‘Tis the season for informational interviews as another wave of college graduates start pounding the pavement in the midst of a long, wicked recession.
Every year I get my fair share of these requests, nearly all of them from young women looking for advice on how to get started in their careers and/or build a business.
This year, I'm not able to meet with many of these young women in person, so I thought I'd just share my advice here, instead...
I’ve run Kane Consulting for more than ten years now, morphing the company with the market and adapting to challenges life has thrown at me. And, I've had my fair share of both successes and failures.
I am not beautiful, charming or well connected – all handy assets to have when you’re a woman in the business world -- but instead have come to rely upon my smarts, resourcefulness, loyalty and tenaciousness to get ahead.
(Um…yeah, so if you were looking for the blog post to tell you how to accessorize so you look stunning for your interviews, you should go looking somewhere else.)
There is one simple reason why I've been able to plug away at this so long. And, it's not anything that I learned from a mentor, school or book.
It's something I learned from training in a martial arts studio with mostly men for nearly ten years...
When you get hit, get up and hit back and then keep on going.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Most martial arts studios have at least one rogue guy training in it who’s there because he enjoys taking out his aggression on people who are smaller than he is…especially chicks.
I’m little. I studied Tae Kwon Do for a long time, so I had to spar a long line of these dudes. And, every one of them wanted to show me who was boss with his fists.
The first time it happened, I remembered instinctively pulling back and nursing my shoulder, fighting off tears and thinking, “Hey, you hit me REALLY HARD!”
And while I was doing that, instead of stopping and saying, “Oh, I’m sorry darlin’...let me ice that for you,” the big oaf just went ahead and punched me again.
This is both a metaphorical and a biological challenge we women run into.
When men get hit, most of them don’t even think twice about automatically hitting back.
But when women get hit, they tend to recoil and nurse themselves, and, in the process, they get hit again even harder. Suddenly, they may find themselves down on the ground. And then they get hit again and, before they know it, they’ve lost the battle...and, in some real life fights, their lives.
The reality we need to accept is that in a conflict – whether it’s one you get pulled into on a street corner or a board room – you may get pity points for being a good sport, but you’ll never come out on top if you let the punches and the oafs keep you down.
This is not to say that I think all women should enter the work force swinging, trying to be some kind of wicked bad ass – being an aggressive brute is not a becoming trait in a man or a woman.
But, you should come in knowing that getting ahead takes work. If you can make opportunities for yourself based on your charm alone, good for you. If not, be prepared for some serious sweat and effort.
Building a career that you love with all your heart is a gift you have to earn, not one that you are obligated to receive because you have a degree and a lot of enthusiasm.
You will likely get hit while you're trying to build that career…just out of the blue, whether it’s by a ridiculous boss, a petty coworker or friend who suddenly turns their back on you.
Those hits will hurt and they may even knock you off your feet, but if you say nothing and just lay there and take it, you'll just get hit again. And it'll hurt worse the second time, even more so when someone else waltzes away with the prize while you're laying there on the ground bemoaning the unfairness of it all.
Trust me, young women, you can take the punches, even when they hurt like hell. And you have the strength to throw some of your own, too.
Remember. Get up and hit back and then keep on going. The world is full of opportunity and it's time to go out and claim yours.
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.