Where Have You Gone, Joe Dimaggio?
So, times are tough, yeah? But is the sky falling? NO! The sky fell during two world wars, but this isn’t even close. Stop listening to your brain! Now is the time for heroes, not villains.
The human brain is an amazing thing. It historically has had one job—to keep you alive. As part of that function it wants you to avoid threats and conserve calories. But sometimes these functions designed to preserve you actually get in your way.
Let’s talk first about avoiding threats. Are you threatened now? You bet! The onset of the coronavirus and Covid-19 are a threat to your health, and an existential threat to your career. As of April 3, more than 16 million Americans have lost jobs to the current pandemic, more than six million in that week alone, and we haven’t approached the peak yet. The St. Louis Fed has predicted that number could ultimately go as high as 47 million, or 32% of the working population. Following the peak, more will lose work to the ensuing recession. And what does your brain want you to do? Watch Netflix for 15 hours per day, because, after all, nobody’s hiring, everyone’s being laid off. And don’t think about what may be happening to your career, because thinking and worry cause you to use up calories. Believe me, your brain’s not helping you. Read on to start taking charge of your career.
US Navy SEALs are famed for being able to do whatever is necessary to accomplish the mission, and rightly so. A major reason for this is that, from day one of their training, they learn to disregard what their brain is telling them about pain and exhaustion, to focus, prioritize what must be done, to execute, and to keep executing. They have learned how to train their brain to support them in accomplishing the mission.
Some years ago I participated in a weekend in Las Vegas, where, among other things I was told that I would break an arrow with my throat, and walk barefoot over hot coals. My brain knew better. At best, that kind of stuff is highly dangerous, and at worst, fatal. Imagine my wonder, then, as I watched myself place the arrow’s tip at my throat, and shatter it by lunging forward (don’t ever try this at home)! Two days later, I walked barefoot over 20 feet of 1,800° coals, without getting even a blister (don’t try this either).
I don’t tell you about this to impress you. I’m certainly not special. My point is this: you are capable of a great deal more than you may currently believe. In World War 2, we did as a nation what SEALs do as a result of their training. Under attack by the coronavirus, we can do it again. If you do what the seals do, later this year you will raise a glass to a hero—yourself, because you accomplished the mission.
Have you ever been stymied by indecision as to what must be done next, and asked yourself, “If I knew what to do, what would it be?”—and identified a solution? This is training your brain to do what you want it to do instead of what it wants to do: involve itself in finding an answer, instead of focusing on the problem. This is what you must do now.
Okay, I’ll come down out of the pulpit now. While the sky isn’t falling, we are in a world of hurt now, medically, socially, and economically. And if you aren’t preparing to get your next job right now, there may well not be one. I’ve been messing about in the employment marketplace for more than 30 years now, and I’ll tell you one thing: it’s the people who know how to get the jobs who will get the jobs. Maybe not the best people. Throughout history, it’s been the people who know how to get things done who are asked to do them.
Lucky for you, all change creates opportunity. But to be the one who gets hired, you must:
- Know what the target looks like—not “I can work anywhere.”
- Know what you’re selling—not “I can do lots of things.”
- Know how to write a resume—not “Objective: challenging position in a dynamic….”
- Know how to network (and now, “eNetwork”)—not “Who do you know with a vacancy?”
- Know how to interview—not “I can do whatever you need. Hire me!”
- Know how to follow up an interview—not an email.
- Know how to negotiate—not “I need more. I have bills to pay!”
- Know how to manage and maximize success in the new job, and to get the next job.
Don’t know how to do all this? Find help. I’ve written a book that can help: When Can You Start? The Insider’s Guide to Job Search and Career Success. It’s a guide. Every hero has a guide. Find the book on this website.
Do all this now. A famous movie star summed things up pretty well:
“Try not. Do or do not. There is no ‘try.’”