Monday, July 12, 2010

You pick the best title: “Timing is everything" -OR-“The right tool for the right job”

There have been many notable (famous) people who have faltered in one industry or another, - maybe a start up business even- only to move on to a different area in order to find success.

For instance before entering politics, Harry Truman had opened a haberdashery but it went bankrupt during the recession of 1921. In addition, Truman didn’t even earn a college degree.

I think the best example in Ulysses S. Grant. Having been in the army, he left to support his family in civilian endeavors. He labored on a family farm near St. Louis, Missouri, but it did not prosper. He was a bill collector in St. Louis. In 1860, after many failed business pursuits, he was given a job as an assistant in his father's tannery in Illinois. Ultimately, He returned to the military, where his legacy of leadership is best known. Even more than his actions as president, Grant is recognized for being the right man to lead the Union Army in the Civil War.

Some I have talked to say there are conflicting lessons, but I disagree. While figures such as Edison and Disney kept battling in the same “industry” (for lack of another term), others may not be as lucky to hit the right target for them.

So, while the obvious lesson is perseverance, the second is the one debated. I say it is about judgment, discretion, and even self honesty. The examples I noted above certainly did NOT give up. They DID however realize what was NOT working from them, and looked to where they COULD succeed.

Edison said “I have not failed. I've just found 10000 ways that won't work.” The thing is, Edison was where he should be. He knew WHAT he was working toward was for him. Even Walt Disney knew HE was on the right path already when he said “All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Looking at people like Disney & Edison – When my employer closed, I looked at my lay-off as the chance to be my own boss. I took a semi-hobby and worked to create a business. I took talent and experience to put into it: relationship building skills, promotions, time management, an entrepreneurial spirit Etc, Etc. Whether it’s the economy or the market itself, I now look to Truman and Grant as I look to move on from ‘self-employed’ to re-employed. To not recognize this would be a challenge to Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I will admit that my timing may have been off TWICE: Once in my start up, once in my seeking a new full time position given the economy and some hiring managers’ view of those who are unemployed. So be it.

Looking back at successes I have had, I know I can, like Grant, return and prosper. With an open mind that Truman inspires, I even look to a new industry that matches my skills. In that thinking, I do not have the arrogance of stepping in at the same level of my previous industry, but rather would expect and welcome a step back to prove myself, and my worth.
With all that in mind, I refer to a quote from Abraham Lincoln, for employers to consider: “If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance.”
That’s all I need.

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