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Wanna Grow? Take One of These!

Author : Dilip Saraf
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A large majority of my new clients come to me because they are facing a problem at work. In many cases it is their boss, sometimes it is their colleagues, it can even be their company and how it is being managed. Because I am also a life coach people sometimes bring to me their personal problems: spouse, relatives, and neighbors! In almost all cases, when I ask them, after listening to their woes, what change they think would work for them to extricate themselves from their predicament, their answer is often the same: New job, new boss, divorce, or moving to a new neighborhood!

They are often surprised when I tell them that the root-cause of the real problem is not what they think it is, but it is how they are framing it, reacting to it, and dealing with it. They are also surprised when I tell them that the problem they are facing is not all that uncommon, and that it is likely to recureven becoming worse, if they walk away from their situation in search of a better one, without changing their perspective and learning how to deal with it. The key here is that they must learn how to confront their adversity to overcome and to grow. Taking one here refers to taking the leap to confront your own demeans and learning how to better equip yourself to manage your life better!

Confronting Adversity: Let us take the case of a client, who had one of the more common problems: a Bad Boss. He started a new job early this year at a company that is a late-stage start-up. The company has gone through some business setbacks since then, because of how some major players, who are a key part of the companys ecosystem, changed their business models, forcing this company to reinvent itself. This is a huge opportunity for this company.

My clients boss is a geeky technologist, who likes to plod away tinkering with new ideas, not worrying about how to implement them to move the company forward. Sometimes an idea he comes up with completely negates the one he had his engineers working on from a month before. My client is an expert implementer, who could really help that company to bring these ideas to fruition, and perhaps even save this it from its current spiraling cycle of death. The problem for my client was that he couldnt get his boss to understand the obvious and that he was frustrated with the constant back and forth. He came to me to asking if he should look for another job!

My response to him was the same as it is to all others, who come to me with similar woes: Confront, deal with it, and learn how to extricate yourself from this situation, and grow in the process, so you are equipped to deal with such situations in the future with greater confidence. Concurrently, get ready for marketing yourself with a refreshed rsum and a LinkedIn Profile. Once he saw the merit of my approach, he and I worked out a plan about how to get synched up with his boss, how to promote his agenda within his own company, and how to get some stellar bullets on his rsum in the process to really get ready to market himself, regardless of the outcome of that experience.

In the case of this client he first championed some thought leaders and influencers in his company, sought their support in confronting his boss, and then met with the boss and laid it out for him a course of action that would be productive. Of course, his bosss allergic reaction to his approach did not scare him, since he was prepared for it, and since he had the support of other influencers, his boss was not able to get any traction to continue his agenda. Soon, things started changing for my client and his relationship with his boss. The boss, too, was then placed on a short leash, as a result.

So, if you want to grow and learn how to deal with adversity head-on there is a two pronged benefit from taking the confrontation approach my clients learn how to adopt: First they learned how to deal with adversity head-on on their own terms; second, they emerged stronger, often with a better situation for themselves for having dealt with the problem. Now they are ready to deal with similaror worsechallenges that they are bound to face in their lives!

So, what does this all mean to you? Here is my prescription:

  1. When a problem becomes unbearable you have waited too long to preempt it and to deal with it head-on. Heed the early warning signs of a problem and find avenues to deal with it so that you can prevent it from getting worse. Dont waste time asking others opinions about the problem you are facing. If you see it, believe it!
  2. Remember, that human beings are not all that different from one another. Although each individual is unique in their own ways, some common human traits are what drive their behaviors in a social environment or group: power, greed, jealousy, incompetence, insecurity, among others. So, no matter where you decide to run to, you are likely to see the same or similar patterns in others, whom you will encounter in your new station in life.
  3. No matter where you are, one advantage you have where you already are is that you are a known entity. This will help you leverage your support system to build your agenda and to marshal it to create the change that you are seeking. In a new place you are an unknown, and since, you are more than likely to have a new set of problems there, you will have a much harder time dealing with them. Never run away from your problems; deal with them head-on.
  4. When framing a problem such as the one my client faced, it is best to frame it in a broader context, such as the customer, the company, or something bigger than you. In this case, my client was raring to start working on a new platform to counter the moves the big players in the ecosystem had made that vitiated this companys agenda. His objective was to learn a new skill by taking on this task and by putting a shine on his rsum. Going with that objective would have made that proposal difficult to sell. He put customers and market competition as the focus of his concern, instead. This is how he re-framed his challenge.
  5. Find avenues to change the dynamic between you and the other person. Do not attempt to change that person, as that is almost an impossibility! Keeping in mind what Gandhi said, Be the change you wish to see in the world; try changing how you come across to that person you are trying to change. This often works wonders.
  6. Be mindful of what change tricks work and what do not to create your own catalog of tricks for your future. As I mentioned before human beings are the same when it comes to their basic needs. So, once you learn these tricks they will serve you for life!
  7. Keep an option open as a back up to your main plan for change. In the case of this client, his back-up was to get his rsum market-ready in the same time that he was going to invest on changing his situation with his boss and company.
  8. Provide encouragement to the other person by telling that the change you have initiated is working and is making that person more effective. Even if that person is your boss they want to hear that they are helping you make things better, thus creating a virtuous cycle of change.
  9. If you decide to move on, do so on your own terms in a studied way, and not to make an end-run to save a situation. This way you wont have to compromise your station in life, leveraging the change to move up and forward.
  10. Congratulate yourself for dealing with adversity and turning that into an opportunity for your own growth!

