- Landing a great job or promotion
- Getting an overseas assignment
- Buying into a promising start up
Our minds are flooded with seductive images of what we can make happen.
That’s all good, except, to be successful, we need to be in touch with our naiveté, replacing it with solid knowledge .
Face what you don’t know.
It’s easy to get sold a bill of goods:
- The job description isn’t what the job is
- The promotion is a dead end, not a growth opportunity
- The start-up was poorly managed so it folded
Our exuberance for an opportunity is often rooted in our emotions, so we’re inclined to make our decisions based on incomplete information.
Career opportunities are, first and foremost, business decisions, so they require the same due diligence as any corporate merger. Your life is your business, remember?
I’ve certainly had plenty of experience reining in my own boundless exuberance throughout my varied career..
I learned the hardest lessons as a race and show horse breeder. My knowledge of the industry was zero before I started. (There’s your first sign!) I’d learned to ride as an adult, did a little showing on my first horse, bought a broodmare, and then a small farm that needed to be made horse-ready. Next I met a work colleague into horse racing and “I was off.”
This experience taught me these five lessons for any career move :
1. Understand the economics: Calculate the hard dollar benefits and exposures over time for any career change you make. Discuss this openly and without discomfort.
I learned: Horses are expensive even when you take care of them yourself: feed, vet care, farriers, trainers, gear, trailering, and endless supplies. There’s no escaping the cost.
2. Assess the physical demands: Be honest about whether or not you are up to the demands of the job over the long haul–the hours, the stress, the travel, the expectations.
I learned: Horses are work every day all year: lugging, lifting, stacking, dodging, restraining, and getting dragged around (mostly by foals). Hurting is a constant.
I learned: Horses die, get severely injured, and often lack needed talent. Making the decision to euthanize a beloved sick or severely injured horse was tormenting. Learning to face reality is one thing; acting on it another.
4. Study the players: Dig into what’s driving your opportunity and who the beneficiaries are if you particpate. Ask probing questions about expectations, authority, and the key players.
I learned: Commercial horse breeding is an industry. Every product (horse) is one of a kind. If you don’t know how to sell or buy, it’s easy to get cheated. And I was, more than once.
5. Analyze the market: Examine the path ahead and what it will take to get there. Your coworkers and others are also competing for available opportunities, so position yourself for the future. Don’t jump at just anything.
I learned: Horses aren’t easy to sell. The market is glutted, many buyers are clueless, games can be played, and seller “celebrity” often rules. Selling privately is different from selling at auction. In this game, it’s every horseman for him/herself.
Hold your horses.
We all need passion and drive to be successful. That’s how we weather the storms of disappointment and fuel our resilience.
No matter what career you’re in, there are cold hard realities that need to be grasped, managed, and overcome to achieve and advance.
I can remember every “beating” I took in the horse business. Each one left both a welt on my psyche along with a priceless gem of understanding. Some lessons I learned after one whack and others after many. In time, I was able to anticipate the obstacles and side-step them before they got me. I wouldn’t swap the experience and all the joy and excitement for anything.
These lessons are where business savvy comes from. Once you’ve got your arms around them, you can act on your exuberance with confidence. YAY!