Brett Penfil, Organization Consultant,
Blue Shield of California
A client of mine who was wondering, “What’s the perfect job for me?” said the following:
Coming to the conclusion that I want to work for a design firm somehow does feel comfortable. However, I’m still experiencing conflicting doubts that maybe this really isn’t the right decision, even though this the first idea that always enters my mind when asked by family and friends about what field I want to go into. The session we just had is really making me question this. Are there other passions I would really like to explore other than my “standard” answer?
How many of us don’t even have a standard answer in the first place, let alone know what to do about it? There is truth that this “standard answer” is the right one for this client, but are they being hindered by their own limitations or a false sense of who they really are? Or the other side of the coin: is this the “standard” answer that makes their respective peers, family and friends feels like this career path is the “right” one to follow?
So if you’re asking yourself, “What is the perfect job for me?’, consider the following:
We Achieve to the Degree that We Believe in Ourselves
The night before General Douglas MacArthur took his West Point entrance exam he was all nerves. To console him, his mother offered the following advice, “Doug, you’ll win if you don’t lose your nerve. You must believe in yourself, my son, or no one else will believe in you. Be self-confident, self-reliant and, even if you don’t make it, you will know you have done your best.” When the test scores were announced Douglas MacArthur finished at the top of the incoming class.
Hoping Won’t Make Something Happen
Heed the warning from this ancient Chinese proverb, “Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time.”
Setting Priorities Makes Things Happen
Investment mogul Charles M. Schwab makes it a practice to invest five minutes analyzing the various problems he should tackle each day, writing down those tasks in the order of their priority. Upon arriving in the office the following morning he methodically starts with task number 1 before proceeding to tasks 2, 3, 4, and so on in sequence, saying, “This is the most practical lesson I’ve ever learned.”
To further illustrate this point he provides this example: “I had put off a phone call for nine months so I decided to list it as my number one task on my next day’s agenda. That call netted us a $2 million account.”
Ambition is the Key to Triumphing over Less Than “Ideal” Circumstances
Colonel Sanders found himself broke at age 65 but used a small Social Security Check to start what became Kentucky Fried Chicken. Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the English Channel knowing that many men before her had died trying. Henry Ford overcame an initial lack of consumer demand for his automobiles to jumpstart one of the largest international conglomerates in industrial history.
An “expert” once said of NFL coaching legend Vince Lombardi, “He possesses minimal football knowledge. Lacks motivation.” Yet Lombardi went on to win several Super Bowls. Similarly, after dancer extraordinaire Fred Astaire’s first screen test, the review from the casting director of MGM read as follows: “Can’t act! Slightly bald! Can dance a little.” For added motivation to aspire to his dream career, Astaire kept that potentially devastating critique over the fireplace in his Beverly Hills home.
Most Importantly, Indecision is Usually a Decision not to Succeed
Corporate CEO David Mahoney said that the worst mistakes he ever made were largely because of the decisions he failed to make. In 1966, he was the head of Canada Dry. The stock was selling at a low price of $11 and with about two and a half million shares outstanding, he could have bought the entire company for around $30 million. He didn’t and about twenty years later, the company became worth well over $700 million.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower nearly botched D-Day because he could not make up his mind on the best movement for the attack. Finally, he said, “No matter what the weather looks like, we have to go ahead now. Waiting any longer could be even more dangerous so let’s move it.”
The moral of this story, there is a time and place in each of our lives where we must make a leap of faith in order to avoid a scenario where even the right decision becomes the wrong one because it has come to late. Or as Eisenhower’s contemporary, General George S. Patton once said, “Opportunities do not come to those who wait. They are captured by those who attack.”