My yoga teacher opened class this morning with a personal story and a Winston Churchill quote. The famed English statesman was giving a speech at Harrow, the school he attended as a boy, and the advice he had for the graduating students was simple and strong: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in.”
There’s a reason my yoga teacher was telling this tale to his roomful of yoginis: the day before, he had learned that he’d lost out on a job he was pefect for and thought he was certain to get. Overnight, he had wallowed in his misery, seething with anger and frustration. Come morning, though, he put his best foot forward, arriving at the gym early enough to take a yoga class before the one he taught. Now he had his head screwed on right and was ready to move on.
We’ve all walked down that road – losing out on a job we thought was a sure thing. I still remember an interview I had three decades ago for a maternity-leave fill-in at a science magazine. I was returning to work after a two years at home with my own baby daughter, and I was eager for this job, a foot in the door at an interesting magazine. During the interview, we discussed the logistics of the job in detail, from typical working hours to how I should handle various situations that might come up. We discussed the start date and the fee I’d be paid. I walked out of the hiring manager’s office on a cloud, sure I had the job. When I got home, I hit the supermarket and then the kitchen, cooking and freezing weeks’ worth of dinners to prepare for my return to work.
Then, silence. The phone never rang with the official job offer. When I finally contacted the manager myself, he evaded my calls. I’ll never know why I didn’t get the gig, but I felt defeated. It was not just a gut punch but embarrassing to think I’d read the interview so wrong. I felt like a chump.
It’s so easy to throw in the towel emotionally when you’re hitting a brick wall. My yoga teacher’s experience was a great reminder of the need to take care of yourself when you’re in extremis – by venting to a friend, fine-tuning your job-hunt strategy and interviewing skills with a coach, or clearing your mind with a yoga class. When things aren’t going my way, I like to remember the story of the runaway best-seller, The Help. The author, Kathryn Stockett, endured 60 rejections before her manuscript sold. She raged, she cried, but she kept on going, sending her manuscript out again and again. The sixty-first submission was the charm: five million copies sold, and an Oscar-winning movie.
I can’t claim the courage Stockett showed, but after licking my wounds, I returned to interviewing with renewed urgency and enthusiasm. Two months later, I landed a full-time position at an exciting new magazine – a job I wouldn’t have been able to apply for had I been working the temporary gig.
When the road gets rough, I hope Stockett’s story will help you too. The tunnel may be long and dark, but that doesn’t mean there’s no light at the end.
Never Give In – 1-2-3
First! Make sure you’re venting in the right place – that means nowhere that anyone who might hire or recommend you might hear.
Second! Raise your spirit by asking yourself leadership-guru Michael Hyatt’s key question: What other possibilities does this open up?
Third! If you can’t shake the bad feelings, consider whether you’re facing depression and should seek the help of a therapist.