For a highly motivated and driven individual, not hitting a goal hard and leaving it dying in the dust is never an option. However, sometimes it is a very painful reality. Finding a way through the complex range of emotions can be difficult…the key is not to be defeated. Yes, this sounds like the opening few sentences of the next “How To” business book or motivational “You Can Do Anything” article. Well it’s not. I missed a goal for the very first time in my professional career and it totally SUCKS.
I have felt defeated, bruised, my confidence is shaken and I have a hard time looking people in the face when they ask me how work is going. Especially those who have been friends for years and often talk of our various professional successes as if they are badges of honor. No, we don’t ever compare our successes like others do their cars, kids or paychecks. Believe it or not we do revel in each other’s triumphs.
Over the past weeks, it became painfully clear that although we had a bang-up year (in the best sense), my team was not going to achieve what we set out to achieve. I have been uncertain how to accept my defeat. In my mountaintop moments I often looked to my mentors, heroes and idols; could that be me some day? I want to make that kind of impact. How can I follow in their footsteps? Well the truth of the matter…I am.
Before Nelson Mandela united a nation, he was in prison for over two decades. How many setbacks did Abraham Lincoln suffer before he achieved the level of success that captures our imagination over one hundred and fifty years later. Did Steve Jobs achieve total world domination after building his first Mac…NO! Our leaders, heroes and idols are so often defined by their successes, it is after all, what they are remembered for. We strive to be like them, read books and articles about them listen to endless TED Talks and quote them whenever we can. We don’t sit around thinking, “gosh I sure hope that I have to suffer the failures, humiliation, and persecution that they did“. GET REAL!!! Who wants to go through that, isn’t there a fast track, a short cut, a pill or “Get Out of Jail Free Card“, that can alleviate all that nastiness? No, my friend, there is not.
Yes, thinking through this, I do have a slightly better perspective. No, I am not back on my mountaintop, I’m still frustrated and a bit disillusioned. What I can say is this, knowing that the incredible people that I have looked up to all these years are indeed human and have also suffered failures and defeat does give me hope. I choose to move forward, learn where I need to adjust, how can I approach differently, rethink my box (not that I ever really worked in one) and go at it again.
We are not defined by our circumstances or what happens to us, anything that happens to us. We are defined by how we respond to, and through those circumstances. I may never change the world in the way some of my heroes have, but I will change it, and I will change it for the better. I will change it because I know I can and I will get up each day, no matter how difficult it may be, and go at it again.
Humility is a key characteristic of successful people. They have been knocked down, walked in others shoes and chosen to lead through that experience. Without humility, we can never truly understand or appreciate what we have and how hard we had to work to get there.
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June is the end of most educational institutions fiscal year. Graduates are pouring out the doors of academe and jumping in full force to their job searches…NOT! I can’t tell you how many graduates I speak with in June, July and August who tell me that they are going to take the summer off from their job search; “no one is hiring anyway”. Wrong! The summer months may seem like a good time to slow down or stop your career search, but it’s not.
According to a recent article on mashable.com “8 Reasons Why Summer Is a Great Time to Job Hunt” there is a myth out there…much too prevalent, that summertime is a bad time to job search. If you just do a quick monster or CareerBuilder search you’ll see that contrary to popular believe there is as much, if not more hiring going on during the summer. That research does not bring into account the up to 80% of hidden job market jobs that are out there looming as well.
Summer is not the time to slow down your job search but to heat it up. Take advantage of the fact that so many other job seekers are falling into the “no one’s hiring right now” mind set and get a step ahead.
1. People do more entertaining in the summer months; use these opportunities to network your network. Who do you know? Who do they know?
2. Family obligations can be reduced during the summer months. Use this time wisely, get up earlier, look at the job boards, make some phone calls, go to networking events. You’ll see the competition you had two months ago…has gone on vacation.
3. Most of your fellow graduates are headed to the beach so the competition for the jobs out there will be greatly decreased. It’s much easier to stand out as one of 10 then one of 100 or 1000.
4. Employers will be impressed by the fact you are diligently working to find your career not the best new hang out.
Summer has traditionally been the time to relax, have fun and enjoy the weather. A time to slow down and smell the roses; however, remember what your professors, career services advisor and parents told you…getting a job is a full-time job. The longer you wait to start your career, the harder you will find it. Literally tens of thousands of graduates are pouring into the job market at the same time as you. Most will wait to start looking, taking a break to kick up their heels and enjoy some summertime fun. If you take the opportunity to beat them to the punch, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank as you begin your Christmas shopping while they are still wondering how to pay the next month’s rent.
The internet, business periodicals, the news…you hear it everywhere. Employers are looking for culture fit, the employee who has it all, but above all will fit into the “culture” of their organization. While I was thinking about this topic I did a Google search on ‘Culture Fit’ and do you know what I found, 371,000,000 listings. Yes that is three hundred and seventy-one million listings. Under ‘culture fit definition’ I found 4,430,000 listings. Why am I telling you this, well either the topic is pretty hot, it’s under debate, yet to be accurately defined, nebulous, vague or all of the above. My choice is, all of the above!
Culture fit is most commonly defined as: Exhibiting a good fit with the company’s culture. That leads to the question, what is your company’s culture? How is it measured, defined, organized, presented, etc? I think you may be starting to get where I’m coming from. How can we begin to prepare individuals to enter a work force where the primary hiring decision is based on a nebulous, undefined, immeasurable concept that many hiring managers have difficulty explaining themselves?
Here are some ways you can being to uncover the culture of a prospective organization, questions you can ask and research you can perform to find out if you are a fit for them and if they are a fit for you.
1. Do your Research – now days most organizations have a website, or digital footprint of some kind. It’s amazing what you can find out about a company from a simple Google search. Check out the employment or careers tab on their company website. See if they have a ‘Why Work for Us Section’. Click on the ‘About Us’ tab or the ‘Mission and Vision’ tab. Is there a link that connects you to recent news about that company? There is no end of ways you can find out what, at the very least, that organization wants you to think is the culture.
2. Be Prepared – You will not be asked yes or no questions. You will be asked to give very specific examples of an experience you had in dealing with a difficult customer, coworker, supervisor or project. What you did to resolve the issue and what was the result?
A. What is your favorite movie?
B. What’s the last book you read?
C. Where’s the last place you went on vacation?
D. What TV shows do you watch most often?
E. If you were an animal which would you be and why?
3. Ask Questions – Whether it’s a phone interview, an in-person interview or an exploratory interview, ask questions. Not the kind that every job board in the world says you should ask; the questions you really want to know the answers to.
A. What does it take to be successful here?
B. What does a normal day look like?
C. How can I add value to this position, department, and organization?
4. Be Energetic and Enthusiastic – I can’t tell you how many times I have followed up with an employer after one of my students has interviewed only to find out that the student in question acted like they just woke up, or were still asleep.
A. Smile, first impressions are lasting and you never get a second chance.
B. Be confident, you will be representing their organization to the community; this is your chance to shine.
C. Show them your contagious energy. No you don’t have to channel the really annoyingly energetic girl from the Starbucks drive through, however you do need to show them you are excited about this opportunity with them.
Culture fit may be the hot HR buzz words right now, but the idea has been around for a long time. Traditionally Ivy Leaguers sought out other Ivy Leaguers. Organizations have always hired those individuals they feel will best compliment the image they want presented to their customers, clients and community. They are looking for employees who will share their values, passions and drivers. It’s not rocket science! You aren’t going to hire an Eeyore for a Tigger position.
Find out what you can before the interview, go in knowing the job you are applying for, bring thoughtful questions, smile and shine.