Category: career


Set up your next kick

A friend of mine* was having heart palpitations today, waiting on an overdue call from a potential employer. The job? Doesn’t matter, aside from it being one they “really, REALLY want.”

We’ve all been there. And it ain’t fun.

The chat churned up the “What do I do?” quandary. My advice was simple…

Set up your next kick

Check out this gif, then follow my explanation and logic below.

I wish I could give the creators of this video credit, but all I got is an Imgur link I favorited months ago. If anybody knows the source, drop me a line in the comments so I can drop some proverbial props.

I shared this gif with my friend to illustrate what I meant by “set up your next kick.” Let’s start with some parallels:

  • The kicker is you, the job seeker.
  • The ball — the kick, really — is a job opportunity.
  • The slide-tackling a-hole is you not getting that job.

Now watch the gif again with that knowledge. What do you see? See any patterns?

Reset and try again

If you look at it in order, for the first kick, the dude is all excited. He’s jazzed. He’s got the moves. Oh, he’s GOT this, alright, until Numbknut McGee takes him out. And then he don’t got it.

Laying there on the grass, it looks like you feel when you find out you DIDN’T get a job offer you were expecting, doesn’t it? It does to me.

Copas

Keep them laced up until you can kick them off under your new desk

Ankles heal. Grass stains wash out.

But the guy gets up, perhaps a little less showy before the next kick, and he tries again. And is taken out again. That to me is one of the lessons here: Get up. Place the ball. Try again. Do the same with your career.

There’s nothing new in that advice.

However, what I’d offer is that unlike soccer or any sport that revolves (See what I did there?) around a single ball or object, your career doesn’t demand that you focus on one opportunity at a time. There’s no need to wait until one set piece is done before setting the next and kicking again.

I’m suggesting that you put more than one ball in play and kick at every one you can.

Translated into job-searching terms, I’m suggesting that you don’t wait to see how one opportunity pans out before striking the next. In particular, when you think you have one in the bag, keep kicking, because there’s no telling if you got it until you got it.

No time to showboat

I’ve been in the running for roles and it didn’t pan out in the end. Roles for which I thought it was just a matter of time before I was given the job.

I can take the disappointment — didn’t say I like it, but I can take it — but what gets me is the fact that I stopped kicking.

For one opportunity in particular, I recall that once interviews progressed to a certain point, I visited job boards less frequently. I networked when I felt like it instead of when I saw the opportunity. I went from lean to lazy, and that was a self-inflicted foul.

When I got the word that the offer wouldn’t materialize, I realized how far behind I was. What roles had been posted that I’d missed? What content had appeared on my LinkedIn feed that I might have pounced on?

Heading back to the job boards and my network was like the DIY walk of shame. You know…when you shuffle back into Ace Hardware to get the materials you need to fix the project you botched earlier in the day, the materials for which you purchased from that very same Ace.

Kick and kick again

So following that lesson in losing and losing ground, I resolved to keep kicking. And that’s what I suggested my friend do: go look for another role. Don’t wait around for this one.

What’s the worst that could happen? You’d have options and have to turn one down? Sounds like a pretty sweet position to be in.

*Honest, it’s a real friend, not me under the guise of “a friend” 

 

If you work in corporate America, you’ve been subjected to not just the opinions of others, but their weight. Ooph, that’s heavy.

Leia

She was not a committee. Be like Leia.

Consider your last project. Chances are you didn’t make it to the end without thinking, “What about my manager’s approval? Will she like this new direction I came up with?” Or “Maybe that other department will have an issue with the creative elements like they did last time.”

The illusion of “your” work

And don’t pretend it doesn’t weigh on you. Because it does. Even if you have a bullet-proof, bite-me veneer, you gotta admit it affects your work. Even if you end up taking the new direction or those creative elements, damn your boss and the other department and the torpedoes. You spent the time worrying, and that’s time wasted.

At its worst, you may find yourself unable to consider your work done until you’ve satiated others’ opinions…and egos. The lower down the food chain you are, the more satiating you gotta do.

Pay (attention to) yourself first

There’s a point where you should consider the opinions of others, sure thing. I’m not arguing to the contrary. But the more credence you give others opinions on your work — whether you have to or not — the less genuine it becomes. The less true. 

Each of us, particularly in the creative field, have to feel out when another perspective might help our creation shine and when it might take a sledgehammer to its foundation, sending its quality sliding down the hill and into the reservoir.

Personally, I’d rather have a work that’s all my own, even if it’s not all it could be, than wedge in the wonky and detrimental if good-intentioned “If I were you…” or “How about if…” or “Have you considered…”

You aren’t.
How ’bout not.
I haven’t and won’t.

WWKD?

Stephen King advocates writing the first draft with your door closed.

That is, write the first draft for yourself, deaf, dumb, and blind to the opinions of others. Then, made manifest by virtue of your own creativity, that draft is shared with a trusted few, after you allow them in through the open door.

Professionally, you can’t always do that, especially if you’ve a client to please. But when it comes to personal work. Be true to yourself, to your work.

Until the end

Steal like an artistIt’s National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as #NaNoWriMo … I think. Otherwise known as 30 Days of Self-Inflicted Anxiety for would-be, could-be, perhaps should-be writers. I’m not in this year.

But serendipitously, on the first day of NaNoWriMo, I found myself finishing up “Steal Like and Artist,” which I had started months ago, stopped to blog about at a low point (with myself/career, not the book), and never completed reading.

Write between the lines
One thing that stuck was the idea of being creative within confines. Of time, of energy, of space.

Net: confines can foster creativity. So I gave myself a page and decided to fill it up with long-hand — no more, no less. What follows is what happened next. And what follows that is a typed, altogether more legible version.

until-the-end

…scribble, scrabble, drabble on the memo pad I babble…

If you start, you may not end where you wanted to go. But when you stop, you’ve reached an end. Not the end, perhaps not your intended end. But you’ve gotten to the Omega to your Alpha.

Maybe for this, it’s here.
Or here.

Apparently not.

So the push comes from the scratch inside your head. That in turn scratches the pen across the paper. Dang, my arm is tired already. Just this far in.

But there is an intoxicant at work here – it’s blue ink, lines no longer barren. Thoughts reaped, harvested across the line like bundles of wheat across a valley floor – gathered together. Upright, spent, but with life-giving power.

There’s an opportunity in each line. Tabula rasa is it? Blank slate? I dunno.

So as I scoot toward the end of the page – cresting halfway – between accomplishment and anxiety. What I’ve said vs. what I’ve written.

But I’m only pushing myself to fill the page. To reach that Omega.  This is my constraint. This is my Incredibly Shrinking Goal – not to be feared. It should fear me.

Stare long enough into the Abyss and it will stare back. I am the Abyss. I am the unfathomable. I am without limit. The lactic acid builds in my arm, as the ink drains in proportion. Here – take this last line and absorb my ink, my words, my creation, and retain it until the end.

%d bloggers like this: