Don’t become Roadkill.
I was driving up the M5 one morning when I saw the cock pheasant standing beside the motorway. Magnificent bird he was: a study in red and gold in the early morning sunshine.
He stepped, quite deliberately onto the carriageway. Just ahead of me, the car in the inside lane swerved onto the hard shoulder to avoid him. A car in the middle lane missed him by inches. He reached the fast lane unharmed, but that was where his luck ran out. There was an explosion of feathers as he was hit by a car doing 90. That was where his life came to an abrupt and very violent end.
If you love nature as much as I do, don’t you just hate to see wild creatures die on roads; but this death was especially sad because it seemed so unnecessary. There are birds that are flightless; penguins for example, are unable to fly…not that I’ve ever observed a penguin trying to cross a motorway. But pheasants are perfectly able to fly. A few flaps of the wings and a lazy glide was all that was needed to get that bird to the other side of the carriageway without him coming to the slightest harm.
Life can be a bummer at times, like right now perhaps. A stress-free life is impossible, but the level of stress you experience is dramatically reduced if you know how to avoid becoming roadkill in the first place.
When it comes to developing career strategies, you are probably not being given the information you need that would give you wings to fly, wings that will enable you to sail harmlessly over trouble. And a lot of “roadkill avoidance strategies” are a matter of taking a long-term approach to developing your career.
Imagine that you’re an athlete and you’ll be competing in the next Olympic games. When would you start preparing for that event? Immediately after the last Olympics wouldn’t you. Yes, that’s exactly what you would do. You wouldn’t dream of turning up at the opening ceremony, knowing that you’d be running in the 100 metres next week and thinking, “It’s time I put in a bit of sprint practice!” Not if you wanted to be in the medals you wouldn’t.
Yet the strategy you’ve been encouraged to adopt up ‘til now probably goes something like this: study, study, study until you gain whatever exam certificate you think you need to apply for a job, and then start sending your C.V. to dozens of employers, hoping that this is going to land you a job. Then, when you don’t even get invited for interviews, panic begins to set in. You panic because you need a job urgently. You need a job like…next week. You’re almost afraid to apply for any more jobs because you can’t handle the thought of another rejection. It’s horrible! Even if you do get invited for interview, you know you’re going to be up against 50 or more other candidates, so an interview may not increase your chances of a job offer all that much. You feel tempted to accept any job that comes your way, even if it’s a menial, low paid job you were qualified to do if you’d left school after G.C.S.E.s. You feel like roadkill. You desperately want to avoid a situation like that don’t you? Yes, of course you do.
So, here’s this week’s tip (from “the coach who rocks”)
Take the Olympic approach. Begin your search for employers 3-4 years before you think you’re going to be ready to apply for jobs. You’re looking for opportunities to meet business managers with whom you can build long term relationships. When all you’re asking for is an opportunity to meet up, when neither of you is in any position to make any kind of commitment to one another, there’s no stress involved is there? Reach out to employers who are already searching for people like you.
When you spread the workload over 4 years, there’s no hard work involved. The odd rejection, even a string of rejections is easy for you to handle if you have a further 4 years to find who you’re looking for.
Make life easy for yourself. Grow some wings and fly.