19 September 2017

God Blends Distasteful Experiences Together for Good

For most people, one of life’s most distasteful experiences is looking for a job.

I meet several JobSeekers each year who’ve been searching 12 months or more. Along with unemployment, there are usually other complicating factors involved. Things seem to go from bad to worse. There have been times in my life that have been pretty rough too. I have learned and witnessed that God can use all experiences for our good.

Rick Warren uses a great analogy in The Purpose Driven Life: “To bake a cake you must use flour, salt, raw eggs, sugar and oil. Eaten individually, each is pretty distasteful or even bitter. But bake them together and they become delicious. If you will give God all your distasteful, unpleasant experiences, he will blend them together for good.” Warren uses Romans 8:28 as his text: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

In the midst of job loss, financial hardship, stress and strain on relationships, health issues, waning self-esteem and other challenges, I encourage you to do these three things:

1. Do a checkup from the neck up.

This great piece of advice from Zig Ziglar is especially important for job seekers. On my list of the top 13 job search variables, attitude is number one. If you don’t project a positive attitude, your search will become much, much more difficult. Ziglar says, “Your attitude determines your altitude.”

Abraham Lincoln said, “People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Decide right now that you are going to have a positive, expectant attitude. Paul did. In Philippians 4:12b-13 he says, “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. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” If you want to compare what you are going through to what Paul went through, click here: 2 Corinthians 11:16-33.

2. Ask God what he wants you to learn from all this.

In elementary school, kids aren’t supposed to get promoted to the next grade unless they meet certain standards. In life, we may not get promoted until we learn the lessons that God wants us to learn. One of my clients taught me that God loves us so much that sometimes he won’t let us move forward in our careers until we learn (finally) what he wants us to learn. Let your defenses down, open your mind, listen to feedback, and yield your will to God’s will.

God is the Master Chef; he may not want you to bake cakes until you have mastered making waffles from a box recipe. Do whatever is necessary to gain the necessary experience, and to develop the attitude, skills and knowledge you need to move on to cake baking. With God’s help, you will learn how to blend the ingredients of your life and bake them into a productive career.

3. Trust God that good things are happening.

This was true in my own transition in 2000. I got pretty frustrated when I came in second on several interviews. What I didn’t realize – and couldn’t see – was that God was working in the background all along. I teach folks to ask God for what they want, but to be willing to take what God gives them; it will be better than what they ask for. In 2000, I received something much better than what I asked for – at just the right moment in time.

Now that all the ingredients are mixed together, it’s time to go to the oven. It gets mighty hot in that oven! It appears that nothing is happening at first, but the cake is going to be warm and delicious in about an hour. Your life and career will be back in order soon, though it will likely take more than an hour!

View your present situation from the perspective of your future good condition, just as you would view the raw ingredients of a cake in their future state. God can use all of your experiences – good and bad – for his purposes. It takes a willing spirit on your part. Lay all your cares at the foot of the cross. Ask God what He wants you to learn as you go through this transition. Then pray for guidance. And the peace of God will be with you.

See you Friday at JobSeekers – God’s cake-baking school.

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

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    Hurricane Opal Strikes the Heart of a Job Seeker

    100_0716Hurricane Opal Strikes: 4 October 1995

    I’ve had people asking me about how to apply for jobs at Chick-fil-A since I worked on a big project at Delta Air Lines in 1994. In 1995, I was on a big outplacement project at UPS up in Sandy Springs.

    I was working with a client named Rocky H. Rocky lived with his wife and two kids in Naples, Florida, but he was conducting his search up here in the Atlanta area. He stayed in the attic apartment of his brother’s house, which was located in the Morningside area of Decatur.

    One day Rocky told me he wanted to work for Chick-fil-A. I told him he needed to read “It’s Easier to Succeed Than to Fail” first. It’s a book about Truett Cathy’s journey of faith as he and his brother started and grew Chick-fil-A. They opened their first restaurant in Hapeville in 1946.

    In the first paragraph of the book Cathy says, “Not even God can change the past, but He can do a lot of wonderful things about the future if we’ll let Him. Each person’s destiny is not a matter of chance; it’s a matter of choice. It’s determined by what we say, what we do, and whom we trust.”

    Rocky took the book home and began to read it that night.

