29 July 2017

10 Things That Drive a Career Coach Crazy

career coach


Think he’s gonna hit it?

We’ve seen some great successes lately. People who practice what I teach are finding jobs really fast. On the other hand, people who don’t practice what I teach are driving me crazy. I told one client last week to plan for a two or three-year job search. In this post I will share my list of 10 things that drive a career coach crazy.

Don’t Swing at the High Pitches

God created me for coaching; whether it’s baseball, consultative selling, communication skills, job search or career management, I love to coach. One of the most rewarding things for me as a coach is to see an immediate positive change in the performance of someone I’m coaching.

About 10 years ago, for instance, we had a young man on our 10-and-under team named Darius who was a big, strong kid. He’s the one you hear about who has to have his birth certificate to prove his age. As the hitting coach, I noticed he wasn’t “bracing off,” which means he wasn’t locking his front leg at the moment of contact with the ball. If a hitter doesn’t brace off, his knee absorbs much of the force that should have been applied to the ball. After I taught Darius how to brace off, he showed immediate improvement. He almost hit a home run in the very next game (the ball hit the fence on the fly). We worked on bracing off again the following week. In practice the next night, he hit four home runs over a fence that was 200 feet away. I couldn’t be there that night, but Darius said to my son, “Austin, be sure and tell your dad about my home runs tonight.”

Man, that’s a great feeling!

During the early part of the season, we had an issue that every youth baseball coach faces: our players were swinging at pitches that were up around the bill of their cap. Two of our coaches consistently yelled at the kids when they swung at a high pitch.

It occurred to me that every kid on our team, and any 10-year-old kid who has played baseball more than a week, knows not to swing at a pitch that is so high. So I began to wonder why in the world a kid would do such a foolish thing. One thing I knew for sure: yelling at them was not helping them hit better. The yelling by the other coaches was a classic case of, “The more the parents ‘coach,’ the worse the kids play.”

In the dugout, I began to ask questions of the hitter whose turn was coming up in two spots. For you baseball aficionados, it’s called “in the hole.” You have the hitter at bat, then one “on-deck” and then one “in the hole.” I’d ask questions like, “Which way was the ball spinning?” and “What kind of pitch was that?” and “Without looking at the scoreboard, what’s the count? How many outs are there?” You can learn a lot – and teach more – by asking questions.

I hit upon the solution to swinging at high pitches when we played a game I called “high, low, strike.” The player in the hole was supposed to say whether the pitch was going to be above, below or within the strike zone during the flight of the ball. (We couldn’t read the horizontal location from our vantage point in the dugout.) Some kids called the pitch right after the ball hit the catcher’s mitt. Whoops; too late. With a little practice, most kids made their call when the ball was about halfway to the plate.

One kid, however, called “high” when the pitcher was still holding the ball. In fact, the ball was still behind the pitcher’s back! I said, “Tysen, I know what the problem is; you’re guessing where it’s going instead of reading the pitch. You need to wait until the ball is out of the pitcher’s hand before you know where it’s going.” Tysen’s pitch selection and batting average improved after that, and I am happy to report that, several weeks later, he hit the longest home run I will probably ever see a 10-year-old hit.

Grown Ups Swing at High Pitches Too

You may be wondering what all this has to do with job search.

I’ll bet every person who has been to one JobSeekers meeting knows that he or she is supposed to be networking. Most people who haven’t been to a JobSeekers meeting also know that the best chance of finding a job is through personal contacts – not the Internet. For me to be saying, “You need to be networking more” is about as dumb as, “Don’t swing at the high pitches.”

DAVE, H-E-L-L-O-O-O-! I ALREADY KNOW THAT!

Now I try to assume that most of the people I deal with know what to do. If they are not doing it, we need to search for the root cause. Here is my list of 10 things that drive a career coach crazy:

  1. What is it that causes someone to look for jobs on the Internet for hours every day instead of making personal contacts and going to networking meetings?
  2. Why is it that when people are under stress their decision-making ability is so poor?
  3. What causes someone who is under severe financial stress to make decisions that cause even more financial woes?
  4. Why do people do something as important as looking for a job without the proper preparation and training?
  5. Why do some people (Ship’s Crew, current members, alumni, pastors and this writer) recommend JobSeekers to an unemployed person, and they never come?
  6. Why do some people who are looking for a job fail to check their email?
  7. Why is it that, when we ask new members of JobSeekers to send us their resume, they fail to do so?
  8. Why do people receive networking referrals and fail to follow up on them?
  9. Why do people who do follow up on the referrals fail to call the first person (the one who made the referral mentioned in #8) and let him or her know what happened?
  10. Why on God’s green earth would someone who’s been out of work for a year reject my advice? Whoops, my frustration is showing through; how about this instead: I wonder why some people who’ve been out of work for several months are not open to constructive feedback?

I remember, for example, an employer who asked me to find a match for a PC support technician. I found two people who matched the criteria and might have been available. I emailed them both. One guy got back to me within two hours. He was calling from Georgia Tech, where he had been happily employed for five months. The other, whose last day at work was 11 months prior, never got back to me. Later I found out that he was still looking.

