Sacrifice is a Sustainable Job-Search Strategy | Ladders

The basics, such as sacrifice and patience, can soothe an otherwise difficult job search.

Sacrifice is a Sustainable Job-Search Strategy

The basics, such as sacrifice and patience, can soothe an otherwise difficult job search.

My parents majored in sacrifice and minored in thrift. Every day for the first 30 years of my life I heard the word “sacrifice” as in, “We sacrificed a lot so you could be better off.” And they weren’t kidding. My mom wore the same winter coat for at least 10 years. Going out to eat was a rare treat saved only for birthdays. At least 85 percent of all the clothes I wore in the first 22 years of my life were bought at garage sales.

Growing up means learning the perks of patience. But when you’re in a job search, the basics go out the window as panic and urgency take over. I’m here to tell you that sometimes, while your job search is on track, other things can get off track. Every once in a while we need someone to remind us of some core truths and make sure that we’re each living up to them as best we can. What we all need is a reminder that we’re in control.

And, believe it or not, being patient is an act of restraint – an act of control. Here are a few ways on how to use it wisely in your search.

Exercising your freedoms

As I’m writing this, I feel old. It sounds so old to me to talk about sacrificing and being patient. Those were the words I heard from my mom and dad when I was growing up. It doesn’t feel hip or cool or young to talk about sacrificing and being patient.

However, winning does sound cool.

If you want to build a great career and be a part of building a great business, then make old-fashioned a new way of life.

During really tough economic times like we’re living in right now, the word “sacrifice” gets used a lot. It’s easy to talk about sacrificing when you have no choice. Everybody has to sacrifice when the stock market falls by 45 percent, jobs are being eliminated and cash flow is drying up. It’s also easy to lose weight when your doctor says, “Lose 45 pounds or you will die.” The harder part is to sacrifice when times are great and to eat wisely and exercise when you’re in great shape.

To build truly great businesses and to get in truly great physical shape for the long term, we need to sustain our sacrifices for decades, not quarters. In doing so, I think we will all find that sacrifice creates freedom. When you choose not to buy something or eat something that you want right now, you enhance the belief that you are in control of your decisions, not someone else. That’s freedom. When you have to buy or eat something as soon as it appears, then you are not in control of your decisions. That’s lack of freedom.

Turning to credit

Cash is annoying. First you have to have it, and second you have to have it with you. Credit cards are so much easier. You can just whip those puppies out and pay for everything from fast food to fur coats. The same is true in a business.

Having a credit line makes everything so much easier. If you have a good product idea or marketing campaign, you can just plow ahead. You don’t have to think through whether or not you can really afford it. Yet some new products and some marketing campaigns deliver no revenue. None. Zippo. However, you do still have that little problem of the bill to pay.

But in the end, being scared of credit turned out to be a very smart thing because it forces us to think through our purchases. It turns out that credit cards are a good thing, just like car loans and house mortgages and business credit lines are good things, as long as you pay them off on time.

Identify your margin of safety. Can you really afford it? Is there a reason why you’re not paying with cash today?

Spending so others see you in a certain light

I love a good business meeting. As a speaker, facilitator or observer, I really get a kick out of a productive meeting where ideas are being generated, discussed and selected for implementation. Having said that, I’m really confused by many meetings that I attend. If the attendees are going to be in the meeting room for 95 percent of their stay, why bother taking them to a fancy resort with expensive rooms and even more expensive food? Either go to a moderate hotel or give the attendees time to enjoy the surroundings. Some people argue that the surroundings are necessary to convey the message that the business is doing well. To which I have a very technical response: baloney!

Have you used this reasoning to keep the lifestyle you want others to perceive you have? To convey the message that you are doing well?

Well, I’m writing this article on a desk my mom found at a garage sale 25 years ago for $20. Does my desk, which works just fine, make you perceive that this article is better or worse?

Getting in shape

This one is going to cut a little close to the bone. Folks, we’re out of shape. I know, I know, you might be in good shape, but the vast majority of Americans are not in good shape, including me. This concept of sacrificing goes beyond just financial waste.

We eat like every meal is our last meal for the next 30 days. We need to get lean and hungry again. We need to eat right and exercise more. Isn’t it a strange dynamic that we fill our days with activities so we can’t exercise, but then we’re tired so we need to eat more to keep our energy up?

Imagine these two scenarios:

  1. No money owed on past bills, savings in the bank, a trim waistline and great personal energy.
  2. More bills than you think you will ever be able to pay off, no savings in the bank, a huge waistline and very low personal energy.

What’s the difference between these two scenarios? Sacrifice.

Let me try that again. Imagine this:

  1. A business with no money owed to anyone, employees who find purposefulness in their work and great energy in the business for the long run.
  2. A business with stacks of unpaid bills, employees worried about keeping their jobs and very low morale for the long run.

What’s the difference between these two scenarios? Sacrifice.

Ok, I’ll add in one more word: patience. When you have to have results today and you have to try every idea today no matter the cost, then you have no patience. When you don’t have patience, you won’t be able to sacrifice. And if you don’t sacrifice today in order to improve tomorrow, then you will continually be in the second scenario.

It’s as true in business as it is in the job search.

Sacrifice, be patient and maintain that approach over and over and over. It’s actually an exciting and freeing experience.

Dan Coughlin

Dan Coughlin Dan is a business keynote speaker and seminar leader on leadership, innovation, and branding. He is also an executive coach and author of four books on generating sustainable, profitable growth. His books include "Accelerate", "Corporate Catalysts", "The Management 500", and "Find a Way to Win". His clients include McDonald’s, GE, Toyota, Prudential, Coca-Cola, Marriott, Boeing, Abbott, SUBWAY, Kiewit, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

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