A woman I know well was promoted to a level way above her comfort zone. She had never failed in the past with her last position, but this new promotion was stressful and a big deal to her. One of her friends gave her this advice:
“Congratulations. Relax. Cool it. Just do good work daily and before you know it, it will be a career.”
That is good advice any time you find yourself in a job, or interview for a job, that is way beyond where you expected to be.
Something To Do Today
Do your best every day, and you will quickly grow into the position.
Of course the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you—if you don’t play, you can’t win. (Robert Heinlein)
Need a new job? Promotion? Make a game out of it, keep trying
Games can be deadly serious
Chess, poker, basketball and football are just games. Some people study those games intently and never play themselves. Others study the games and get into the competitions, contemplating victory and risking defeat. Those who watch from comfortable chairs and never participate, can never know the struggle and thrill of victory, nor the cleansing scourge of defeat. The quiet careful critics will never grow a hundredth as much as the rankest loser grows.
Look at your job search like your favorite game or sport
That job or promotion you have applied for 5 or 10 times may really be out of reach for you. That doesn’t mean you should stop trying. At least you are in the game. You will never win if you quit the field of battle.
Out of work? Every job you apply for is a new game. Every time an employer calls you is a victory. The next game is the interview. Another game starts in the second interview. Negotiating your salary is another game. The day you start the job a new competition begins.
For a game you study techniques and practice them over and over. You also study the great winners and losers. If you want to be great, you also study the mediocre masses because you have to find out why they are merely mediocre. If you want to win, you have to know how to defeat each of your opponents.
A coach is also essential. Your coach will be called a mentor, recruiter or friend. Find the most successful person you can and ask for them to give you advice on what you should learn, study and practice next. Practice, prepare and then execute. If you lose 20 times it won’t really kill you. Look at it as a game. The only thing that really kills you is giving up and leaving the game for good.
If there is a job or promotion you want but just can’t seem to win, make a game out of it. Play. Have some serious fun with it.
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Make your job growth a game. How can you learn to play it at a Super Bowl level? Who can be your coach? Get back in the game. Play.
When I was a child I tried fishing in the water puddle in front of our house. When the sun dried it up I could see there were no fish there.
At college I saw a video of a man fishing in one of the larger fountains there. When people asked how the fishing was, he pulled up a nice string of large trout. That made for interesting conversations, but no one believed him. They could see there were no trout in that clear fountain water.
On a Scout outing John and I were lying on a creek bank and looking down into the water. We could see 3 nice trout in the tree roots. When a fisherman came by we asked how he was doing. Only one fish so far. John told the man to cast his lure at the tree root. In a dozen casts the man caught all three fish.
To catch fish you have to cast your lure where the fish are.
This applies to new jobs and promotions
A recruiter can be that kid lying on the bank of the creek looking into the water. He says “Cast your resume over here and you’ll get a job.” He knows where the jobs are.
Ask your friends and acquaintances who is hiring. They may have a good idea where to go. Look at the financial news stories and find out what industries are “going public” in the stock market. Ask what companies are growing the fastest and look for a job in that industry.
Your mentor at work will tell you, “Volunteer for that project. It has great visibility. Avoid Jill Montoya, she’s poison.” The mentor knows where the rewards and pitfalls are hidden.
Always be looking to the future. Where are the jobs being created? What do you need to learn to be in a high demand field?
Fish where the fish are. You’ll have better luck.
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Ask the people you respect most in your profession where the jobs are and where the industry is going.
Here in the USA we wait in lines. We get upset when someone cuts in front. So we wait back until it is our turn. We don’t want to be greedy.
Tim was competing with 3 others for a promotion at EDS. He was prepared. He was a good choice. He told his boss, “I do want this promotion. It is the next step I need to take in my career. But I don’t want you to choose me for the job if the other guys should have it. I know it is important to them too. I don’t want you to feel any pressure to give it to me even though I want it.” Tim did NOT get the promotion.
