Stretching is good

People who regularly go to the gym to exercise often talk about how addictive it is. The physiological effects of the endorphins are well understood. Exercise is not only good for you, it makes you feel good too.

Non-physical exercise can also be addictive – you only have to ask a crossword or Sudoku enthusiast to confirm this.

But how about stretching? Stretching outside of our comfort zones? The concept of a comfort zone has become so ingrained in our modern “management speak” that we seldom give it the time or respect it deserves. And we tend to see it in a negative sense rather than a positive one. By definition it is uncomfortable to step outside one’s comfort zone. Why would one choose to do that, and what are the possible benefits? Continue reading

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Confidence – the magical ingredient

I recently spent a day with a group of second year undergraduates – from different universities, on a broad range of courses. They were bright, happy, enthusiastic and optimistic about their individual futures. That’s not to say they knew exactly what they would be doing after graduation 18 months from now – in most cases they had no idea. They weren’t oblivious to the current economic climate, and they knew that many people are facing a tough time. But they were optimistic.

Probing a little into their optimism, I found it was based on the most magical ingredient – confidence.

When tempered with humility, and in the absence of arrogance, can there be a more alluring characteristic in young people than confidence?  Confidence enables people to open doors for themselves; it allows them to explore, and reach out further to extend their experience, knowledge and understanding; it gives them a basis for further personal development. And better than that, it is self-perpetuating, providing an ever-increasing baseline from which to develop. Continue reading

A radical alternative

I recently met a young graduate who had submitted 850 job applications – yes, eight hundred and fifty – over a period of three months. That is quite an impressive submission rate.

Graduates and recruiters appear to be stuck in a vicious circle.

The odds appear to be loaded against graduates, with too many chasing too few positions. Recognising this, they play the numbers game, applying for far more roles than they can possibly care about.

The recruiters, seeing ever more applications hitting their inboxes, retaliate by applying more (automated) filters to reduce the numbers to more manageable proportions. As a consequence graduates pedal even faster, pushing out ever more applications in the hope that one will breach the recruiters’ defences and result in a job offer. Or at least an interview.

From my experience of talking to graduates, 850 applications is unusual; 200 to 250 applications is more “normal”, but even that represents a lot of time spent applying. Or does it? Is the process too simple? Is it just too easy to Copy/ Paste “standard” text before hitting the Submit button? Continue reading