How March Madness is like Career Coaching
Even if you are not a basketball fan, there is much to learn about life and professional career transitions by watching MARCH MADNESS. It seems to me that success at careers/career transitions and success at college basketball share some important commonalities:
1. Know your strengths and exploit them.
Winning coaches, such as Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, are genius’s at getting the most from their teams in key games. They do that by knowing the strengths of their individual players, and exploiting those strengths to win against specific opponents.
With respect to careers, If you’re not certain what your marketable skills and motivated skills are, you can discover them through career coaching, then be sure to make use of them at work. In thinking about what you might want to do in a future job or career, be sure that the new job/career will offer you ample opportunity to make use of your motivated skills. (Those are the skills you are very good at, and love to use.) If you are in a job setting that prevents you from using your motivated skills, chances are you are going to be miserable.
2. Be sure to do your research.
Basketball coaches scout the strengths and weakness of their future opponents. A transitioning professional must scout the horizon for new career opportunities and new career trends in their profession. Read the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the job sections in your own professional peer-reviewed journals, read online physician career websites (there are many!), talk to professional recruiters, and learn to network, network, network.
Network with friends, network with leaders in your field, network with leaders in fields you are interested in. Network at national meetings. Ask for informational interviews from leaders in fields you might be considering.
3. Play your game with enthusiasm and energy.
To win at basketball, you’ve got to be in great shape, put out continuous positive energy, and maintain your enthusiasm at all times. So it is also with new career hunting. You have to work at it continuously, be resourceful with your time and energy, and maintain a positive outlook. Despite disappointments and setbacks, learn how to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back into the game.
4. Never give up!
College basketball games are often won in the last 30 seconds. Teams behind by 14 points with six minutes to go still often find a way to win. It has happened several times in this year’s NCAA playoff series already. So too should you keep battling on. Don’t lose confidence, never quit your search for the right job. The best opportunities present themselves when least expected, and you must be prepared to grab them on short notice in the last minute!
5. It never pays to blame the referee.
People say you have two chances with a basketball referee: 1. slim and 2. none. Generally speaking you are wasting your time arguing with a basketball referee. Similarly, if things aren’t going well in your career, don’t waste your time and emotional energy placing the blame on your partner(s), your chief of service, your organizational’s CEO, etc. You will only get depressed and discouraged. Worse, those people may come to see you as a trouble maker.
If things can’t be worked out despite your best efforts, if the game is stacked against you and you have no leverage, it’s time to get off the court and find a new game. No one is to blame. Just do it and may the best team win!