Hindsight is 20/20

In just a few short months, it will be 2020. It’s pretty amazing considering so many of us can vividly remember the “Y2K scare” as we anxiously awaited what we thought would be the world shutting down. How is that already 20 years ago?

Time flies by. I remember my parents saying time only goes by faster as you get older and I completely get it now, especially as I watch my two little boys figuring our their world and we count down the weeks for baby boy #3 to join us. I swear I just blink and a year goes by.

But almost simultaneously, I wonder how it’s possible that so much has changed in such little time. My passions and talents still remain the same, but the things that matter most to me have varied and, as a result, the way I do things and the reason I do things have changed.

We talk a lot about how life likes to present us with both opportunities and challenges, and both are great teachers when you learn where to see the lesson. Next year, I think we’ll start to see and hear the phrase “hindsight is 20/20” a lot as people look to explain away a mistake or a poor decision they’ve made.

So, before the phrase becomes overused to a fault, I’m taking a stand: “hindsight is 20/20” should never be an excuse. It should never be the reason why you believe something could have been done better or differently.

As a coach, I guide my clients to learn from their past but to spend more time in their present. With greater awareness in this moment, more options become available and possibilities increase. Spending time dwelling on the past distracts you from today, the place and time where life is happening.

So, instead of “hindsight is 20/20,” I’m encouraging everyone to replace it with a more productive phrase: 20/20 vision. This is about seeing clearly, not looking back. Though there are lessons when we review our past, what is more valuable is to be fully tuned in and present in the moment – to have 20/20 vision today. That takes effort, intention and commitment. It requires getting past habits and routines and seeing things new and fresh.

So, as we approach 2020, don’t think to yourself, “well, hindsight is 20/20 and I should have done XYZ.” Instead, use it as a reminder to bring your best and clearest vision to your day. Have 20/20 vision as you look at where you are and what is possible. Use this to see things clearly and to get energized for all that life can offer.

Let’s get started.

Take Action
Challenge yourself to take 10 minutes out of your day to create three lists. On one list, write down everything you love to do. On the second list, write down everything you’re really good at. And on the last list, write down everything that really matters to you.

You’ll discover that the real challenge is not to find the time to do it, but instead to avoid using each list to create the next one. There may be some overlap, but the point of this exercise is to illustrate that, for example, you may have existing passions (what you love to do) and talents (what you’re really good at) that are aligned but you may never have considered exploring as a job, career or hobby.

Let the term 20/20 not make you focus on hindsight, but rather be an inspiration to see clearly today. See the real you. Define what makes you happy. Find your fit in today’s world. Then go make it happen.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Managing Your Self-Talk

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3 Ways to Prepare to Ace Your Job Interview

So, you are thinking of leaving your current job to see if there is something that fits you better. Maybe you want to leave because you have a manager that makes too little time for you, doesn’t encourage your learning and development, or doesn’t provide meaningful feedback, particularly applause when you do great things. Maybe you have grown as far as you can grow in the organization because the path for advancement will move you from your high-performance abilities to those out of your high-performance areas. Or, maybe you’re just ready for a change.

Woman interviewing potential candidate for a job

Regardless of the reason, it’s important to prep for your future interview. The interview process is changing, becoming more action-oriented, which means your prep also needs to change. Consider these three tips to fully prepare yourself so you can ace the interview.

  1. Invest in greater self-awareness to know your strengths, interests and values. The interview is your opportunity to share who you are. This requires great self-knowledge. Reflect on what you do well, your interests and what activates your best performance. You can’t wisely assess whether you have what it takes to succeed in the role if you are unaware of your abilities. Consider taking an assessment, doing self-discovery work or working with a coach to get clear about who you are.
  2. Create a list of what you want the organization to know about you. Though all organizations interview, few are effective or good at it. That means that unless you are prepared, you may leave the interview without having shared the critical and important information they need to know about you to wisely consider you for the role. Your greater self-awareness (step 1 above) has provided you with your success attributes that you must share in the interview. Don’t leave the interview until you share these attributes. You may even have to say something like, “I wanted to share the three things about me (my three greatest abilities) that will show how I can add value and make a difference in this role. Would now be a good time to share these with you?”
  3. Create a list of what you want to know about the organization, role or manager. Understand the organization and its focus, vision and mission. Understand the role, what it does and its importance to the organization, and get an understanding of the management style and culture of the organization. Create a list of anything you need to know to be able to say yes or no to this opportunity.

