Consider This: “I Blew It.”
I received this text yesterday from a friend who had just walked out of a job interview. “I will never hear back” was the text that followed. He was devastated and was beating himself up over it. As a friend, I consoled him and suggested that perhaps it was not as bad as he thought. But, in his mind, he had fallen flat on his face. Did he? I will never know. I wasn’t there.
But what I do know is that this friend, who has gone on a series of intense interviews over the past month, has decided to “step into the arena.” Rather than wither away in a job that makes him unhappy, he has taken it upon himself to search for and fight for a better tomorrow. He’s brave and eventually this will pay off with a new job at the right company. He is determining his own future, not settling, and for that he should be proud.
Too often we beat ourselves up for our missteps or failures. But isn’t the fact that we’re willing to stretch ourselves beyond our limits enough?
My friend, if you’re reading this right now, I’d like you to consider the quote below from Theodore Roosevelt. You are in the arena and that’s enough.
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Career Hack: Tip-Toe Into Your Danger Zone
We have an affinity for living in our comfort zone. We hang out with the same group of friends. We work at the same company for years. We dislike anything that can feel uncomfortable and downright avoid anything that appears dangerous. But by existing solely in our comfort zone we are stunting our own growth, personally and professionally.
The key is to find ways to tip-toe out of your comfort zone so that the things that once intimidated you start to become commonplace. For example, if you want a new job but are terrified of interviewing we’d consider interviews to be in your “danger zone” (see chart below). In order to get warmed up to the thought of interviewing, a developmental step you could take would be to conduct informational interviews with five people at companies that interest you. You can use these informational interviews to get comfortable in the 1-on-1 setting and to develop your story as a candidate. Once you’re comfortable with informational interviews, actual interviews will start to feel less intimidating.
The idea of the expansion of the comfort zone is to take small steps into uncharted territory rather than taking a terrifying leap. Over time, your new comfort zone will grow beyond what you ever could have imagined at the beginning of the process. This is how sustainable progress is made.
Life Hack: The Benjamin Franklin Method
We are told that investing in traditional education is the surest way for achieving great wisdom and, in the end, great wealth. “Go to college and get a degree” we’re told by our parents. But what if traditional education isn’t enough? I’ve read up on two people recently that have opened my eyes to the opportunity that lies within education through self-study.
The first is American founding father Benjamin Franklin, who I was surprised to learn never achieved any level of formal education as he was an apprentice in his brother’s newspaper business starting at age 12. Instead, Franklin was a master of self-study. Any time he wasn’t working he’d spend reading, writing or studying languages. As he claimed in his autobiography, instead of going to the pub on Saturday, he would use that on his personal development. Years later he would be one of the most successful inventors and entrepreneurs in history, creating his own newspaper business, inventing the lightning rod and helping to establish the new United States government.
The second person is Humans of New York’s creator, Brandon Stanton. Stanton has created one of the most popular blogs on the web and has worked with the likes of President Obama. Stanton grew up in the south and attended the University of Georgia. However, before he could complete his education he dropped out. Today, Stanton attributes much of his success to his commitment to self-study. Brandon committed himself to reading 100 pages per day for years.
My point here is not to tell you to skip college or to convince your kids to skip college. My point is that it might not be enough. The more I read about great people in history the more I see their commitment to self-study. What are you doing today to master your craft?
Quote of the Week:
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius