In my previous two blogs I wrote about finding a job using a different paradigm and engaging in networking. In this post I will be addressing the style and attitude with which you approach the challenge of finding a job especially in a difficult economic market. I refer to it as a black belt attitude. This attitude not only affects how you approach looking for work, but also impacts how you approach your life.
When I began studying the martial arts, I took it very seriously. I read books, watched videos and movies, and subscribed to magazines. I worked out daily practicing forms, techniques, drills, and fighting styles. The deeper I got into the martial arts, the more I realized that it was less about the techniques that I was learning, and more about the attitude with which I practiced and executed the techniques. The higher I rose in rank, the more important attitude and style became. In fact, techniques played a minor role. By the time I reached black belt it was all about attitude. Furthermore, I realized that the character traits that I was developing were more important that my fighting ability.
The phase “stand tall and be strong” captures the attitude. Standing tall signifies a way of carrying oneself, a way of walking; it refers to self-respect, dignity, and wisdom. Being strong refers to both physical fitness and the emotional strength to resist one’s internal demons, such as arrogance, procrastination, fear, insecurity, impatience, quick temper, to name but a few. These are demons that will reduce your effectiveness when competing in a fight as well as when competing when seeking job.
In the various iterations of the movie Karate Kid, Mr. Miagi teaches “the kid” about being a black belt from the inside out. He teaches him discipline, humility, courage, persistence, integrity, and confidence. These character traits go to the heart of what it means to be a black belt. These are very same characteristics required to be effective when seeking a job or living a fulfilling life.
Employers today say that they “hire for attitude and train for skill.” This means that in today’s marketplace, employers are seeking individuals who possess the inner characteristics of a leader, top of the line, a black belt. They can train you to do the particular job in the way in which they want the job done. But if you are not trainable (arrogant), lack humility, or are impatient and without integrity, they will sooner chose the person before or after you in the interview process.
There are a myriad details involved in seeking a job, from the manner in which you engage in the job search, to the completing of an application (the first job an employer gives you), to writing a cover letter to go with your resume, to writing a well thought out resume, to the follow up letter, the interview itself, and the thank you letter afterwards. Each of these requires the discipline and persistence of a black belt. What differentiates the black belt from lesser ranks is more about how the black belt engages in each of the techniques, bringing the strength of character to each movement and to each technique.
Similarly, if you want to have the advantage as you engage in the competition known as seeking employment, you must do so with the same degree of commitment as the black belt. It is not a by-the-seat-of-your-pants process. If you prepare yourself, if you stand tall and be strong, you will increase the probability of your success regardless of the odds.
[Dr. Dreyfus is a nationally recognized clinical psychologist, relationship counselor, sex therapist, and life coach in the Santa Monica - Los Angeles area treating low sexual desire, premature ejaculation, sexual addictions, drug and alcohol abuse as well marriage and relationship communication and intimacy issues. The profits from his latest book, LIVING LIFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT along with his other five books, are being donated to charity through the website Book Royalties for Charity and can be purchased through Amazon.com. Please become a fan on his Facebook Fan Page by indicating "like" on the page by clicking here. You can also find more tools to help you experience a more fulfilling life by clicking here to visit his website.]