10 April 2016

Guts or Glory!

Author: James Middleton

I’m not sure about you, but often I find myself in situations where things seem to be quite tough. My efforts don’t seem to reap any rewards, the stream is constantly slowing me down as I swim and there’s just bump after bump in the road I’m traveling. This post is not to speak about one of those situations and my experience of it, but rather about how I’ve seen someone else navigate such an environment extremely commendably. Whether you’re currently in a job that’s going a bit like this or you’re in the search for a job and it’s not going well, my hope is that you’ll take a bit of encouragement from this post.

Nothing is going right!

So to paint the picture, this person (let’s call him Josh) had just landed a very interesting job that he was very excited about. It was in the industry he wanted and doing something similar to what he’d done before, but the unseen challenges lay dormant in the side wings, waiting to devour him!

Little did he know, but he was entering into a culture that he’d never been a part of (i.e. he didn’t understand the language that everyone spoke), work was in a location that was roughly one hour away by car and he’d just arrived from a different country all together. The biggest hurdle though would be the nature of the work. It’s the type of environment where he’s at the mercy of so many things that are out of his control, meaning that he is constantly having to put out fires, communicate bad news to clients and wrangle bit-piece solutions to situations that aren’t his fault. Couple this with Josh’s “achievement orientation” and we have ourselves challenging situation!

Getting gutsy

Let’s be honest and say that the first few months were pretty tough for Josh. Not knowing what everyone was speaking about in meetings (they would forget to stay in his first language), learning the intricacies of a new job and being at the mercy of all the uncontrollable forces meant that he had to learn quickly that getting everything perfect was not going to be possible. This firstly dealt quite a blow to his ego – in a similar way to how you feel if you don’t get through to the next round of your job interview or something goes wrong in your team and a project fails. However, that didn’t stop Josh!

Similar to being pinned down in a bunker and taking heavy fire, Josh hunkered down and dug deep. He rolled with the punches, gaining experience from every single blow that landed on his emotional torso. He knew that it would take time to learn more about the language, understand the details involved in his role and learn to read the signs of an impending disaster looming. He also knew that he would never know whether he was actually good enough to do it unless he got a big gritty and stuck it out!

Needless to say, Josh was soon very comfortable with telling clients bad news (he’d learnt to explain the effect of the forces beyond his control), he’d learnt to stay calm when a problem arose (he’d put out fires like this before) and people were speaking to him in his first language (he was just that nice to talk to and so people liked talking to him).

The fairy-tale ending

In all truth, Josh has now had his contract renewed and also been offered the opportunity to take over the entire account that he was once a junior in. We’re talking international responsibility after just 6 months in the new position at a new company in a new country! I believe that this has been possible mainly because Josh had the guts to stick it out, learn, make mistakes and not give up. Yes innate talent and ability comes into it, but that will never surface if there isn’t a bit of endurance to let it surface through the tough times. I’m convinced Josh will keep growing and should anything interesting happen to him in the future (which it undoubtedly will), I’ll be sure to document it again!

About the author:
James is Head of Project Office at Hubble Studios. He loves running up mountains, playing in a band and working with quality people. The majority of his experience has been in online education, which has allowed him to work with pretty much anyone and everyone under the sun (think: graphic designers, videographers, animators, writers, actuaries, accountants, marketers, entrepreneurs, developers and even people in luxury hospitality).
LinkedIn | james.middles@gmail.com

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