My friend the motivational speaker Zig Ziglar liked to tell the story of his friend Walter Hailey. Although he became a star salesman, Hailey's early career in insurance sales was rough. He endured frustration, anxiety, slammed doors, low sales figures and uncertainty about his future.
One day he grew so discouraged that he went to his boss and told him that he was going to quit. His boss's response? "You can't."
Hailey repeated that he was quitting. The manager repeated, "You can't."
Angry now, Hailey shouted, "Yes, I can!"
His manager replied, "Walter, you can't get out of the insurance business because you have never really gotten into the insurance business."
The words hit Hailey like a ton of bricks. For the first time in his life he realized that you can't get something out of an endeavor if you never put anything into it. Or as Zig put it, "There are many people who 'join' a sales organization but never get into the business of selling."
As the job market has fluctuated over the last decade, attitudes toward work have changed too. People who have jobs they love consider themselves lucky. But studies have found that up to 70 percent of workers indicated a dislike for their jobs. That's unbelievable! Do you think their hearts are in their work?
Or do you suppose they could find something in that job that would inspire them to do their best?
Harry S Truman was a no-nonsense U.S. president whose attitude toward life was summed up in this sentence: "I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm and hard work."
Will Rogers had plenty of witty sayings, but my favorite was what he said about success: "In order to succeed, you must know what you are doing, like what you are doing, and believe in what you are doing."
Let's dig a little deeper into that wisdom.
Know what you are doing. Winners prepare, apply themselves and work to become the best at what they do. They are willing to do what others refuse to do. They have a grasp of the situation and the challenges involved. They make the necessary adjustments and learn the important skills.
Like what you are doing. The bottom line is not doing what you like, but liking what you do. There are good and bad parts of every job, and if the good doesn't outweigh the bad, you are in the wrong job. Most organizations do not have tailor-made jobs designed for specific preferences. They have jobs that need to be done, and need committed people who are willing to do their level best to be successful.
Believe in what you do. Forget the job description, the title and the salary. Focus on what you can accomplish. Trust me, an employer can easily tell the difference between the workers who are there for something to do and those who are there to really do something.
Everyone has to start somewhere. Remember, your first job was probably not your dream job. Maybe your second job wasn't either. But the lessons you learned early on were invaluable in terms of seeing how the world works. Keep learning! The only limit to success is the amount of effort you are willing to invest.
One of my mentors, Curt Carlson, who founded Carlson Companies (now known simply as Carlson), used to tell me: "You work the first five days of the week to keep up with the competition. It's on Saturdays and Sundays that you get ahead of them."
That attitude was not unique to Curt Carlson. I met the son of Kemmons Wilson, founder of Holiday Inn, some years ago, and he shared this story with me about his father. Kemmons Wilson never finished high school, yet his high school later invited him to give the commencement address.
He got up in front of the students and said: "I really don't know why I'm here. I never got a diploma, and I've only worked half-days my entire life. I guess my advice to you is to do the same. Work half-days every day. And it doesn't matter which half ... the first 12 hours or the second 12 hours."
Mackay's Moral: There are many formulas for success -- but none of them work unless you do.