by Sara Pacelle

My family and I were glued to the television watching the recent 2014 Winter Olympics.  We couldn’t get enough of it.  When the camera spanned to the athletes’ faces just before their events, the sense of immediacy, stress and determination was palpable and exciting.  That was the very moment they had been preparing for their entire lives.  We were continuously amazed at the endurance and resilience of those talented athletes, particularly those who unfortunately would trip or fall during their event.  How did those athletes muster the courage to pick themselves up and finish their event with such grace and confidence?  Incredible.  Elite athletes are trained to know that the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are temporary conditions.  Both victory and defeat can develop  their endurance and strengthen their focus on their end goals.

In many ways, today’s job seeker and the Olympic athlete have much in common.  Both spend long hours in preparation, developing their skills and personal brand and refining their delivery.  Their experiences, both positive and negative, are cumulative and give them depth and definition.  Grit, endurance and resiliency are well-known personal traits for the successful athlete and these same words are becoming absorbed into the mindset of today’s job seeker.  After all, today’s job search is more like a marathon, than a sprint, requiring hard work, focus and mainly, grit.

Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth in her thought provoking TED talk The Key to Success? Grit discusses this concept within the context of her research.  Her findings suggest that one’s grit is the most significant predictor of success, even more so than one’s IQ.  Grit, she says, is what differentiates the winner from the pack.

So, what is grit? According to Duckworth, grit is passion and perseverance toward long term goals.  It is having the stamina day in and day out to endure setbacks and stresses and loneliness, to continue your work to make your dreams a reality. You might call it staying power or endurance or keeping your eye on the prize.  Whatever you call it, grit is critical in today’s marathon job search.  It allows you to keep your stress at bay and your confidence and motivation strong.

So, how do you get grit for today’s stressful job search?  Is it a trait you must be born with or can you develop it?  And how can today’s job seeker in their marathon search acquire it to keep in the game and reach their goal?

Let’s look at today’s job search.  When I ask my clients to describe their job search, they mostly discuss their STRESS.  They talk about the pressures, doubts, improbabilities and obstacles of the search that can slow their progress and chip away at their confidence.  Stress is caused by things that are within our control and out of our control.  We individually can’t control today’s current job market, but we can control how we personally respond to it with our job search activity.  Most importantly, we can keep ourselves physically healthy and strong with good nutrition, regular exercise and adequate sleep to maintain our energy and to develop our focus and clarity.  A successful job search requires energy and clarity of thought to perform executive functions like planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention, remembering details, and managing time and space.  Stress can impair one’s ability to perform these vital job search functions.  Therefore, to identify the causes of the stress and proactively minimize them during the job search is really important.  

In addition to keeping our physical selves strong, we can mitigate stress by maintaining our internal centeredness or equilibrium, allowing us more staying power, endurance and grit. Understanding the psychology of the elite athlete and his/her ability to get back on their skates is to internalize that the concepts of “to fail” or “to win” are temporary conditions.  Grit, on the other hand, is a mindset that is deliberately chosen and can be a permanent condition.  This concept is really powerful and empowering when you can internalize it in your job search.  If the job seeker, like the athlete choses to believe that the intensity of his/her efforts can create successes or failures, then that belief can produce grit and the resiliency to get through those temporary conditions. 

I advise my clients that increasing their self-awareness is an important way to reduce their stress during their job search.  This can be done by objectively observing their job search activities.  I encourage them to keep good records of their job search, particularly their networking interactions both in person and virtual, written and verbal.  Recording and reflecting on your job search experience allows you to observe and analyze your behaviors and helps you focus and understand what works and doesn’t work, thus enabling you to adapt your methods to be more effective.  Think of the elite athlete who reviews self videotapes to perfect his/her form.  According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, many athletes say that recording and reviewing their performance allows them to identify flaws and refine their skills.  “Sometimes subtle mechanical flaws are not felt or players do not realize anything is wrong until they can see it themselves.”  Understanding that we all will have setbacks in our job searches, but reviewing them and learning from them, adapting improvements and carrying on will go a long way in the job search.  

For example, it’s useful to record your job search activities such as networking events or interviews, immediately after the event, and reflect on them.  Begin by first objectively documenting the situation, what happened in the discussion.  Who said or did what? How did the interviewer/you respond?   Then, document why you think each person asked that question or responded in that way. How do you think each party felt at that time?  Lastly, describe the results or the learnings from the interview.  Do you think you could have said or done something differently to produce a different result? Do you see a need to develop a skill or refine a reaction to respond differently?  Are you considering doing something differently in your next job search encounter?   This is similar to an athlete watching themselves in their training videos, self-critiquing what was done well or not well and adjusting appropriately.

When you can objectively observe how you and others react in situations, you can then measure and reflect on your failure or success and adapt accordingly. Grit and perseverance are the permanent mindset that will get you through the highs and lows of today’s job search, and the Olympic athletes are great models for us to visualize success and keep at it.

The similarities of the job seeker and the Olympic athlete occurred to me when I heard the quote by American snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington after winning the gold in the women’s halfpipe, “Growing up on a ranch made me the person I am today. It definitely made me a tough girl. As my parents have been saying this whole journey, 'just cowgirl up' - that's kind of what I've gotta do."


09/11/2016 5:04pm

The Olympic Activities are a major worldwide event presenting summer and sports, in which countless numbers of sportsmen get involved in a wide range of contests. The Activities are currently organised every two years.

10/12/2016 2:09pm

I don't see any connection between these things. I don't know why.


We know Olympic game is most famous in all over the world. Many people are participated in games and get many success in life. This is most important and many people are crazy for this event.

02/06/2017 4:02am

You can always get a job in Olympic city. What do you love most?


Olympic game is the best for you. Try to make it

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