Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Personal Development

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to personal development.

This Japanese Technique Will Help You Achieve Your Goals

You have to set goals and form a plan if you want to succeed at anything significant.  That is a fact. Unfortunately, not everybody goes through this exercise when setting out to accomplish something new and, therefore, don’t make it too far. If you do organize yourself and set personal development goals, then you also know that you can’t complete 100% of them. Why is that?

Independent contractors set out to achieve new goals every day — learning new programming skills, reading more books, applying to more jobs — but unfortunately failure still happens. Sometimes it has to do with lack of time or extenuating circumstances, but other times, it’s pure laziness. This video from Bright Side shares a Japanese technique to help you get over the laziness hurdle. As far as time goes, that’s a post for another day.

Awkward is the New Awesome

If you ever get called “awkward” don’t take it as an insult. That’s according to this video from Business Insider. Psychologist Ty Tashiro, author of “Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially awkward and Why That’s Awesome,” explains the reasoning behind people’s awkwardness and why it actually speaks volumes to their abilities.

It turns out, those of you “nerding out” and dressing up in elaborate costumes at Comic Con may be considered awkward, but it also means you’re focused and very knowledgeable at what you do!

10 Ways to Become a More Confident Person

Lack of confidence can have a large impact on not only your success on IT contracts, but also on many of your daily activities. Not being confident can cause you to have negative thoughts about yourself, which can change your behaviour. When feeling down about yourself, you start to avoid certain situations that make you feel insecure. Luckily, it is possible for anyone to build and develop their self-confidence!

Having confidence is extremely important as it can increase your self-esteem and overall happiness. By improving your self-confidence you will become a more appealing individual in every way! It is completely normal to have off-days where you might not be feeling the greatest, however with these useful tips from Vegas Extreme Skydiving you will be able to learn ways to give a major power boost to your confidence.

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6 Great Ways to Conquer Your Fears [Infographic] by the team at Vegas Extreme Skydiving

How to Learn When It Doesn’t Seem Feasible

How to Learn When It Doesn't Seem FeasibleForget the ABC (Always-Be-Closing) approach Alec Baldwin made famous in the in the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross. As Kevin Dee’s recent post indicated, independent contractors — and all professionals — need to Always-Be-Learning if they want to stay competitive within their industry.

A recent Contractor Quick Poll revealed that our readers want to increase their training and development this year, but the reality is few people have the time and/or money to go back to school and take courses to learn a new skill or improve a current one. The alternative is to get creative and figure out how you can learn and expand your knowledge during your everyday life. There are unlimited ways to achieve this and it often only takes a bit of creativity and innovation, or a simple Google Search.

Learn While at Work

This article from The Muse outlines unique learning opportunities for full-time employees and there are some helpful take-aways for independent contractors as well; for example, earning a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) Certificate and Joining a Professional Network. The referenced article suggests these are ways to learn at work, but we recommend holding off on taking an online course or attending a networking event until a time when you’re not billing the client. That said, you can use work time as a chance to network with fellow IT contractors to learn about professional networks and courses that they find helpful.

Learn While Winding Down

According to this Entrepreneur slideshow, the average person spends 17 minutes on YouTube every day, making it the #3 biggest time waster stealing your productivity. Fortunately, Dice found a way to make YouTube productive with these 6 channels for developers that help you build your skills and learn various languages and platforms. If you’re interested, check out:

We also recommend Eagle’s YouTube channel which features quick, helpful videos for independent contractors.

How do you learn? Everybody has their own way of keeping on top of the latest trends. We’ve shared some unique training ideas for contractors on the Talent Development Centre and if you have new ones, we want to hear about them! Please share your secrets with our readers in the comments section below.

Do You Have a Plan?

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on April 1st, 2017

Goals quote by NightingaleGoals can make a big difference in your life.

If you have no real plan for your life then here are a few thoughts for you.

  1. If you don’t know where you are going, then you might not like where you end up.
  2. If you have trouble defining where that end point should be, or what it looks like, then pick a point along the way! e.g. If you don’t know what your career will look like in 10 years, then decide where you would like to be in a year.
  3. Aim big. If you shoot for the stars you might not get there, but you will go a long way towards them. If you aim for the roof, you might not even get there!