    Hurricane Opal had rocked the Florida panhandle between Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach the previous night – the night of October 4, 1995. As the storm passed through Atlanta, he sat in bed reading the book until the power went out. He said, “Dave, I couldn’t put the book down. I sat in the pitch dark, with the fury of the storm all around, reading by flashlight. At 2 AM, the batteries were so weak I could no longer see the words on the page. I fell asleep empowered by the testimony in the book. About an hour later I was awakened by noise and violence like I had never experienced before. A huge tree cut through the house like a giant axe and landed in my bed – along with the roof. I was stunned, but otherwise okay. I had a bruise on one leg and a small cut on the other.”

    100_0719 -- water damageRocky told me that another tree landed on the other side of the house, but still everyone was okay. When daylight broke, they could not believe the damage. As Rocky looked at the bed where he slept, he was convinced that God’s hand had protected him. The tree, the roof and other debris covered the queen-size bed where he’d slept. Only a foot of clear space remained on one edge – which is exactly where he was when the tree hit. Even though rain had poured into the house all night, the book, which was on the nightstand, suffered only slight water damage to the glossy jacket. Come to JobSeekers on Friday to see it.

    Rocky continued his story, “Dave I grew up in the church, but my family and I had drifted away over the years. Now that my life has been spared, I am dedicating my life to Christ and I will lead my family to the Lord as well.” He cited the slight damage to the book as a note from God that it was a miracle – not luck – that saved him.

    Friends, don’t wait for a tree to land on you before you change your life. Choose Christ today. Your destiny is not a matter of chance; it’s a matter of choice. Seek the Lord with all your heart, work hard every day, and trust Him to direct your paths.

    In the pictures above, you will see the 100′ tall tulip poplar that cut through the house like a hot knife through butter. You will see the bed where God spared Rocky’s life, and you will see the water-damaged book.

    Truett Cathy: 14 March 1921 – 8 September 2014

    We lost one of God’s great servants when Mr. Cathy passed away. Truett Cathy left a legacy in all of our hearts – some more than others. Many of whom he never met.

    I met him three times. One time I had the chance to tell him the story above about Rocky Hartman.

    I also met his son Dan, President of Chick-fil-A. He spoke at the Newnan FUMC Job Networking meeting a few years ago. Cathy said the key to success for Chick-fil-A is simple, “We don’t get our management philosophies from Jim Collins or Peter Drucker, we look first to the inspired word of God.”

    And from the Bible, the inspired word of God, they learned about service. He gave some great examples of going the extra mile to provide great service. At one store in Virginia, for instance, they serve chicken nuggets that have passed their consumption time to their customer’s dogs. Cathy said there are a number of dogs in Virginia that bark and get very excited every time they pass a Chick-fil-A restaurant!

    At the conclusion of his remarks, he showed a training video that was shot at the CFA in the Kedron shopping center in north Peachtree City. I recognized Alan Murray, who runs that restaurant. The video shows people entering, dining and ordering their meals. Beside each person is a message about something they are struggling with. In one, for instance, an elderly black woman sips coffee and reads a book. The word cloud says, “Husband of 49 years passed away last month; today would have been their 50th anniversary.” Another shows a seven-year-old girl, “Mother died during childbirth. Dad blames her.”

    Let’s look at one another through Jesus’ eyes as best we can. I’m not as good at it as I would like to be, but I’m trying.

    At the end Cathy took questions. One was about the company logo. In 1946 years ago his dad paid a fellow $75 to design the one they still use today. When it was my turn, I asked Cathy what advice he would give to all the job seekers who were in the room that night. He said to go on the website and apply. Talk about a straight-from-the-handbook answer! Ugh.

    – – – – –

    See you on Friday at JobSeekers – the place where we all experience the miracles of God!

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

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      Humble Yourselves Before the Lord, But…

      My clients laugh when they see this in the instructions in an exercise: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up; but when you are networking or interviewing, blow your own horn! Sell yourself!”

      We have a lot of energy directed toward us throughout our lives telling us to be humble. Our parents tell us not to brag: “Don’t brag; it’s not polite.” Our coaches tell us that we win as a team and we lose as a team. After tossing a perfect game against the Braves in May 2004, Randy Johnson said he couldn’t have done it without a great bunch of guys behind him. Even the Bible tells us to be humble: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:10).”

