Monday, January 20, 2014

What are You Made Of?

I ask this question because I am of the opinion that, when faced with any opportunity that involves overcoming some obstacles for it to realize success, many people will choose not to act and some will make excuses if it might inconvenience them. They want things on their terms and if nothing happens they blame everything and everyone else. I don’t know many people who’ve achieved success and didn’t face and overcome adversity of some kind.
I recognize that some market sectors are flat and some of those are fading away, but I still argue there are opportunities available for those who are willing to make a real effort and have a plan of action – and then follow through with it. I haven’t an ounce of pity for those who know they need to do more but choose not to do so. Surfing the web and emailing resumes is not what I call effort, I don’t care what anyone else says. We’ve legitimized laziness by becoming over-reliant by way of convenience.
It is somewhat of a cliché when someone of an older generation suggests that when they were young they perhaps “had to walk a half-mile in knee deep snow to catch a school bus”, as an example, to which the youngsters roll their eyes and sigh. We’ve all heard stuff like this, well, here’s one worthy of sharing.
A story I had learned about from a mentor and someone I admire, concerned an interview he’d sought for a regional sales representative position. The company was then, and remains today, among the Fortune 500. The interview required travel from Chicago to New York City at the company HQ in 1961. However, a snowstorm forced his flight to divert and land in Pittsburgh, PA. Under the circumstances, then as now, it would have been acceptable to ask for a postponement to reschedule another day. But no, upon arrival in Pittsburgh he boarded a train and continued to New York. When he arrived at Grand Central Terminal he found that not even the New York City taxis were running and most businesses were shut down, however, he continued to his destination on foot. When he arrived, only a few minutes late, he found there was nearly no one there but a security guard. As fate would have it, the personnel (HR) manager was in the office, and so, the interview took place. He got the job. But consider this; was he hired due to his qualifications? Or was he hired because he made the effort, which I contend is a reflection of character; after all, it was for a sales job that requires resolve in the face of objections. Likely it was a combination of both and the resolve and determination to be there despite the obstacles likely made an impact on the hiring manager. Today, more than 50 years later we have tools to make our lives much easier in so many ways. We have access to resources like never before to give us more options to aid our efforts. Fifty years ago many people would not have made the same effort; far fewer would today, and therein lies part of the problem. Lots of people want a great job, but few are willing to invest the extra effort.
I meet people of all types from different backgrounds, who don’t have to be told or asked to make more of an effort, they just do it without being cajoled, pushed or prompted to go that extra mile to demonstrate why they are the best choice to hire as compared with others. But I also see an increasing number of people who don’t and won’t and then complain about how tough it is to find work; rather embracing defeatism. Standing apart and being different in a positive manner is exactly what is helpful and more notable now than ever. And in my capacity I know, because hiring managers tell me, I see and hear their reactions when they meet someone who is qualified and goal oriented, laser-focus deliberate in their intent and not just going through the motions. Hiring managers stand up and take notice. I meet extraordinary people all the time. In reality it is not a big leap to go from average to excellent, it actually doesn’t take that much more effort if you resolve to do so.
So what are you made of? If you want to up your game are you making an extra effort to increase your own chances, to improve interviewing skills in order to get a little closer to your goals, or just making excuses and letting the world hand you whatever comes along?
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