Take Action
Remember, an interview is an information-gathering-and-sharing event. Have the information you want to share and know the information you need to gather. Know yourself, then be clear about what information you want them to know about you, even if they forget to ask. Know what information you need to discover or confirm about them. The goal is to have enough of the right information to assess whether you fit them and they fit you. Do your homework. Preparation is key.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading What Do You Want in 2019?

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What Pasta Can Teach You About Having a Great Life in 2019

By Jay Forte

My family is Italian. In an Italian house, all good life lessons involve food. Here is one…

Life is like pasta because no matter how you serve it, it is always good. But with a little information about the shape of the pasta (what makes it unique) and the sauce that fits it, it can change the dish from good to great. This requires a quick pasta lesson.

Pasta is a “carrier” – the shape of the pasta is used to deliver, appreciate and celebrate its sauce. There are nine types of pasta – short/long, smooth/lined, flat/round, straight/cupped, or filled. Pasta – good. Pasta with the right sauce – great.

Consider:

  • Chunky sauces (think marinara, Bolognese, vegetable or meat sauces) require pasta with lines, edges and short lengths so they can carry the chunky sauce with each bite.
  • Oil or butter sauces (think pesto, garlic and oil, cheese and butter) require smooth or filled pasta of any length or size because they just need to be evenly coated and light to allow the taste of the filling to shine through.
  • Cheesy sauces (think alfredo, béchamel or any creamy sauce) require shorter pasta with large openings, curves or scoops to bring more of the sauce with each bite.

Think about the American favorite – spaghetti with meat sauce. A meat or tomato sauce does not stick to a slick, long and thin, slippery pasta. The result is when you finish the pasta, the sauce is still in the bowl. Unforgivable for an Italian! Instead, if you love meat or tomato sauce, use a lined ziti, penne, mostaccioli or rigatoni – you’ll enjoy the sauce and the pasta together. With this little bit of information, we can now better match the sauce with the pasta and go from good to great.

It is the same in life. To set the stage for a great and happy life in 2019, remember that we are each like a shape of pasta – we are unique in our personal combination of talents, interests and values. This combination works great in some places and not so well in others. When we know ourselves and connect ourselves to the places in work and life that fit us, we are like pasta connecting to the rights sauce – things move from good to great. When we align ourselves to what we do and like best, we become more capable, competent and confident. We have found our “thing.” We feel more successful and happier. Everything is better.

The more you know and appreciate what makes you unique, the more I am reminded of what my mother told us as she taught my five siblings and me how to cook, “When you know your ingredients, you can always make something great.”

Know your ingredients – your talents, strengths and passions – then select the things in life that need your amazing (and unique) ingredients. This is how to go from good to great in the kitchen, and how to have a great and happy life in 2019 and beyond.

One of my favorite pasta recipes: Ziti with Spinach and Olives

In a large sauté pan, sauté a finally chopped onion, pancetta (or smoky bacon) and crushed red pepper in olive oil. When cooked, add black and green olives (I’m Italian – I don’t measure things; we go by look and feel. Add as many olives as you like). In a separate pot, cook ziti (smooth, no lines; this is an oil-based sauce). Drain ziti and add to it to the pan with onion, pancetta and olives, and return it to the (low) heat. Add a small handful of fresh gently-chopped spinach for each person being served and stir until the spinach is wilted and the ingredients are blended. Pour into a large warmed pasta bowl to be set in the middle of the table. Top with fresh ground black pepper and freshly-grated parmesan cheese.

Total time – about 12 minutes.

