this, is that we have to let the opportunity of choice to the people, if they want to stop to work or not. I remember the father of a friend who worked as Human Resources director in few companies. He was a very appreciated manager, demonstrating huge talents as negotiator. The last years of his career, he decided to decrease progressively his working time. He said: “When you have the career I had, with huge responsibilities and heavy agenda, and when you like what you are doing, you can not stop your career the day after. “

Personally, I can say when I will stop to work. It does not mean that I will work always on a full time basis. But as far as you will find the energy and the motivation, the interest to be part of a project, as far as you will get satisfaction about realizations and as far as you are healthy, why should you stop to do something you like to do ?

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 23, 2009 at 18:09

Stay focused on your goal.

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Dont' miss your target !

Anybody is dreaming about something, a goal, a project; but sometimes, the dream stays a dream and do not become reality. Are we afraid to realize our dreams because they are too extraordinary for ordinary people? They are many reasons why dreams are staying dreams. It is first a question of temper. Some people are followers, others with strong personalities are leaders, actors of their own live, always moved by a project.

The only question of temper does not explain why we are scared to transform a dream to reality. We often put barriers on a subconscious way, between us and the goal we want to reach. We are afraid sometimes by the constraints which could abort our goal, our project. By doing this, we are in fact not focused on our goal, but on the constraints of our goal, and it is for sure we will miss the goal by acting like this. It is exactly the same when you are walking on the street on a Saturday, when everybody is shopping. If you are fixing the person walking front of you, it is for sure you will collide with other. If you are looking just near her, where you have to go, then you will escape the collision.

But is it enough to fix only your goal? No, of course. In order to cover the distance between the place you are and the place you want to be, it means your goal, you will have to develop a strategy. This strategy will include all the components you will have to deal with, the advantages and the constraints

Let assume you want to start a business of IT consultant. Your goal is to provide IT services you defined. In order to succeed in your project, you analyzed if there is a matching between the competences you want to offer and the market. Then you will have to make prospection in order to develop your commercial portfolio, to make some marketing, to develop a commercial pitch. Of course, it takes time to gain reputation and customers, and at the beginning, your turnover will not be sufficient to balance your financial results.

Here is another important point of your strategy: your business plan. A good business plan includes normally different scenarios, from the pessimistic to the optimistic one. The key question is what I really need as goods and services to work and what are the ones of secondary importance. As IT consultant, computer material, internet connection, software, technical books, ..and your brain, are the most important things you need to work. The nice luxurious car you are dreaming of, is not essential. Do only with what you have. Could you imagine being able to work, if you have a car, but no computer, no phone, no internet connection? In my case, and for a lot of people, the answer is no ! And if you do so, as an IT professional, it is obvious that you will not be credible at all, and you will surely miss your goal…because you forgot your goal.

And we are back to the goal. If you create a company, it is not to buy a nice car or the last smart phone, but to create and develop an activity you like to do. Do not make confusions between the constraints and the advantages linked to your project and the final goal. By staying focused on your goal and developing the appropriate strategy, you maximize your chance to reach it and make it sustainable.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 30, 2009 at 16:20