Good luck!

About Author
Dilip has distinguished himself as LinkedIn’s #1 career coach from among a global pool of over 1,000 peers ever since LinkedIn started ranking them professionally (LinkedIn selected 23 categories of professionals for this ranking and published this ranking from 2006 until 2012). Having worked with over 6,000 clients from all walks of professions and having worked with nearly the entire spectrum of age groups—from high-school graduates about to enter college to those in their 70s, not knowing what to do with their retirement—Dilip has developed a unique approach to bringing meaning to their professional and personal lives. Dilip’s professional success lies in his ability to codify what he has learned in his own varied life (he has changed careers four times and is currently in his fifth) and from those of his clients, and to apply the essence of that learning to each coaching situation.

After getting his B.Tech. (Honors) from IIT-Bombay and Master’s in electrical engineering(MSEE) from Stanford University, Dilip worked at various organizations, starting as an individual contributor and then progressing to head an engineering organization of a division of a high-tech company, with $2B in sales, in California’s Silicon Valley. His current interest in coaching resulted from his career experiences spanning nearly four decades, at four very diverse organizations–and industries, including a major conglomerate in India, and from what it takes to re-invent oneself time and again, especially after a lay-off and with constraints that are beyond your control.

During the 45-plus years since his graduation, Dilip has reinvented himself time and again to explore new career horizons. When he left the corporate world, as head of engineering of a technology company, he started his own technology consulting business, helping high-tech and biotech companies streamline their product development processes. Dilip’s third career was working as a marketing consultant helping Fortune-500 companies dramatically improve their sales, based on a novel concept. It is during this work that Dilip realized that the greatest challenge most corporations face is available leadership resources and effectiveness; too many followers looking up to rudderless leadership.

Dilip then decided to work with corporations helping them understand the leadership process and how to increase leadership effectiveness at every level. Soon afterwards, when the job-market tanked in Silicon Valley in 2001, Dilip changed his career track yet again and decided to work initially with many high-tech refugees, who wanted expert guidance in their reinvention and reemployment. Quickly, Dilip expanded his practice to help professionals from all walks of life.

Now in his fifth career, Dilip works with professionals in the Silicon Valley and around the world helping with reinvention to get their dream jobs or vocations. As a career counselor and life coach, Dilip’s focus has been career transitions for professionals at all levels and engaging them in a purposeful pursuit. Working with them, he has developed many groundbreaking approaches to career transition that are now published in five books, his weekly blogs, and hundreds of articles. He has worked with those looking for a change in their careers–re-invention–and jobs at levels ranging from CEOs to hospital orderlies. He has developed numerous seminars and workshops to complement his individual coaching for helping others with making career and life transitions.

Dilip’s central theme in his practice is to help clients discover their latent genius and then build a value proposition around it to articulate a strong verbal brand.

Throughout this journey, Dilip has come up with many groundbreaking practices such as an Inductive Résumé and the Genius Extraction Tool. Dilip owns two patents, has two publications in the Harvard Business Review and has led a CEO roundtable for Chief Executive on Customer Loyalty. Both Amazon and B&N list numerous reviews on his five books. Dilip is also listed in Who’s Who, has appeared several times on CNN Headline News/Comcast Local Edition, as well as in the San Francisco Chronicle in its career columns. Dilip is a contributing writer to several publications. Dilip is a sought-after speaker at public and private forums on jobs, careers, leadership challenges, and how to be an effective leader.



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