Swap out the spinach for swiss chard, beet greens, arugula, kale or whatever is fresh. Serve with a salad.

Tutti a tavola!

 

Consider reading Embrace Your Face

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Have a Great 2019

By Jay Forte

A new year is just ahead. The best way to continue your successes, or make important changes, is to reflect on 2018 and to use its lessons to see and do things differently in 2019.

I personally find the best way to reflect on most things is by asking questions. Questions guide you to explore and investigate, both of which are important to give you the information you need to determine your direction and plan for a new and great year.

Here are three questions I spend time with at the start of the new year that help me develop greater clarity and a plan to make the most of my time, effort, energy and impact.

1. What are my strengths?

We each come equipped with unique and amazing abilities. These abilities help us to be great at some things and not great at others. Having a successful year requires that I know and lead with my strengths. This knowledge helps me identify the areas in work and life that need what I am best at – I feel capable, confident and competent. Without this information, I may find myself in areas I struggle in, which leads to disengagement, disappointment and frustration – not the way to have a great 2019. Discover, develop and live your strengths in 2019.

2. What is a good day for me?

Each day, we get a blank canvas to add to it in a way that matters to us. We own our choices. Taking the time to reflect on what a good day is for me prepares me; I know what makes a good day for me so I can intentionally look to achieve it. Without this information, I move through life with less intention and therefore don’t make the things happen that really matter to me. Notice the language there as it means I take accountability for having a good day. I work to make good things happen for me, on purpose. Only you know what makes a good day for you; work with intention to make it happen, resulting in a better 2019. Define what makes a good day for you and build a plan to have it.

3. How can I make a difference?

I believe we are here to do more than just show up each day. We are not here just for ourselves; we each have a higher purpose – a requirement to know ourselves and to bring our best to our world to make a difference. Our uniqueness is what enables each of us to contribute something that only we can contribute, and by its contribution, we make our world better. It may be in how we teach, coach or parent. It may be in our ideas or thinking. It may be in our empathy and in the quality of our relationships. It is ours to discover and to live. Reflect on what difference you are here to make in 2019.

A new year is a great time for reflection, and questions are a good way to start the thinking and reflection process. Having a plan helps you navigate the speed and amount of daily change.

Be aware of what you want for yourself as you approach a new year. You are your life’s owner – you have the ability and responsibility to define what you want and the abilities to go get it.

Take action
How will you use these three questions to prepare for – and have – a great 2019?

 

Consider reading Want to Change the World? Engage a Coach.

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I Don’t Know is Ok (right now)

By Kristin Allaben

At The Forte Factor, we talk a lot about the importance of knowing who you are to discover, develop and leverage your natural strengths, talents and passions to be able to align what you love to do with your world. This alignment can lead to greater happiness, greater fulfillment and a greater life.

It all starts when you see the importance and make the time to intentionally tune in to you and your world. This is how you find your fit.

But what if your best fit doesn’t make sense for you right now? What if your fit requires a time or financial investment you just don’t have? What if it requires a big change your family can’t support right now?

You can learn everything about yourself from the inside and out, recognizing your talents, passions and natural abilities, but that is only part of tuning in to you. You must also understand and recognize what is an idea vs. what is acceptable, especially if you are part of something larger, like a family, a relationship or previous commitment right now. That is a crucial component. You need to be able to accept what could be, and what is. What has to work now, and what is possible for the future.

I strongly believe this is part of understanding who you are because greater knowledge of your strengths and passions should be paired with the knowledge of context, especially of what limitations may exist. This isn’t to say the perfect fit for you will never be, it just means that it might not be right now.

To clarify, I’m not giving you a pass. This is by no means an excuse to just accept what is and wait for something better to come along. Saying I don’t know right now, or I can’t right now is truly being tuned in to your world. It is being realistic. Sometimes not knowing or not being able to make a change is the best it can be at the moment. How can you see this, accept it and still stay focused on better fit things that could be part of your future?

