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Author: Luki Danukarjanto (page 1 of 2)

DEI as a Young Professional

The world has changed significantly. Not just in the last two centuries or the last two decades but even in the last two years. One of the hot topics of discussion has been diversity, equity and inclusion. Sometimes referred to as DEI. Or you might have seen D&I or EDI, or other acronyms. 

You’ll be able to find a lot of material online on “what is DEI,” why it is important, plus how organizations and leaders can create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. Though a young professional recently pointed out to me that there isn’t as much out there related to what a young professional, recent grad or student intern could do.

“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance” -Verna Myers

When I ask a young professional, recent grad or student intern about DEI, they often don’t have much of a reaction. On occasion, there are a few that have been on the receiving end of some sort of discrimination. Perhaps it’s anecdotally a good sign of the times that youth are not as afflicted. 

Many entry-level roles at companies abound with folks from different genders, racism ethnicities, physical & mental capabilities, etc. It seems like youth are anecdotally being invited to the party and being asked to dance. DEI seems to be a concern for senior leadership. Though, as these young folks advance in their career, DEI will likely be more of a concern. Conversations are starting on what can be done to get ahead of the challenge.  

Speaking to some DEI-minded folks, The following were collectively brainstormed (though not exhaustive by any means):

  1. Awareness
  2. Understanding
  3. Practice
  4. Improvement

Awareness 

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change” -Eckhart Tolle

Have you ever thought of the people you work with? How are they similar to you, and how are they different from you? Have you thought about your workplace from a DEI lens?

A youth in a group I was chatting with was wondering if I could even ask these types of questions. I said, “are we now so sensitive that we can’t even talk about it?”

Let’s bring the challenge into the light so they can be acknowledged and addressed. That doesn’t make the process easy. When our unconscious biases are acknowledged, the process can hurt. 

I recall a recent interaction where someone felt I was discriminating against them. The issue escalated. When I finally had a chance to acknowledge the alleged hurtful remark, I realized that “having no intention to hurt them” wasn’t necessarily good enough. The issue was eventually resolved with separate previously unknown trauma at play, and it led me on a journey to an awareness that I am very much thankful for.

Reading this article may very well be your first step to awareness. The next step is to learn more to gain some understanding.

How? Get involved in your company’s DEI groups. 

Doesn’t exist? Start one. 

Perhaps find a community organization or a trusted DEI ally to help. 

As a young professional, recent grad or student intern, you can make a difference.

You don’t have to wait to be in senior leadership. Though building a relationship with an executive sponsor could be a good step to make your DEI initiatives sustainable.

Understanding

With some newfound awareness, the next step is to gain some understanding. Perhaps connecting with a DEI professional, talking to a learned friend, researching a bit of history, or learning additional points of awareness to be noted.

While the process can be quite awkward and nerve-wracking, approaching understanding from a perspective of curiosity can be very helpful.

Asking questions is a great way of gaining understanding.

A few good questions to ask:

  • What is your definition of diversity? Equity? Inclusion? If we’re gonna be aware and understand it, we might as well get on the same page regarding what it means to us as an organization. DEI is not just gender or race and can include physical/mental abilities, religions, cultures and age. While you can start with a dictionary definition, each organization will often have to pick their own interpretations and prioritizations. 
  • Why is DEI important to us? Benefits are plentiful, and choose the ones that resonate with your organization. Whether it’s improved innovation, enhanced employee engagement, reaching broader markets, or others, align them with your organization’s values. 
  • How do we know that we’ve been successful with our DEI initiatives? Initiatives could start with a few awareness emails, continue with various workshops and learning and hopefully carry on with a thriving community. The start and end state will be up to you. 

There are plenty more questions to ask, though you can start by progressing your close colleagues to awareness and then understanding. Extend to broader departments and groups based on which are receptive and open. Then see what other parts of the company would be willing to take part. You might need senior leadership buy-in to help that happen. Or may choose to make it a grassroots effort. Think progress vs perfection. 