By the way, notice that the person who had the job was the one with good follow up skills! The person with the poor follow up skills had never come to a JobSeekers meeting; how come? He, or someone else who didn’t send me a resume, missed a job opportunity that week.

Even Paul Had Behavioral Issues

All of us sinners can take comfort in the fact that guy who wrote about one-third of the New Testament also struggled with his behavior. Read the words of Paul in Romans 7:15-25:

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

What’s Holding You Back? Find the Root Cause

In youth baseball, it may be that the player is not reading the pitch correctly. There may be a fear that if he doesn’t swing, a good pitch is going to go by. Or it may be that he knows he’s going to get yelled at if he takes a third strike without swinging.

Think about things you could be doing that would advance your campaign. What’s keeping you from doing them? Think about things you are doing that are holding your campaign back. Why do you continue to do them?

Don’t beat yourself up for doing (or not doing) something. Being judgmental, even toward oneself, is seldom (if ever) beneficial. Just look at the root cause and work on that. We all have self-limiting issues; we are all in good company. If Paul struggled with his behavior, why wouldn’t we?

See you Friday at JobSeekers, where we are changing our self-defeating behaviors into job-winning habits!

Copyright © 2012-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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    A Sharp Focus is Key

    sharp focus


    Keep a sharp focus.

    Have you ever used a magnifying glass to set a leaf on fire? Looking for a job is a lot like catching a leaf on fire. In both, a sharp focus is key. I’ve noticed that some of you have a magnifying glass, but you don’t know which leaf you want to focus on. Others know which leaf you want, but you aren’t focusing the light properly. Still others focus the light, but you switch to another leaf just before the flame starts.

    I looked up “focus” on BibleGateway.com and was surprised to find that the word does not appear even once in the NIV. The Message paraphrase Bible uses the word “focus” 29 times. I selected this one for you, Philippians 3:15:

    “So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet!”

    When discussing focus with a group of my clients, one pointed out a verse from Proverbs that has to do with focus; here are two versions of Proverbs 17:24:

    “A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.” (NIV) and “Anyone with wisdom knows what makes good sense, but fools can never make up their minds.” (Contemporary English Version)

    With this in mind, my message to you is this:

    1. Make up you mind about what you want to do.

    The leaves could represent different functions or industries. There may be several that would make sense for you to choose. In order for you to set the leaf on fire (win a job), you must choose one to focus your energy on. Someone sent me a resume a while back that said something like, “Seeking a management position in sales, marketing, operations, administration, human resources or finance.” Gee whiz, pick one to focus on or you won’t get hired!

    2. Build a short list of target companies, organizations or agencies.

    Now that you’ve chosen your leaf, decide exactly where you are going to focus the sun’s rays. Don’t swirl the light beam around thinking that you will start a bigger fire. You won’t. If someone woke you up from a deep sleep and asked what companies you’re targeting, you should be focused enough to say, “I’m targeting third-party logistics companies like Exel, UPS Supply Chain Solutions, and Eagle Global Logistics.”

    3. Work tirelessly and single-mindedly to accomplish your goal.

    At first, it will seem like nothing is happening. Be patient. Be steady and strong. Have faith. Remember your past success catching a leaf on fire, or listen to the wise counsel of others who have. Don’t let a failure or rejection deter you. Don’t let the contrary opinion of one or two people sway you. Don’t drop out of the race a few feet from the finish line.

    Lewis Carroll, in his classic Alice in Wonderland, says Alice came to a fork in the road and saw the Cheshire Cat in a tree. “‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’”

    In job search, it does matter!

    If you are blown and tossed by the wind, you may not reach your full potential – and the job God has in store for you. It may be that you would have a longer job search, earn less income, perform a less desirable job, work in a hostile environment, make a long commute, or be forced to relocate. Get focused and get results.

    Paul of Tarsus was the embodiment of focus. He knew exactly what he was called to do (preach the good news and start the Christian church). He knew exactly who his audience was (first the Jew, then the Gentile), and he was totally focused on his ministry and mission (and he wouldn’t let things like the emperor of Rome, the Jewish leaders, or persecutions stop him). Paul accomplished his mission. You can too.

    See you on Friday at JobSeekers; the place where a sharp focus comes into view!

    Copyright © 2004-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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      It’s Not Who You Are, It’s Whose You Are

       Father's Love Letter


      Father’s Love Letter

      Some of you have not only forgotten who you are, but whose you are.

      A few years ago I was working with Debra, a recently departed quality technician from a local manufacturing company. We were working on her 45-second oral introduction (I am … My background includes … One accomplishment I’m proud of is …) when she said, “I’m not just a quality technician, so I don’t want to say that.” I explained that we are different things to different people. If you are stuck in a traffic jam on Highway 54 because of a 50-foot deep sinkhole, someone from 11-Alive might point a camera at you and stick a microphone in your car window and ask how long you’ve been sitting in the backup. When you see yourself on the news that night the caption on your picture might say, “Fred Flintstone, frustrated motorist.”