As you’re learning more about yourself, as you’re tuning in and listening to you and your world, remember to also listen to your inner voice, listen to what is, listen to what is true. Then tune in to the world to be fully present to what is going on. With this awareness, ask yourself what else could happen in the next moment to bring you closer to what fits you.

Sometimes not knowing what to do is just a way that shares with you that more information is needed. Use that message to dig deeper into your understanding of yourself and your world. Perhaps a different focus or different direction would suit you better.

Take Action

If you had the opportunity to take a big step toward better alignment with your passions and strengths in today’s world, would you do it? What would give you pause? What needs to happen to make your perfect fit your reality? What does the “right now” look like for you to say I know?

 

Consider reading Go Center Yourself

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But I’m Just Not Good At It!

By Kristin Allaben

Think about your day yesterday. Were you asked to do something you just don’t like to do or didn’t feel like you are good at? More than likely, yes, and it probably happened at least once.

Now, how did you respond? Be honest… because your response actually reveals a lot about you.

Each of us have natural strengths and inherent liabilities. Strengths are generally easier to identify. They often show up as our natural abilities, the things we seem to know how to do or how to handle without much thought. Your strengths could show up as your ability to be direct in your communication, to connect easily with others, to be detail-oriented or even to be competitive.

Liabilities, however, tend to be attributes we shy away from because we’re not intrinsically good at them, frequently because they are the opposite of our strengths. This makes sense. If you’re naturally strong at something, then you can’t be strong at its opposite. If you are determined and direct, you are probably not easy-going and a good listener.

And this is ok.

Learning about your liabilities is not a judging moment. They aren’t weaknesses to fix. Liabilities can never be fixed; they are the result of you being stronger on the other side. Liabilities, however, can – and should – be managed.

Easier said than done, I know. I personally struggled with this as I started my coaching career. To acknowledge my liabilities was one thing, but to take the time to understand them and ensure I’m checking in on them was hard because, quite frankly, those liabilities are things I’m just not good at. And, if we’re being honest, there’s a bit of an ego play there, too. To pay attention, on purpose, to the things you’re just not good at is hard.

But having the information about both your strengths and liabilities enables you to more effectively use and manage them. For example, as a competitive person with a direct communication style, you thrive in situations where you can win. But, one day, you may find yourself in a team setting. Being self-aware lets you recognize that working with a team is a liability and you therefore need to manage it. Perhaps you find a way to take lead of the team. Perhaps you encourage a friendly competition within the team to challenge everyone to think more creatively. A number of options exist! But you can’t do this without understanding the role both your strengths and liabilities play in every situation.

At The Forte Factor, we developed our own performance assessment tool that provides our coaching clients with insights into their strengths and liabilities, giving them greater self-awareness to know how to lead with their strengths, manage their liabilities and use them intentionally in both work and life.

So, the next time you’re asked to do something you don’t love to do or know you’re just not good at, how can you use the knowledge of your strengths and liabilities to show up as your best self?

Important Questions from a Coach:

1. How aware are you of your own strengths and liabilities?
2. Think of one of your liabilities. What is something you can do today to manage (not fix) that liability?
3. How will you stop yourself from passing judgement as you gain awareness of your liabilities?

 

Consider reading Acknowledging Emotions

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What Fills You Up: Finding Your Fit

By Kristin Allaben

Ok, I admit I was a cliché this holiday season. At the encouragement (read: nagging) from both sisters and my mother, I agreed to watch a few Hallmark movies. And in the last month of my pregnancy, followed by having a newborn, turning on one of those feel-good movies when you find yourself up at odd hours in the night was a true God-send (though don’t tell them I enjoyed it).

I recently watched the last Hallmark movie I had left on my DVR, “Coming Home for Christmas,” and was happily surprised to find that in the first 5 minutes, the lead character talks about finding her fit, her passion, the thing in life that “fills her up.”

True to Hallmark’s fashion, the story focused a bit more on the romance than I naively expected based on the set-up, but the message was there: how can you be truly happy when you don’t know what makes you happy?

There is a saying, “the road is paved with good intentions.” I think this applies to many people’s New Year’s resolutions. We set out with the intent to eat better, to be happier, to be more mindful and present to ensure we’re enjoying and appreciating every moment. But, as the first 5 minutes of the Hallmark movie points out, “complacency is an easy trap to fall into when you don’t yet know your thing.”

So commit to “knowing your thing” this year.

How do you start?

Reflect on these questions:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • When you wish time would stand still, what are you doing?
  • What are your three greatest strengths?
  • What really matters to you today?

The answers to these questions can give you increased clarity about yourself, and with that self-awareness, you can more effectively assess where in work and life you can employ these.

See, the more you align yourself in work and life to the places that need what you do and like best, the more engaged, powerful and capable you feel. It fills you up.

So what’s next? Take the free 3AboutMe Talent Assessment to discover your strengths and core abilities. Reflect on your passions and interests. Then, with this information, create your personal branding statement (here’s how). Use this to become clear about who you are, what fits you and how how this can help you stay passionate, fulfilled and happy in life.

 

Consider reading The Power of Passions

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Choose Your Future

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

As part of a large family, I remember getting into skirmishes with my siblings. With all of the bodies and attitudes in a large family, conflicts seemed inevitable. I remember the guidance from my parents as a conflict started to brew – “Choose wisely about what you do next, or it could earn you a trip to your room for a month…”

Though that statement generally got my attention at the moment, I have also appreciated its great wisdom about how to approach life. Choose wisely about what you do next. Choose your future.

Frequently, we get pulled and pushed into places that don’t need or align to our greatest passions and abilities. So, we show up disengaged, bored or disinterested. We show up average in a life that is designed to be amazing. We show up small when things could be great, and the effect of these poor choices can be felt at both work and in personal relationships.

So how do you choose more wisely about your future?

Here are my three tips.

  1. Commit the time and effort to know yourself. Discover and develop your strengths, passions, values and abilities. Know what you do best. Know what you like best. Know what activates your greatest energy. Know what you truly believe. Know who you are.
  2. Expand what you know of your world and its opportunities. To find the ones that fit you the best, you have to continue to discover what the world, workplace and life have to offer. There is a place where all of these intersect; that is your thing, your place, your fit.
  3. Focus on Fit. By expanding what you know of yourself and what you see in your world, you have enough of the right information to better assess where you fit. What aligns with your abilities and interests? What opportunities will allow you to showcase what is best in you? What roles will help you create your greatest impact? Choose what moves you, excites you and activates you – fit matters.

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. What are your three greatest strengths?
  2. When you wish time would stand still, what are you doing?
  3. What are three things that are important to you and your life right now?

To choose wisely, know yourself and know your world. See the options. Consider the options. Choose those that fit you best.

 

Need help making wiser choices? Consider the Life Possibilities and Career Possibilities coaching programs. Or, talk to a coach about what coaching can do to help you wisely choose your future.

 

Consider reading The Power of Passions.

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Your Big Three and Succeeding in an Interview

By Jay Forte

If you’ve taken the 3AboutMe Talent Assessment, you have successfully identified your Big Three – your three greatest strengths. Congrats! This insight into three of your natural strengths can prepare you to excel in any kind of interview.

And this insight, combined with the creation of your personal branding statement to narrow down your key strengths and passions, can set you apart in your interview.

Here are three tips to help you learn how to efficiently share what’s unique about you in any type of interview situation.

1. Select the 3 or 4 words that will be most meaningful in an interview, and be sure you share them in your interview.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here; these words can be the ones you used in your personal branding statement. Having those words readily available to you in an interview will help the conversation stay focused on why the opportunity is the right fit for you.

For example, let’s say you are interviewing for an internship or a job that will have you working on a team. You could listen for places in your interview to share that you are supportive, team-focused, reliable, loyal and hardworking – so, something like, “Let me share with you two places in my recent past where my reliability, team-focus and loyalty has made a difference.” Or, “I find my success is because I am supportive of my teammates and my personal standard for hard work – let me share what this looks like…”

2. Connect your words to activities that show your words in action.

Let’s say your words are analytical, practical and results-focused. To illustrate an example of your performance in an interview, you could state, “my analytical focus helped me create a shortcut to a process that saved the organization $X.” Or, “my focus on results helped me save 5% from the cost of delivery in just one month.”

3. Show how your talents and strengths will add value and make a difference in the role and organization.

The real purpose of an interview is to gather information, so by sharing how your core abilities will help lead to your success in the role and in the organization, you make it easy for the interviewer. For example, you could share that your supportive and cooperative nature helps you work with diverse teams. Or you could share that your detail-oriented, methodical and analytical strengths can help you to be efficient as well as effective in the role. Helping those who are hiring to quickly and easily understand what is best in you and how you will add value and make a difference will ultimately lead to your interview success.

Familiarizing yourself with your strengths helps you know and share what is strongest and best in you. Use them first to choose the work, school and life environments that need what you do best, then be sure to share your words in any interview or networking opportunity to show how you fit in a specific role or opportunity.

And remember: a select few people do this. It therefore gives you an edge.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. Think back to a recent interview and reflect on how it went. Were you happy with the discussion? Were there things you wish you said?
  2. Regardless of the outcome of that interview, how can you ensure future opportunities – whether other interviews, employee reviews or networking opportunities – produce the outcome(s) you want?
  3. With the insights obtained from the 3AboutMe Talent Assessment, how will you continue to invest in yourself?

 

Be sure to share the 3AboutMe Talent Assessment with others.

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What defines success?

By Kristin Allaben, Executive Assistant and Strategic Communications Specialist

In anticipation of my second son’s arrival (due in December), I recently started purging the house of all the items I’ve rarely used or looked at in the six years we’ve been in our house. This act of purging can be extremely refreshing, but that’s for another post.

Instead, I’m going to reflect on success – what is it? What defines it? Why is the allure of success so powerful that it drives us to do great things? Or, on the flip side, inspires feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction and failure?

These questions all came up because, during one of my recent purges, I came across my high school yearbook. I started flipping through the pages (I guess I couldn’t wait to cringe at 18-year old Kristin) and stumbled across the class superlatives section. Below the embarrassing and awkward picture of me posing with a fellow classmate read the title “Most likely to succeed.”

I admit, I struggled with that over the last few years. Voted “most likely to succeed” by my high school classmates didn’t dictate my future, but I felt this overwhelming need to show them they were right, to prove that I did, in fact, grow up to be successful.

But what exactly is success and how does each person define it?

The definition of success has certainly changed for me over the years and, the truth is, it took me a while to realize that this process is normal and a good thing. How I define success is the result of how I evolve over time, the result of gathering new information and choosing how to use and adapt to that information.

 

For example, while in college, success meant doing well, graduating and getting a job. In my first job out of school, it was to work hard and get promoted. Then success changed for me when my husband and I decided to start a family – success was no longer about working hard to become a high ranking professional but instead finding a meaningful and healthy balance between working and being a mom.

When my first son was born, that changed again. Success shifted more to raising a happy and healthy son and having a work schedule that allowed this to happen. And as life continues to change, my definition of success is evolving again as I get closer to bringing another baby boy into the world – I now define success as being the best mom I can be to raise two happy, healthy and well-adjusted boys who are confident in themselves to recognize, embrace and use their own unique talents and strengths to be authentic in a world that tries to create copies.

Wow. What a whirlwind.

So when you find yourself overwhelmed at the prospect of success – whether it’s because you’re working toward a lofty goal you’ve set for yourself or you are trying to live up to expectations someone else has set for you – take a moment to ask yourself: is this what success means to me? This definition is personal and needs to be based on who you are and what you want.

 

Need help finding your definition of success? Consider reading The Greatness Zone to understand your three circles – what you are good at, what you are passionate about and what success means to you – to help you find your fit in today’s world. This is for all of us at any point in our lives.

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