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Let’s take some time to honor your past experience.
Your past can be a great place to get clues to what you do well, what you don’t, and what kind of work you might want to pursue in the future. I like to draw a chart and start filling it in toward discovering trends and gaps.
Here’s a simple framework you can use to take a look at your past experience:
1 – Draw 4-5 columns on a piece of paper.
2 – Label the columns – Experience, Strengths, Weaknesses, Likes, Dislikes, Other.
3 – Start from when you were young and consider jobs, interests, school or work projects, volunteer experiences. Write them all down in the first column boxes. Try writing down at least 20.
4 – Identify the strengths and weaknesses of that experience. Write down comments in row next to the experience.
5 – Identify what you liked and disliked. You may find you dislike some things you are good at and like some things you aren’t yet skilled in. That’s ok. You get to decide what you want to do with that information.
6 – Write down any other information in the “Other” column. Look at how much you’ve experienced! What have you learned about yourself? Did you unearth something that you forgot that you’d love to pursue?
This is just part of the journey to offering up your best work. Looking to the past to honor what you find out. Using that information as you step forward into the future work that you are meant to offer up.
Episode 99 Show Notes
- Past Experience Framework Template (see link above)
- Past Experience Framework – Demonstration on YouTube (see below)
Episode 99 Transcript
This is Rebecca Clark Episode 99. Honor your past Experience. A Framework. This podcast is for anyone that knows they haven’t yet found and offered up their best work but are compelled to seek it out and do it. Are you ready to move your desk? It’s so interesting when you work in different environments with different groups of people. And I straddle that world of being an employee and being an entrepreneur in my daily conversations, because even though I do coaching, I also consult. And I also remain open to opportunities to be an employee as I wrestle through, looking at my own best ways of working and sharing my ideas and trying something new and building business, and I’m realizing it’s okay to be involved in them all because sometimes you’re figuring it out and you’re exploring and experimenting and seeing what works and what doesn’t. And through it all, you get more experience and I say this a lot. But I don’t believe that any experience is wasted. That job you hated that place you moved that you felt was wrong. That incorrect decision you thought you made I don’t think any of its wasted Unless, of course, you waste it. And of a lot of us, do we sit around complaining about it or worrying about it or regretting when really we could go Listen, it happened. This is what I learned from it. I’m not going to do that again. But I am going to do this the next time and you move on and you make that ah powerful part of you. In the world of employees and corporations and government, past experience is very important. In fact, when you go to submit ah, proposal for a contract, often a large part of a proposal is to submit three or four examples of past experience. And so you have to go out to prior clients and say, Hey, well, you fill out this form for me, saying how great I am right and giving me ratings. And often on that form it asks what the weaknesses are. And depending upon who fills out the form, you make it truth or not, right? You, some people, some clients filling out the form or like yes, they were awesome. Get them out of here. Go have them work for you. I don’t want them anymore, right? And so there’s various motives for these kinds of things, but it’s very important in those environments. Thio establish credibility through past experience. But then, over in the world of entrepreneurship and coaching, there’s a different dynamic at work, and you learn to teach people to think, Hey, forget about your past experience or not make it mean what you’re making it mean and decide who you want to be going forward, what you want to offer. And that could be something you don’t even know anything about right now. But just because you want it, you can seek it and have it and then slowly build up credibility and experience in that space. So it’s kind of this forward leaning approach to thinking about who you want to be, what you want to offer, regardless of any prior accomplishment. And so this is a very strange dynamic that can happen in the mind right when you’re like trying to think forward of who you want to be, but you’re not there yet, and you may have no past evidence that you’d even be good at it, but you still want it, and then you have this other dynamic where much of the world says, Hey, prove it to me. Show me You know how to do this. Show me you have past experience. Oh, you only have three years. No, I’d prefer someone that has seven. No, you couldn’t possibly know that in three years. You need at least 20 years of experience or oh, you need just the right titles to demonstrate that you have experience. And what kind of craziness is this? We accept this all the time, right? And I know even when I look for someone to help me, I want to see that they have experience in it. And I think what’s interesting is to notice now, as I’m paying more attention that it’s not that I’m actually looking for the years of experience that I thought I was looking for. I’m actually looking to see if I resonate with that person and if they seem to have some insights that would help me. But so often I’d say the real reason is because this person seems more credible to me because they have this big, long resume when sometimes the person with the big long resume may be less helpful