      After more than 24 years and working with thousands of job seekers, I’ve concluded that one of the most common problems holding job seekers back is the failure to blow their own horn. I can empathize with you; I feel somewhat embarrassed when I tell an HR person who is considering my services that I believe I’m the best career coach in Atlanta. As long as I deliver the message in spite of my embarrassment, I’ll be helping them make a decision that is good for their company and for their departing employees.

      One of my all-time favorite compliments was from a client who wrote to his former employer, “I got more in three days from O’Farrell Career Management than I did in three months from [your competitor on the north side of Atlanta].” This is an example of point three down below. Blow your own horn; it’s expected when you are searching for a job!

      Four guys who were humble and bold.

      There’s no conflict between being humble and being bold; there’s no conflict between being modest and taking credit for the good things we’ve accomplished. Want some evidence? Look at these four people:

      Moses: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3).” Moses was the most humble man on earth, yet he boldly confronted Pharaoh, the most powerful man on earth, and God used the emboldened Moses to set his people free.

      David: In 2 Samuel 17:8 David was described as being “as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs.” David was also described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). As a young teenager, he boldly confronted Goliath who said, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” David replied, “You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you.” A few minutes later, he did just that (1 Samuel 17).

      Jesus: In Matthew 11:29 Jesus said of himself, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus was humble and bold, never arrogant or full of pride. Time and time again he challenged the establishment, provoking them to such anger that they crucified him.

      Paul: Like Jesus, Paul was humble and bold. “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:31-31).” Paul spoke boldly even though there were multiple attempts to kill him (2 Corinthians 11:22-31).

      With this in mind, here are three tips to be bolder and more effective:

      1. Just do it.

      Just as Moses confronted Pharaoh, David faced Goliath, Jesus stood before Pilot, and Paul defied angry mobs throughout the northern Mediterranean region, you can pick up the phone and ask for help, or call a hiring company and tell them you want the job. You can also tell others, especially potential employers, about your accomplishments. I’m not aware of any job seeker who died while networking, interviewing or following up after an interview.

      2. Just the facts, ma’am.

      Remember Dragnet? Jack Webb played Sergeant Joe Friday on the old TV show, and this quotation was his signature line. Every week the poker-faced detective found himself interviewing some witness who offered subjective opinions instead of the hard facts. He would interrupt the witness in his uniquely deadpan style and say, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Investor’s Business Daily says to take the hype out of your message; stay away from adverbs and adjectives. For instance, instead of saying, “I successfully led an initiative that improved productivity by 36%,” say, “I led an initiative that improved productivity by 36%.”

      3. Share the facts – specific, quantified facts – please.

      When we do role-plays in my office, clients almost always miss opportunities to slip a fact-based accomplishment into the networking and interviewing vignettes. I’ll hear this: “I moved to Atlanta and ran the plant here for five years.” I’d rather hear this: “After implementing team-building and cost-cutting initiatives in Cincinnati, they transferred me to Atlanta to run the plant and overhaul the operations. We won ‘best production facility’ in my third, fourth and final year at Valvoline.”

      This third tip employs peer analysis and third-party proofs; both report that what you are saying is not just your opinion of yourself, but someone else’s as well. If you can put it in the context of, “It may be helpful for you to know…” or “I was fortunate to…” then it is positioned not that you are bragging, but that this information is important for the other party to make a sound business decision about your candidacy.

      One final point about delivering the message; your body language and voice have more to do with how the message is received than the words you say. If you leave out the superlatives and state the facts in a neutral tone with comfortable body language, you’ll get your point across without seeming to be full of pride.

      Yes, God wants us to humble ourselves before him; he wants us to admit that we are dependent upon him for hope and faith and love – and for strength, courage and boldness too. So when you are networking and interviewing, have a healthy sense of pride in your accomplishments – not a false humility.

      “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (1 Timothy 1:7).”

      See you on Friday at JobSeekers, the place where we are both humble and bold!

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

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        JobSeekers of PTC Begins 20th Year of Ministry

        Praise the Lord; we are beginning our 20th year of ministry in Peachtree City!

        As I am out and about, people ask me things like, “Is anyone finding a job?” They make comments like “Things must be pretty tough these days.”