Again, a young professional, recent grad or student intern can make a difference. You don’t have to be an expert. You just need to be willing to put in the effort to move the initiatives forward. Though you will eventually need some senior leadership support in order to really help DEI initiatives thrive in your organization. 

At the end of the day, prioritizing and making the time is an important step to allow understanding to happen.

How? I allocate a few hours of your month, an hour of your week, or even a few minutes daily to DEI initiatives. Promote awareness. Have conversations. Improve your understanding. That time consistently over time can easily turn awareness into understanding. 

Practice 

“Consistent action creates consistent results” – Christine Kane

DEI it’s not a “one-and-done activity.” It’s something that needs to be practised consistently and often in order to be effective.

Yes, you may have had a workshop and felt great about your new DEI knowledge. You might have completed some DEI training and implemented the initiative so that it was successful. But what about next month? Or next year? Or the year after next?

How often will it be up to you and your organization? Those earlier on the path to awareness, understanding and developing it into regular practice will need more time. Eventually, if you can embed DEI into the culture of your organization, then last time is likely because the time you do spend will be habitual. 

That may sound daunting for a young professional, recent grad or student intern, though hopefully, you’ve already realized that you can make a difference. 

How? Find your “tribe” of DEI allies within your organization or community who can help the understanding turn into a regular practice.

Improvement 

If you’re at this stage on your DEI journey, then your high-achieving self will likely want to make things even better.

Perhaps you can share your successes with other departments or even other organizations and join the broader DEI community. Perhaps you can bring in folks from other organizations and learn from them. Maybe even secure executive support for a DEI audit to see how effective your initiatives have really been.

And what you’ll eventually realize is that you ARE making a difference. That is, once you realize that even as a young professional, recent grad or student intern, you can make a difference!

Communication and Connection In a COVID World

 

Luki, Communication, Connection, COVIDFor many of us, it’s been a while since we bumped into a colleague in the lunchroom or in the hallway to catch up on how they are doing and what they are doing. Lockdowns and social distancing has made communication and connection more difficult. Perhaps not difficult, just different.

While COVID May have made it more challenging to connect with folks on The same floor or in the same office, the acceptance of video conferencing has helped stay connected with folks that are outside the building, city and perhaps even country. 

Proactive Connection

One of the biggest changes with staying connected with coworkers is to be proactive with your connections. Allocate the time on your calendar to connect with folks. 

  • If you regularly bumped into someone at the water cooler, perhaps schedule time on both your calendars to catch up for a 15 minute zoom call. 
  • Block off 30 minutes in your day to message and connect with folks that you haven’t connected with in over a month. 
  • Allocate 60 minutes a week to further develop relationships with folks who haven’t spoken to in over three months.

Play with the frequency and duration based on the relationship and your circumstances. At the end of the day, be proactive and allocate the time. 

Communication Styles

Well some people prefer to communicate in person, that luxury is not quite available anymore. Consider furthering your relationship with a video call to stay connected, or engage in text or email chats or even phone calls can still happen even in the age of video and digital communication. Some people have a preference for video chats. Others would rather communicate via text or email. Others just want to hear the sound of your voice. Consider what communication style is relevant for the other person.

Think about exercising the “platinum rule” instead of the “golden rule”. The platinum rule suggests: “do unto others as they would want done unto themselves”. So even if you are an email person, if that person prefers phone calls, then give them a phone call.

Feedback and Praise

One important type of communication that you should consider making more regular if you are not already is feedback. Letting people know how they are doing and where they can improve.

Feedback should express concern, demonstrate curiosity, seek to clarify, as well as be constructive, consistent. clear, candid and close in time to the activities in question. 

You can use the ADNs approach:

  • Ask: are they open to feedback at the moment? “May I…”
  • Describe: specific behaviour and impact “… when you … “ “Here’s what happens…”
  • Next steps: what to do ongoing “How can you do this differently?  How can I help?” “Thanks, keep it up!”

An important form of feedback that is often neglected is praise. Oftentimes we are quick to connect with folks to provide some corrective feedback. Consider allocating more time for praise and positive feedback. become a “praise prism”. Praise is actually an infinite resource and you might find that your praise gets amplified across your organization like a prism. 

Summary

Take some time to reflect on how you are communicating and connecting during these interesting times. Consider adding some proactive connection time to reach out to folks that you would normally connect with, as well as connect with those that you might not. be mindful of people’s communication styles and preferences and adjust appropriately. Don’t forget feedback and especially remember to spread the praise. It’s often harder to know how you’re doing when you see your coworkers less frequently. So be sure to support your team whether you stay remote, go hybrid, or return to the office.

What will you do to connect and communicate better?

 


About Luki

Luki is a career coach and likes to say that he has found his purpose helping others find theirs. A former management consultant and campus recruiting lead, he shares his SIWIKE Stuff I Wish I Knew Earlier through books, podcasts, videos and other content. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lukidanu/ or Subscribe on YouTube to access other content https://youtube.com/focusinspired

 

 

Habits to Become the Best Version of Yourself

I’ve been asked more and more to share my insights on developing habits with various organizations since the start of the pandemic. Many have found themselves with extra time with their commutes removed from their day. Some are choosing to feel that extra time with habits like exercise, reading, meditation, and a multitude of other activities. Some are successful at turning them into habits. Many or not. I share my insights as to why.

Why are habits important in the first place?

For anyone who has ever tried to start a new routine, oftentimes an act of sheer willpower is needed to get started. That willpower often drains energy and you don’t want to be using that much energy every time you do something. Habits can help you reduce that energy train so you can use that energy for other things.

Parts of a habit

Habits can be sliced and diced into various segments. I like to use Charles Duhigg’s version. 

  • Cue: A trigger that signals the habit to start
  • Action: The activity of the habit itself
  • Reward: A reinforcement for the behaviour

Habits don’t always form when you start doing things primarily because without the cue or the reward, The habit has nothing to anchor itself to in your brain. 

Getting rid of a habit or starting a new habit

One of the most surefire ways to get rid of a habit is to remove all cues for that habit. Unfortunately that is easier said than done if you cannot completely control your environment.

Consider the FOGG behavioural model. Think of one vertical axis for Motivation and a horizontal axis for Ability. There would be an action line that starts from high Motivation and low Ability and curves down and flattens towards low Motivation and high Ability. When something is above the line then it occurs and happens. When something is “below” the line then it does not occur or happen.

That means to get rid of a habit you need to decrease your motivation or decrease your ability. 

You can decrease your motivation by pairing your habit with a consequence.

  • Want to stop snoozing and sleeping in? Set an embarrassing social media post to go out just after your alarm wakes you up. You better get up, or that post will tell the world about your embarrassing moment!

You can decrease your ability by making your habit more difficult to do. 

  • Want to stop snacking on some junk food? Stash it way towards the back of your cupboard where you have to inconveniently take out other items to get to it.
  • Want to stop spending so much? Put your credit card in a hard to access spot. Or even freeze it in a block of ice so that you literally have to melt it to access it – Hopefully by the time you get your credit card out, your impulse to buy has subsided. Make sure you also delete any saved credit cards on your browser for online sites. 

On the other hand, if you want to start a habit, you need to increase your motivation or increase your ability. You can increase your

You can increase your motivation by finding the core purpose for wanting to set up the habit or finding a partner to hold you accountable for your actions. 

  • To find your core purpose or why for the habit, ask yourself: why is that habit important to you? With whatever answer you provide, ask yourself: why is that important to you? Repeat that five more times. If you don’t repeat yourself and really focus on it’s important to you then you’ll often find the core reason
  • An accountability partner can help many stay on task. That’s why study buddies, gym buddies and other type of accountability partners can’t be so helpful 

NOTE: for most people one or the other works better. Take a look at when you’ve been successful in starting a habit in the past and repeat your success.

To increase your ability, understand your tendencies.

The acronym SPACEBEAR can help you to find some of your tendencies. 

