It is interesting where lessons are learned. At a Wisconsin water park, I rapidly learned two lessons which emphasized the benefit of quick action, and recognizing the value of your own work (regardless of others’ perspectives).
While walking in the pool, from the corner of my eye, I noticed a 7-ish year old boy come down the slide with a big scream of “WAHOO!” as he propelled feet-first into the water. After a few seconds, I realized that I hadn’t seen him come up, so I turned around, questioningly, to face the area of water he’d just entered. “People float… kids come up” I told myself as I scanned that area as the next second or two passed. Just in case… I took a step in that direction, still anticipating that his head would imminently bob up above the water surface. After yet another second, I took another step… and then received a splash from the lifeguard’s dive into the water to rescue him. I was close enough that I could hear her say “You are OK, you’ll be OK” as she transported him onto the edge of the pool.
This was Lesson 1: You’ve gotta dive in. Especially while in job search, it is not enough to have “good intentions” or “anticipate that things will go well” without your active, deliberate, participation. The longer you ‘look around’ to consider, and prepare for what is occurring, the less likely you’ll be involved in meaningful activities (and results). The more prepared you are to dive in when you see a need or opportunity, the more tangible will be your influence on that situation.
After the boy was settled, I watched the lifeguard walk the boy to his (I assume) father, who was sitting at a table close to the pool’s edge. I remember seeing him reading a newspaper, and looking up while the lifeguard presented the boy, along with an explanation of what had occurred. I was amazed when I saw him respond by raising his hands in the air with a “Kids will be kids, what can ya do?” look, before motioning for the boy to get back into the pool (by himself).
Shortly after this, I walked up to this life guard and told her that, I wanted to extend her a “Thank you” for having saved the boy, as it seemed that one had not been provided by the dad. After thanking me for my comment, she added that she’d been a life-guard for a few years, and had gotten used to that type (lack of) of a response from the parent/guardian.
This was Lesson 2: Recognize that you can present, or offer, someone an extremely valuable item or proposal, and they just may not be very receptive to it. Their response is not within your control. Regardless, you need to keep providing the value that you provide. You cannot be dismayed by anyone – be it companies, hiring managers, phone screeners – who may not express much interest, at that moment, in what you offer.
Have you ever had a sudden, unexpected lesson present itself to you?
Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor. He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.