Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Take charge of career

Self-esteem, planning key to successful work life

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Wow, what a way to start the year 2013! More full-time jobs. With the 5,200 new jobs created in December alone, it seems our province is finally on a roll. In fact, this type of stellar performance might lead us to becoming a "have" province once again, a thought that certainly creates a positive buzz in the minds of job seekers and employers alike.

However, in spite of this ongoing good news, there continue to be a few naysayers who suggest these job numbers are not sustainable over time. The fear is that once the many construction projects in Manitoba finish, our job numbers will sink to all-time lows.

On the other hand, these Statistics Canada job numbers seem to be supported by the recent Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce "Bold" survey of small and medium sized businesses. For instance, Winnipeg business leader participants indicated a clear 30 per cent increase in both their business confidence and their intention to increase financial investment. As well, approximately 50 per cent of business leaders indicated they intended to increase the number of employees in their workforce.

This isn't to say that organizational restructuring, right-sizing and downsizing of some industry sectors won't continue into the next few years. As the global economy continues to confront the challenges of rapid change, our local companies will still need to adapt in order to continue to thrive and grow. And yes, job loss may occur in some sectors because their business owners can no longer stay competitive.

So what does this mean for employees? In my mind, it means that each and every person needs to take charge of their own career. That's because I sincerely believe it is not the responsibility of an employer to create and maintain a job just for you and/or to take responsibility to manage your career over the long term. Instead, I see that the role of an employer is to partner with employees to grow and develop as much as they can within their organization. In other words, an employer's role is not to guarantee a lifetime job; this simply isn't a reality anymore.

Where does this leave you as an employee? In my view, it suggests your new year's resolution and the goal for every employee for 2013 going forward should be to structure your life and career so that you can guarantee your own professional success and sustainability. This doesn't mean staying in one job for life, it means preparing yourself for change, maintaining a high skill level, adding new skills and abilities as you move along in your career and developing a take charge rather than a poor me attitude.

With this in mind, I believe that job seekers and employees alike need to pay more attention to the role a positive attitude and a sense of positive self-esteem are playing in the success of their work life and general career success. People with a high level of self-esteem are able to take the initiative, make better decisions, take personal responsibility and demonstrate independence and autonomy. This is what is required in the workplace, today and in the future.

Those individuals who do not sustain a high sense of self-esteem and a positive attitude are not confident in their thinking ability and when faced with difficult challenges, they tend to give up. Low self-esteem individuals begin to doubt themselves, they lose confidence and soon develop a negative self-image and a negative attitude that drags them down to such an extent they can't perform. Unfortunately, lack of performance can quickly translate into "no job"!

With so much good job news in our marketplace, I'm confident there's not one individual who would want to slide down the slippery slope of non-performance resulting from poor self-esteem and a negative attitude. Therefore, in today's world, developing and ensuring a healthy self-esteem and a positive attitude is not an emotional luxury, it represents career survival.

It's well known that developing one's self-esteem and positive attitude doesn't happen through magic; instead, it's developed through self-reflection, personal assessment, goal setting and personal coaching that in turn leads to personal growth. With this in mind, what are some ways in which you can engage in this personal growth? The following brief suggestions will help you to get a start on the right path and/or to begin a mid-course career correction.

Assess your current thoughts -- it's well known that negative feelings are often the result of distorted thoughts. Check your own thinking... are you falling into the "should" trap? Are you blaming yourself, being overly emotional or engaging in "all or nothing" thinking? Write down you feelings and then check them for distorted thoughts... you'll be surprised at how much damage negative thoughts can create.

Develop an ongoing strategy -- every time you experience a negative feeling, quickly analyze the situation, writing down your feelings and identify thought distortions. You must be getting some benefit out of the negative thinking, so honestly identify and assess the advantages and disadvantages of your negative thinking. Identify and document more positive thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself what you learned from this experience. You'll be shocked at how quickly your mood will swing towards being more positive.

Keep a daily achievement log -- most people take themselves for granted and over the time of their career, they do not track their achievements, big or small. Keep a daily account of your achievements mentally and/or written and assess these for positive attributes such as good skill level, co-operation with colleagues, or an example of leadership. This tactic helps to continually feed positive thoughts into your own mind which in turn goes a long way to building your self esteem.

Become a confident decision maker -- learn to trust yourself by examining all of your previous good decisions. Define the strategy used, what worked well and what you learned. Develop an ongoing decision-making framework that will ensure you consistently and confidently look at all the elements of a problem and which enables you to make objective recommendations and/or decisions. Celebrate each success.

Developing and sustaining a high level of self-esteem, self-confidence and exhibiting a positive attitude is extremely important to career success in the new work world. However, while this may come natural for some people, for others it requires lifelong exploration, personal reflection and a focus on personal growth. Begin to apply the brief suggestions above as a starting point and then follow up with continuous self assessment, reading, research, discussion and an investment in personal coaching.

Source: Province sees another increase in jobs created, Martin Cash, Winnipeg Free Press January 4, 2013. The Power of Self-Esteem, Nathaniel Branden, PhD, 1992, Ten Days to Self Esteem, David D. Burns, Md., 1993

Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC, CCP, M.Ed is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She can be reached at

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 12, 2013 H1

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