Monday, August 8, 2011

Do Work!


I've busted quite the moves on a hardwood floor in my day.  I’ve played with professional and non-professional athletes.  Not because I was professional, I just happened to be in the same gym as them and ended up in a game or two.  I have been very disappointed in some of my experiences actually.  Why?  Well, when one thinks of a professional athlete we automatically assume they will be the most and best at everything; tallest, strongest, quickest, etc.  I’ve seen some guys that leave me scratching my skull and asking myself, “How is he a pro-guy?”  Conversely, I’ve played with non-professional guys who leave me speechless as I watch them dominate a gym full of men like they were playing amongst boys.  “Why are they not pros?”  Where is the disconnect?  It can’t be all about talent if the most talented aren’t always pros.  What separates a professional athlete from a pick-up-ball guy?  I don’t think it is skill, good genetics and athleticism alone.  This same parallel can easily be drawn into the professional business world.  It isn’t always the smartest and most obedient.  The shiniest degree doesn’t always sit atop the ladder.  Why not?  I’m sure there are more factors or characteristics than I’ll list but the first 4 that come to my mind are discipline, having a network, being a hard worker, and having proper perspective.  These factors are what separate an entrepreneur from a secretary, a professional athlete from a sweaty guy dreaming somewhere in Indiana.  

In our current economy I cannot count on all my fingers and toes how many people I have spoken with who want a job or a new job and don’t understand why nothing is happening.  My first response to them is always, “Well, tell me what you are doing.”  The answers always frustrate and disappoint, “I’m online all day looking for jobs, I submit my resume so many times a day, I make sure I have keywords on my cover letter, etc.”  Here’s the reality of our market place, everyone knows how to make a resume, everyone can access Linkedin and other social media sites, everyone has a degree from somewhere, everyone submits their resume online and everyone knows the secret of using keywords on your cover letter to get past the automated resume-sorter thingy companies use.  On paper there is not much that separates many people from the pack.  By following the path of least resistance many waste away their days lamenting on how or why this is so hard for them while others, those who follow simple principle fly by them taking jobs they desperately want and need.  I give advice to people I get into conversations with time and time again about doing something and trailblazing new paths for careers.  Hopefully what follows can help you, wherever you may be.

Again, these simple factors are the first four that come to mind when I think of what separates professional athletes from pick-up-ball guys and what separated successful business people from those who hate their jobs and excel at mediocrity;  discipline, network, hard work, and perspective.  

Discipline
Professional athletes spend countless hours in the gym working on their game.  They have strict diets, strict schedules, and painful workout regimes.  They have schedules for their off-season that they actually help set and stick to.  They set goals and follow plans.  In a saturated market with loads and loads of unemployed people, you must have a plan and some sort of personal goals in order to make it.  Just submitting resumes online is a very passive way to go about things.  You are leaving your career and well-being up to chance and someone else’s power.  Fat chance your resume stands out, the reality is that it is just another piece of paper in the huge stack sitting on some poor guy’s desk.   Come up with a plan and set yourself some goals.  I don’t know what is doable for you, but make them challenging.  If you always reach your goal with little sweat then I’d say you are not challenging yourself enough.  

Network
“It’s not about what you know as much as it is who you know.”  I bet you’ve probably heard that before.  Maybe it has received the response of rolling eyes or cynicism, but regardless, it is fact.  It is great to know something, but unless you know the right person to put that knowledge of said something to work, you are just a self-proclaimed knower of that something.  Submitting resumes online doesn’t get you to know anyone.  How do you go about networking in an electronic environment then?  Change the environment, realize that it is about whom you know and go get to know people.  Email random companies and random professionals and ask them to just get together and ask about their industry or line of work.  People love to talk about themselves and what they do; take advantage of that.  You’re not going door to door asking to hand print a job application, those days are far gone, and employers are probably annoyed with people who think they will not comply with the system.  Instead of going looking for handouts, go meet people looking to learn, looking to just get into a good enough conversation where you will be at the front of that person’s mind.  Maybe nothing comes out of 99% of the meetings you have, but that still leaves 1%, which is a huge margin of victory against someone who isn’t doing something similar.  Networking is a much underappreciated art, but one that would behoove you to take up.

Hard Work
Once you have some kind of plan in place and goal set, look yourself in the mirror and convince yourself that you will work harder than the next guy.  If it truly is a level playing field, than you must tip the scales to your end.  Another tool of the trade besides networking would be education and hard work.  Read more than the next guy, know more than the next guy, and work harder than the next guy.  If the goal is 10 widgets put out 50.  If everyone stops at ½ mile run 2 more.  Make yourself stand out above everyone else by working harder.  That kind of hard work ethic is one that cannot be taught.  Employers look for this over knowledge of an industry.  Anyone can learn something, but hard work cannot be taught to even the most knowledgeable of folks.  Work harder than everyone else.  This is how a mediocre player makes it out of college into the pros.  He works harder and is not passive, he doesn’t rely on his skill to just get him there, and he understands he must beat out all the competition to make it.  

Perspective
Passive and entitled are two adjectives I think describe a large majority of us.  I was and once I realized I fit that bill I aggressively looked to change it.  My perspective completely changed.  Instead of thinking, "I have a college degree and graduated Magna Cum Laude and that I am really good at what I do," I decided that doesn’t matter.  I don’t deserve anything over the next guy.  I’m not entitled to work; I have only had the opportunity.  No one owes me a job because I went to school and have been a good worker for years.  Back to the basketball parallel, the best players in the world are always in the gym looking for ways to improve.  What is significant about this is that they are at the top and still see areas to improve.  They have great perspective when it comes to not being the best or deserving certain things.  They know they have to continually improve and keep that perspective to keep being at the top.  Being grateful and humble goes a long way, but this is a perspective on things you must choose to have, which is difficult.  You must see your experiences, negative or not, as opportunities to learn and grow instead of inconveniences.  

I used to watch a show about a skater and his body guard on a popular television network.  My favorite saying was “Do work son!”  That is what the body guard would say to the skater when he was doing his thing.  In remembrance of this great show, and in reflection of doing and being well in this professional world, I say to you friend, “Do Work Son!”

1 comment:

  1. Please someone tell me how to write a good resume. I am a fresher and have no experience before….

    ReplyDelete