to you right. They may be too far ahead in the process, or they may have never really understood how to share with someone else. What they know, they might just be good at doing it themselves. That’s a super important thing to notice, in my opinion, because we dealt with that on a lot of our work environments, expecting experts to come in and teach novices how to do something. And the experts weren’t that great A. Teaching it because teaching is a skill right? And if they didn’t have 20 years of teaching to go along with their 20 years of managing our systems, engineering or whatever, then we were all dead in the water way needed someone who knew how to explain the complex simply. So why am I talking about all this? Well, one of the exercises I like to take people through and to take myself through is to take time to look at our past in order to figure out our future. And even though it’s great to have these aspirations of what we want to be right now, it’s also really compelling to take a look at the past from a place that’s not nostalgic or judgmental, but to say, Hey, what are the experiences I’ve had? What are the ideas I’ve had and what are the jobs I’ve had? And to take a look at those and go, what are the strengths I had in doing those jobs and what were the weaknesses? And then from there, really be honest with yourself and go, What did I dislike and like about those strengths and weaknesses? Sometimes things were good at we don’t enjoy sometimes where we get things that we do enjoy. And we want to get better at that and those air important to take a look at. So what I often do is have a chart that I encourage people to create on their own, and pretty much you just take a piece of paper and you draw big box on it and draw a few columns and rows and just put what the job was. What the experience. Waas what the volunteer moment Waas and put that in one column and then the next column. Take a look at the strengths you had and the next column. Take a look at the weaknesses, then the next column, right about what you liked and what you didn’t like and pay attention to if they match and you can take other notes as well. For example, when I was very young, I really enjoyed organizing my brothers and sisters to do something. So in one case, I organized them to do this exercise program. We got these little booklet to church to do this little exercise program. And so I decided this was super cool and we were going to do it. And you could mark off if you exercise for a number of minutes or miles, something like that. And I think we all got a little book, so I would say, Okay, let’s go out and run or let’s go out and ride bikes. And then I was so eager to count the number of minutes or miles or whatever that we did. I’d like to make sure everybody was out there, that they were doing it, that I was documenting it and that we made it a habit. Also, when I was a little girl, I decided during the summer that I wanted to organize summer school for my younger siblings. We had a fantastic playroom. We had lots of books. We had lots of toys. We had time. So I decided I was going to copy what the teachers did in the elementary school where they’d set up these little centers where you go do things around the room. Or if you’re extra special, you could go and be in this extra club at the library where you’d get these extra projects to Dio. So I set up some very complex project where my sisters had to research in the encyclopedias, right? A little report. Then do a little art project and something else so exciting for me toe organize that to plan that and then bring people into it. And this did not last very long. In fact, my planning probably lasted longer than the actual summer school, because by the time I explained everything everyone had to dio like, Forget this. Let’s go back to doing our play. Drive through, get the cash register out. Let’s go through, give our fake money, get our fake food, and then let’s go outside and ride bikes or something, right? My little centers didn’t last long, but it’s important for me to remember that exercise program. And that summer school program because even though they were not technically a success, it’s showed me something about myself from a very young age. I enjoyed planning. I enjoyed organizing and bringing my siblings into something that I thought it was important for us and which they clearly didn’t think it was important. And that’s still an area I need to work on right, because that’s marketing, showing people how you can help them solve one of their problems or needs. And they can do that by being involved with you in your program. So interesting. Also, in looking back, I see how I did very well with the paper out right, that daily structure of having to deliver things and figuring out how each person wanted their paper to be delivered and then collecting the money and then getting joy when people of different holidays would suddenly surprised me with a 5, 10 or $20 bill or a special purse from China, or a book or a little wallet, special tokens that they bothered to give their paper girl and then to discover that Wait, I have relationships with these people. Maybe if I create thes chocolate suckers that Aaron this cool little mold that looked like a little teddy bear with a hard on it. Maybe they’ll buy from me. And maybe I could put really cool packaging to make them look even better. I learned about myself through these experiences, right? I love toe, have some structure, but I also love a little entrepreneurship with it and to figure out how to offer something in a way that people would enjoy it. And as I reflect on these experiences, I’m giving an excitement in me again to go. Oh, yeah, I remember worrying about that at a very young age, and I need to re infuse some of that energy back into me. I need to make this fun. I