Lessons for the Job Seeker from our sporting icons


I am fascinated by the parallels between business and sport.  As sport itself has become big business the two have looked to take the best of each other in a relentless drive to get even better.  It made me think of what we can take from the very best in sport when looking at our own careers.   I am a huge fan of all sports and love to study the great icons, in particular what makes them tick.  At the very highest level the physical talent and capability amongst the very best is wafer thin.   The difference between winning and losing is mindset.

So how can say Tiger Woods (recent indiscretions aside), Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Sir Steve Redgrave, Ellen MacArthur et al help us in the pursuit of career success?  Success means so many different things to people and is open so much to how we frame things individually.  However my sense is that there are a number of basic principles that if applied would go a long way to ensuring at least a high degree of career satisfaction.

Without exception all of the above pass Malcolm Gladwells 10,000 hours.  They are dedicated and have practised relentlessly on the fundamental basics required in each of their sports in order that they can be considered the best.  David Beckham was always last to leave the training pitch at Manchester United.  A great pal of mine watched Tiger Woods walk off the 18th Green at Wentworth straight in to the gym for a 90 minute work out before returning to the range to work on hitting some more balls. Michael Jordan shot 500 baskets every day of his professional career.  So without doubt dedication is a critical factor for success.

However dedication is nothing without the vision, the goal, the endgame.  You must be clear about what you want to achieve and you must have a compelling why.  The how is the easy bit, that’s all in the plan and execution.  Why is what will get you out of bed in the morning.

Get really clear on what you want.  What are you looking to achieve and why?  Then work on the how. What is it that you need to do to realise your goal.  Then its on to the practice court to shoot those 500 baskets.

My guess is that Jordan didn’t score every time, that he missed a few and this is how he learned.  He wasnt afraid to miss, he was prepared to try to keep trying in order that he could achieve the level of success that he wanted for himself.  The job search is the same.  Relentless commitment, daily dedication and a lot of missed baskets.  Roughly translated, that’s a lot of shoe leather, conversations, handshakes and coffee.  Some will reap quick rewards, many wont.  However this is the advantage of relentless commitment.  Each conversation you learn more, get clearer, more succinct about what you want and what you can offer.  Each application you get better, each rejection toughens you for the next time, each draft of the CV is better than the last, each interview is an experience from which you can learn and be better next time out.

Dont be afraid to miss.  If you do, dust yourself off, pick up another ball and shoot another basket, strike another free kick.  This isn’t about wanting to be Michael Jordan or David Beckham, this is about doing everything you can for yourself to realise whats right for you.

The job market is tough.  It’s very easy to sit in the warmth of the blogosphere and make smart observations about the relentless pursuit for the job you desire.  But that is what it is, relentless.  There is no such thing as a magic potion or quick fix, but over time you will be amazed just what can be achieved through relentless commitment to the realisation of your goal.

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