“Where can I find a job in an economy like this?”
He was young and thought of himself as more ambitious than most. He wasn’t going to be happy climbing up some corporate ladder.
“Where’s the best place for a go-getter like me to get the best opportunity?”
I tried to break it to him as gently as I could.
“You’re talking a big game, but you still want to be treated like a little leaguer…”
You remember Little League. It was all about playing the game. Everybody’s a winner and lots of atta-boys. Little League is great for youngsters. They get lots of encouragement, the pitches are easy and there’s always someone to pick you up and brush you off when you fall.
The little leagues can do a lot to prepare you for the big leagues. But make no mistake – it isn’t the big league.
In the big league, nobody cares that you have a skinned up knee, or whether you get a hit, or whether you get to play or whether they kick your sorry rear end off the team – it’s all about one thing in the big league – winning.
Well, the work world for many employees isn’t quite as competitive as the big leagues. But once you start trying to find yourself a perch at the top of the hill, that’s when the gloves come off.
Where is the “best place” for a go-getter?
There are some rare and wonderful places to work where go-getters are identified, encouraged, developed and rewarded. Names like Hilton, Google, and Salesforce are often mentioned as some of the “best places to work” in annual surveys done by Fortune magazine.
But 99.9% of the “go-getters” in America do not work for such outfits. Rather, they work for America’s #1 favored employer – themselves.
Big league people don’t just “get” opportunities, like something given to them. They also take an active part in creating their own opportunities.
So, I think the answer to my young friend’s question about where to find the greatest opportunity lies not in a place, but in a person – you.
You will find your greatest opportunity in your head, by learning to think creatively. You don’t necessarily have to create something altogether new. A slight improvement in an existing product, process or service can make a huge difference to your clients or customers – a difference they will gladly pay you for.
You will find your greatest opportunity in your heart, by learning to care deeply. Comedian George Burns said, “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” Ha-ha. But you can’t fake sincerity, can you? Not for long. So, forget trying. If you do not believe in what you are selling, doing, promoting, endorsing and spending your precious hours doing – stop it!
Make sure that whatever you do to be “successful” is something you care deeply about. Nobody else has to care like you do – it isn’t their life. But you have to care – deeply. And you can’t fake that – not to your customers and least of all to yourself.
You will find your greatest opportunity in your hands, by learning to serve enthusiastically. Where are the people at the end of what you do? Sometimes they are easy to spot, such as the home buyer for a realtor, the patient for a doctor or the driver for the auto salesman. Sometimes the people are not so obvious, such as for the chemical salesman, the information technology professional or the paper industry consultant.
But never forget that whatever you do, somewhere out there, there is a person being served by what you do – not simply an impersonal corporation. When you can make that “person-connection” between what you do and the value being created for someone else down the line, your work is filled with new significance, value, purpose and even joy.
Is all this rather idealistic? Sure.
But only the idealistic have heads, hearts and hands capable of creating opportunities to play in the big leagues.
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