Tim also waited a full year to get half of the bonus he was promised for putting in a lot of overtime on a project. During that year he reminded his boss twice of the bonus. Then Tim waited patiently with a smile. Tim was a nice guy. He was getting beaten up because he was afraid that hustling was uncouth. Tim was politely waiting in line.
Good things come to those who wait. But only what is left behind by those who hustle. (Abraham Lincoln)
Let’s compare that to me. Same area at EDS, different job. I wanted to move to a special technical team. There were 4 openings. I asked my team leader and manager to help me get in. I reminded them every few days. I visited the manager who was leading the new group every other day. I brought a word of cheer or another accomplishment. He had no doubt how much I wanted the job. He got an email after every contact. I got the job with 3 years of experience. The other technicians were 5 to 20 years my senior. They were well known and earned twice what I did. I was nobody in comparison. And I know I beat out a whole bunch of other folks who had way better credentials than me.
I waited, but I hustled while I waited. I made sure my references were checked. I offered more proof of my accomplishments. I never let the manager forget I wanted that job. Towards the end he would see me in his doorway and grin, “Bryan, I haven’t made that decision yet, but I’m going to. Don’t worry. I know you want the job.” But I kept coming for 3 weeks anyway. I wanted the job more than I wanted to be polite. I was willing to out work any of the more senior guys he could hire. This was my only way to prove it.
There were a lot of very surprised people when I got the job. They were obviously better than me. But I hustled. I made it a big deal. I got the job. Unfortunately there was nothing left for the others waiting in line.
Something to do today
If you are job hunting or looking for a promotion, hustle. The job seeker who offers contagious enthusiasm often gets hired over the guy with experience. For the job that is a quantum leap forward in your career, refuse to wait in line. Hustle.
Every few years a hiker in the United States finds a large raw diamond. Usually it was carried down by glaciers from Canada when sheet ice covered the north. A raw diamond is interesting, but not exciting. To reach its true value that stone must be turned over to an expert. It will have scores of facets polished into it until it catches the light and sparkles with fire. It is the expert polishing that makes people cherish diamonds. Diamonds in the rough don’t stay that way for long after they are discovered.
My old partner got a Thank You note from a candidate she first placed 20 years ago. She convinced a bank to take a chance on him. He has worked his way up the corporate ladder and gotten promotion after promotion. He was a diamond in the rough.
At the bank he first decided to stand out less while working more. He watched closely how others dressed and acted. How did they succeed in the sales and politics? Banks are calm on the outside, but full of opportunity and excitement behind the façade. Mentors appeared as he looked for them. Some were his managers, some were higher up or lateral to him. They gave him advice and helped him acquire polish. Over the years he kept on polishing new shining facets into his skills and character. He learned management and leadership. He figured out ways to fix problems instead of just endure them. Instead of being noticed for his rough exterior, he now stands out for his ability to make things happen and his polish.
If you get a job based on being a diamond in the rough you will only progress a little if you don’t acquire some polish. You may have to get rid of the nose stud or the blue jeans you always wear. It may be your technical skills that need work. Effective management and leadership abilities need training and practice. Look for mentors, people above you who can lift you up. Move away from the group that is stuck in a rut. Find the stars that are rising and do what they do. Learn constantly.
You can tell a human diamond in the rough from an average person. If you truly are a diamond in the rough, you will embrace change. You will actively seek polish and improvement.
This series is about what makes or breaks a job hunt. Reality and the real world. My list of the reasons people get a new job or struggle includes:
Nothing beats a positive unstoppable Helium II attitude.
People who are hurting are terrible employees and everyone knows it.
You have to know your advantages and ruthlessly exploit them.
The people competing against you must be known, measured, and either beaten, eliminated or enticed elsewhere.
You can’t make a silk purse out of a buggy whip.
You have to be worth more than you are being paid
A man dying of thirst will still want a bargain on a bottle of water
Perception isn’t important, it is everything
Character really counts
Diamonds in the rough don’t stay that way
Relax and get cleat marks up your back
Think about your job search. Just think. And then take notes about your conclusions.