Challenge Your Thinking

19th May 2014

Challenge Your Thinking

Challenge your Thinking – The EracWiB Conference Posted on: May 16th, 2014 by Clear Thinking Team. Jenifer Lord was speaking at the Enterprise Rent a Car Women in Business event in Haydock this week, and we were thrilled to be invited along to cheer her on.

We've combined some of what we heard on the day, with our own thoughts, to bring you a peek into what happened.

Jenifer did a fabulous job of sharing some of the story of her personal journey and encouraging the audience to think differently about being their true selves at work, to challenge our habitual thinking and remove our ‘mask’. She challenged us to…

“Stop working at who you are not, and focus on who you are”

She talked about how some of the thoughts we have are just an illusion that can get in the way of our success and that we have a tendency to wear a ‘mask’ at work to conform to a way of being that we believe other people expect of us. She told us about how reciting a piece of poetry at work changed the way her colleagues worked with her. Energy levels rocketed in the room when Jenifer asked us to talk to each other about the mask that we’re wearing at work. Jenifer’s approach to work left the women in the room feeling inspired, energised and understood; quite an achievement for less than half an hour on stage.

Pause for thought…
What mask do you wear at work?
What are you hiding or holding back?
How can you bring more of the real you to work every day?
What difference would it make to you and your organisation or business?

After lunch a panel discussion covered a range of topics that included Culture, Vision and Role Models. Here are some of the highlights from just 3 of the many questions put to the panel…..

What advice would you give to graduates making the transition from education into the workplace?

Diane Mulholland, Area Vice President for Scotland and NI at Enterprise Rent a Car (ERaC)described how she looked for the right culture, one that seemed to be a good fit for her. She asked herself, “Do I actually like these people, and do I like how they do what they do?” Recognising similarities and aligning her values with those of the organisation has been key to her thriving at Enterprise.

It struck me that when I was of graduate age, I might not have been fully aware of what was important to me and what was driving me, so alignment was more a question of good luck than a conscious use of good judgement. It got me thinking about when in our lives we get clear about our values? Sometimes it can be a case of trusting our instincts and asking….Do I like these people? What’s really important to me and are we aligned?

Donna Miller, European HRD for ERaC agreed that knowing what the company stands for and what’s important to you means that you can find alignment there…or not, but at least you go in with a clear understanding of whether you want the same things.

She described the importance of finding a mentor, someone who can help you navigate your way in the organisation in the beginning, in the critical early days when you’re working out how the organisation works and how you fit in. Then you can take the experience and become that person for others!

Louise Briggs, Head of Careers, Alumni & Engagement at Lancaster University Management School, shared her views on the importance of work experience as good preparation for every graduate, as a way of helping them recognise how an organisation works and what to expect.

Pause for thought…

How would finding a mentor help you in your career?
List 5 people who you think could be a mentor for you, and start a conversation with them today
How can you help provide high quality, meaningful work experience to a graduate?

What’s your vision for the next 5 years?

Diane was very honest and admitted that she didn’t have a vision to get to where she is today. She stayed alert for opportunities and took them when they came her way. It’s natural then that she sees the future in the same way, no firm idea of the exact vision, but open to the possibilities and pretty chilled about whatever comes her way.

Diane told a story about her boss who encouraged her to push for a promotion that she’d never even considered. It mirrors my own experience and reminds me of the importance of having a champion in the workplace, someone who sees your potential when you don’t and is willing to tell you to go for it, even when you doubt yourself.

Diane added, “When you’re young you think you need a plan. As you get older you realise that you’re equipped to find solutions to whatever challenges come your way. You simply can’t plan for and control everything.”

Jenifer Lord, described her enthusiasm for reaching as many people as possible to help them break free of the illusions about life that they believe, to help them be free of stress, worry and anxiety. She told us about times in her life when she’d been a “stress-head” but then she discovered another way of thinking.

Donna’s vision is to be in the role she’s in for the foreseeable future. She loves her role in Europe and enjoys how quickly she can make things happen for the business. She described an organisation that was nimble and agile, free of constraint and her enthusiasm for the business was almost tangible.

For Donna, her additional thoughts mirrored what Diane said earlier, when she added, “Work is so much fun, I love Sunday night because I know it’s work tomorrow. I love what I do and the people I do it with!”

Louise too saw her future in her current role. Her take on it was that when you do a job you love then finding the elusive work-life balance is not an issue. She described a role that combined travel, opportunities to help young people, being surrounded by an excellent team of people and the flexibility to choose how she does what she does.

Pause for thought…

How are you staying alert for the opportunities that present themselves every day?
How do you make sure you recognise them when they appear?
Who is your greatest champion and how are you championing others in your organisation?
How are you reaching people with your passion?
How are you making good things happen fast in your organisation?

Who is your role model?

Jenifer spoke of a close friend who was a constant inspiration to her because he sees things very differently and challenges her thinking. It struck me that we can be inspired by people moment to moment depending on our circumstances and what we need at that time.

Donna described how role models are not always people that are older or with more experience than us, younger people can inspire us, and her advice was to stop always looking up for your inspiration. Instead she suggested that we look all the way around for people who can offer sound and well grounded advice.

Louise captured it beautifully when she said that she gravitates towards “People who ask questions that make you pause!

Pause for thought…
Who is your role model and who are you a role model for?
What can you learn from the risk takers that you know?
How are you letting other people challenge your thinking?
Who is the person that has the courage to ask the questions that stop you in your tracks?

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You can feel out of focus for many reasons, nothing is too small or unimportant and you can change if you have the desire to.

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