At a recent meeting with a large group of job seekers, I was heartened to hear how many have positive activity occurring in their search.  However, in contrast, I am also struck by some who have worked hard to get something-anything to happen that once they finally land a lead; if it doesn’t pan out they become even more frustrated.  I know from experience, this is a vicious cycle and one that has to stop in order for them to move ahead.

Yesterday I discovered I had not seen an important email on a financial matter.  After a nudge from the sender, I found the message and promised to get it handled as soon as I was back in my office and could print the document.  After it was printed and signed, I talked with the sender and confidently ‘knew’ I was tracking ‘just as I should’ to get the document in his hands by the deadline. The document had all the T’s crossed, X’s X’ed and the I’s dotted.  I simply needed to run to the bank for a notary’s signature and a quick dash to the post office to pop the document into an express mail envelope and it would be off winging away from here to arrive in time by the deadline.

However, my confidence evaporated and the feeling of imminent success for completing this task became twisted as soon as I entered the darkened garage and noticed dim car headlights beaming feebly.  Feeling sick to my stomach, I offered a hasty prayer to the car battery gods, hopped in the car and turned the key.  Zilch.  Breathing deeply, I tried again while fumbling with my other hand for my wallet containing the AAA membership card.  After connecting with the AAA roadside care specialist (who always assures I’m in a safe place – I blush as I reply ‘yes, I’m safe, I’m a garage’), I sat there contemplating my situation while waiting for the battery technician to arrive.  I switched up my thinking on the task at hand. If I could only get the car started and on my way quickly, I would still accomplish my goal – or so I thought.

I was doing everything as ‘I should’ similar to the frustrated job seekers; when what I thought was a sure thing evaporated into a seeming disappointment.  So, where is the risk in this line of thinking which we all seem to succumb to from time to time?  It was in the expectation of experiencing success and being attached to accomplishing it.  Similar to my job seeker friend, I was making assumptions about things beyond my control.  Not only did the AAA battery technician give me a jump, but I got a new battery promptly installed too.  The entire battery event took 83 minutes.  By the time I wheeled (yes only on two) out of the driveway bound for the bank – I was back to thinking I could save this yet.

As my daughter later said to me, ‘sometimes Mom things happen for a reason and you may not know why’. I chuckled from the front seat and thought about another friend who says, ‘be slow to conclude.’  Turns out that even though I did get my signature notarized; and I arrived with the document in the envelop ready to rapidly ‘express’, the express mail deadline had passed an hour before; unbeknownst to me while I was watching Battery Technician, Danny do his magic. I had burdened almost every step in the process with an expectation and an attachment to an outcome beyond my control.

I had counted a success in my win column before its time.  The takeaway here is: no matter the endeavor, be aware of expectations placed on process steps for we can implicate an outcome with more than it ought to carry.

In the case of my job seeker friend, just because he had a lead didn’t mean he would be able to talk with a hiring manager inside that company based on that lead alone.  He overestimated the success of the outcome which ‘might’ arise from having a lead within that company.  Like me, he burdened the activity (only a discrete part of the process) with an expectation and was attached to his expected outcome. We talked about how to reframe for future calls and how he will manage his responses to the next leads he mines in his search.

For me, I’ve checked the tracking number on my package.  My document is still on its way set to arrive a day later than intended.  I’ll consider that whole process to have a successful outcome once I learn that it has arrived – and I’ll not stress anymore one way or another about the result.

So, if you’re a job seeker or if you’re in a career – your view of ‘the work’ makes a difference in how you perceive your outcomes and success.  Success does leave clues…..

Career candy clarity……

Whether you have a job, a career or hail to a calling we all have a voice to share in this world.  Most of us do that in the context of our work.  Cheers to clearer perceptions about the world of work and how it can serve us better.