        Are they tough? Sure they are. Are they hopeless? Absolutely not. No matter how tough things may be, we ALWAYS have hope because we believe in the living God – the Lord of the Universe; the Lord of our lives.

        People who attend JobSeekers regularly and put what we teach into practice also have hope because they know all they need is ONE job, and when they land that ONE job, CNN and all the other media outlets will continue to tell us how depressing things are on the economic front. The unemployment rate will not change one iota in the county, state or country – but they will change dramatically in that one home.

        Here’s a fairly typical and brief ‘thank you’ message: “Though my membership was brief, I wanted to thank you for your ministry. I came the first time fairly cynical and not expecting much but left very encouraged and energized.” And here’s a longer message from someone else. She got involved and got a job.

        With God’s help, we’ve been beating the odds every week for 20 years at JobSeekers. You can read a brief history of JS PTC here.

        It’s about relationships

        I gave a talk to about 40 people up in Dunwoody in June 2004. The Jewish Family & Career Service hosted the meeting. When I met with the planner 13 days prior to the meeting, I asked her if I could use examples from the Old Testament to support my points and help motivate the audience. She recommended against it because the audience would not only consist of Jewish participants but Christians, Muslims and agnostics as well. If it weren’t for the agnostics, I could at least have worked from Abraham backwards!

        The audience lacked the vital energy that we have at JobSeekers of Peachtree City. As I thought about this, two things came to my mind. First, the Gospel is not proclaimed. Our faith is a source of peace, power and protection; it is much easier to go through a job search with the hope we have as Christians. Second, and this is key to any group, is the fact that nearly everyone present was there for the first time. They didn’t know each other and they weren’t pulling for each other.

        A band of brothers and sisters in Christ

        In Waking the Dead, John Eldredge talks about how important it is to fight our battles in groups. Dorothy took her journey to find the Wizard with the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Lion and Toto. Captain John Miller goes behind enemy lines with a squad of eight rangers to save Private Ryan. In Gladiator, Maximus rallies his small group of gladiators and triumphs over the greatest empire on earth. And Jesus had the twelve disciples, plus Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Eldredge says we must not go it alone (see pages 187 and 188).

        At JobSeekers, we don’t go it alone either. We meet each week for learning and fellowship. We share our joys and our struggles. Afterwards, one-third to one-half of the people stick around for networking and fellowship; it’s one of my favorite times of the week. Here and elsewhere, I often hear of how you interact with one another throughout the week:

        1. We support each other one-on-one. One JobSeeker wrote: “I appreciate all the fellowship and support JobSeekers gave me in a time of need. You always had encouraging thoughts, and George was a big help to me also. I had days where I just didn’t think anything was going to happen and there was George with an email to tell me to keep on trucking.”

        2. We pray for one another. Another wrote: “After I accepted the offer the first thing that popped into my head was all of us together that morning praying for each other in our job search. The power of prayer worked that day for me and my family.”

        3. We work as a group to inspire one person. A third wrote: “As the meeting started, a peace came over me and felt truly inspired; I’m not alone! I’m not a big loser! This gave me the motivation I needed to get through today. I left the meeting determined to accomplish something today.”

        4. We give wise counsel to each other. Another wrote: “I cannot thank you enough for the encouragement and help that you have provided. You helped me to get focused on what I wanted to do for a living after months of thinking that I should change careers. In my mind, I was a failure at what I spent my career doing. It was Dave’s seminar that got me to revisit my former employer, and I found that I was not the failure that I believed myself to be.”

        5. We trade job leads. We’ve had dozens of people get a good job close to home because one JobSeeker referred another to a specific job. This includes former JobSeekers targeting and hiring current JobSeekers.

        Things like this happen all the time.

        Philippians 2:4 says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” We are not asked to go through trials like career transition alone. In fact, it is for these types of challenges that we are encouraged to develop communities of believers who are able to support our needs and to contribute to the needs of others. (This paragraph is from Christ Centered Career Groups.)

        Whether your current struggle is job search or something else, my prayer is that all of you will find several people who will go on this journey and fight this battle with you.

        See you on Friday at JobSeekers, where we are a band of brothers and sisters in Christ!

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

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          O’Farrell Misses the Boat

          Networking is by far the number one way people find jobs. One client of mine compared networking to sowing seeds. Ken said, “I’m convinced that networking is like planting seeds. Some will germinate, but it may take a while. The seeds need ongoing attention to help them grow.”

          Friends, listen to me: network even when it seems like networking is not working.

          To illustrate the consequences of doing the right and wrong things, I think back to August 1985 and a scuba trip to West Palm Beach. Some friends and I dove on a Greek yacht named the Mizpah. It was a night dive in 85 feet of water, two miles off the coast. We were warned of the dangers of the Gulf Stream currents; they could sweep you miles away from the dive boat in the middle of the night.

          My scuba buddy, Ron Bennett, and I were selected by the dive master to lead a group of 20 people down to the Mizpah. I wasn’t terrified of the pitch-black water. I wasn’t terrified of the nocturnal creatures that prowl the seas. I wasn’t terrified of being swept away by the Gulf Stream currents.

          I was terrified of the wrath of the other 18 people if we missed the boat.

          O’Farrell Misses the Boat

          To understand my high anxiety, I will take you back three weeks prior. Ron and I and some of the same people were in Fort Lauderdale to dive on the Mercedes, a freighter that had been sunk in 97 feet of water one mile off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. Ron had dived on the ship once before; I was in Atlanta for Independence Day. He said it had been a fantastic dive; they could see the freighter as soon as they jumped in the water.

          On this particular dive we ignored the dive master’s navigation instructions and simply started swimming down; visibility was poor and we couldn’t see the ship. We swam against the current in what we thought was the right direction, but still no ship. When we reached a depth of 75 feet, we finally saw something. Sand. Nothing but sand.

          We missed the boat.

          Ron and I had an underwater argument about whether we should swim around on the bottom looking for a 195 foot long ship or go back to the surface and asking for help. We were rookie scuba divers and had been warned about doing a “pop up,” which is exactly what we were about to do.

          The boat captain and the deck hand let us have it. They dragged us over to the drop site again while we hung on to the dive platform for dear life. We used up most of our air during this exhausting experience. We found the boat on the second try, but were only able to spend seven minutes exploring the Mercedes. The other divers teased unmercifully for the rest of the weekend (and for years to come).

          So on this night Ron and I are on the platform about to jump into the dark and eerie waters while all these thoughts are racing through my head. Then I remembered our training; I remembered what the instructors had said about reaching our goal: “Swim hard, swim south and don’t take your eyes off your compass.” We swam due south, directly against the current. We did what we knew was right even though we couldn’t see the target. I looked up just before we hit the bow of the boat.

          It was a wonderful dive. We went into one room and pushed our flashlights into the sand so they didn’t cast any light. It was cool to see hundreds of bio-luminescent creatures glowing in the darkness of the deep.

          Listen to the Experts

          Friends, listen to the experts. Do what we say works. Don’t take your eyes off your compass. Your target will be right ahead of you if you don’t let yourself get distracted, if you don’t wander off on one tangent after another. If you do, you could end up miles away from your target and looking at nothing but sand.

          Network! Chances are as high as 80% that you will find your next job through a personal contact. Why not shorten the time by doing more networking? Bring up your job search in almost every conversation you have, especially with new people. You may not see your next job up ahead, but it’s out there. You have to do the right things to find it.

          – Dave O’Farrell

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

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            Feeling Stressed? Take Dr. Rahe’s Test


            Richard H. Rahe, M.D.

            Feeling stressed? Today you will have the opportunity to take Dr. Rahe’s test while you are in the midst of a life-changing event.

            You can estimate your risk of having a stress-related illness or accident using a calculator developed by Richard H. Rahe, M.D., a world-renowned expert on stress-related illness. The test assigns a measurement called a Life Change Unit (LCU) to events – positive and negative – that cause stress. The higher your LCU total, the greater your risk of a stress-related illness or accident within the coming year.

            Here are the top 10 (out of 55) life change events:

            1. Death of a child
            2. Death of a spouse
            3. Death of parent or sibling
            4. Divorce
            5. Separation from spouse due to marital difficulties or work
            6. Being held in jail
            7. Loss of your job
            8. An illness or injury that was very serious
            9. Death of a close friend
            10. Pregnancy

            Notice that four of the 10 have to do with the death of a loved one or friend; as difficult as they are, they don’t reflect on who you are as a person. One (pregnancy) is good news, and one (jail) probably hasn’t happened to most of the people who read this newsletter. Of the top 10 life change events, divorce and job loss represent the two biggest attacks on a person’s ego.

