I just finished reading a great blog post by Tim Mushey (Sell-Lead-Succeed), and it inspired me to think about the idea of winning versus losing attitudes in a job search situation. As Tim notes in his blog, there’s a world of difference between playing to win and playing to avoid a loss. (If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to read his post on playing to win.)
Tim wasn’t specifically talking about the job search as such, but his comments certainly apply to it. Here’s just a sample of what he shared: “Playing to win exudes confidence. There is nothing that can get in the way of the team and victory….On the other hand, the team playing not to lose exudes tentativeness. Their primary goal is to not make mistakes and look foolish in front of teammates and coaches….’Playing not to lose’ is a career limiting decision (CLD). You will feel safe, and your results may be consistent, but your true potential will not be achieved.”
Before you actually launch yourself into a job search, take some time to consider how you are approaching it. What kind of mental attitude describes you at this point? Suppose your actions are motivated by desperation–such as a feeling that the deck is stacked against you and you have to be careful not to put a foot wrong, while at the same time you need to do everything humanly possible to get a job fast. (“I need a job–any job–yesterday!“)
How far toward your goal do you think that attitude will propel you? In reality, the answer is: probably not very far. You are actually stacking the deck against yourself, by unintentionally harboring a losing attitude instead of a winning attitude in your job search. Alternatively, you might be somewhat less desperate but still tentative in your approach, and the outcome could be just as unsatisfactory.
Job search winners include those people who follow the sentiment expressed in this Japanese proverb: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” If you’re one of those, you know you might miss your goal more than once and yet be able to achieve it in the end, so you refuse to accept defeat as an unavoidable outcome. You look for new, different or better steps to take that have the potential to put you on the right path–and you take those steps.
Job search losers include those people who think they need to be so very careful not to put themselves “out there” or make an effort that carries a high element of risk. If you see yourself slipping into this category, I encourage you to keep in mind the following quotation from the late humorist James Thurber: “You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward.” A certain degree of caution is sometimes called for, but make sure you don’t carry it to extremes. You could be psyching yourself out of a potential victory–that is, closing the door on a new job opportunity because you let excessive caution (sometimes known as fear) hold you back.
By the way, the difference between job search winners and losers can be defined as a very thin line. You might move from loser to winner more easily than you think. More than likely, making that effort is worth the “risk.”