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”   Bruce Lee

  1. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! So … plan your strategy for success in small bits, it will make it easier to achieve.
  2. Review your plans regularly, make sure you are tracking to plan and adjust accordingly.
  3. Get help! Find a mentor/mentors, people that will help you.
  4. Treat your life seriously … you only get one shot! So, make sure you do what you want with it … and make sure you enjoy it!
  5. Fact: Hard work and good planning will get you a LONG way! If you apply some smarts to that formula you will rock the world!

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  Nelson Mandela

  1. Its not all about you! Sometimes you get more by giving. You will need to figure this out for yourselves, but my advice is to “give” as much as you can.
  2. Every day is the start of the rest of your life, if you are late starting on your journey that’s OK. Just start!

“I do know that when I am 60, I should be attempting to achieve different personal goals than those which had priority at age 20.”  Warren Buffett

Goals don’t have to be hard … but you really should have some.

“To live a fulfilled life, we need to keep creating the “what is next”, of our lives. Without dreams and goals there is no living, only merely existing, and that is not why we are here.”  Mark Twain

Find More IT Jobs by Improving These Soft Skills

We talk a lot about the soft skills IT contractors need in order to succeed on gigs. Unless you’re exceptionally one-of-a-kind in your field, you can’t get away with just your programming skills or project management experience — you can only truly stand-out with the proper soft skills.

Today’s digital economy demands more than just a great education. In this video from Entrepreneur, leading scholar Ernest Wilson discusses a recent study he led. They interviewed managers from all industries to learn what they look for when hiring, and discovered that it’s beyond an impressive degree. Wilson summed up 5 in-demand, undersupplied soft skills that top companies are seeking.

Business Owner? Invest in YOU!

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on March 23rd, 2017

learning quote from Brian HerbertEagle has been working with independent contractors for more than twenty years.  One of the challenges that any business owner faces is in personal development and it is particularly tough for the owner of a one person business.  If “the business” is taking time out for training, then it is not making money  and a second issue is that the business also has to pay for training.

When I started Eagle I had a similar dilemma, how do I continue to learn about running a business and still do my day job.

“Develop a passion for learning.  If you do, you will never cease to grow.”  Anthony J D’Angelo

Here are some ideas:

Read! It seems obvious … but so few people do it! I love the Executive Book Summaries because they are an 8 page (20 minute read) synopsis of some of the greatest business books. A very affordable annual fee lets me download pdf files that I print and read when I have a few minutes between meetings or when I’m traveling! I also subscribe to Harvard Business Review which produces short, very informative and relevant documents that keep me thinking, give me ideas and help me to stay relevant.

Network! I started a small group of fellow CEOs that gathered on a monthly basis to share stories and collectively grow. There are many existing groups that provide the same experience.  Over the years I have belonged to numerous such groups .. including the group of CEOs who ride motorcycles!  If you are an independent contractor why not start your own networking group?

Online Training.   In recent years there has been an explosion of available, and free or very affordable, training online.  Sites such as Coursera and others like it have great training in a plethora of subjects.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”  John F Kennedy

My advice to any business owner, particularly the independent operator …invest a little in yourself and you differentiate from almost everyone else!

True Geeks Will Love this Motivational Infographic

Are you one of those people who base their entire life off of advice given in Star Wars, Disney Movies or your favourite childhood cartoons? There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Classic books, movies and television became the classics they are because of unforgettable, intelligent writing. As a result, many people recite motivational quotes from their favourite characters… even if it is a little geeky.

To prove that you’re not alone, we found this infographic from PlaygroundEquipment.com that compiles 30 different motivational quotes from some of the most influential fictional teachers and mentors. Everybody from Yoda to Mary Poppins, Master Splinter and even Boy Meets World’s Mr. Feeny are included in this throwback graphic. At least one of these quotes will connect with you and make your day. Can you find your favourite?

Alphabet of Nostalgia: 90s Edition - PlaygroundEquipment.com - Infographic
PlaygroundEquipment.com

Stay Focused and Impress Your Clients

Clients, phone calls, email, social media — there are so many distractions around our office that prevent us from getting work done faster.  And if you work from home, you can expand on those distractions when you factor in family, pets and (for some of us) the kitchen.