            In Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs tells the story of two friends who battled cancer and won. Both men soon found themselves unemployed. One said, “I was never depressed when dealing with cancer and possibly dying, but when I left my work, which was my identity, I went into a depression that was like nothing I had ever experienced before.” Are there things worse than job loss? Absolutely; but being unemployed is one of the toughest spiritual battles you will ever face.

            If you are looking for a job you may feel you’ve had your ego attacked by your former employer, by prospective employers who’ve chosen someone else over you, and by potential networking partners who’ve refused to help you. You may be experiencing financial difficulties, you may have lost contact with close friends you used to work with, you may have lost the structure in your day and your week and don’t know what to do, and you may be facing the prospect of moving to a distant city in order to find a meaningful position. Your LCU score may be very high.

            Who can relate to what I’m talking about here?

            You’ve gone through a lot. You may go through more. When it rains, it pours. Problems compound. It seems there is no hope. Now your health is on the decline. Doctors have long recognized that stress can trigger a range of illnesses, from backache and headache to gastrointestinal problems, a weak immune system and heart attacks.

            How much stress are you under? To access the test, click here. Go to “Products” and choose “A Recent Life Changes Stress Test.” They charge $5; it used to be $1. No joke. I can show you my credit card bill! If you just want to read more, click here for an article about a similar study that involved Rahe and another psychiatrist.

            Over a one-year period, a life change score of 450 or higher means not only that several life changes have occurred, but also that some of these changes had very high stress values. This high recent life change stress load is called a “life crisis.” Two out of three people experiencing a life crisis will develop one or more illnesses, or have an accident, during the following year.

            In January 2004, my score was 558. During the preceding six months I’d gotten divorced, bought a condo, lost my primary source of income, and started a business. You may have guessed that I also experienced financial difficulties. I also suffered a broken or dislocated rib when I slid head first into third base during a softball game; I got divorced in the morning (12 years ago last month) and broke my rib the same evening. Since I was more than 100 points above 450, Dr. Rahe would say that I had a 75% chance of illness or injury in 2004. Praise the Lord I made it through in one piece; I did have a bike wreck that December, but was unhurt. My current life change score is more than 500 points lower.

            By the way, life change events are not the only things that put stress on our minds, bodies and spirits. We need to take steps to guard our hearts from persistent, long-term stressors as well. I’ll address this topic in two weeks.

            You can learn three things from my experience:

            1. You are in temporary state.

            As it was for me, the good news is that most people do not remain in a life crisis for more than a year or two. That’s because subsequent illnesses and accidents demand your attention and you begin to cultivate important stress management and lifestyle coping capabilities. There is a purpose in your suffering. I am reminded of James’ words, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4

            2. You have choices; be proactive.

            To decrease the length and severity of your temporary state, you must do something! Get out of bed and come to JobSeekers; I did in 2004 – and I was the leader! I came to bless others, and I received a blessing myself. Being proactive gives you a sense of control. Even more important than JobSeekers is the decision you make about the spiritual perspective you will have on your job search and your journey through life. Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33

            3. You matter to God.

            No matter what happens to you in life, no matter what you do or what you’ve done in life, your heart matters to God. He loves you and he wants the best for you. He can take the shattered crystal and broken glass in your life and turn it into a beautiful stained glass window. God promises to work for the good of those who love him: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

            Later in the same chapter Paul says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35-39

            In a devotional at JobSeekers a few years ago, John Hobbs, Pastor of Care Counseling at Crossroads Church in Newnan, used Habakkuk 3:17-18: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

            Friends, God loves us even when the rain falls. God loves us even when the floods start rising. God loves us even when the storms come. In fact, we are washed by His cleansing water during the most difficult days of our lives. (Adapted from the lyrics of “Washed by the Water” by NEEDTOBREATHE.)

            How are you going to respond to God’s call during this significant life change event?

            See you Friday at JobSeekers, where we are more than conquerors through him who loved us!

