“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
There’s a caveat to Paulo Coelho’s famous line from The Alchemist. That is, we cannot sit back and expect things to happen simply because we wish them to happen. Neither the universe nor anyone in it owes any of us a thing. Getting what we want out of life requires hard work, risk-taking, self-edification, and good discernment, but gratitude plays a huge role, too. If we fail to recognize and appreciate what we have, we might miss opportunities that lay right under our feet, not unlike Santiago, the classic’s protagonist.
A case in point involves a former student of mine who reached out about making a career switch. She had been in retail banking for a dozen or so years but had fallen into a rut and decided it was time to put her degree to work in some capacity of marketing. She had been applying for marketing jobs to no avail. While she was vague about what specifically she wanted to do in marketing, she was quick to say she would settle for an entry-level position. This concerned me because I saw a woman who had advanced to a management position with a credit union yet did not recognize her own value. Like Dorothy at the fork in the yellow brick road, she needed a trusted advisor to point her in the right direction. Enter, the Scarecrow.
We had been communicating via email, and prior to our scheduled phone conversation, I asked her to make a list of all the marketing collateral she felt would help her perform even better in her current role as an assistant branch manager. When we finally spoke, I asked her what she liked to do and how much of her job entailed sales. We spoke about the items on her list and which of those she could carry out while supporting, not contradicting, the organization’s current marketing efforts. Always color in the lines.
We then discussed various components of marketing: sales, advertising, promotions, branding, relationship building, analytics, etc. Finally, I asked her why she was looking for an entry level position with a marketing firm or in a marketing department when she already had a leadership role that involved marketing.
On went the lightbulb!
We had several conversations about how she could use and cultivate her marketing skills within her current role. This woman is a go-getter who just needed an outsider’s perspective to appreciate the opportunity that was right in front of her nose. Filled with ambition and hope, she instantly became more active on social media, restarted her blog, and made a concerted effort to build relationships with clients, co-workers, and other professionals. Her momentum is snowballing, and I am lucky to have a front row seat.
As Coelho also wrote in The Alchemist, “Every blessing ignored becomes a curse,” so make it happen! Make it happen for yourself, your colleagues, and your employees.
Imagine how employee retention rates would soar if employers shared a vivid vision for their organization and for everyone in it. Imagine the impact of having leaders trained to recognize and cultivate their direct reports’ talent, and thus motivate them to be the best version of themselves. Nothing breeds contentment quite like a sense of purpose, which is sorely missing in this most peculiar time of both labor shortages and high unemployment.