Caroline Dowd-Higgins Career Coach • Author • Speaker Sat, 23 Aug 2014 15:39:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Confidence on Tap – Part I Sat, 23 Aug 2014 15:39:42 +0000 As a career consultant, I’ve coached many clients who’ve suffered from a debilitating lack of confidence, and my best advice – born from experience – is to take action.

Moving through my own career transition from opera singer to university director, and, additionally, to author, speaker and coach, has tested my confidence mettle, to say the least, over the years.

I went from high confidence – singing on stages all over the world – to days spent in career limbo where my confidence was in the proverbial basement and all I wanted to do was wallow in self-pity.

Taking action is what saved me, and it’s one of the best, most effective, antidotes for low self-confidence that I share with my clients. When I was at my lowest point, not knowing where I was headed next, taking consistent steps forward – no matter how small (or scary) – helped build my confidence little by little, and helped move me onto a new, more fulfilling career path.

The Confidence Code

In the book The Confidence Code, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman are also proponents of taking action to build confidence, and they have the research to back it up.

The book takes the reader on a fascinating journey examining confidence from all angles – from gender differences, to nature vs. nurture, to genetic connections – and illustrates, through interviews and research studies, what’s impeding our progress in this area and how we can improve.

Give It Your Best

One of the studies I found particularly interesting in The Confidence Code centered on women simply not trying.

In a laboratory setting, when men and women were given the same series of difficult puzzles to solve, the women didn’t even attempt to solve them if they weren’t completely confident in their abilities. The men, on the other hand, pushed forward to solve the puzzles despite not being sure of all the answers. In the end, when the women were finally asked to try solving the puzzles, they performed just as well as the men.

Kay and Shipman point out that choosing not to try, due to a lack of confidence in our abilities, is holding us back in our careers, and in life in general.

Exit the Comfort Zone

The foundation of The Confidence Code, according to Kay and Shipman, rests on the action principle – with their motto being, “When in doubt, act.”

The authors explain:

“Nothing builds confidence like taking action, especially when the action involves risk and failure. Risk keeps you on life’s edge. It keeps you growing, improving, and gaining confidence…Action separates the timid from the bold.”

If you’re looking to take more action in your life, here are five confidence-building steps that can help:

1.  Do one thing that scares you everyday. Make a call, or send an email for an informational interview. Start small and build.

2.  Join a professional organization. Toastmasters, Kiwanis, or the Chamber of Commerce are excellent places to develop confidence through speaking and leadership roles.

3.  Network. Actively participate in area groups to widen your circle of contacts and support.

4. Volunteer. Getting out to help others is a good way to start the ‘action’ ball rolling.

5. Meditate. A walk in the park or sitting quietly can help connect you with the next best action steps to take.

Kay and Shipman point out that confidence accumulates by taking the steps, doing the work – succeeding and failing, and doing it all again. The Confidence Code makes it clear that action is the answer.

]]> 0
What’s Your Career Super Power? Sat, 23 Aug 2014 15:38:21 +0000 Everyone has a super power, a special skill or strength that makes you unique and gives you energy and self-confidence in the career world. Identify your super power and thrive!

]]> 0
Your Working Life Podcast with Marci Shimoff Sat, 23 Aug 2014 15:37:16 +0000 Marci Shimoff, New York Times best selling author of, Happy for No Reason teaches individuals how to take responsibility for their own happiness and develop happiness behaviors.

]]> 0
Get Moving! 6 Tips to Help You Exercise at Work Sat, 16 Aug 2014 18:24:52 +0000 Earlier this summer, CBS Sunday Morning did a story on a trend making a difference in offices across the country…instead of simply working at desks these days, employees are working out at their desks…on built-in treadmills. Since I’ve been doing my best to incorporate more exercise into my workday, and encouraging my coaching clients to do the same, this struck a chord.

According to the story, treadmill workstations are popping up more and more in an effort to get sedentary workers moving. This new type of desk allows users to make calls, conduct meetings, peruse quarterly sales figures, and answer email – all while getting daily exercise. While I’d been aware of these work/walk stations, it was great to actually see them in action.

Reporter Mo Rocca interviewed his colleague, CBS News Producer Mark Sturchio, at his treadmill desk, as well as Cosmopolitan Editor-In-Chief, Joanna Coles as she was logging steps in her office during an editorial meeting. Both were enthusiastic proponents of walking while they worked. Coles, in true Cosmo editor fashion, went so far as to call sitting at a desk all day “the new smoking.”

With serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease on the upswing, it’s more important than ever to keep moving during our workday. The National Institute of Health recommends making it a point to move every thirty to sixty minutes for better health, mood and overall productivity.

I encourage you to do some form of exercise at regular intervals throughout your workday. If a treadmill desk isn’t in the cards for you, check out these six tips to help get you moving at work.

1. Daily commute. It’s ideal if you can ride a bike or even walk to work, but if that’s not possible, exit the bus or train a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way. If you drive to work, park at the back end of the parking lot to increase your opportunity to walk.

2. Talk in person. Go old school, and walk to a colleague’s cubicle to talk face-to-face instead of sending an email.

3. Take fitness breaks. Each time you finish a task, reward yourself by getting up to stretch or do specially designed desk stretches. You can use your lunch or coffee breaks as an opportunity to exercise as well.

4. Drink more water. Besides it being just plain good for you, drinking water at work ensures you’ll be getting up for bathroom breaks throughout the day – offering more stretching opportunities.

5. Team up for exercise. Find exercise buddies who are committed to finding ways to keep moving during the workday. Lunchtime stretch sessions or power walks are always more fun when there is companionship and support.

6. Go for walking meetings. Schedule a ‘moving’ meeting by inviting colleagues to walk stairs or laps around your workplace to burn calories and stretch. It can be an invigorating way to stimulate conversation and ideas.

We spend three-quarters of our lives at work, so finding ways to get exercise during the workday can make a big difference in health and total wellbeing. Get creative with ways you can exercise at work, and get moving!


]]> 0
Your Working Life Podcast with Lisa Orrell Sat, 16 Aug 2014 18:22:49 +0000 Lisa Orrell, author of Your Employee Brand is In Your Hands, is also known as the generations, relations, and leadership expert. Learn how to become your own best self advocate at work.

]]> 0
2014 Indiana Governor’s Conference for Women Sat, 16 Aug 2014 18:21:31 +0000 The Indiana Governor’s Conference for Women will be held on October 21st at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis. Register today!

]]> 0
Your Working Life Podcast with Thomasina Skipper Sun, 10 Aug 2014 17:44:54 +0000 Thomasina Skipper, Insurance Agency Growth Specialist and President/Owner at Thomasina Skipper Insurance Agency. Join us for a frank and authentic talk about navigating the politics, salary inequity, the personalities, and realities of the workforce as a woman.

]]> 0
Strike a Power Pose and Boost Your Self-Confidence! Sat, 09 Aug 2014 19:24:02 +0000 Great posture exudes self-confidence so strike a power pose and send a message to the world that you are strong and in control!

]]> 0
How Fitbit Helped My Career Sat, 09 Aug 2014 19:18:54 +0000 Everywhere I go, I’ve noticed that elevators are almost empty and stairwells are filled with people tracking their daily steps with wearable fitness devices. I’m a Fitbit user and I’m happy to report that this accountability device has improved my health and my career more than I ever imagined.

I check my mileage, my stairs climbed, and my calories burned a few times a day to ensure that I reach my self-established goals. Fitbit also sends me a progress report each week telling me about my best days and celebrates my milestones and accomplishments. In my ongoing effort to de-stress, live in the moment, and integrate my life and my career in a healthy way, Fitbit has been a tremendous tool.

I’ll admit – I appreciate accountability. I like a plan, I’m a competitive person and I love to achieve. My Fitbit holds me accountable and gives me credit for achieving my objectives. It’s like my own personal audience who applauds me for a job well done.

This got me thinking about how I could hold myself accountable in other ways that related to my career. How I could tap some human accountability masters to join me in my quest so we could inspire each other to achieve our personal goals? As an executive coach, I have always subscribed to the philosophy of building your Personal Board of Directors and I have added a new resource member to that team. Who is your Career-Fit Master?

Here are some ideas about how you can hold yourself more accountable in your professional life to advance and improve in your career. Think about what you would like to get credit for and rally your personal team or coach to help you make it happen.

In-Person Conversations – with email, instant messaging, and smart phones at our disposal, it’s rare that colleagues who work in the same environment seek out an in-person conversation. Besides gaining additional steps or stairs towards your daily goal, a personal conversation shows that you care, illustrates your active listening skills and provides you with a mini break from an established routine so your brain stays fresh and productive.

Managing Up – your boss is really busy doing his/her work so it’s imperative that you give him/her a regular accounting of what you have accomplished. Think of it as a progress report with a brief monthly email outlining what you have achieved and what’s coming down the road. Don’t wait for the annual performance review. Be communicative – tell you boss what you are doing really well so they can recognize the great work you are doing now!