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

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              What it Means to be World-Class

              I remember watching the 2012 Olympics in London and thinking about what it means to be world-class. Michael Phelps won the 19th medal of his Olympic career. It’s a staggering number. The U.S. women’s gymnastics team won their first gold medal since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas, all five women, who ranged in age from 15 to 17, said they decided they would compete in the Olympics during the 2004 Games in Athens. Kyla Ross was only seven at the time.

              They dedicated eight years of their lives to winning the gold. Yes, half their lifetime. One young lady, McKayla Maroney, had developed a special talent for the vault. Even among the world’s very best vaulters, she soared two feet higher than any other competitor. One night she was perfection and grace and beauty in motion – so much so that one judge’s mouth dropped wide open. The analysts were shocked when she did not receive a perfect score.

              My Peachtree Road Race experience.

              I never aspired to be a world-class athlete, but I thought I was a pretty fast runner. In fact, in my junior year of high school, I was the fastest cross country runner in a school with 2000+ students. In my first Peachtree Road Race I placed 193rd. If you are wondering how I did so well in the world’s largest 10 kilometer race, you should probably know there were only 1159 participants that year. Now there are 60,000.

              The next year I ran my best time, 39:40. That’s a six-and-a-half minute mile. Six of ‘em in a row.

              This was so long ago that the race finished in downtown Atlanta at Central City Park. I remember standing at the base of the Trust Company Bank building, hunched over, hands on knees, sucking air as fast as I could, and feeling elated about my excellent time. I looked up and saw Chase Van Valkenburg casually standing nearby with his hands on his hips. Chase was the fastest cross country runner in DeKalb County. In fact he holds some Georgia high school records to this day. By the way, can you be a runner and have a better name than “Chase Van Valkenburg?”

              “Hey Chase, Dave O’Farrell, Southwest DeKalb. How’d you do?” I ask while gasping for air.

              “Not so good. How’d you do?” He asks.

              “Fantastic; 39:40!” I say.

              “Oh, I ran 34:20.” He replies.

              Ouch. Crashed and burned. In a six-mile race, Van Valkenburg beat me by a mile. But the fastest guy in the state finished a mile behind Don Kardong, whose winning time was 29:14. Now that’s world class.

              Come to think of it, I lost that six-mile race by two miles. Can you say, “embarrassing?”

              The course record was established in Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic year, by Joseph Kimani of Kenya at 27:01. Amazing.

              Your job search experience.

              In job search, the number of competitors for a single job may be 1159 people. You don’t want to come in 193rd. This week one of our clients said he beat out 45 other candidates for a job. That’s pretty good. Even better when you consider this gentleman had a stroke about a year ago. Al beat the odds with his faith, his hard work, and his preparation. He didn’t have a pity party. He didn’t make excuses. He went all out and won the one job he needed to provide for his family. Congratulations Al!

              Be like Al. Have faith. Work hard. Prepare yourself. Beat the odds. Win the job.

              Gene Griessman interviewed some of the most successful people of the 20th century and recorded those conversations in his book, “The Achievement Factors.” He started his chapter on competence with Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus said, “I don’t think talent is as important as the work and dedication necessary to become competent. A lot of guys out there are more talented than I am, and through the years we’ve passed them all by.”

              Chase Van Valkenburg might have been more talented that I was, but I would have passed him by if he had not put in the hard work and dedication necessary to be the best in the county.

              I still enjoy running. In fact, I ran three miles before sitting down to write this article. I have chosen not to dedicate myself to being the best runner in my age group. In fact, when I go running with my best friend from high school and cross country teammate, Ted Wansley, these days, we start off nice and slow – and then we taper off from there.

              My passion now is helping people win jobs. I’ve dedicated the past 24 years to perfecting my craft. Nicklaus told Griessman that, even after winning multiple major championships, he was still trying to perfect his game. I look at résumés I wrote 10 years ago and say, “Who wrote this junk?” After all, I’d only been writing résumés for 14 years at the time.

              Think about all the seven-year-old gymnasts who decided in 2004 they are going to compete in the Olympics one day. How did Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber win the gold when tens of thousands of other girls didn’t even make it to the games?

              Do what they did: work at the craft of finding a job, perfect your skills, overcome your weaknesses and fears, play to your strengths – and then leave the results confidently to God.

              See you Friday at JobSeekers, where we are becoming world-class job seekers every week!

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

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                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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