This page is dedicated to stories that will help motivate you to understand that you can raise to the next level and get more out of your job search. If you are feeling blue, this might help you get back into the game.


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Perhaps more than any other single quality, persistence has been written about over the years as the key to achieving what you want. Apparently it is with good reason, because those who have reached extraordinary heights in any field will often contribute their success to persistence.

Motivational speakers are fond of pointing out that very few adults are as persistent as babies. Babies, they remind us, fall down not once but hundreds of times before they are finally able to walk. If like adults they gave up after the third or fourth attempt, after the 23rd or 24th try, or even after the 101st, then very few of us would be able to walk. What happens to us in the intervening years that causes us to lower our persistence level so?

Could it be that we have gotten used to things being too easy? Is too much done for us? Are we spoiled by the thousand or more "easy victories" we experience when we get the knack of something after just a few tries? Possibly. Or maybe we're just embarrassed by failure. Or we don't have the patience. Maybe it's a bit of all of these.

Regardless, we would all do well to look around and find examples of adults who haven't lost the persistence they had as babies, to remind us that we too can develop it to the same level.

Colonel Sanders is often cited as an example of unusual persistence. He had been rejected by slightly more than 1000 people before he got someone to agree to pay him a fee for his fried chicken recipe. Just suppose he had given up after the 987th try, or the 1002nd. Would that successful franchise organization exist today? Probably not.

But as an example of persistence, he pales in comparison to two men who were forced to go on disability. One of them, Jerry, had suffered a brain aneurysm, was in a coma for months, and doctors wanted to "pull the plug" supporting his life. But his wife would have none of it. Then one day he started to show signs of life, slight twitchings.

Doctors warned that he would never be much more than a vegetable, so that his wife shouldn't get her hopes up. They continued to warn her at each stage of his improvement, that he'd never get any better ... when he opened his eyes ... began to speak ... ... ate by himself ... moved his fingers ... and so on ... right up until the time when, after months of therapy and thousands of disappointing attempts, he finally walked again.

Eventually he returned to a demanding job and played in a men's basketball league. But between that happy situation and the time he first started to come out of a coma, there were thousands of moments when he persevered instead of giving up. Giving up, mind you, would have been very easy to do. Persistence required thousands of individual decisions to keep moving ahead, despite the pain and the frustration of setbacks.

But he had a vision, a burning desire to be back with his wife and children once again, healthy, enjoying life, and holding a responsible job. He wanted it badly enough, he said, so that the persistence just came naturally.

The second man, Paul, held a management position in materials and inventory control when he suffered a disabling stroke. He too was told he'd never walk again, but he didn't listen to anyone but his own inner voice. Not only did he walk out of the hospital. He also gradually learned to sing again.

Before the stroke, as a hobby, he held one-man shows some evenings and weekends to raise money for charities, impersonating Neil Diamond and Elvis Presley. The stroke had deprived him of his ability to carry a tune, and had taken some of the richness out of his voice, but he wouldn't accept that as the status quo.

He practiced and practiced, just as he had exercised and exercised to learn to walk again. It took years, and getting past thousands of temptations to stop at one of the "plateaus" that was supposed to mark the end of his recovery. But finally he reached the point where he could regularly perform before enthusiastic audiences at nursing homes and hospitals, encouraging them to make the most of their lives.

He wrote a book about his experience, which has been translated into several languages. He's given many thousands of copies away, and regularly receives letters of gratitude from inspired readers. He was invited to sing the National Anthem at Fenway Park twice, and was featured on regional television news shows as a genuine hero. All of which enabled him to inspire more people.

What was it about Jerry and Paul that caused them to persist where so many others would not? Certainly they both had a vision of what they wanted their life to be. And they wanted it badly enough so that nothing or no one could stand in the way of their achieving it.

Somehow, they were able to dig deep inside themselves, to find something in their spirit that gave them the impetus they needed to keep on taking action, day after day, even when they were distressingly distant from their goal.

