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Monday, April 02, 2007
Hot Pursuit
Over the weekend, I watched the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith. If you are looking for an entertaining, relaxing flick, let me tell you – this is not a good choice. I spent ninety-nine percent of the movie with my teeth clenched as the main character just kept getting hit by one disaster after another. It was exhausting.

But it was also one of those movies that you can’t get out of your mind afterward. If you don’t want to know the end, stop reading now. Basically, the movie is about a fellow who works his way up from the bottom to a multi-millionaire on Wall Street. The obvious lesson from the movie is “keep trying, you can do it”, but there were many other lessons that were more subtle and have a great deal to do with job search and the climb up the ladder.

First of all, what defined this man’s happiness was economic increase and stability. The entire movie revolves around his striving toward economic success on one hand while dealing with total economic disaster on the other, including being homeless. I wonder how many Americans are just one paycheck away from similar situations. On one hand we are striving for financial success while on the other hand we are up to our eyeballs in debt. Something to think about.

Another lesson that was more subtle was the role this man’s education played in his career. He only had a high school education but the viewer is given clues throughout the movie that he had a natural talent with numbers. He could solve a Rubik’s cube when no one else could. He mentioned he devoured math books in school. He used this talent to win an opportunity to start a new career as a stock broker. He did not treat his lack of a college degree as a handicap that automatically disqualified him from certain jobs.

A third lesson was that initiative, innovation, and just plain guts go a very long way in making opportunities arise. What seemed like a failure when he didn’t land the big wheel’s account became a bigger success when he landed all the big wheel’s friends’ accounts. All because he took the initiative to go the extra mile. He did something that no one else did and had the guts to go for the big fish.

A fourth (but not final) lesson was he had confidence in himself. First of all, he bought into a medical device that he had to sell by cold calls – a product that was overpriced and had little true value. He trudged the streets making calls on doctors and in the end he sold them all! He had the confidence in himself to show up at his Dean Witter job interview after a night in jail, dressed in paint-spattered clothes and no shirt because he believed in himself. He had the confidence in himself to study long hours, put up with unimaginable hardships and deal with both financial and personal disasters to finish something he started because he believed in himself.

How many people give up in their job search or simply don’t get started because they feel they are too old, too young, not the right race, don’t have a degree, not from the right background, etc.? How many people don’t excel in their work because they don’t believe deep down they can do it? Are you one of them?

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