What are the two things anyone can control if they are on a quest for something?
Let’s say you want to be successful.
The smartest guys don’t always grab the brass ring.
And the most physically gifted don’t automatically get a shot at it, either.
Yes, being in the right place at the right time does account for some upward mobility at times, truth be told. This is mostly due to the fact that showing up consistently somewhere over a period of time (like a place of employment) does demonstrate a high degree of attendance reliability.
Give me the reliable, motivated, unentitled person over the smartest person who sometimes takes days off (for no good reason other than they don’t want to come to work that day).
Also, give me the reliable person over the (seemingly) most physically gifted and/or attractive individual as well. Sure, you might enjoy the presence of a physically attractive person in the short term. But in the long run, you’ll sour on all those externally-striking features the moment that looker lets you down performance-wise. And the disappointment will linger and be much more heightened by the probability you’ll be let down sooner than you expect, too.
Reliability is part of a reputation.
Reliability points towards a solid work ethic.
A track record of reliability is an indicator of performance now as well as in the future.
Healthy chips on their shoulder
If you’re someone who is going through life with a chip on their shoulder, if the chip is not properly harnessed, it’s all too soon too much baggage for most employers.
An example of someone with what I call a “healthy” chip on their shoulder is an NFL player who pre-draft was expected to go in the first round, but fell from grace and down the ladder to a later round pick.
It may have been due to a disappointing performance at the pre-draft scouting combine. It also could have been because the player was injured at the end of their college career and there was some doubt they could be the player they once were pre-injury.
No matter the reason, these football players with chips on their shoulder want to prove every team wrong (that passed them over at the draft).
Once they settle in with their NFL teams, they set about this quest.
This healthy chip on their shoulder provides fuel for their best performance on the field.
Is a healthy chip on the shoulder restricted to the NFL?
Certainly not, especially in corporate America.
People are passed over for promotions and salary increases all the time. And the job market is also way tighter than the national unemployment figures would ever lead anyone to believe.
But while “playing” with a chip on one’s shoulder is easy to see in the NFL, those who would develop a healthy chip in the workplace do so silently and with little fanfare.
People who get passed over for promotions don’t quit. It does just the opposite and increasingly steels their resolve.
Unlike an NFL receiver, the ability to run fast does little for the average worker.
Where does the worker get their edge from a healthy chip? It’s found in the form of preparation and persistence.
These two words do not look sexy on a resume, however:
“I was the most prepared in my class.”
“I was always more persistent than any of my class mates.”
The problem with these two words is they do not easily translate metrically. It’s hard to quantify, qualify and measure them.
But how they can help someone get a job, promotion or salary increase is to actually make them honest-to-goodness action verbs. A worker seeking advancement must live these words.
You say you have an interview for a job you’d really love to get?
Prepare. Unlike. Anyone. Else.
This will take your being doggedly persistent. In effect, you must persist in your preparation well beyond that of any other job candidate or member of the team seeking a promotion and raise.
If you prepare and persist like no one else, you won’t make excuses for things that are beyond your control (like whether or not the interviewer had an upset stomach due to eating (unbeknownst to them) bad eggs and was extremely short with you on the interview (as they prioritized getting to the bathroom over a thorough interview)).
None of this will matter if you are prepared and persistent.
These trademark characteristics of healthy chips on a shoulder and the success they spawn are never, ever just found only on NFL gridirons.
They can be found in job candidates the land over. And I for one would hire them any day over shallow Mr. Beautiful or Miss Boatful of Degrees because what looks good on paper does not necessarily transfer well to the real world that is business, nor to the ability to get the best possible job done consistently and reliably.