Their triumphs were not just triumphs of the mind. Mental strength had to be balanced with action. Each day they took some action, however small it might be on any given day, that would get them closer to their goal. Their mental resolve, they maintain, reinforced their ability to take action each day, and taking the actions reinforced their resolve. One built on the other.

Perhaps the most dramatic example of persistence to be brought to the attention of the public recently is Sir Ernest Shackleton, the British explorer who set off to cross Antarctica in 1914 just before Britain's entry into World War I. His exploits were chroncicled in the book, The Endurance, which was also the name of his ship which was trapped and, 10 months later, crushed by ice.

After months of camping on drifting floes, living under extremely difficult circumstances, Shackleton set off with a small crew in a small lifeboat to sail through treacherous seas over 800 miles without navigational aids, to try to reach South Georgia Island.

Incredibly, they reached their destination, but were then faced with a daunting overland trek to civilization, in the form of a remote whaling station, over mountains and past huge crevasses that seemingly made the trip impossible. But somehow, they did make it, despite having to turn back a number of times when mountain passes proved impassable.

Then, only by continuing to persist, he was able to borrow a ship capable of returning to the icy waters where he had left his crew months earlier, reaching them just in time, before ice sealed the area for the season. Miraculously, not a life was lost.

How did Shackleton persist, day after day, month after month, despite numbing cold, meager rations, pain, and conditions that would drive most of us to despair?

We can only guess, but he did share the fact that he too had a vision, strong belief in himself and his ability to achieve what he had set out to do, and wanted it more than anything else in life. He understood that action, continued action even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, was the key to achieving anything worthwhile.

Ah, but job changing is different, you might say. It involves rejection. These men surely achieved a lot despite great odds, but they did not have to put up with the pain of rejection, day after day, as answers to ads received not even the courtesy of a reply, and form letters come back saying nothing is available now, but your resume will be kept on file.

And that's the single biggest mistake most job hunters make! They interpret these responses or lack of them as rejection. That is simply not so!

Consider for a moment that the person or persons doing the so-called "rejecting" don't even know you! They have never met you, never seen your face or spoken to you. They can't reject someone they don't even know

The most they can do, in negative terms, is to decide that the set of skills and experience presented electronically or on a piece of paper, is not the ideal match to what they are looking for.

The entire process is not personal acceptance of one individual and personal rejection of hundreds of others. It is instead a research process. The employer sets up an ideal model of the talents and experience it needs to fill a position. It then uses one or more avenues to identify possible matches, finds one which exactly or most closely matches, and hires the individual who fits best.

What happens to all the others who did not fit as closely is merely a side effect of this research process. It is not something anyone gives much thought to. There is nothing personal about it. The right match was found. The objective was achieved.

All the other resumes and letters that were compiled in order to find the best match, are no longer needed. The logical thing to do is to dispose of them, or in some cases store them.

There is little visible gain for the employer to spend the time and money responding to each of them, or analyzing them. That might invite more calls and letters, taking time and effort that could more profitably be spent elsewhere, perhaps finding the ideal match for a different position that needs to be filled quickly.

If yours is a long and difficult search requiring perseverance, keep that in mind. You are not experiencing personal rejection, just the side effects of a research process.

It will also help if you start to think of your job search as your own research process. You are sending your credentials out into the marketplace, to identify one or more employers whose requirements match what you have to offer.

If you need to send out 200, 500, or even 1000 resumes to find the right match, then your research process may take a while, but there is no reason to stop simply because you haven't yet found the right match. Very few scientific advances would be made if researchers stopped after the first few hundred experiments.

Of course you'll want to be sure that your resume gets across your ability to contribute in the strongest manner possible. Once it does, then like the scientists, Jerry, Paul, and Ernest Shackleton, the longer you persist, the better your chances.

Like Jerry, Paul and Ernest Shackleton, if you can develop a vision of what you want to achieve, a desire deep enough, and the discipline to stay in action even when the odds seem stacked against you, your persistence will surely pay off sooner or later.


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