Grit In Your Job Search, And Everything Else

This is a guest blog post by Sterling Terrell. Sterling writes about trading, life, and ideas he reads in books at www.SterlingTerrell.net. 

 
If you are reading this, you are probably looking for one of two things.
 
1. A first job, or internship
2. A better job.
 
In the midst of that search, be encouraged to keep at it. Just keep pressing forward, and don’t give up.
Because the truth is this: The magic ingredient to achieving many goals is simply persistence and work.
 
We love the myth of the prodigy—that rare someone who is phenomenally talented without all that pesky training or work. But it is, certainly, a myth. My husband plays the piano every day, and he has for almost thirty years. People say that when he’s onstage, he has an effortless quality, that he makes it look easy. He does. But they don’t see the scales, the lessons, the years of playing the same hymns he learned as a child, or playing Beatles songs by ear, or picking out notes and chords late at night after we’re all in bed. Cooking is no different. There are rock stars —people whose skill or perspective propels them to the top of their field. But when you ask them how they got there, they always tell you a story about working in a diner or making pasta with a grandmother.
 

–Shauna Neiquist, Bread and Wine

 
I know you might have applied for 100 jobs. I know you might be frustrated with your pace of progress. I know you think you are never going to get out of school. Don’t be.
 
Make your job search about the process.
 
There is a story about Jerry Seinfeld that has been passed around on this issue. See, Seinfeld gets up everyday and writes jokes. When he finishes, he puts a giant X on today’s date in his calendar. The goal is for every single day to have an X in it.
 
See how that works? Seinfeld does not have to find the perfect line today, conceive the next hit TV show, or fully develop a new character. He has to write jokes for a set amount of time so he can put an X in a calendar box. Work like that can accrue incredibly over time. And how long has Seinfeld been doing this?!
 
Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most.”
 
–Seth Godin, The Dip
 
What if you did the same in your job search? What if you did the same in other areas of your life?
 
How would your lifelong job prospects change if you did just 3 things from now on?
 
1. Connect with someone in your industry over social media once per day.
2. Take someone in your industry to coffee once per week.
3. Touch base with a recruiter in your industry once per month.
 
Do these for 4 months, and I doubt much will change.
 
Do these for 4 years and your life will probably look different. If anything, you will be different.
 
Just be encouraged in whatever you are doing: Keep going!
 
In his book, When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead, the late producer and agent, Jerry Weintraub said it best:


“If there’s one piece of advice I can give to young people, to kids trying to break out of Brooklyn and Kankakee, it’s this: persist, push, hang on, keep going, never give up. When the man says no, pretend you can’t hear him. Look confused, stammer, say, “Huh?” Persistence—it’s a cliché, but it happens to work. The person who makes it is the person who keeps on going after everyone else has quit. This is more important than intelligence, pedigree, even connections. Be dogged! Keep hitting that door until you bust it down! I have accomplished almost nothing on the first or second or even the third try—the breakthrough usually comes late, when everyone else has left the field.”
 
 

Sterling Terrell writes at:  SterlingTerrell.net.

 

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Tim Hammerich
tim@aggrad.com
1Comment
  • Tye Taylor
    Posted at 12:31h, 04 April Reply

    Check out the book GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. It really captures a good understanding of grit, and what successful people believe about grit.

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