need thio. Figure out what is the best gift that my clients would like or what’s the best extra thing I could do for that person? I’m helping that their eyes light up when they received that from me. I’ve also noticed throughout different jobs as I put them down in this piece of paper, but I didn’t like doing some things that something’s their weaknesses. So, for example, when I was a newly minted instructional designer and having to get out there and go through the very detailed process of breaking things down into steps and then putting it in a very specific structure for goals and for assessment questions. I found out that I didn’t really like that. I absolutely love goals, but I keep them very simple. You know, I’m gonna accomplish this by this date in this way that I don’t put it in the very specific language required for pure instructional design. And I certainly don’t like writing test questions, right? So I am very bold and blunt in interviews where I’ve had over the years where they say, Well, this person has to be strong and assessments and writing questions I’m like Nope, No, not doing it. I have a lot of anxiety. When I go about it. I have to think harder. I have to manipulate words in ways that I’m not comfortable manipulating words, and yet I’ll sit next to somebody who will just crank them out. They could write like, 30 test questions in a day, and I’d still be like trying to create a perfect assessment question. I know that about myself and because I know that about myself. I know that when I need someone to write test questions, I’m not going to sit down and bootstrap it. I’m going to pay someone to do that. It’s not a weakness that I feel is important enough to work on. At the same time, I say that I grew up with a weakness that I’ve constantly worked on, and that is communication. I was very shy. I didn’t try to communicate with people verbally. I withheld lots of pieces of information. I didn’t practice figuring out how to say things in a way that others could understand or that would resonate with them or that would help them understand that I really wanted to talk through something, and here I am doing a podcast. Here I am training and teaching because over the years I decided to work on it. I even to the point where in college at one point my major was communications, and then I realized it was just too big a leap for me at the time, just too big. So I minored in it because I knew I had a lot to learn, and I enjoyed learning about it, even though is a weakness. And why am I willing? Toe work on a weakness and communications because that’s how we get stuff done in life. That’s how we build relationships. That’s how we tell people what we want. That’s how we ask people what they need. It’s all around us. Communications is a weakness that’s worth working on. I’m still working on it. I’m still working on How do I share a story? How do I communicate a message? How do I influence? How do I get more comfortable answering the phone? That’s still a weakness, but that has other layers to it, right? Sometimes I just don’t want to be interrupted. Sometimes I’m getting ready for something else. You get to choose which weaknesses you want to work on. You get to choose which strengths you want to make part of your work. Maybe you are strong in some things, and you just don’t want to do anything with it. Ask yourself why? Why don’t I want to do something with this strength? What if this is a special gift just for me? And maybe through exercising this strength, I’ll get stronger at it or I’ll discover something else I didn’t know I would be good at or that I’d really be good at and really enjoy. Maybe the strength is an avenue to something even better. This is worth taking time on. This is worth filling out a chart about, and one of the side benefits of it is that it’s almost a document you could put into your journal or into your personal life story. Or it may even inform you on how to represent yourself better in a resume or an online portfolio or a business that you’re trying to start. This reflection could be valuable, and one of the valuable parts of the reflection is it may bring up some pain about the past. You may enter the nostalgia zone, and that’s okay if you say I’m glad I thought through this. I’m glad I discovered this about myself. And now that I’ve discovered this, I can do something with it, or you may decide. I’m glad I got to take a look at that one last time. I’m going to write about it, and I’m gonna let it go. It’s part of my past. That’s a part of my past that happened. I learned from it. I’m gonna let it go. I’m not gonna let it hold me back anymore. I’m going to hold on to some of these things that are going to take me forward. I encourage you today to go through this exercise and then honor what you find and go. You know what? All of this craziness is a part of me. All of these mistakes are a part of me. All of these aspirations are a part of me. They’re here for a reason. They’re here to teach me. They’re here to show me who I could become or what I could do with my life going forward. Honor it. All of these things together make you the most unique person on the planet, just like everyone else. And that’s kind of cool, because we don’t need any replicas. There’s enough of that and other parts of life. Okay, go take a step in the past toe, honor it and then move forward. Talk to you soon. If it is time for you to improve your work relationships, get the raise or move into a new career. I have two programs for you. The first is make the move. A self paced online course that leads you through the mindset, management principles and planning approaches that help you uplevel your work. The second is one on one coaching. For those who are serious about transforming their work, now, find both at learn dot Move your desk dot com mhm.