For discussion

August 2015

Competition is Tough Enough; Why Make it Tougher?

John Trombley is the Village Business Institute’s Consulting and Training Manager and serves as an Organization Development Consultant and Trainer. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo where he serves as an adjunct faculty member. He is a motivational speaker with over 16 years of experience in providing training programs and consulting services in a wide variety of organization development scenarios. John is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator under ADR Rule 114, and is also certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management. Previously, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” and so Charles Dickens began his famous 19th century (1859) novel, A Tale of Two Cities with these immortal words. And immortal they are, because in a fashion they speak to the transitions we all face at various times in our lives even now in the 21st century. As the late author Marilyn Ferguson is credited as saying, “It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place between that we fear.” Whether you subscribe to her view or not – and there are many who would argue about what we fear the most – the reality is that change happens and sometimes when we least expect it or are least prepared to accept it.

Career transitions are sometimes like that: you suddenly find yourself standing on the edge of a cliff about to step into the unknown while staring into the fog of uncertainty. . .Uff-da! For some, it’s a time of excitement and adventure; for others it’s a time of dread and deep concern. For all, it’s a time of transition and change. Either way, it’s often encouraging to take the journey with someone who has been there before and who can serve as a guide and outfitter. Visit the Village Business Institute’s Career Transition services practitioners! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, let’s take a look at the Big Picture and let’s also acknowledge that what the Big Picture looks like depends on where you are. Perspective is everything. We each have unique life experiences, varied backgrounds, differing worldviews, maybe some shared values, and a variety of likes and dislikes which combine to form a personalized filtering system through which we each experience life and evaluate our experiences. Consequently, what is exciting to one is terrifying to another. What is dull, boring and lifeless to one is interesting and intriguing to another. Neither side of the coin is wrong; they’re just different. Added to all of that is the rapid pace of change. Honestly, it really wasn’t all that long ago when cellphones were just a gleam in an inventor’s eye, and now according to the Washington, D.C. based Pew Research Center, 90% of American adults own one. Come to think of it, my wife has two smartphones – one for work and one for her personal use. I have at least two older cellphones in a box somewhere in my office in addition to my trusty Galaxy whatever-it-is sitting on my desk in front of me right now - and I think I’m due for an upgrade. Go figure: change and transition is inevitable, growth is optional. Let’s get back to career transitions…

When faced with an unexpected or unplanned job change, shock and denial are oftentimes the first reaction people have. It’s normal. In fact, it’s almost predictable. So if that has happened to you, please know that what you are experiencing is part of the process. The key is to not get stuck along the way, but rather continue to move through the process. You will come out on the other side and maybe in a better position than you would ever expect, but you have to keep moving. In the meantime, know that your body is going to feel the stress and your emotions might want to take you on a wild ride through the Twilight Zone, so you need to take care of yourself along the way. Get outside; take a hike or a bike ride; breathe some fresh air; eat healthy food; drink plenty of water; surround yourself with positive people who will support and encourage you. If your job change is planned, that of course makes life a little less stressful, but you still have to take care of yourself in the process.

Either way, take charge of your life by doing something that moves you in the direction you want to go. For instance, you can brush-up your résumé, make contact with old friends and acquaintances who might be able to point you in the direction of job opportunities, and do some research on companies and organizations that require the kinds of skills you possess. For that matter, this might be the perfect opportunity for you to go back to school, if even on a part-time basis, to sharpen your knowledge and make yourself more attractive to a potential employer. You might even want to stretch your wings a little and get involved as a volunteer somewhere to develop your leadership skills. And of course, if you are unemployed now, treat your job search as you would a job. Every day, “show up”. That is, do something to find a job, every day. This isn’t a vacation, so don’t sit on your laurels in the corner expecting someone to come looking for you to offer you a job. It doesn’t usually work that way, so don’t waste time trying to beat the odds; it doesn’t pay well. Now back to the Village Business Institute’s Career Transition services…

The Village Business Institute’s (VBI) Career Transition services are very different from the services offered by most job search companies. VBI takes a career coaching approach to the issue, preferring to invest one-on-one coaching time whenever possible with the individual. During the coaching sessions, the VBI consultant uses a planned process that asks the individual to examine their career goals and needs in the context of other life priorities, and to explore the type of work one finds fulfilling. The coach also helps the individual examine and articulate their marketable achievements, skills, motivations, passions, values, qualities, knowledge and aspirations. Once that is achieved, the work of targeting one’s market begins, and with that, the development of a complete self-marketing plan to include creating effective résumés and cover letters to take advantage of opportunities. Then of course is the preparation for the interview phase where the consultant and the individual explore various strategies and engage in sharpening interview skills.

Whether you give VBI a call, employ a search agency, or start asking friends, neighbors and acquaintances about where the opportunities lie, you’ll improve your odds greatly by asking someone else to take the journey with you. After all, if one is good, two is exponentially better. Remember: the competition is tough out there, but you don’t have to face it alone.

For more information you can contact John at The Village Business Institute in Fargo, ND at (800) 627-8220, or email him at

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