      Some of you are defining yourself as, “Jerry JobSeeker, unemployed.”

      Friends, don’t let a former employer define who you are. Don’t let a particular person at a former employer define who you are. Don’t let the last company who failed to hire you define who you are – or the overworked HR person who hasn’t called you on the expected date. Don’t let the unseen “monsters” in cyberspace define who you are. And don’t let 11-Alive define who you are either.

      None of that matters!

      With that in mind, I asked Debra to write down some other “I am” statements. I don’t remember them all, but it went something like this: “I am a … quality technician, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, VBS director, Sunday school teacher, college student, program director, office technology specialist, and, I am a child of God.” When she finished she said, “I guess I should have put ‘child of God’ first.”

      Notice that she didn’t write, “I am unemployed.”

      Sometimes we let our current circumstances dictate our self-image. Man, if you go into a job interview or networking meeting with a poor self-image, you self-image is likely to be worse when you finish because the company isn’t going to hire you and the friend isn’t going to recommend you to anyone else.

      With God’s help, you can break the cycle! Here’s how:

      1. Remember whose you are – you are a child of God.

      First and foremost you are a child of God. You are made in God’s image. As a father loves his children, God loves you and wants to bless you. He wants you to find joy in your life – no matter what your circumstances. He doesn’t want you to be unemployed, at least not for long. He wants you to use the gifts and abilities he has given you to bless His kingdom and to support your family. He wants you to find joy in your career.

      2. Remember the good times – look expectantly toward your new job.

      Remember times in your career when you were in your sweet spot. Look expectantly toward being in your sweet spot again. When I was in my first job search in 1992, I noticed a huge difference in the way people reacted to me compared to other job seekers. My attitude was, “I’m energized because I am working every day toward a worthy goal, and when I get there, man, it’s going to be great!”

      3. Slow down and listen for the gentle whisper of God.

      Now that you’ve stepped out of the hectic corporate world for a time, slow down and recharge your mind, body and spirit. Arm yourself for battle by drawing near to God. Pray and read the Bible. Join a Bible study class. Vocalize your feelings to God. Ask Him for the strength and confidence to overcome those terrifying feelings of self-doubt. Find scriptures that encourage you. When you do this, you will begin to hear the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit.

      After I read “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale a few years ago, I created 20 Biblically-based affirmations and used them frequently in my job search in 2000. These affirmations, along with the three points above, strengthened me for the battle I fought. The first affirmation is, “I picture success. I have formulated and stamped indelibly on my mind a picture of myself succeeding. I always picture success, now matter how badly things are going at the moment.” To see the whole list, click here.

      Father’s Love Letter

      I found this out in cyberspace; it’s called “Father’s Love Letter.” Maybe it will help to strengthen you. It is a compilation of bible verses from both the Old and New Testaments that are presented in the form of a love letter from God to the world. Here are the first seven lines:

      You may not know me, but I know everything about you. – Psalm 139:1

      I know when you sit down and when you rise up. – Psalm 139:2

      I am familiar with all your ways. – Psalm 139:3

      Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. – Matthew 10:29-31

      For you were made in my image. – Genesis 1:27

      In me you live and move and have your being. – Acts 17:28

      For you are my offspring. – Acts 17:28

      Click here to see and hear the entire letter.

      BTW, I got the idea for the title from my very first JobSeekers meeting. I came as a participant on 11 February 2000. See you on Friday at JobSeekers, where we remember whose we are, look expectantly to the brighter days ahead, and listen for the gentle voice of God.

      * Excerpt from “Father’s Love Letter” used by permission, Father Heart Communications. Copyright 1999.

      Copyright © 2006-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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        The Declaration of Dependence

        Declaration of Dependence


        Patrick Henry

        As we celebrate the 241th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence this week, let’s also celebrate our declaration of dependence of God. As bad as some people say things are, or as bad as they may seem, this is still the best nation on earth to live in. For this we can thank the founders of this nation; they were not only brave patriots, they were devout Christians as well. Their source of strength was the Lord God Almighty. He is the rock this nation is built upon.

        Yes, our forefathers declared independence from Britain; they also declared their dependence on God, not on a king or queen or anything else that is of this earth:

        1. Thomas Paine. Paine published a booklet in January 1776 called Common Sense. The booklet inspired the colonists to work toward the formation of a new independent government. In one section Paine outlined the origin and development of monarchies using the Bible as his textbook. He made this comment in his essay: “Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry.” Paine did not want his country to be connected with the work of Satan. There was a biblical basis for his plea for independence.

        Declaration of Dependence


        Thomas Paine

        2. Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson said, “God, who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? And that they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

        3. Patrick Henry. Henry is best known for saying, “Give me liberty or give me death,” also said: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

        As Americans, we thank God for the independence we enjoy today. We thank the brave men and women in our armed forces around the world – today and yesterday – for preserving the freedom that we often take for granted. God bless them all – living and dead – for putting their lives on the line so we can worship our Father in heaven.

        Our Declaration of Dependence

        As JobSeekers, it’s time for us to declare our independence from the things of this world and to declare our dependence on God Almighty. It’s time to stopping complaining about how big our storm is, and to start telling the storm how big our God is.

        Declaration of Dependence


        Common Sense

        We are dependent on God. When we acknowledge this, he provides for our every need. When we forget, he humbles us just as he did the Hebrews in the wilderness: “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” – Deuteronomy 8:3

        See you on Friday 10 July at JobSeekers, where we declare our dependence on God.

        Copyright © 2005-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

        – – – – –

        Some of the content from this article is from “Faith of Our Fathers” by B. Jane Kulp, and found here »

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          Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

          Oftentimes, things aren’t always what they seem. A few years ago Marcia Gibson told us her accomplishment for the week was getting turned down twice. The way she phrased it was, “I was blessed this week when two companies told me I could keep searching for a new position. God got them out of my way so I could move more freely toward the job He has in store for me.”

          We all fell out laughing, but I think everyone could hear the certainty in her voice and see the conviction in her heart – she actually believed what she was saying!

          Marcia was red hot after that and accepted one of two offers a few weeks later.

          Her story reminded me of a JobSeeker and OCM client from several years ago who was counting his blessings a year after he was turned down by two companies. Notice that he was counting his blessings a year later – not when he got the news.

          Phil interviewed for a promising position on 20 May 2003. He rushed from that interview to another company and another promising position. And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, for the rest of the story:

          The first company was BioLab in Conyers. They made the national news 369 days after Phil’s interview when a massive fire tore through their plant. Phil said, “I turned on the TV this morning to see the billowing smoke soar skyward from their massive facility; I thanked God for His divine guidance away from that situation.” As you may have guessed by now, he didn’t get the job at the second interview that day either. Even though Phil and the hiring manager had an immediate rapport (turns out they were acquainted) that job wasn’t a good fit for Phil. The manager called Phil several months later to say that he was about to leave because the company could no longer compete in their niche market.

          Phil got a good job not long after that. He kept the faith. Whenever I spoke to him there was always something good just around the corner. It turns out he was right. He concluded an email with this: “I hope this finds you well. I am doing fantabulous. God does look out for us! Dave, thank you for all you have done to help me. I am a richer man today for meeting you and I consider you a friend.”

          Friends, don’t give up. God has a plan and a purpose for your life and career (Jeremiah 29:11). He is working for your good (Romans 8:28). Trust God. Sometimes when we think things aren’t going well, he says, “Trust me with all your heart, for I have better things planned for you.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Things aren’t always what they seem.

          The following story illustrates this point. 

          Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

          Two traveling angels spent the night in the home of a wealthy family.

          The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion’s guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it.

          When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, “Things aren’t what they always seem.”

          The next night the pair of angels came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.

          The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel how could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, and you helped him. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die!”

          “Things aren’t what they always seem,” replied older angel. “When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead.”

          Sometimes that is exactly what happens when things don’t turn out the way we want. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You just might not know until sometime later.

          There have been times in my life when I’ve faced loss and disappointment only to find out later that God’s hand was on my shoulder the entire time, that his love was surrounding me completely, and that his plan and purpose for my life were unfolding before me.

          One more verse from Proverbs 18:13 before I close: “He who answers a matter before he hears the facts – it is folly and shame to him.” Things aren’t always what they seem. Oftentimes, they are much better than we can conceive or imagine.

          See you on Friday at JobSeekers, the place where we trust God – especially when things don’t seem to be going well.

          Copyright © 2004-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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            An Unholy Trinity

            Job search is hard. When we reach a crisis point in our lives, the unholy trinity combines forces to make the battle even tougher. Job search isn’t just about finding a job; it’s part of a cosmic battle for our hearts. Along with divorce, job search is one of the toughest attacks on your ego that you will ever face. To be sure, there are things in life that are tougher, such as the death of a loved one, a life-threatening illness or injury, and maybe a prison sentence.

            I’m constantly reminded of the fact that, in search, we are called upon to be at our professional best right after someone told us we weren’t worth having around anymore. That’s enough to get you down right there! But there may be other, more negative forces working on you than meets the eye.

            John Eldredge writes in Wild at Heart, “Whatever specific terrain you are called to – at home, at work … you will always encounter three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. They make up sort of an unholy trinity.” Job search is one of the toughest spiritual battles you will every face. Here’s a glimpse into what’s going on:

            1. The world attacks our hearts.

            The world rejects us. Your former employer said, “Get lost.” Your target company said, “We don’t want you.” Your networking contact said, “I’m too busy.” All this rejection can wear us down.

            The world tells us to change our attitude. “Friend, you’ve got to change your attitude. You’ve got to pull yourself up by the bootstraps.” Sometimes I think those of us with good intentions and good attitudes lay a guilt trip on those who don’t share our positive outlook on life. The person with the bad attitude often thinks, “What’s wrong with me that I can’t snap my fingers and suddenly be in a good mood?” To the encouragers of the world, including myself, I encourage you to help people pull themselves up when they are unable to do it themselves.

            2. The flesh attacks our hearts.

            The flesh betrays us. Did you notice on the previous point that part of it was about the world sending the seeker a message, but the response came from within the mind of the seeker? Our self-talk is one of the most destructive forces to our psyche. Everyone has negative thoughts; we handle those thoughts differently. One affirmation I use is: “I think positive. I deliberately voice a positive thought to cancel out any negative thought that comes to mind concerning my personal powers. I have formed the habit of positive thinking.”

            Pride is another destructive force. I’ve seen a lot of people derail their job search because of pride. Friends, humble yourselves and ask for help. Ask friends for help. Listen to their counsel. Ask for professional help; it may pay dividends far beyond your job search. Ask God for help; he is standing at your door and knocking.

            And speaking of the flesh, poor health – whether it’s a disease, illness or injury – can play a big role in a job search. Do everything you can to maintain good health, and if that isn’t enough – if your health is still a factor – use your advisory team to develop a realistic, achievable goal for your career.

            3. The devil attacks our hearts.

            The devil deceives us. Sometimes that self-doubt isn’t just from you. Jesus called the devil “the father of lies.” He was speaking to the Pharisees when he said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

            The father of lies may be speaking to you. Satan may be placing negative thoughts in your head and fear in your heart. He just loves it when we are at a crisis point in our lives because we are so vulnerable. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

            Eldredge writes in Captivating, “All the Enemy has to do to destroy people is to get them isolated, [like] a lamb separated from the flock.” Satan wants to separate you from your employer, your target companies, your network, your advisory team, your family – and, most of all – your spouse. Don’t let the enemy win! Fight back with the power of the Holy Trinity.

            – – – – – – –

            I used to work in an office that was right beside some railroad tracks. Every now and then I’d see a 100-car train loaded with coal start from a complete standstill. It took four engines working at maximum power to get it rolling. At first it moved very slowly, but before it was out of sight, it would be moving at 45 miles per hour.

            Which way is your train headed?

            Maybe those four engines – your negative attitude, combined with the world, the flesh and the devil – have you headed south. They’re building momentum, and you’re headed in the wrong direction. Stop the engines. Change your course. Pray for a willing spirit. Derail the forces of evil working against you. Hook up the powerful engines of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Get your train rolling toward True North.

            See you Friday at JobSeekers, where we claim the power of the Holy Trinity.

            Copyright © 2006-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

             

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              A Bias for Action

              bias for action


              How much does your job search
              cost you each day?

              Our topic a few weeks ago was “How to Make $15K Real Fast.” Some people who couldn’t make it wrote and asked me how to make $15K real fast. I’m shocked and surprised that all of you who couldn’t make it didn’t write to me! Some of you don’t have a bias for action.

              The answer is: look for a job during the summer. Look for a job every day, all day during the summer. I arrived at this figure by using the figures you have reported to us when you came to your first meeting. The average member of JobSeekers of PTC earns about $180 per day, 365 days a year. Multiply that amount by the 73 days of summer in the Fayette County school system and you have $13,140.

              If you had to write a $15K check in order to take the summer off, would you do it?

              If you haven’t been working on your job search this week because you want to relax during your kids’ first month of summer, write a check for $5400. Yes, Memorial Day is a work day for a job seeker. Father’s Day is a work day for a job seeker. Every day is a work day (an opportunity) for a job seeker.

              If you’ve taken the summer off so far, you are not showing a bias for action.

              – – – – –

              “If you could attempt anything in your job search today and you knew beforehand you were going to be successful at it, what would you do?”

              Two or three times a year I ask the audience at JobSeekers this question. Most of the responses have to do with networking and using the phone. “I’d call the company I interviewed with three weeks ago and tell them I want the job.” “I’d call the VP of operations at such-and-such a company and ask for an informational meeting.”

              If you knew you were going to be successful – and you actually did it – you’d have a bias for action.

              What’s holding you back?

              Next I ask what’s holding them back. Fear and pride come up every time. Other responses include not knowing anyone to call, not wanting to interrupt, and not having the necessary skills. “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to say.”

              Many times a year (every week?) we emphasize that networking is by far the number one way people find jobs. Most people do it, but they do far too little of it. One time I took a survey at a JobSeeker meeting. The question was, “When was the last time you contacted someone you’d never spoken to before and asked for help with your job search?” The average was 7.21 days. Everyone knows networking is the best way to find a job, but they only talk to one new person per week!

              When I think about this critical issue, these two bible verses pop into my head:

              1. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

              2. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

              Only six verses separate these two passages. They are both found in the fourth chapter of James. What’s the connection between these passages and someone seeking employment? I believe I am writing to a great many of you who need to hear this message – people who need to act decisively upon this advice.