A common criticism we hear back from clients at the end of a contract is that a contractor wasn’t focused on their work enough, and they felt they were sharing their time with personal phone calls, emails or social networks.  Sure, the client’s employees do the same, but companies hold independent contractors to a higher standard. After all, how would you feel if the carpenter billing you by the hour took 45 minutes each morning to check Facebook instead of building your deck?

Because independent contractors can stand out with exceptional customer service and high productivity, you should make it a priority to remain as focused as possible, regardless of all of the distractions around you. Almost everyone can improve in this area to some degree, so have a look at this infographic from On Stride Financial for ideas to impress your client.

Get More Positive Stress at Work

Positive pressures create a way to balance out anxiety and worry

This post by Mark Swartz was originally published on the Monster Career Advice Blog.

Get More Positive Stress at Work (Positive pressures create a way to balance out anxiety and worry)Here’s some sunny news about stress: certain types can actually be good for you. A bit of pressure and nerves gets you focused.

But too much of what happens at work creates “distress” (negative tension). Like lack of control. Or not enough resources to do the job well. That can lead to ailments of the body and mind.

Creating more positive tension, also known as “eustress,” takes a conscious effort. A number of techniques are available to turn this into a healthy habit.

Good Stress Builds You Up

We all know the symptoms of stress. Over time the bad kind can lead to health problems, or play havoc on emotions unless dealt with.

Eustress does the opposite. There’s still tension and pressure involved. Only it challenges you to try harder, reminds you to concentrate on what’s important, and generates results that improve self-confidence.

Good stress is a great antidote to negative tension. There is less wear and tear, more drive toward accomplishment.

How Eustress Is Experienced

You know that feeling of butterflies in your stomach? Not the kind that makes you violently nauseous, or leaves you paralyzed with fear.

It’s more like the nervousness you feel on the way to a job interview you’ve prepared for, or before making a presentation in front of your colleagues.

The adrenalin is flowing. Your heart pumps faster and louder. All of your senses seem amplified. This fight-or-flight response makes you more alert and ready for the tasks at hand. It seems like whatever is about to happen will be within your coping abilities.

When the challenge you’re facing is completed, relative calmness returns. Eustress tends to be short-term and event-specific.

Typical Good Stressors At Work

There are lots of examples of positive personal stressors on the job. These may include:

  • Starting a new job or career you’re excited about
  • Receiving a desired promotion or raise
  • Relocating for work after asking to be re-assigned
  • Getting ready for a much needed vacation when things are busy
  • Preparing for retirement

 

Big events such as changing jobs or relocating don’t arise frequently. So you’ll have to produce your own eustress on a more regular basis. Consider the examples below.

Learn a new skill

It can be stressful to try and pick up new knowledge or skills. Yet it ultimately brings about self-improvement and increased personal marketability. Those are the hallmarks of eustress.

Set Firmer Boundaries

Have you said “no” recently when the boss asked you to work nights and weekends? Standing up for yourself takes gumption. It often creates tension at first, which encourages you to take care and do it respectfully.

Volunteer To Do A Presentation

Few things boost your profile like giving a well-prepared talk. Yet few things are as nerve-wracking as public speaking. The secret is to know your stuff, cater to the needs of your audience, and rehearse till it hurts.

Deal With Workplace Conflicts

It is risky to confront an annoying colleague or supervisor. However if something must be done, proceed in ways that are likely to generate eustress. Plan your approach carefully. Try to propose win-win solutions. And do your best to keep emotions in check.

Take On A Stretch Assignment

Step out of your comfort zone every so often. Offer to work on a committee that puts you in a leadership role. Attempt to solve a problem that no one else has been able to.

Eustress Versus You Stress

Worry and strain are among the many aspects of working life. They need to be balanced with positivity in your daily routine.

Eustress is beneficial pressure that ignites your resolve to succeed. Insert more of it into your overall activities. At first you may feel increasingly vulnerable. But as you learn to manage the fears, you can harness those butterflies to fly in formation.