Celebrate the Wins – on the agenda of every Executive Resource Team meeting at my workplace is an opportunity to report wins. This boosts morale and gives credit to individuals and teams who should be recognized. Take it a step farther and create a Wins Board – a public way to announce and celebrate accomplishments and people who deserve to be recognized. Create a culture you want to work in and extend a well-deserved compliment or notation on the Wins Board to show colleagues that you notice and you care. If you are the boss, this is especially important. Your colleagues want you to recognize their good work.

How Can I Be a Better Boss or Colleague? – no matter where you reside on the company organizational chart, there is room for improvement. Hold yourself accountable and ask your boss and your colleagues – How can I improve? Listen graciously – show your appreciation for the feedback and carefully consider how and what you can implement to become better at what you do. The act of asking is an important step in gaining the trust and respect of colleagues.

How Can I Help You? – in addition to asking for feedback, offer your help to others. Leaders become extraordinary by helping others succeed. Whether you are entry-level or a C-Suite executive, leadership behavior is part of your own career management. Be accountable and ask how you can be helpful. Asking How Can I Help You?  is a wonderful way to pay-it-forward.

Pick a Stretch Goal – my daily Fitbit distance goal is 6 miles. I plan to increase that number soon because I am now achieving that goal with ease and I enjoy a challenge – plus the activity is good for my health and my mental focus. Consider a stretch goal for your career. Do you have project envy for a colleague’s work? Are you interested in a promotional opportunity or a career reinvention but don’t know how to get started? Identify a stretch goal and then assemble the players who can assist you in making it happen. Successful people ask for help!

My Fitbit has taught me to flex new muscles both literally and figuratively. I have changed my daily routine by walking at daybreak every morning and I have a renewed appreciation for accountability in my life and career.

Much of life we have very little control over. I have embraced the power I have to look at my career and life through a different lens and focus on what I can do each day. I am engaging my accountability masters and coaches and setting new goals to keep my routine fresh and stimulating. When I need a boost of self-confidence and recognition, I look to my Fitbit achievements and my career wins. Celebrating the success of others brings me great joy and the positive energy is palpable.

Thank you, Fitbit for helping me understand the power of accountability and celebrating my wins!

]]> 0
Stop the Busy-ness! Redefine Success on Your Terms Sat, 02 Aug 2014 17:18:36 +0000 We all love to talk about how busy we are. It means we’re needed. It means we have places to go and people to see, and it also means we may well be running ourselves into the ground.

Blogger Guy Kawasaki went so far as to implore readers to ‘stop the glorification of busy’, and he’s so right. We wear our busy-ness like a badge of honor, and yet where does busy get us? Overscheduled, anxiety-ridden, tired and even sick.

Huffington Post founder, Arianna Huffington, took busy to a new level when she became so overworked that she collapsed from exhaustion late one night – fracturing her cheekbone on the side of her desk as she fell to the floor. It took waking up in a pool of her own blood before she finally saw the light.

The experience prompted Huffington to re-evaluate the role work played in her life, and, as a result, she wrote the book Thrive: The Third Metric To Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom and Wonder.

Huffington says that the first two metrics by which we define success are money and power. She says introducing the third metric – thriving – is all about bringing health and well being into the equation – especially sleep. It’s about finding the right balance.

Do you feel like you’re on the path to thriving or headed to the land of burnout? If you’re tending toward the latter, try these five tips, culled from Huffington’s book, to help you find more balance in your life.

1. Make getting a good night’s sleep a priority – Studies have found that seven-and-a-half to eight hours of sleep a night is ideal. Give yourself time to wind down before bed – sans electronics if possible. Opt for a book instead of television. Leave your phone out of reach to cut down on habitual checking. The more you can make your bedtime ritual digital-free, the better. A good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do to take care of yourself and thrive.

2. Schedule alone time – Let’s face it, if you don’t make a point to schedule time for re-charging and reflection, it probably isn’t going to happen. Create a time to meditate each day – even if it’s only for five minutes. Unplug from social media whenever possible.

3. Get moving – Find a way to exercise before work, during lunch, after work – whenever you can. Remember to get up and stretch your body intermittently while you’re working as well.

4. Keep learning – Suspend judgment and stay open to learning new things. Approaching life through the eyes of a child can keep you engaged, energized and thriving.

5. Give back to your community – Find a person or organization in need and share your time. It’s in giving that we receive so much.

Success is so often measured by hours worked and money made. Is it time to reassess what success means to you? I encourage you to contemplate your priorities, and set your sails for a life where you can truly thrive.


]]> 0