              Humility pays off.

              The first passage about being humble is clear. I know from personal experience that it takes a great deal of humility to tell someone you are out of work and need some help. I did better at this in my own search in 2000 than I did in 1992. I know this is hard; I have tons of empathy for you.

              One member of the Ship’s Crew saw a gentleman at church almost every week for eight months before the gentlemen mentioned that he was in career transition. Pride and inaction may have cost that job seeker tens of thousands of dollars.

              Swallowing your pride and asking for help could shorten your search by months, which would increase your income substantially. For example, if you earn $72K per year and shorten your search by two months, your gross income increases by $12K. You may get back on a corporate medical plan two months sooner and won’t have to pay COBRA fees. So I urge you, brothers and sisters, to humble yourself before the Lord – and before your family, friends and neighbors – and they will lift you up!

              We had several people in the past year that had been out of work for almost a year. They humbled themselves, asked us for help, invested in some training, and found great jobs as a result. They had a bias for action and it paid big dividends.

              Action pays off.

              In Search of ExcellenceThe second passage about “doing what you know you ought to do” is a verse I’ve struggled with. I’ve asked myself, “Is it a sin to spend 70% of your time on ‘Monster’ and other job boards when you know that the best way to find a job is through networking?” I’ll let you and God work that one out, but I do have an analogy for what I see many of you doing:

              Think of a pilot trying to get a plane airborne: the plane has to achieve a certain speed in order to take off. In the worst case, it will crash into whatever is at the end of the runway, possibly killing all aboard.

              I’ve met many of you who think you are going fast enough to get airborne. You’re burning lots of fuel and going 90 miles an hour, but you’re not going fast enough to get airborne. It breaks my heart and frustrates the heck out of me to see you plodding down the runway.

              In their best selling business book, In Search of Excellence, Peters and Waterman say one of the eight principles of a well-run, focused company is “a bias for action.”

              Friends, some of you are not in action! You think you are, but you aren’t. You’re working hard, but not smart. You’re on the internet when you should be on the phone. You’re out in left field when you should be out in the community.

              You’re not letting me down; you’re letting yourself and your family down.

              Friends, some of you are not in action! You don’t see the consequence of taking the afternoon, or the day, or the week, or the summer off. I mentioned financial consequences, but there are other possible consequences as well, like explaining why your job search is taking so long. Time is money. Behave as if you believe this.

              What are you going to do?

              By golly, if you know the good you ought to do, by all means, do it! I don’t know if it’s a sin – or evil – or not, but I do know that it is a disservice to you, to your family and to the Kingdom of God. Paul scolded the church members in Thessalonica (2 Thessalonians, chapter 3) for laziness in their work; now I am challenging you and your bias for action.

              I am asking you to reflect on what you are doing – on what’s working and what you need to change. I’m sure that all of us – including our alumni, our network, and me – can find some area of our lives that we are not doing the things we know we ought to do. So I am challenging each and every one of you to take one decisive step to ramp up your job search, your career, or your business – to the glory of God.

              Are you on board? What are you going to do?

              See you Friday at JobSeekers, the place where we have a bias for action!

              Copyright © 2004-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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                The Divine Improvisation

                Wynton Marsalis


                Wynton Marsalis

                God’s will is dynamic! We see examples of the divine improvisation all the time if we keep our eyes open to the gentle whisper of the Lord.

                In the middle of recent meeting at JobSeekers, someone’s cell phone went off. The incident reminded me of a sermon I once heard; the key illustration was about Wynton Marsalis, arguably the greatest jazz musician of his generation – and one of the finest classical musicians as well. Marsalis has won Grammy awards in both categories.

                The story took place on a Tuesday evening in late August 2001 in Greenwich Village at a jazz club called the Village Vanguard. This excerpt is from Faith Today:

                Marsalis began an unaccompanied solo of the heartrending 1930′s ballad, “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You.” Hajdu [a journalist covering the performance] records that the audience became rapt as Marsalis’s trumpet virtually wept in despair, almost gasping at times with the pain in the music.

                Stretching the mood taut, Marsalis came to the final phrase, with each note coming slower and slower, with longer and longer pauses between each one: “I … don’t … stand … a … ghost … of … a … chance … ”

                And then someone’s cell phone went off.

                It began to chirp an absurd little tune. The audience broke up into titters, the man with the phone jumped up and fled into the hallway to take his call, and the spell was broken. “MAGIC – RUINED,” the journalist scratched into his notepad.

                But then Marsalis played the cell phone melody note for note. He played it again, with different accents. He began to play with it, spinning out a rhapsody on the silly little tune, changing keys several times. The audience settled down, slowly realizing they were hearing something altogether extraordinary. Around and around Marsalis played for several minutes, weaving glory out of goofiness.

                Finally, in a masterstroke, he wound his cadenza down seamlessly to the last two notes of his previous song: “… with … you.” The audience exploded with applause.

                God was at work in that club. That same versatile, resourceful God is at work in your life and mine.

                That same brilliantly adaptable God is at work throughout this sin-sick world, bringing beauty out of baseness, heroism out of holocaust, love out of loss – even salvation out of sacrifice. He calls us to believe, and then do the same.

                In the sermon, Chuck Hodges (Senior Pastor at Athens First UMC) said God works for our good every day; His will is dynamic. Keith Moore (Senior Pastor at Dogwood Church) preaches the same thing; God’s dynamic will takes over when sin spoils His plan. In other words, we are subject to the consequences of our will and our decisions – as well as the will and decisions of others – and stuff happens. Like losing a job. Or coming in second on an interview. Or missing a mortgage payment. Or getting a divorce.

                Let God do something amazing in your life. This adversity is an opportunity to experience what God can do – an opportunity to experience His grace. Submit to His will and trust him with all your heart. He can take whatever mess you are in right now and weave glory out of goofiness. He will divinely improvise to (re)create a joyful and abundant life for you. If there is never a burden, how will we discover what great things God can do?

                Here are two versions of Proverbs 3:5-6:

                1) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)

                2) Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. (The Message)

                See you Friday at JobSeekers, the place where we experience God’s divine improvisations!

                Copyright © 2004-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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                  Zig Ziglar says, “Do a checkup from the neck up.”

                  Zig Ziglar says, "Do a check up from the neck up."


                  Zig Ziglar
                  (11/6/26 – 11/28/12)

                  Zig Ziglar used to say we need “a checkup from the neck up.” One time I spoke to an HR manager who was having a hard time filling a position; the position had been open for more than two months. I immediately recommended a member of JobSeekers; he was imminently qualified for the job. She said they had already interviewed him and decided not to hire him. Why?

                  She said he had a poor attitude.

                  Friends, sometimes the number one thing standing between you and a job is your attitude! Maybe you need to do “a check up from the neck up.”

                  I witnessed this at a job fair one time. As people approached the JobSeekers’ table I was hosting, I’d ask, “What do you do for a living?” They’d look at me and squint one eye and wrinkle their brow and say, “[Well duh], I’m unemployed!” While I was checking for attitude, they were checking to see if I had a brain.

                  If attitude is your problem, this is good news because it doesn’t take years to earn or learn a new attitude the way a college degree, a certain skill set, or specific industry experience would. Your attitude is a decision you make every day. I learned this bit of wisdom several years ago: “Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, you make a decision about what kind of day you’re going to have.” I challenge you to “decide” to have a good day today, tomorrow and every day during your job search.

                  In addition to job search, attitude plays a key role in how we deal with poor health, death, divorce, persecution and financial woes.

                  Here are five examples:

                  An old lady.

                  Once there was an old lady who lived in an assisted living facility. As her health deteriorated, it became necessary to move her into a nursing home. She was almost blind. When the day came, her son walked her into the nursing home and down the hall toward her new room. As they approached the door to her room she exclaimed, “Oh I love it! The furniture is so nice and the curtains are beautiful!” Her son said, “Mom, we’re still in the hallway.” She replied, “I know son, but I’ve already decided that I’m going to like it here.”

                  Bill Cosby.

                  In January 1997, Cosby’s only son, Ennis, was robbed and murdered on a Los Angeles highway after he stopped to fix a flat tire. On Dr. Richard Rahe’s well-known life change index, the death of your child is worst life change a person can experience. It must be even more bewildering if your child is the victim of a random murder. I wondered how Cosby would ever be able to make people laugh again. I was amazed when he was back at work and as funny as ever just a few months later. (Boy, has Cosby’s stock sunk since I first wrote this!)

                  Viktor Frankl.

                  Our chaplain, Howard Tisdale (1921-2012), quoted Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) often. Frankl survived the Holocaust, even though he was in four Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz, from 1942-45. His mother, father, brother and wife died in the camps – from the harsh conditions or the gas ovens. His entire family, except for his sister, died. In Man’s Search for Meaning, he wrote about choosing one’s attitude: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way … Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him – mentally and spiritually.” (p. 104-105)

                  The apostle Paul.

                  Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) With this in mind, he wrote to the church in Philippi: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:10-12)

                  You.

                  These examples are great, but do you know who the best example is to those around you? It’s you! Not only has God given you the opportunity to grow and to draw closer to him; he’s calling you to be a powerful witness in his name. Don’t let God down. There are people watching you to see how you bear up under the difficult circumstances you are in right now. Decide right now that you will bear this burden with dignity, that you will overcome any obstacle, and that you will be joyful no matter what the circumstances. You will bless others by doing so, and as a result, you will bless yourself.

                  Rick Warren says, “Life is a series of problems: either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ-likeness.”

                  I rejoice greatly that I know you. Along with the other members of the Ship’s Crew, we want you to find a job, but even more so, we want you to know the joy of the Lord.

                  See you on Friday at JobSeekers – where we’ll do a check up from the neck up!

                  Copyright © 2005-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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                    Resist the Temptations of Summer

                    Resist the temptations of summer.