  • Step-type: Do you prefer small steps, or do you “go big or go home”?
  • Pace-type: Are you a marathoner (consistently spend time to move towards your goal), sprinter (hit things hard, then take a break then hard and break), procrastinator (wait until the last minute before you get something done)
  • Aversion-type: Do you react better to a “carrot”, or a “stick”?
  • Chrono-type: Are you a Lion (get stuff done early in the morning often before anybody else is awake), Bear (slower to rise and get stuff done in the middle of the day), or Wolf (our most productive late night) 
  • Expectations-type: Are you an Obliger (need someone to help hold them accountable) or a Questioner (need to know why something is important to them)
  • Buying-type: Are you an Under-buyer (buy just enough or wait until you’re almost out), or an over-buyer (buy so much that you’ll never run out and always have some in reserve)
  • End-type: Are you a Finisher (like to check things off your to-do list), or an opener (like to start new things – though not necessarily finish them)
  • Availability-type: do you prefer simplicity, or abundance
  • Recognition-type: do you prefer familiarity, or novelty?

Knowing your tendencies can do wonders to get that habit going. For example: you might start a habit like exercise and only continue it if you constantly find new and novel parts of it to do. Or you might need to start with familiar and easy to do exercises before you gradually move on two more difficult exercises. 

Summary

Wow there are many more ways and considerations to effectively start or stop a habit, these will hopefully be some useful tips to get you started.

By setting up habits, you might find that you have more energy to do other things throughout the day. 

Pick something from the above to implement. Try it out for a few days or weeks. If it sticks then keep it. If it doesn’t, then try something new. 

You’ll likely find that when you set up these habits you become even more productive in your work and life.

About Luki

Luki is a career coach and likes to say that he has found his purpose helping others find theirs. A former management consultant and campus recruiting lead, he shares his SIWIKE Stuff I Wish I Knew Earlier through books, podcasts, videos and other content. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lukidanu/ or Subscribe on YouTube to access other content https://youtube.com/focusinspired

Staying “Mentally Fit” During COVID to Combat Job Stress

I’ve received many positive reviews on workshops on staying “mentally fit” during COVID. These sessions were delivered for the staff and faculty of a few colleges/universities. Here are a few highlights from the session to help combat job stress. 

It’s worth noting that stress is helpful. Stress is what kept our ancestors alive. We wouldn’t be around without stress. However, even though we no longer have to deal with the threat of sabre tooth tigers eating us, our modern day stresses often seem just as dangerous.    

In these challenging times, many are having their mental states tested. It is interesting how we are often ready to take care of our physical health, yet when was the last time that you prioritized your mental health? Whether you’re an employer or an employee, faculty or staff, (or really anybody), we could all use a little help on the “mental fitness” front. Here are a few of my favourite helpful concepts.

Awareness 

The first step is to admit that you have a problem. You may not be on a 12-step program to recover from addiction, though you may be stressed from work, constantly changing circumstances, uncertainty of the future or a number of other anxiety-inducing thoughts many of us are having during lockdown. 

Take a note of when you have those thoughts. Or think back on your day/week and identify those moments of stress and anxiety. If you have stress in your workplace you might not be able to remove the factors that cause it, though you could change your perspective. Start with Awareness then you can shift your perspective. 

Perspective

“For there is nothing good or bad and thinking makes it so” -Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2: William Shakespeare

Here’s a thought: COVID is neither good nor bad. Our thoughts about COVID make it good or bad. 

Wait, how can I say that when people have lost loved ones? Could that loss turn into gratitude for the times you’ve spent with that person or the people that you still have around you? Could you give it meaning so that you can move on and thrive instead of just surviving? I’m not saying that you have to, I’m just asking if you could. 

Go through those points of stress and anxiety that you recorded in Awareness and see if you can change your perspective. Gratitude can be a helpful tool to change that perspective. 

  • “I have so much more work now that everything has been moved online” can turn into “I’m so thankful I have a job”.
  • “I lost my job due to COVID” can turn into “I can find my next new opportunity and chapter in my career”.
  • “I have no idea what the future holds” can turn into “I’m excited about the infinite opportunities and possibilities for the future”.

While it might seem like semantics, consider if your thoughts become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Wouldn’t you rather have better thoughts to be fulfilled?

Think of perspective as your “mental COVID mask”. You may encounter negative thoughts, though with an awareness to reflect and potentially change your perspective, you can prevent those thoughts from “infecting” you and ruining your day.

STFAR 

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” -Viktor Frankl

If you’re with me so far, you might be asking yourself: How do I change my perspectives? 

Something out there (or maybe in your head) happens and you often just react to it. Sometimes in a positive way. Sometimes in a negative way. What if you took some time to reflect?

I use the acronym STFAR to help with the reflection process:

  • Stimulus: Something that happens. That something could be outside. Or sometimes that something is inside your head. 
  • Thought: The Stimulus triggers a thought. Sometimes conscious. Often not. 
  • Feeling: An energy in your body that comes from the Thought. 
  • Action: What you did as a result of that Feeling (which could be doing nothing)
  • Result: The outcome based on what you did (or didn’t do).

Let’s put this into practice. 

What comes to mind when I say COVID?

For many, it is THOUGHTS of stress. Cabin fever from having to stay locked down. Missing summer vacations. Loss of opportunities. 

Those thoughts may cause you to FEEL sad, lonely, angry, and even more stressed. 

The ACTION you take might be to eat to distract yourself, escape in your social media feed, or watch a streaming service to numb the stress.

However, the RESULT is a few extra COVID-pounds gained. 

Let’s try that again while intercepting thoughts and changing perspectives.

What comes to mind when I say COVID? Let’s find a beneficial perspective.

For some, the THOUGHT of not having to commute comes to mind and having more time to do what you want to do.

With that thought you might FEEL more motivated to exercise or learn that skill you’ve always wanted like speaking a new language or the ukulele or whatever that is.

Hopefully that feeling is enough for you to take ACTION and start practicing your Spanish/Mandarin, chord positioning or strumming. 

The RESULT is a new skill plus a sense of achievement on the growth.

While being aware, and changing your perspectives may seem challenging now, consider that if you were training to run a marathon, you’d slowly but surely be able to run a kilometer, then 10, then 20, then 42 and beyond! With practice, you can do it.

Practice

“Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.” -Napoleon Hill

Mental fitness is not about just knowing a tactic or strategy. It’s about putting them into practice consistently and over time. Being aware of your thoughts can be hard enough. Let alone constantly changing your perspective on the thoughts that don’t serve you.

The key is to prioritize time. I use the concept of “non-negotiable time” to help. That’s 60 mins daily (or 30 mins or as much time as you can manage) to invest time on these and other helpful mental fitness activities.  Just like you might take time to go to the gym, take some time to go to the “mental gym”. 

Use part of your non-negotiable time to reflect on your awareness throughout the day. As you reflect on your thoughts, look to change the perspectives for the thoughts that don’t serve you. Turn those thoughts and perspectives into action towards whatever result that you want. 

Meditation is another great practice to help with your mental fitness. Think of it as practice to increase the space between stimulus and response. When meditating, you focus on your breath, your thoughts, a word or something else depending on the type of meditation. Mediation exercises your focus on the present moment.

Even simple mindfulness exercises where you pay attention to mundane activities (I.e. washing your hands), or use your non-dominant hand to do something (I.e. brush your teeth), could help you put your mental fitness into practice.

Summary 

Start your path to mental fitness with awareness. Take that awareness and change your perspective. Use the STFAR model to help reflect and change your perspective. Allocate time to “exercise” and put your mental fitness activities into practice. When you do so, you’ll probably find that you’re less stressed at work, as well as less stressed at home. Especially in these trying times. They have worked for many others. 

Why not give it a shot?

About Luki

Luki is a career coach and likes to say that he has found his purpose helping others find theirs. A former management consultant and campus recruiting lead, he shares his SIWIKE Stuff I Wish I Knew Earlier through books, podcasts, videos and other content. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lukidanu/ or Subscribe on YouTube to access other content https://youtube.com/focusinspired 

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