Pursuit of Happyness may not be many people’s choice as a favorite movie but it is a very memorable movie for me, and one of the slightly better movies on TV over the festive period. It was memorable for me because it revealed in spectacular detail the struggles and stresses we face as human beings. By the end of the movie I was left absolutely dumbfounded because I had to remind myself that this was a true story. A man and his son actually went through this. It was also the first time a movie had brought tears to my eyes (the softy that I am). Chris Gardner was a phenomenal hero of his own life. The story of Chris Gardner is very touching because it reveals the worst that can happen to any capable person. Gardner is a bright salesman and family man. When an investment goes bad, his family is brought to the brink of financial disaster. As time progresses and the family’s troubles intensify, Chris’s wife leaves him and their son to move to another city. Chris becomes broke and he and his son rely on homeless shelters for food and a place to sleep. Chris goes through immense hardship personally and financially but takes some solace when he sees an opportunity for a stockbroker internship position come up. He then becomes totally dedicated to this opportunity driven by an unflinching commitment to his son. Chris faces one challenge and setback after another (including failing to sell a bone density scanner) but his resolve remains strong. In the end, it was his commitment and self belief that won him the job.
Here are some insights into Chris’s character:
- He didn’t let his problems define him
- He didn’t want any sympathy from anybody
- He cherished his relationship with his son
- He did things he wasn’t comfortable with
- He didn’t let his feelings get the better off him
- He persevered – adamant and determined to sell the scanner despite all its flaws
- He remained professional throughout his troubles
- He believed in his abilities
These are eight things that stood out to me from the character of Chris Gardner but the one thing that kept Chris Gardner going despite all his hardship was that he was proactive in everything he did. It was this momentum that spurred him to win the job he so desperately wanted, and by doing so he was able to reverse his fortunes. It takes a big man to fall from grace and manage to get back on his feet again. Chris Gardner is living proof that bouncing back from despair is possible.
Life is a journey as one of my former managers said. In this festive season, I thought it would be best to highlight some lessons I have learnt and the wisdom passed on by others in both my professional and private life. I see the following as wake up calls, harsh lessons, reality checks and even motivational thoughts. So in no particular order, here they are:
- Things get worse before they get better
- Bad news tends to come together at the same time
- Opportunities can jump at you when you least expect them to
- Your gut instinct is always almost right
- You may not always get what you ask for
- You may have to settle for your second choice: you probably won’t get your first choice
- Bear in mind that you may have to take small, baby steps to make big advances
- Don’t look for quick fixes: be prepared to being excruciatingly patient
- Stay the course before making a final decision
- Don’t be afraid to ask advice from others
- If something isn’t working out, don’t be scared and shy of admitting defeat: bail before you get washed out
- Don’t be afraid of experimenting, taking risks
- Don’t always look to be in your comfort zone: accept that you need to push yourself to get better at doing what you do
- Accept that some things will never be perfect
- Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo
- Punch above your own weight
- See boring, uninspiring tasks as challenges as you never know where they might lead you
- When it comes to jobs and companies, it invariably comes down to cultural fit so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage to secure an offer
- Try avoiding people who have detrimental impact on your life
- All things being equal, the simplest explanation normally tend to be the right one
- A degree doesn’t make you intelligent but it gives you an edge
- Not everybody is capable of maintaining a professional approach to work
- It is easy to be a micro – manager but far harder to be an inspirational, likeable manager
- You don’t need to sweat to prove a point and nor does it make you more authoritative
- Don’t take things seriously and more importantly, don’t take yourself seriously
- Accept that you won’t always get things right the first time
- It may take people a while to understand what you are all about
- Extract happiness from the smallest things in life
- There will inevitably come a time in life, when you will run into the wrong people who will have a detrimental impact on your life
Most importantly though, ‘be certain to learn life’s lessons and move on’.
Searching for a job isn’t fun, and if there is anybody out there who found it enjoyable, I would be most interested to hear from them. For most people, it is a stressful, time consuming and grueling experience. The global recession has only made it more difficult than ever before to look for a job with the average job search now taking 8 months, and even more depending on the type of industry.
The main challenge for all modern companies isn’t to find talent but to find the right quality of talent which is becoming harder to find. An ageing workforce and lesser quality fresh talent coming off the conveyor belt is making recruitment and retention a number 1 challenge for companies. We are now entering a whole new age of employee engagement and retention where companies need to be on the front foot in the identification, development and retention of quality talent.
This challenge is now forcing many companies to become more innovative with their recruiting methods. Some companies have totally embraced social media and incorporated it into their recruiting apparatus, whilst others remain more loyal to traditional forms of recruiting via advertising in newspapers, job boards etc. Increasingly, many companies employ the services of a headhunter to help them find and attract talent. As we progress in this information age, technology is going to play an even greater role. As individuals we are going to be better connected with each other, and that means we will be more visible to the outside world. So if your name exists anywhere in print or online, the chances are you are likely to get an email or a call from a headhunter.
So if they called you, why should you entertain their call? First, they have probably contacted you about a job that isn’t advertised anywhere publicly. Headhunters have access to the ‘hidden job market’ so if they called you it’s because they think you might be suitable for a new challenge. Second, even if you do not display a genuine interest in what they want to talk to you about, it’s probably worth keeping in touch with them as you never know what the future holds. A good headhunter will be a very well connected person who could put you in touch with potential future opportunities. So if you have a particular skill set and haven’t had a call from a headhunter, you should expect one in the not too distant future.
Photo credit: CELALTEBER