Monday, December 19, 2011

Breaks and Barriers

We've all heard of people who got a break that produced a major career opportunity. Perhaps someone mentioned a job opening or some wisdom was conveyed that turned the person around. Breaks can be minor encounters that result in enormous good. You are, as the line goes, in the right place at the right time.

What receives less recognition is the break's opposite: the barrier. The barrier may also come from a brief event or encounter, but it hinders careers. Recently, I saw this illustrated in a conversation. A man mentioned that he had not pursued a particular job because he'd heard that there was a rigid selection requirement that he did not meet. I happened to know about that job and assured him that the rumor about the requirement was untrue. In fact, he greatly exceeded the qualifications.

Since that conversation, I've wondered about the number of careers that have been shaped by an arbitrary decision, a rumor or a perception that created an unnecessary barrier. There can be a tendency to inflate the unknown and a hesitation to pin down reality. That is why in so many cases it makes sense to push forward until you get a clear and final "No."

It may turn out that the "No" does not exist.

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