                    How much time are you wasting?

                    Here we are in the early in the summer and I can see that Satan is winning some battles among us. We’ve got to resist the temptations of summer. I can tell many of you are not putting your full effort into your job search. Your absence at JS shows it; your lack of activity on LinkedIn proves it.

                    The topic last week was “How to earn $15K real fast.” Would you run eight $20 bills through the shredder every day? If you take the summer off, that’s the lost income for the average member of JobSeekers. Some of you are doing the equivalent of shredding money by your lack of effort!

                    During the meeting I asked, “If you were accused of looking for a job, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

                    For many of you, the answer is “no.”

                    Are the temptations of summer causing you to lose focus?

                    In this hyper-competitive job market, you’ve got to get your game face on. You’ve got to get your act together. You’ve got to get out there every day and put the pedal to the metal. Sitting on the sidelines waiting for the economy to improve in NOT an option.

                    If you want to change your results, come to JS and do what we teach.

                    If you really want to get back to work, do everything you can do to find a job – and leave to God what only He can do. We believe in a God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (See Ephesians 3:20.)

                    What are the implications of this?

                    When you succumb to the temptations of summer, your job search gets stretched out. These temptations are not sins as we typically think of sin; sin is doing (or not doing) something that prevents us from finding a job. See James 4:17, which says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Here are three examples:

                    1. An employer called me looking for a payroll administrator with ADP experience. I searched my database of résumés and couldn’t find a single match. I was certain we’d had someone at JobSeekers within the past six months with that background. He or she failed to send a resume to me and he or she missed a job opportunity.
                    2. One time I was speaking to Pat Brannon, who has given hundreds of networking leads to JobSeekers over the years. He said he gets really upset with people who he invests time with, learns their needs, gives them leads, and then they fail to follow up on them. Both Pat and I can cite specific people who have failed to follow up on networking and/or job leads. Since 80% of all jobs are found through networking, it is a safe bet that someone has missed a job because they failed to follow up.
                    3. People tell me they are going to take it easy during the summer. If you earn $62,500 per year and succumb to temptation by taking the entire summer off, your summer vacation will cost you $13K. If you reduce your effort by 30% (how would we measure such a thing?), your summer slump will cost you $3,600. If you can afford to do that, great; but most people I talk to need a job now.

                    When we are out of work and money is tight, we are more vulnerable.

                    Resist the temptations of summer.

                    Friends, the devil may have been waiting since the last crisis point in your life – like the last time you looked for a job – for you to be as vulnerable as you are now! Whether or not the Evil One caused you to lose your job, I don’t know. But I know this for sure: he will do everything he can to take advantage of the situation.

                    In Waking the Dead, John Eldredge asks (p. 155, the text within the brackets are my additions), “If you are having trouble taking in all of this, let me ask you: Have you had this experience? Something bad happens [you lose your job], and you start telling yourself what a jerk [failure] you are. Do you really think the source of that is just you? Or God? Think about it this way: Who would take the most delight in it? … Start by simply entertaining the notion that the source might be something besides your ‘low self-esteem.’”

                    Your lack of confidence, self-doubt and low self-esteem may not come from within. Here’s another thing I am sure of: when you have a negative thought that causes you to lose momentum in your campaign, it is not coming from God. Furthermore, Eldredge says that other Christians, including and especially our families, deliver some of the worst blows to our heart (p. 116 and 154). These people don’t understand who is stirring them to say things to wound you. He sights Peter as an example. When Peter told Jesus he shouldn’t go to Jerusalem for Holy Week Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan” (Matthew 16:21-23).

                    Since reading this book about spiritual warfare I look at my life, my business and your job search in a different light. For example, Satan can use a televised baseball game to his advantage. Oftentimes I stay up late to watch a game that I don’t even care about. Then I sleep a little later the next day. Maybe I could have used the extra hour in the morning to help one more person find a job. When I let myself get distracted by low priority items, I can also see that they are preventing me from growing my business. If I don’t grow my business, I won’t be able to serve Christ as ably. And who would take delight in that?

                    In James 4:7 we are commanded to “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” And 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone [you, while you are unemployed] to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers [other JobSeekers] throughout the world are undergoing the same sort of sufferings.” Take hold of these promises from God.

                    Be aware that the assaults on your heart can be overt, or they can be very subtle. Added together though, all of them can have an impact with eternal consequences. Your heart is good. You matter to God. He wants you to have a job and an abundant life. Resist the devil and he will flee from you!

                    Action item: Write to me and share how you have been engaged in battle with the Enemy.

                    Brothers and sisters in Christ, I implore your to recognize the enemy, resist the devil, get into God’s word, claim the power of the Holy Spirit, be steadfast in prayer, fellowship with other Christians, and work harder and smarter on your job search during the summer than you did a month ago. God has many blessings in store for you. Now that’s something you can have faith in!

                    Come to JobSeekers on Friday to claim the abundant life God has in store for you!

                    Copyright © 2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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